Chicken Larp (Laotian Chicken Salad)

September 18, 2013 § 2 Comments

My aunt’s kaffir lime tree bore fruits, but she usually lets them fall off because she only uses the leaves, she told me.

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Thoughts of Thailand and Laos, most especially, burned in my mind, reminding me of the various dishes flavored with this heavenly lime.

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I spent a day learning Lao cooking at the Tamnak Lao Restaurant in Luang Prabang 2 years ago.  Fun experience, but I haven’t had many chances of making the recipes at home because kaffir lime is usually needed and is often hard to come by.

kaffir-lime

Sure I could use lemon or calamansi… but kaffir has a distinct strong tangy flavor that can brighten up a dish.

“I could use some of those limes”, I told my aunt, suddenly missing the taste of larp.  She sent me some and threw in some leaves too.  Thank you Tita V.

Now I understand why she doesn’t use the fruit, most were dry.  So dry, I had to use a few for this recipe.

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But it was worth it.  I was back in Luang Prabang, in a sidewalk café having my larp with ice-cold Lao beer, the Mekong on one side and Indo-Chinese residences on the other.

This is why I cook.

Chicken Larp

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A very traditional Lao cold salad that can be substituted with pork, beef, fish and even tofu.

What You’ll Need

  • 200 gram minced chicken, skin off
  • 2 tablespoon banana flower finely sliced, rinsed well in water and drained.
  • 2 kaffir lime leaves, thinly sliced
  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
  • 1 bunch of coriander, cut up finely green part only
  • 2 stalks lemon grass, thinly sliced white part only
  • 6 large rocket arugula, thinly sliced
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon rice powder*
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • ¼ teaspoon fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon fried garlic**
  • 1 tablespoon fried shallots**
  • 1 medium lime or lemon, juiced
  • 2 tablespoons chicken or pork stock

What You do

  1. Put the pork or chicken stock, minced chicken, and half of the lime juice in a wok.
  2. Place over low heat and keep stirring until the chicken is cooked through and the stock is reduced.
  3. Transfer chicken in a bowl.
  4. Add the banana flower, kaffir lime leaves, shallots, garlic, coriander, lemongrass, and arugula leaves.  Mix well.
  5. Add salt, rice powder, chili powder, fish sauce, fried garlic, and fried shallots.  Mix thoroughly.
  6. Pour rest of the lime juice over the salad and give it a quick stir through.

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Tips:

* Make your own rice powder by dry-frying raw sticky rice until it just begins to turn golden.  Then whiz in a blender until powdery.  Store in airtight container.

** If you can’t find fried garlic and shallots, make your own by slicing shallots / garlic very finely and deep-fry them until they turn golden.  Store in airtight container.

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Wild Rice Shoots

August 2, 2013 § Leave a comment

I first had it at my mom’s.  Succulent, crisp strips similar in texture to bamboo shoot but less fibrous.  It assimilated well with the heat of the chili bean paste and the savory taste of oyster sauce.

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It became an instant favorite, thanks to the lady at Wei Wang, the neighborhood oriental store my mom frequents, for recommending this bamboo shoot looking vegetable to her complete with instructions on how to cook it. She said it was a kind of shoot called “kuw-sun”.

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I later find out that “kuw-sun” is also called Wild Rice Shoots, an aquatic plant widely used in China and Japan which, when stripped of its husk, reveals a smooth, very pale inside. Rich in vitamins A and C, calcium, iron and other minerals, it is sliced and eaten raw or cooked, usually prepared by stir-frying with thinly sliced pork.

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Chili Wild Rice Shoots with Pork and Mushrooms

What You’ll Need

  • 2 stalks of wild rice shoots, outer layer removed, and cut into strips
  • 4-5 shiitake mushrooms cut into strips
  • 100-150g minced pork
  • 1 tablespoon Chili Bean Paste
  • 1 tablespoon Premium Oyster Sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Sugar
  • ¼ cup water
  • 2 tablespoon Vegetable oil
  • Sesame oil for drizzling

 What You Do

  1. In a small bowl, mix together chili bean paste, oyster sauce, sugar and water.  Set aside.
  2. Heat up a wok until smoky and add oil.  Bring temperature down to medium high
  3. Add the pork, stir-fry until brown then add the mushrooms.  Cook for seconds before adding the wild rice shoots.  Toss around until the shoots are slightly brown.IMG_0551
  4. Add the chili mixture and toss until well coated.
  5. Drizzle with a good quality sesame oil before serving.

A dish packed with flavor and so easy to prepare.

Herb-Roasted Chicken and Planning a Trip

March 9, 2013 § 4 Comments

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I spent sleepless nights working on the itinerary.  It is an extensive trip – in my books, at least.   Spanning 3 countries for a whole month.  One. Whole. Month… with my brother.  He and his wife, my sister-in-law will be joining us for the first time.  Yes, we’ve done short trips together with the whole family but never one that is complicated.  We’re excited, it’s going to be fun, I can feel it, but the way we travel is not exactly how they travel.  So, working out an itinerary for the four of us is nerve-racking.  Would they mind staying in hostels, share bathrooms, or travel by bus, perhaps?  Would they mind splurging on food?  Would they like the same food?  Because really, food is a fundamental part of our travels and I will eat well in a country known for its exotic flavors – does Morocco sound exciting?

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So here they are at my place discussing the trip while the chicken roasts in my oven.  Marinated in buttermilk and a handful of fresh herbs overnight, the ambrosial aroma emanating from the kitchen had not only whet our appetites but gradually turned us into attention deficits – it makes it devilishly hard to concentrate when the rooms smells of yummy-ness, yes?

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Succulent – crispy skin with “meat falling off the bones” tender, a result of the buttermilk and the glorious herbs.  It is the easiest thing to make, really.   I had potatoes too, sprinkled with EVOO, salt and pepper then inserted around the chicken.  So crisp and tasty.

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And with salad greens tossed with lemon vinaigrette, a simple dish of pasta with pesto and tiramisu after, we happily agreed on a travel plan.  All is well that ends well.

Herb-Roasted Chicken

(adapted from Jude Blereau’s Flattened Buttermilk and Herb Crispy Chicken)

What You Need:

  • 1 whole chicken, preferably organic
  • 500ml buttermilk (400ml plain yogurt combined with 100 ml milk works well too)
  • 4 tablespoons of finely chopped fresh herbs (I often use thyme, parsley, sage and rosemary – whatever is available in the market)
  • Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Potatoes or sweet potatoes, and roughly cut into medium chunks

What You Do:

Cutting the backbone of the chicken allows you to flatten it, and thereby cook faster.  For crispier results and even faster cooking, I cut the chicken into pieces.  I find this yielded the best result.  The method differs slightly.

To Marinade:

For whole chicken: lay the breast side down on a chopping board.  Cut the backbone (using a kitchen shear is the easiest way to do this).  Turn the chicken over and flatten.  Combine buttermilk with a handful of herbs and pour over the chicken in a dish.  Cover and keep refrigerated for 24 hours.

For chicken pieces: combine buttermilk with 4 tablespoons of herbs and lemon zest.  Pour over chicken, cover and keep refrigerated for 24 hours.

To Roast:

Preheat oven 200º C or 180ºC if fan forced.

For whole chicken: prepare the herb mix by mixing the herbs and lemon together.  Transfer the chicken to a baking tray.  Roughly pat chicken dry but leave some buttermilk on the skin.  Gently loosen the skin from the breast and stuff 2/3 of the herb mix under the skin.

For chicken pieces:  Transfer chicken pieces to a baking tray.  Roughly pat chicken dry but leave some buttermilk on the skin.

For whole and pieces:

Sprinkle the rest of the herb mix on the chicken, with a generous amount of salt and pepper. Drizzle with a small amount of olive oil.

Toss the potatoes separately in an olive oil and herbs and scatter on the tray, close to the chicken.

Bake for about 40-60 mins, until the skin is crispy and golden and the juices in the thigh come out clear.  If you find the skin burning, reduce the temperature.

Remove from oven and leave to sit for 10 minutes before serving.

I’ll see you in a month or so.

Bed Weather Soup

June 14, 2012 § Leave a comment

Well good-bye summer and hello rainy days.  It rained most of the day the other day and on a holiday to boot.  We stayed home and the cool “bed” weather called for comfort food.  What’s more comforting on a rainy day than hot chicken soup?  Not any kind of chicken soup mind you.  I was craving for my childhood favorite, Tinolang Manok, a staple in many dinner tables in my neck of the woods, including ours.  A bowl of this light ginger based soup never fails to make me feel all warm and fuzzy.  So I trooped to the supermarket next door for some essential ingredients.

Tinola is a Tagalog or Cebuano term for soup based dish and is traditionally cooked with chicken.  Unlike the chicken soup of the west, this soup uses ginger and lemon grass to flavor.  Core ingredients would be chicken (but of course), ginger (lots and lots of it), green papaya, lemon grass and this new super food called malunggay, scientifically known as Moringa.  We sometimes alternate it with green pepper leaves – both have the peppery kick.

You may serve it as a starter course but it is perfect as a main dish, me thinks.  I like my rice soaking with the soup almost like congee and each spoonful of chicken, green papaya and the rice is absolutely soothing.

Tinolang Manok (adapted from Namit Gid! Cookbook)

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 kilo chicken, cut into serving pieces
  • 1 tbsp. cooking oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium-sized onion, sliced
  • 1 thumb-sized ginger, sliced
  • water or rice washings to cover
  • 1 stalk tanglad (lemongrass), bruised
  • green papaya, seeded and cut into wedges
  • patis or fish sauce
  • crushed pepper
  • malunggay leaves

What you do:

  1. Heat cooking oil and sauté garlic, onion and ginger.  Add chicken pieces and brown slightly.
  2. Add water or rice washings and tanglad.  Season with fish sauce and pepper.
  3. Cover and let it simmer.  When chicken is half-cooked, add papaya.
  4. Cover and let it simmer until chicken and papaya are tender.*
  5. Just before serving, remove tanglad and add malunggay leaves.
  6. Cook for 2 more minutes.  Serve hot.

*  To remove the fat, let it cool until the oil floats and remove as much from the surface.

To Satisfy A Craving

August 22, 2011 § 2 Comments

Korean Fried Chicken may not be the newest craze in the metro, it is a new addition in my neighborhood though — woohoo!.  The newly opened Chicken Bon Chon has cars queuing for parking that could cause a jam especially on weekends.  Though the long lines turn me off, so addicted to this crispy, garlicky sweet-coated tender juicy chicken, I find myself thinking of it day and night.  With this frustration comes a want to devour anything that is crunchy, sweet, spicy and garlicky just to satisfy this craving.  So when I came across this recipe by Trissa, I knew that I had to try it.

Although mine didn’t really come out sticky –too much flour perhaps —  it is a definite winner on the taste department.

Fried Pork Ribs Korean-Style

This marinade is sweet, garlicky and not too spicy because I used Ssamjang, a chili-bean paste for milder heat.

Ssamjang

Using Gochujang, a red chili paste will make it spicier, so the choice is yours.  The ribs were pan-fried as the recipe called for but I already imagine it to be exceptional too grilled or broiled.  That’s next on my agenda.

What You Need:

  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 3 cm ginger, peeled
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 ½ tablespoons ssamjang (chili-bean paste)
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • ½ tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • ½ tablespoon cornstarch
  • 750 grams pork ribs
  • Oil for pan-frying

What You Do:

  1. Using a food processor or a blender, process the garlic, ginger, soy sauce, chili-bean paste, vinegar, sesame oil and brown sugar in a bowl.
  2. Add the eggs and place the pork ribs in the mixture.  Marinate for 2 hours or overnight.
  3. Mix the flour and cornstarch together and dredge the marinated pork ribs in it.
  4. Heat the oil in a frying pan over med-high heat. Pan fry for around 5 minutes on each side.

Rainy Days on Sunday

May 23, 2011 § Leave a comment

La Niña has inched its way into our summer.  I love rainy days especially on Sundays.  It gives me good reason to just curl up in a corner with a good book or snuggle up with my honey and watch Turner Classic movies.  Sad to say this does not happen very often but when it does, I take advantage and play up that cozy comforting atmosphere by brewing something in the kitchen.  It was the perfect time to make this Slow-Cooked Pork Belly recipe I have eyed but have not had time to make.  It embodied the feeling of hominess, just by the smell alone.  And what’s good about slow-cook meals is that I get to settle in my corner while it’s cooking.

Slow Cooked Pork Belly

What you need:

  • 400g pork belly
  • ½ cup Kikkoman Soy Sauce
  • ¼ cup Chinese cooking wine (in absence I used dry white wine)
  • 1 tbsp.  Brown sugar
  • 3 cloves Garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp. Ginger
  • ¼ tsp. Pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp. Ground sage

What you do:

  1. In a bowl, except for the pork belly, mix all remaining ingredients.
  2. Use that mixture to marinade the pork belly, best if overnight but a few hours will suffice.
  3. On a hot pan, sear the marinated pork belly on all sides until golden.
  4. Pour the marinade into a slow cooker and transfer the pork.
  5. Set to 75 – 90˚C and let cook for 4-6 hours, until the pork belly is fork tender.

What can I say?  Our rainy Sunday reward was a meal of tender, flavorful, slightly caramelized meat with a wicked sauce best topped with rice.

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