Saturday, 19 November 2016

Crispy Aromatic Duck.

I like to use a these little bags to put my dry spices in
They are also widely available in Asian stores, and very cheap. Also, will cut back on the mess.

I got a whole young duck, and chopped it into four parts, to fit in my pot for boiling.

The spices that I stuffed in the bag were:

Star Anise: 5 pieces
Sechuan peppercorns: 1 Tablespoon
Cloves: 1 teaspoon
Cinnamon sticks: 5 short pieces
Bayleaf: 2 pieces
Fennel: 1 Tablespoon
Dried whole chillies: 5 pieces

In addition, I also put in the pot:

Rice wine: 1 cup
Soft brown sugar: 1/2 cup
Ginger: 1 large knob, sliced
Soy sauce: 1/2 cup
Garlic: 8 cloves
Salt: 1 Tablespoon

Topped the whole pot with water, brought it to a boil, then simmered it on gentle heat for 1 hour and 45 minutes.

Took the duck pieces out, let them cool down for an hour, then popped them in the fridge overnight covered with paper towels to absorb as much moisture as possible.

The next evening, I deep fried the pieces in a large wok on high heat till they crisped up. It is very spattery due to the duck's high fat content, so be careful, use a mesh screen. I like to use peanut oil for this purpose, but I find Canola also OK. You only need about a cup or two if you are prepared to turn the duck pieces half way through.

I tried using the grill before for this later step, due to the spattering but I did not achieve the desired texture. You can experiment. If you are not that bothered about the crispiness, you can just heat it up in a steamer, or EVEN a microwave (!!)

For serving, I steamed Asian pancakes. I bought them frozen in an Asian store, they are specifically designed for such dishes. They are called "Roasted Peking Duck Wraps".   It takes about 4 minutes to steam a whole stack containing ten pancakes. For best results use a bamboo steamer and high heat.

When they are done, smother them with a dollop of Hoishin sauce, top with thinly sliced spring onions, and Cucumber, and the duck meat shredded down with a fork from the bones.

Roll it up like a mini burrito, and enjoy!

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Slow Braised Chinese Pork Shoulder

This is something you can have simmering in the background for up to three hours, without any attention required. 

I marinated this beautiful piece of shoulder in a mixture of :

Five spice powder -A good spoonful
Star anise - about 5 Five
Grated ginger - A spoonful
Few cloves of Garlic, crushed
Soy Sauce - half a cup
Sesame oil -quarter of a cup
Brown sugar -One spoonful
Crushed black pepper.

Left the meat soaking in this juice overnight in a sealed bag, turning it every now and again when I was in the vicinity of the fridge.

Then the next day, I set it for a slow simmer for nearly three hours with added 2 litres of water, till it was completely falling apart.

Made a simple fried rice to go with it , and server with chilled Kimchi, which -shame on me- I bought ready made.  It was divine and easy peasy, pork squeezy.

The remaining juices (which was about a litre) were frozen in small portions for some added magic in upcoming stir fries. 

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Curd Noodles

As I was innocently Facebooking along one evening, Somebody in the Chennai Food Guide, Someone Genius (!!) has planted this bug in my head, for curd vermicelli. On the One occasion I spent time in Chennai I did taste the curd rice, but it just seemed too challenging to take in "ON" in my own kitchen in Europe. It all seemed too weird (curd, rice, spices, what...?)
 The refreshing taste of this curd rice  has been lingering in the back of my head for years. And after MORE years, I can proudly say I have matured to give it a try. All by myself. Yes. And now a little embarrassed because actually it is very easy to prepare.

So first I started frying gently in a good spoonful of organic butter: some Cashew nuts (100 grams), and a whole finely sliced red onion. I was ever so patient with it, did not want to mess it up.Especially after all these years getting ready for it.  So, this lasted on-sometimes medium, sometime low-about 15 minutes.   I will post a Video about this " High and Low" at the end of this blog. Just because it will make you remember as you do it.

So here is the shot after (about) 15 minutes:
  So, at this stage, I have added FIVE green Cardamom pods, FIVE cloves,  Half a teaspoon of Turmeric, Half Teaspoon of Ground Cinnamon (YES< CINNAMON!!), and Half Teaspoon of Cayenne pepper, along with finely chopped Ginger.
I have let them release their aroma on a very gentle -almost non existent-heat for few minutes.
During which time I have boiled the "noodles". I picked angel hair egg pasta, because someone in my family absolutely HATES Vermicelli. So I cooked the pasta 2 minutes less than advised on package, drained it, leaving a cupful of hot water from the boiling. Both of which were mixed in that mixture I have been gently simmering. The Pasta finished cooking itself here for the remaining two minutes, in these fantastic aromatic juices.
At this stage I added some chopped raw prawns, a GOOD cupful of curd , half a cup of Yogurt, six Green Chilies and let it simmer for further 2 minutes. There should be plenty of paste juice for this, please do not be scabby. They will suck it all up, those little noodles.
When I had a feeling everything has come to a right time, I squeezed half a lime on the top of everything, added very finely chopped spring onions, fresh Coriander, Fresh Mint leaves to it, and covered it up for two more minutes before serving.
You may think after all the rambling that this took forever to prepare, but it was actually less than 45 minutes from start to finish.
AND... I may have thought that putting curd in our food is weird. But actually in Italian cooking we also use a lot of Ricotta (or Mozzarella) combined with all sorts of herbs (in Raviolis), Or real Cream in many of the sauces that go well with Pasta. So, if you have run out of Ideas of Enjoying Pasta or Rice, this is something direction you could venture in.  And can chose your own ingredients for it (GMO, non-GMO, Low fat Curd, High fat Curd, Soygurt, etc.), It is really all in your hands.
 This is NOT just noodles with stuff on it. The Aromatics in this dish will blow your mind. Not just while eating, but also while smelling the air as you are cooking it. Total comfort, I'm telling you.
The curd I used from German Shelves was called "Quark". But make sure you get the natural one, not the one with Fruit flavour!!!
Basically, you want to listen to this song ALMOST three times while you are sautéing your Onions and Cashews and while chopping ginger, chilies and spring onions.  Easy Peasy.

Monday, 5 August 2013

Turkish Koftes

They are really amazing when cooked over hot coals, of course. But I had to settle for the electric grill, and was still not disappointed.
A beautiful, refreshing way of cooking minced beef, when in need for a protein fix:)
Could also be mixed with lamb, or made out of pure lamb.

It is also very fast to prepare of you have a mini food processor.  The quantities below are for 1/2 Kilo of minced meat.

One clove of garlic, One small shallot, a pinch each of: Cumin, dried Oregano, Cayenne pepper, small handful of chopped flat leaf parsley (MUCH tastier than the curly variety), a Tablespoon of fresh chopped mint,  one teaspoon of salt and a splash of lime juice.

Zap things up, then work into the minced meat and form the patties to the shape you desire. Let the patties rest for few hours, covered, in the lower shelve of the fridge. Then either place under Medium/Hot Grill for 4 minutes each side, or pan fry in few drops of oil until beautifully caramelised.  Overcooking will make them dry out, so do keep an eye on them.


Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Thai Pork and Pineapple

A light little stir-fry.
I started off with sauteing some onion, few chillies and just in the last minute, chopped garlic. Then took these out from the wok, and started browning my pork fillet slices.
(Do not overcrowd the meat in this process as it will get chewy. Just few slices at the time, till nicely browned. Fast and on furious heat)  Collect all the browned slices on the side, together with the sauteed onion, chilli and garlic. 

When I finished the browning, I added them all back into the wok, together with the sauteed onions, chillies and garlic. Then sprinkled a good spoonful of Palm sugar (can use brown sugar as well) , little crushed black pepper, few cubes of pineapple and about a cup of pineapple juice. I used canned pineapple, so the juice from the can itself was pretty much what I needed.

I warmed the mixture up for few minutes, then added the juice of half a lime, about two table spoons of Fish sauce.  Sprinkled it with chopped coriander and mint.

I make this dish quite often,  just love the combination of flavours (sharpness of the lime, sweetness of the fruit and sugar, spiciness of the chillies). A marriage made in heaven!

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Getting dirty with those dumplings

With full steam ahead, I made a hot water dough in a big bowl, and shaped it up nicely into little discs. 
Why with hot water? Because the original plan was to fry these dumplings and the skin turns much crunchier if the dough was made with hot water. Cold water doughs are more suitable for boiled dumplings. It is a completely different texture.  At the bottom of this post are the recipes for the...DOH!


Then I made the filling:

It was a mixture of: chopped bok choy, Chives, Leeks, Shiitake mushrooms, Cilantro, grated Ginger and Garlic, Chopped Tofu, Grated carrots, some chillies, Soy sauce, Sesame oil, and white pepper.
I very much imagine this mixture also as a salad, and I think it will be on my list for one of the dinners in the near future. But the intention of today's exercise, was to get dirty with the dough. 

After I filled all my dumplings with this mixture, I fried them in very little and very hot oil, for 2 minutes, then added half a cup of corn flour and water mixture (about one teaspoon of corn flour), covered it up and simmered it for further 5 minutes. If you include meat in your mixture, do allow at least ten minutes of simmering.

And this is what it looked like when it was ready. Sitting on a very nice golden lacy base created by the corn flour and water mixture.  

Cold water dough:  600 grams flour, 1 cup cold water.

Hot water dough:  3 cups (375 grams) Plain flour, 1 cup hot water (80 degrees C) and half cup of ice cold water, but only after the hot water has been fully crumbled in the flour.

And a little bit of science for those Food Enthusiast:

"The dumpling dough's water content and resilience can be changed by varying the water temperature. The variations are necessary for achieving the ideal dumpling. A hot water dough has more water and is weak/yielding. That's because flour can absorb more hot than cold water, and hot water weakens and partially cooks the gluten but cold water doesn't. A cold water dough, in comparison, is not only stronger/more stretchy but also has less water"

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Thai salad

I can't think of a more refreshing way to finish off a hot day. Last night I decided to make a Thai salad.

The ingredients:

Cherry tomatoes
Green beans, chopped, boiled for 5 minutes then plunged into ice water
A handful of toasted peanuts, chopped and only added in before eating. Otherwise they get soggy.

The dressing is a typical Thai one, which consist of:

Juice of half a Lime
Palm sugar- about one tablespoon
Fish sauce One Tablespoon
Fresh chillies, chopped (I used three because I like it fiery)
Coriander, chopped
About 4 kaffir lime leaves, sliced really tiny. I usually keep a bag in the freezer with these, as they are not easy to find in your regular supermarket. Unless you live in Thailand :)
If you have lemon grass handy, add it to the mortar too.

I bashed up all the dressing ingredients in a mortar, as opposed to just mixing it in a bowl. I also added a few more cherry tomatoes in the mortar to help with the juices. I find that there is much more flavour released if I prepare it this way.

 This salad can be enjoyed on its own, but I prefer it with steamed Jasmine rice topped with nice soy sauce.

Bon Apetit!