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Singapore Chinese Pork Curry


(serves 6)
Singapore Chinese Curry is a culinary relic of the British colonial era in Singapore. Many of the British officers had previously been stationed in India and developed a taste for curry. The British Army in Singapore however had to rely on Chinese cooks who out of neccesity concocted their own curry recipes. The result was the unique Singapore Chinese Curry which contains many common items of South-east Asian cuisine. In such curries you’ll find strange ingredients such as pork, dried shrimp, bean curd and cabbage. If you are a fan of curry, this is definitely a novel curry variety you must try. 

IngredientsChinese Curry

  1. Pork Spare Ribs (1 kg)
  2. Yeo’s Singapore Curry Gravy (1x400ml can)
  3. Yeo’s Minced Prawn in Spices (1x140g can)
  4. Smoked Baby Clams (1 x 100g tin)
  5. Cabbage (1 smallish)
  6. Egg Plant (2)
  7. Fried Bean Curd Puffs (2 cups)
  8. Fishcake or Fishballs (200g)
  9. Minced Garlic (2T)
  10. Glass Vermicelli (50g dry weight)
  11. Coconut Milk (200ml)
  12. Five Spice Powder
  13. Chicken Stock Cubes (2)

Preparation

  1. Open the two cans of curry into a large pot. Add 1kg of raw pork ribs and allow to marinate for at least an hour.
  2. Dissolve 2 chicken stock cubes in 2 cups of water and stir in 2T of minced garlic and 1t sugar. Add the stock to the pot and heat to a low simmer.
  3. Add the tin of smoked clams together with its oil, sprinkle in 1T of 5 spice powder and simmer for a hour. Top up with water as neccesary.
  4. While the curry is simmering, cut the egg plants into strips 2 inches long and add them to the pot. The egg plant will disintegrate eventually leaving just the skin. This is intended.
  5. Soak the vermicelli in cold water for 7 minutes and then drain away the water.
  6. Cut your cabbage into quadrants and manually break the quadrants into individual leaves.
  7. About 15 minutes before serving, add the cabbage, fried bean curd pieces, fish cake, vermicelli and coconut milk.
  8. Continue to simmer until the cabbage is soft. Serve with steamed rice or egg noodles.

 Notes

  • This recipe is pretty easy if you can get all the semi-prepared ingredients as they are listed. If not….
  • The spiced minced prawn is a key ingredient but unfortunately not that easy to find. You can order Yeo’s Minced Prawn in Spices from Amazon. One other option is to make your own. if you have access to a Chinese food store, buy some dried shrimp. Soak a cup of the shrimp in cold water for half an hour before mixing in half a chopped onion, 4T chili paste, 2T Oil, 1T Five Spice Powder and 1t sugar. Put the mixture in the blender for a few seconds and then finish off by frying in a pan.   
  • Yeo’s Singapore Curry Gravy is a bit more commonly found than their minced prawn. It too is available on Amazon if you can’t find it anywhere else. Ironically, the one place you can’t find it is in Singapore. 
  • The other uncommon ingredient is fried bean curd (aka tofu) puffs. You cannot use raw tofu because it will disintegrate completely. If you can’t find any bean curd puffs in your local supermarket, you can make some yourself. Wrap a tofu block in kitchen towels and then sandwich it between 2 hard cutting boards. Progressively add canned food on the upper board over half an hour to compress the tofu and squeeze out its water. Next, cut into small blocks and deep fry as you would french fries.
  • Take note that the vermicelli to be used is the glass type (white when raw) which doesn’t get mushy even if it is cooked for quite a while. When in doubt, the ones to get are those made in Thailand.
  • If you like your curry less spicy, increase the amount of coconut milk to 300ml.
  • There is another similar style of SIngapore curry known as Nonya Curry. That is a fusion of Chinese and Malay cuisine while this is a fusion of Chinese and Indian cuisine. The two should not be confused. 
 

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Breton Fish Stew (Cotriade)


(serves 6)
This is my version of a classic from Brittany, the fish stew that Breton fishermen enjoy after a hard day at sea, the Cotriade. Unlike the more popular French bouillabaisse which relies on tomatoes and crustaceans for a base flavour, the Bretons prefer their fish stew au natural. Its harder to achieve a flavourful seafood stew that is white but when you do it right, the pure unadulterated flavour of fish makes a world of difference.  

IngredientsContriade

  1. White Fish Fillets (500g)
  2. Black Mussels (500g)
  3. Canned Sardines in oil (2 x 120g wet weight)
  4. Canned Anchovies in oil (50g wet weight)
  5. White Wine (1 cup)
  6. Minced Garlic (3T)
  7. Onions (2)
  8. Celery (2 cups chopped)
  9. Carrot (1)
  10. Bread (3 slices)
  11. Thyme
  12. Dill Weed

Preparation Part I

  1. Leave 3 slices of bread in the open to dry overnight.
  2. Cut the crust off the bread and cube the bread into 1cm pieces. Cut the crust into small pieces as well, but separately. Toast the bread cubes till they are brown and then crush in a zip loc bag with a mallet.
  3. Dice one onion. Place the onion bits into a large pot. Partially open one of the sardine tins and pour its oil into the pot. Turn on the heat and occasionally stir fry the onions.
  4. In the meanwhile, spoon all the sardines and anchovies including their oil into a bowl with 3T of minced garlic. Mash everything up with a spoon.
  5. When the onions are soft, turn up the heat and add the fish and garlic mash. Stir fry for a minute, continuing to mash up the fish. Next, add 1 cup of white wine, wait a further minute and then add 4 cups of water and 2T of chopped thyme. This is the stock for your stew.
  6. While the stock is simmering on low heat, cut an onion into 6 wedges, dice 2 cups of celerey and 3/4 cups of carrot. Add this to the stock together with the bread crumbs.
  7. While the veggies are cooking, soak your mussels in water for a few minutes. Also, cut your white fish into chicken nugget sized pieces. You can leave the skin on. Marinate with 2T of oil and a light sprinkle of salt and pepper. Do not put either the mussels or fish into the pot yet.
  8. Continue the simmer until the onion wedges turn into soft individual petals. Then turn off the heat.

Preparation Part II

  1. This is the part you do about fifteen minutes before serving your stew.
  2. Bring the pot up to a full boil.
  3. Add the clams and continue boiling for 1 minute.
  4. Next add the marinated fish making sure all the pieces are submergedand. Continue boiling for 1 minute (less if you fish pieces are not thick, but never more).
  5. Turn off the heat but leave the pot covered for 10 minutes while the fish continues to cook .
  6. Taste and season with salt and pepper to bring out the full flavour of the stew. Garnish with a sprinkle of dill weed or chopped parsley.

 Notes

  • When I first decided to come up with my own cotriade recipe, I was confronted with a typical dilemma. Fish gets hard and then flakes up if it is boiled for more than a short while. But, any kind of stew needs to be simmered for a long time for it to develop its full flavour. Many fish stew recipes get around this by using tomatoes (or worse bacon) for the base flavour, but that is the easy way out. The solution was to use canned fish and wine to form the base flavour.
  • The next challenge was to get rid of the fishy smell and taste of the canned sardines. After some experimentation, I found that the combination of onions, garlic and deglazing with wine at a high temperature did the trick. When you see the stew frothing up a bit after adding the wine, don’t worry, this is normal. Its just the fishiness going away.
  • The sardine stock in turn allows us to just par boil the fresh fish right at the end, so it remains intact and tender. A fish stew is supposed to have 3 types of fish for variety so I recommend you use 2 types of fresh fish. Cod I find is one of the best choices, and I also like pomfret and sole, but basically any kind of fish white fish would do. The most important thing is to not overcook the fish.
  • Besides tomatoes, the other ingredient I didn’t want to use was potatoes, which would make it more like a chowder (or worse, like beef stew). This presented another problem: how do I give the stew some body? Then I got to thinking, well you eat French stews with bread, so why not just have the bread already boiled into the stew? That worked out well.
  • For the white wine, the oaky tones of a chardonnay is a perfect fit with the stew.
  • If you want a North Sea taste don’t use olive oil as it imparts a Mediterranean feel. I use sardines in sunflower seed oil for this stew.
  • Instead of using salt at the end, consider ‘cheating’ and using Hon Dashi pellets instead. It will bring out the best in your fish stew.
  • If you like French seafood stews, check out my bouillabaisse recipe.  
 
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Posted by on March 7, 2014 in A Kobi Original, French, Recipe, Seafood, Soups

 

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Baked Scallops on Pesto Gratin


(serves 5)
This is my take on the classic French dish, Coquilles Saint Jacques, with an Italian twist. I have devised a quick thrice-baked routine which makes the recipe extremely easy to execute. Scallops have a nice texture but it is hard to infuse flavour into them. One common way to given them additional layers of taste is to use a gratin. This is what I have done, using a simple breadcrumb mixture containing 3 complimentary flavours: garlic, pesto and parmesan.  

IngredientsBaked Scallops

  1. Large Scallops (500g)
  2. Bread (3 slices)
  3. Minced Garlic (3T)
  4. Pesto (3T)
  5. Parmesan (1T)
  6. Olive Oil (1/4 cup)

Preparation

  1. Leave 3 slices of bread in the open to dry overnight.
  2. Cut the crust off the bread and cube the bread into 1cm pieces. Cut the crust into small pieces as well, but separately. 
  3. Pad your scallops dry with a kitchen towel. Cut off the white sliver of flesh where the scallop attaches to the shell if the scallops do not already come processed this way.
  4. In a large mixing bowl mix 3T pesto, 3T minced garlic with 1/4 cup of olive oil.
  5. Spoon 2T of this mixture into the scallops. Add also a light sprinkle of salt and a heavier sprinkle of pepper. Mix well and leave to marinate.
  6. Preheat the oven to 200oC.
  7. Place the bread pieces on a casserole dish and bake in the oven. When the bread is crispy and dry, this will take 5 minutes, take it out of the oven, but leave the oven on.
  8. Allow the bread to cool for a short while on a cool plate. Then smash the bread in a plastic bag with a mallet to turn them into fine crumbs. Add the crumbs into the mixing bowl and sprinkle on 1T of powdered parmesan cheese. Mix well and then put the flavoured crumbs back into the casserole dish and back into the oven, this time for 8 minutes.
  9. When the gratin has formed, take the casserole dish out again, and immediately arrange the marinated scallops into the dish evenly. Spoon any left over marinade onto the scallops. This goes back into the oven for a further six 6 minutes or so, depending on the size of your scallops.
  10. Serve immediately, advising your guests to eat the scallops with the gratin.

Notes 3 Scallops

  • Your scallops should not be too small for this recipe. For 500g, there should be about 15 scallops. I usually just use frozen ones, the higher grade type that comes in a box, not a plastic bag.
  • Scallops should not be overdone. They are best when they have shrunk slightly. Look for the right moment and take them out of the oven immediately. If your scallops have shrunken noticeably, then they are overdone and will be tough and hard.
  • If you wish too, you can re-plate the scallops as shown here.
 
 

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What is Kaiseki Ryori?


KaisekiKaiseki Ryori is the Japanese version of Haute Cuisine, the ultimate in Japanese fine dining. If I were to summarize this type of cuisine in a few words, it would be: many courses, seasonal ingredients, no replication. Everyone who tries a Kaiseki Dinner for the first time will invariably find it to be an exquisite dining experience.

Where is it served?
You can order a Kaiseki set-meal in many up-market Japanese restaurants but these generally pale in comparison to those served in restaurants that specialize in Kaiseki Ryori specifically. It’s easy to tell if a restaurant is serving true Kaiseki Ryori, they won’t be open for business during lunch as they’ll be preparing dinner the whole day long.
Kaiseki Ryori is also served in Ryokan, old-style inns dotted around hot spring areas in Japan. This rural variety of Kaiseki will typically use only traditional cooking techniques and focus on produce from nearby farm areas. For the purposes of this post, I will be referring more to the urban variety of Kaiseki Ryori, the type which can be found in major cities outside of Japan.

Meaning of Kaiseki Ryori
The meaning of Ryori is ‘cuisine, so its quite a straightforward translation, but Kaiseki is a term bit harder to explain. Loosely translated it means ‘stone in bosom’, a figurative reference to monks putting warm stones in the portion of their robes next to the stomach to ward off hunger. Why anyone would want to associate a sumptuous meal with starvation is rather perplexing, but then again many Japanese concepts are like that.

Dining Atmosphere
A quiet tranquil environment is a tradition for Kaiseki dining and in fact I have been to many restaurants where each table has its own room. Furniture and decorations are typically solemn and spares, but tasteful. I think its to do with the fact that Kaiseki Ryori at one time was associated with the formal tea ceremony. Probably for the same reason, patrons are normally served an expresso-like cup of thick green tea at the end of the meal. The restaurant may sometimes have its own Japanese garden which guests are welcome to explore.

Set Menu
A top-notch Kaiseki meal comes in many courses, usually about 8-10. You do not get to choose anything although if you tell the waiter what foods you are allergic to, some emergency alternative ingredients will be rustled up for you. Seafood is favoured and sometimes the whole meal will not contain any chicken or pork at all, as they are ‘lesser’ meats. Each of the courses is small, so it is quite like the tasting menu in fine French restaurants, except you won’t be able to order the ‘full’ portion of anything. This is a good idea. The cooks won’t be distracted by haphazard a la carte orders. Having the entire kitchen staff focused exclusively on the same few dishes for the night goes a long way to ensuring a quality meal for eveyone.

Culinary Art
Each course will typically comprise a few distinct components. For example if one of the courses is charcoal grilled beef, the meat will only be like a third of the dish. You won’t get a slab of steak with some sauce. Visual appearance is important and in each course the multiple components will be of contrasting shapes and colours. Unlike at high end Western restaurants which use a fixed set of signature tableware, for Kaiseki Ryori the plates, cups and bowls for each course will be in different colours and designs, to better match the food. Be aware, sometimes courses will be served with items which ‘complete the ‘picture’ but are actually inedible, like stones, flowers and leaves; although I particularly remember this one time in Nagasaki we were served stones which turned out to be edible giant beans glazed to look exactly like black river stones.

Pick of the Season
Only the freshest and choicest produce of the season will be used. For example, Sansai(mountain vegetables) are in season in the spring while Nasu(egg plant) is in season in autumn. In the summer Unagi(eel) is preferred, but in winter Fugu(puffer fish) is popular. Sometimes a dish item belongs to a particular season only because of the prevailing outdoor temperature, for example Oden (fish cake and tofu simmered in soy flavoured dashi) is ‘in season’ in winter because it warms you up. This focus on seasons is a nice touch but it also means the menu is not adjusted frequently, and if you revisit a restaurant too soon, chances are you will be served almost exactly the same meal.

No Duplication of Ingredients
One other feature of Kaiseki Ryori: there is no duplication in ingredients across all the courses. If even a bit of beef appears in one course, it won’t appear again in another. Fish is an exception. Different species of fish are not considered duplication, so different types of fish may be served during the dinner. High end Western elements such as caviar and truffles are slowly finding their way into the kaiseki kitchen, especially in the more urban areas, so don’t be surprised if you find some western produce being mentioned in your Kaiseki menu.

No Replication of Cooking Styles
There is also no duplication in cooking methods across all the courses. This ensures that the diner will continue to experience ‘new’ tastes and textures throughout the meal. How can this be possible for up to 10 courses you may ask? The answer is: Japanese cuisine has more cooking styles than any other. Besides being served a salad and soup there would also typically be a savoury custard. For the remaining courses there are literally dozens of Japanese cuisines to choose from, like: Sushi, Sashimi, Siero(box-steamed), Sukiyaki(soya-parboiled), Shabushabu(dashi-parboiled) and Sunomono(vinegar-simmered). Actually I’ve only named some cooking styles starting with S here. If we were to look at those starting with T, you’d have Tempura(batter deep fried), Tonkatsu(breaded deep fried), Teppanyaki(griddle fried), Teriyaki(sauce-grilled). You get the idea.

Example of Kaiseki Ryori
For reference, Here I’ll post the courses I had at a recent Kaiseki Dinner. It was quite a modern version of Kaiseki Ryori, from an esteemed restaurant called Ryu Gin:

  • 1. Salad of seven seasonal vegetables in a
    special pine nut dressing
    RG1
  • 2. Hot egg custard topped with bean curd skin
    and sea urchin
    RG2
  • 3. Simmered abalone, seaweed-crusted scallop
    and slow-cooked blue lobster
    RG3
  • 4. Grade A dashi soup with charcoal grilled
    alfonsino fish and matsutake mushrooms
    RG4
  • 5. Assortment of mackerel-themed sashimi
    RG5
  • 6. Charcoal grilled tile fish served with its crispy scales
    RG6
  • 7. A3 Saga beef served sukiyaki style, with black truffle
    RG7
  • 8. Matsuba crab served with Shiitake mushroom
    rice, topped with crab miso
    RG8
  • 9. -196℃ candy pear served with +99℃ pear jam
    RG9
  • 10. Green tea fondant with pumpkin seed ice cream
    RG10
 
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Posted by on January 15, 2014 in Japanese, Uncategorized

 

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Chawanmushi – Japanese Steamed Egg


(serves 5)
Chawanmushi is a steamed egg custard commonly served in Japanese Cuisine. Unlike its Western counterparts, it is a savoury custard. A variety of bite sized food items are burried within the custard, given it a subtle meaty flavour that lingers in the mouth. Chawanmushi contains no milk or cream, giving it a light and delicate texture that is as smooth as tofu. It can be served as an appetizer in any meal, formal or casual, making it a very versatile dish.
 
Main Ingredients ChawanMushi
  1. Eggs (3)
  2. Mirin
  3. Sake
  4. Hon Dashi
  5. Soya Sauce

Other (Optional) Ingredients

  1. Chicken
  2. Shrimp
  3. Kamaboko (fish cake)
  4. Shiitake (mushroom)
  5. Carrot
  6. Ginko Nuts

Preparation DobinmushiCM Ingredients

  1. First we start by making the dobin mushi, which is a stock with bits of meat and vegetables in it. You can basically use any kind of ingredients but I’ll assume you are using the ingredients listed in the photo.
  2. Marinate 5 finger tip sized pieces of chicken and 5 small shrimp in 2T mirin and 1t soya sauce.
  3. Slice a large fresh (i.e. not dried) shiitake mushroom into 5 segments. Cut 5 thin slices of carrot and 5 slices of fish cake.
  4. Bring to a strong boil 1.75 cups of water with 1 heaped T of hon dashi pellets.
  5. Add all the cut and marinated ingredients into the pot, including the marinade. Give it a quick stir and immediately turn off the fire. Leave covered for five minutes.

You may do everything in part I ahead of time

Preparation Chawanmushi

  1. Beat 3 eggs in a pitcher with 2T sake.
  2. When the dashi stock has cooled, fish out all the boiled ingredients and distribute them equally into the tea cups.
  3. Pour the dashi into the pitcher, mixing it well with the egg.
  4. From the pitcher, pour the custard mixture through a strainer into the cups. Don’t fill the cups beyond 85% of their capacity.
  5. Add a cup of water into a large pot with a steaming rack. In any case, ensure that the water does not reach up the rack.
  6. Arrange the cups onto the rack with their covers on. Bring the water to a boil with the (pot) cover off. This serves to warm up the custard a bit.
  7. When the water is boiling, cover the pot and leave on a low simmer for 10 minutes. Leave the pot covered with heat off for a further 5 minutes for custard to firm up.
  8. Serve hot in the original cups, covers still on and with a tea spoon. It is normal for a small amount of dashi(soup) to remain after the chawanmushi is cooked.

Notes

  • ‘Chawan’ means tea cup while ‘Mushi’ means steamed, so chawanmushi translates as ‘steamed cup (of egg)’. Similarly, ‘Dobin’ means teapot and dobinmushi transalates as ‘steamed teapot (of soup)’. It is not an intermediate ingredient but a distinct soup in itself; note the version here is not the way to make a proper dobinmushi. 
  • If you don’t have tea cups with covers, you can just use a double sheet of foil which you crumple snugly over the top of each cup seperately. The cups should however be the oriental type made of thick porcelain. 
  • Do not leave the cups uncovered; condensate will mar the custard surface while the chawanmushi will get cooked unevenly.
  • It is very important to strain the custard mixture. Do not skip this step or there will be bubbles in the chawanmushi. There will also be sediment from the stock and also bits of egg white which do not steam well.
  • If you like, you can put various decorative or fragrant items on the chawanmushi surface immediately after it is steamed, like a perilla leaf or a slice of kamaboko. 
  • If you can’t get some of the other ingredients listed at the beginning that’s ok; you can substitute anything you like as long as you follow these guidelines:
    • it is small (like a ginko nut) 
    • it doesn’t bleed colour (portobello for example stains the custard)
    • it doesn’t have too strong a taste (fisk ok, lamb not so much)
 
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Posted by on January 8, 2014 in Appetizers, Japanese, Poultry, Recipe, Seafood

 

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Crab and Cheese Faux Soufflé


(serves 6)
This is not a real soufflé as it uses what I call the french toast method, but it is permissible for a savoury dish and it certainly tastes as good as any traditional soufflé made from beaten egg-white. Within each ramekin, there’ll be that heavenly combination of crab meat and 3 different cheeses, melded into a fluffy body of bread and egg; sort of like crab gratin meets bread and butter pudding, only lighter.    

IngredientsCrab and Cheese Soufflé

  1. Cooked Crab Meat (300g)
  2. Capsicum (1)
  3. Onion (1/2)
  4. Diced Bread (4 cups)
  5. Cream (1 cup)
  6. Milk (1 cup)
  7. Eggs (3)
  8. Parmigiano Reggiano (40g)
  9. Cheddar (80g)
  10. Brie (120g)
  11. DIllweed 
  12. Cognac

Preparation

  1. Drain the crab meat and then soak it in a mixture of 1 part brandy to 4 parts water. This will freshen up your crab meat. Make sure you loosen the packed meat so the brandy can permeate faster.
  2. In the meanwhile, julienne half an onion and one capsicum (without the seeds). Dice slices of soft crustless bread until you end up with four cups of loosely packed cubes of bread.
  3. Grate the parmigiano and cheddar. You can mix them together. Dice the Brie but keep it in the fridge to maintain its hardness.
  4. Using a large pan, stir-fry the onion pieces on low heat with a knob of butter till they get limp. Turn up the heat, add a second knob of butter together with the capsicum bits. Stir-fry for one minute.
  5. Drain the crab meat (the second time) and add this to the pan. Continue stir-frying and when the water from the crab has boiled off, add 1/3 cup milk and 1T brandy. Cook for a further minute, then turn off the heat.
  6. Add the diced bread to the frying pan (no heat) and mix until they absorb all the liquid. Sprinkle on the grated cheese, 1T of dillweed and 1t of pepper.
  7. Distribute half the pan’s contents evenly into 6 ramekins. There is no need to brush the inside of the ramekins with butter, this soufflé does not stick. Add the brie piece by piece to ensure even distrubution; they have a tendency to clump together. Top up with the remaining contents of the pan.
  8. Mix half a cup of cream, 0.5t of sugar and three eggs in a large bowl.
  9. In a pot, heat to almost boiling another half cup of the cream and 2/3 cups of milk. Slowly pour this hot half&half into the bowl with the eggs, stirring all the time to make sure the egg doesn’t get cooked. Pour the hot egg mixture into the ramekins and leave to settle for at least half an hour.
  10. Preheat the oven to 180oC (350oF) and bake your soufflés for about 20 minutes. You can see them rise, so its not too dificult to know when they are done.

NotesFive in the Oven

  • I assumed you are using canned crab meat, its the most convenient. If you happen to be are using freshly boiled crab, you can skip the soaking step.
  • I would use either red or orange capsicum (bell pepper). The yellow and green ones do goas well with the soufflé visually. 
  • If this recipe turned out nicely for you, you may want to check out this similar dish, my earlier liver pate souffle recipe.
 
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Posted by on December 9, 2013 in A Kobi Original, Appetizers, French, Recipe

 

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Corn Maque Choux


(serves up to 8)
Corn Maque Chaux is a New Orleans type of cream style corn with carries to this day a hint of century-old French and American Indian influences. It’s a delightful side dish which is simple yet immensely satisfying.  Corn Maque Chaux’s defining feature is its lightly cooked corn kernels which retains their sweetness and crispiness. This makes it go really well with roasted meats and steak. To accentuate the flavour of the fresh corn, mine is a light version without bacon or garlic.
 
Ingredients Corn Maque Choux
  1. Corn (4 ears)
  2. Capsicum (1)
  3. Onion (1)
  4. Butter (30g)
  5. Chicken Stock cube (1)
  6. Cream (1/4 cup)
  7. Whiskey
  8. Paprika
  9. Tarragon
  10. Thyme

Preparation

  1. Start by shaving the corn kernels off the ears. Don’t cut that closely to the cob, and leave some sharp edges.
  2. When you are done, scrape the edges to release a sort of corn mush which will be used to thicken the gravy.
  3. Finely dice 1 onion and 1 capsicum (a.k.a. bell pepper?).
  4. Dissolve 1 chicken stock in 1/2 cup of hot water. Add the corn mush and 1/4 cup whiskey to the stock.
  5. Fry the onion bits with a large slab of butter on a low flame in a large pan till they becomes limp. Add the capsicum and continue the slow stir fry until the onion begins to brown.
  6. Add the stock, and corn kernels and continue to simmer. Next add 2t paprika, 2t thyme, 2t tarragon and a sprinkle of black pepper. Follow this up with 1/4 cup of cream.
  7. Continue to simmer until the liquid boils down to the consistency of a light gravy. The sauce will thicken on cooling. Serve your maque choux warm or cold.

Notes

  • I think Maque Chaux is pronounced Mark Chu, like an Chinese dude’s name.
  • Scrape with the blade perpendicular to the cob. Do not carve bits of the cob off by holding the blade at an angle.
  • Some people add little bits of crayfish or prawns to their maque chaux. Marinate the meat lightly in oil, pepper and salt and add it to the mix towards the end so it isn’t overcooked.
  • Leftover Maque Choux is very versatile and has many uses, as part of an omelette, as the topping of a ramen.    
 
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Posted by on October 26, 2013 in Appetizers, French, Recipe

 

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Risotto Carbonara


(serves 3)
Here we have an unusual flavour for risotto, the trademark combination of pancetta, parmigiano and raw egg yolk known as Carbonara.
 Arborio rice is a good deal more starchy than pasta so its not as simple as making a carbonara sauce and pouring it over cooked rice. We also desire some bits of other crunchy morsels in the rice to give our risotto a bit more textural variety. Therefore I’ve had to improvise with some other additional ingredients…
 
Ingredients Risotto Carbonara
  1. Cubed Pancetta (300g)
  2. Luncheon Meat (200g)
  3. Bacon (3 slices)
  4. Arborio Rice (1 cup)
  5. Parmigiano-Reggiano (1/4 cup)
  6. Onion (1)
  7. Spring Onion (8 stalks)
  8. Mushrooms (100g)
  9. Butter (40g)
  10. Eggs (2)
  11. Cream (1/2 cup)
  12. Basil
  13. Brandy
  14. Turmeric

Preparation

  1. Start with the stock first. Cut the luncheon meat into 1cm cubes and boil them in 4 cups of water. When the water is boiling, add 3 slices of bacon, 4 stalks of spring onion and 1 flat t of turmeric. Simmer for 1 hour.
  2. While the simmering is going on, fry 300g of cubed pancetta on low heat in a pan. While the pancetta is being fried (you only need to move it occasionally), dice 1 onion finely.
  3. When the lard has been melted off the pancetta, remove the bits of meat, leaving the oil in the pan. Stir fry the onion bit over a low flame in this oil till they begin to caramelize.
  4. Next, add 1 cup of Arborio rice to the pan and continue to stir fry for 5 minutes and then turn off the heat.
  5. Cut the remaining spring onion into small bits, keeping the bits from the bottom half separate from the bits from the top half. Also, slice your mushrooms, and grate 1/4 cup of Parmigiano-Reggiano. Mix the cheese with 30g of diced butter.
  6. By this time, the 1 hour on the stock to be up. Keep the fire going under the stock. Reheat the pan on low heat and then ladle some of the boiling stock (liquid only, not the solids) into the rice. Keep the pan on a low simmer, stirring occasionally. Add more stock whenever the rice begins to dry. Add more water to the stock pot when that begins to dry up.
  7. After 20 minutes, add 1/4 cup cream, 3T of brandy and 1t of sugar. Then mix in the mushroom slices, 1T of chopped basil and the white portion of the chopped spring onions.
  8. Soon thereafter the rice will get to the al dente stage. At that time turn off the heat and add another 1/4 cup of cream, 2 egg yolks, the pancetta bits and the cheese-butter mixture. Give everything a thorough mixing and keep covered for 10 minutes while the rice fluffs up.
  9. You shouldn’t need to add any salt but taste for saltiness anyway, just in case. Plate and serve immediately after the 10 minutes is up. Sprinkle on some black pepper and use the remaining green part of the chopped spring onions as garnishing.

Notes

  • If you are making risotto for the first time, refer to this earlier recipe for more details on risotto making.
  • If you like Carbonara, you might be interested in my Lagsana Carbonara or Fettucine Carbonara recipes.
  • I normally don’t add cream to my risotto, but this is a Cabonara after all.
  • For this recipe both the smoked or sweetened pancetta varieties are suitable.  
 
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Posted by on October 18, 2013 in A Kobi Original, Italian, Main Courses, Recipe

 

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Coq au Vin with Chicken Breasts


(serves 3)
Coq au Vin is a wholesome simmered dish which hails from France. Traditional Coq au Vin recipes typically get you to boil your chicken to death as the flavour of the red wine matures and seeps into the meat. This method doesn’t work too well with chicken breasts which become dry and hard. To keep your chicken breasts tender, you’ll see from the recipe that I’ve taken a different approach. Since the aim is to cook a (more) healthy dish with white meat here, I’ve also factored in a way to bypass the need for chicken skin or lardons to react with the tannin in the wine
 
Ingredients Chicken Breast - Coq au Vin
  1. Chicken Breasts (600g)
  2. Luncheon Meat (200g)
  3. Onion (1)
  4. Shallots (8)
  5. Mushrooms (100g)
  6. Carrot (1)
  7. Garlic (1 bulb = 12 cloves)
  8. Red Wine (1 cup)
  9. Port (1/4 cup)
  10. Brandy (1/4 cup)
  11. White Rice (1T)
  12. Butter
  13. Chicken stock cube (1/2)
  14. Sage
  15. Thyme
  16. Oregano
  17. Paprika

Preparation

  1. Before proceeding with the rest of the recipe, brine your chicken breasts overnight or for at least 8 hours according to the recipe in this earlier post.
  2. Dry the brined chicken breasts with kitchen towels and rub on a dusting of paprika.
  3. Peel the garlic, shallots and onion. Cut the onion into 8 ‘quarters’ and slice the carrot into 1/3 inch pieces.
  4. Slice the luncheon meat (a.k.a. spam) block into 5 slices. Place this into a pot with half a mashed chicken stock cube, 1 cup of red wine, 1/4 cup port and 3 cups of water. Turn on the heat and bring to a low simmer.
  5. Add the garlic cloves, onion, shallots and carrot pieces. Sprinkle in 1 heaped T of raw rice  that has been rinsed (2T if cooked, without the rinse).
  6. Add 1t each of chopped sage, thyme and oregano. Simmer on low heat for 1 hour, uncovered. Top up with a bit of water as and when needed.
  7. OK, its one hour later. Melt 20g of butter in a second pot which is just big enough to fit the chicken breasts flat and without overlapping. When the butter begins to darken, sear the chicken breasts briefly in the butter to seal them and then quickly add the wine stew minus the luncheon meat.
  8. Top off with 1/4 cup brandy and the mushrooms (cut into halves). Make sure all the chicken is completely submerged.
  9. Bring to a boil for about 5 minutes, or until you notice that the meat is just beginning to shrink. Turn off the fire and leave covered for half an hour while the chicken continues to slow cook. You can serve your Coq au Vin anytime thereafter, but its best to leave the pot to sit for a few hours as more wine flavour will be infused into the chicken.
  10. Briefly bring to a second boil before serving. If you need to thicken the stew further, boil it down but with the chicken breasts temporarily taken out – return the chicken to the pot for a final quick reheat. Taste and add salt if needed at the very end.

Notes

  • As you’ve noticed, we do the cooking in two stages. Making the wine vegetable stew first without the chicken is the ticket to getting the wine to mature without overcooking the chicken breast. This is followed up by a short cooking time and long soaking time for the chicken to get tender flavourful chicken, a technique they use in making Hainanese Chicken Rice.
  • Normally chunks of salted pork fat called lardons and chicken skin are needed to neutralize the tannin of red wine. This is where the luncheon meat comes in. In fact since luncheon meat contains ground up connective tissue, it works even better to mature the red wine. The other good thing about using luncheon meat is that it can be removed easily.
  • The rice is a convenient way to thicken the stew without the trouble of making a roux with flour.
  • Burgundy, which is light, is normally the wine of choice for Coq au Vin while a heavier wine like Bordeaux is used for braising collagen rich beef cheek and oxtail. With all the collagen in luncheon meat, you can afford to use a heavier wine for a more robust stew.  
 
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Posted by on September 30, 2013 in French, Main Courses, Poultry, Recipe

 

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Two Colour Seafood Terrine


(serves 12 as appetizers, 6 as mains)
This is a recipe for a cold semi-firm seafood terrine that is half red and half green. The use of canned lobster bisque and Nori (dried seaweed) sheets makes it much easier to get a full spectrum of seafood flavours while using just fish and prawn as you base ingredients. The lobster bisque is also used to make a lobster-shallot sauce that goes superbly with the terrine. Another nice touch is the use of brioche, which gives your terrine a nice buttery tone. The result, a juicy flavourful seafood terrine that everyone will enjoy.
 
Ingredients
  1. Sole Fillet (500g)
  2. Prawns (150g)
  3. Scallops (150g)
  4. Brioche (cubed, 2 cups)
  5. Cream (200ml)
  6. Lobster Bisque (1×400 ml can)
  7. Nori = Dried Seaweed (2 large sheets)
  8. Eggs (2)
  9. Shallots (9)
  10. Mayonnaise
  11. Butter
  12. Brandy
  13. Vodka
  14. Basil
  15. Dill Weed

Knife Work

  1. Spoon one heaping T of mayonnaise into a bowl so that it will be at room temperature by the time you need it.
  2. Cut each of your 9 shallots in half, peel them, then slice finely.
  3. Cut as much brioche as you need into small cubes until you get 2 cups full.
  4. Cut with scissors 2 large (like A4 paper sized) Nori sheets into confetti.
  5. Shell your prawns and dice them together with the sole fillet into pieces about the size of half a finger.

Blending the Terrine

  1. In a pan, stir fry one third of the shallots in a dash of oil till they soften. With the pan sizzling hot, add half the can of lobster bisque, 2T brandy and 1t basil. Let the mixture boil for 30 seconds and turn off the heat. Mix in 1 cup of brioche cubes. Allow to cool in a bowl.
  2. In the same pan(after washing it), stir fry another third of the shallots in a dash of oil till they soften. This time add 200ml of cream, the Nori confetti, 2T vodka, 0.5t pepper and 0.5t salt. Let the mixture boil for 30 seconds and turn off the heat. Mix in 1 cup of brioche. Allow to cool in a second bowl.
  3. Place half the fish, half the prawns and an egg in a blender, then add the contents of the first bowl. It must be cool enough such that the egg doesn’t start cooking. Don’t liquidize it completely, just blend till you get a lumpy paste. Spoon the paste back into the bowl.
  4. Blend the rest of the fish and prawns with a second egg with the contents of the second bowl, using the same procedure.

Cooking the Terrine

  1. Line the inside of 6 ramekins with oversized pieces of clear cling film. Spoon the seafood paste from the two bowls into 6 ramekins as shown. Poke with the small end of a spoon to compact the paste and get rid of air pockets.
  2. When you are done, cover each ramekin with a second piece of smaller cling film and tuck the loose bits under the ramekin to seal everything up. The terrine will expand while it is cooking (although it will shrink back after that) so do not fill the ramekins to the brim.
  3. Set up your steaming rack in a pot with an inch of water and set it to boil. When the water is boiling. Arrange 3 ramekins within (see the picture below) and steam for half an hour on a low simmer. You can stack the other 3 ramekins on in an overlapping fashion if your pot is tall enough. If not, repeat with the second 3 ramekins.
  4. Allow the ramekins to cool and then chill them in the fridge with the clear film still attached. You can leave them in the fridge overnight.

Sauce 

  1. In the same pan(after washing it again), stir fry the remaining one third of the shallots in a few T of oil. This time you want to stir-fry on low heat until they are a nice deep brown.
  2. Pour in the remaining lobster bisque while the pan is sizzling, add 2T brandy, the warm mayonnaise, 1t dill weed and 1t sugar. Let it boil for 10 seconds and then set aside to cool. When it has cooled enough, spoon into a bowl and  chill this in the fridge as well.
  3. Melt a large knob of butter in the same pan(after washing it again). Turn the heat off.

Scallops

  1. Cut each scallop into half from the flat side, then slice them into thin semi-circular pieces.
  2. Melt a large knob of butter in the same pan (after washing it yet again) and then allow the pan to cool. Arrange the scallop pieces in the pan and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper.
  3. Turn the heat on and cook without touching the scallops at all. The moment you see the scallops get opaque, which is very fast, turn off the fire. They cook fast and this is the best way to ensure each piece is cooked the same and done just right.

Putting It Together

  1. Remove the chilled terrine blocks from the ramekins and clear film and pat dry with kitchen towels.
  2. Slice any uneven bits (like a rounded bottom) off the biggest blocks and mash them up (in their separate colours) so you can use them as fillers later.
  3. Slice each circular block into 2 thinner blocks.
  4. Arrange on plates with the clean cut surface facing up. Fill in any gaps with your mashed bits.
  5. Spoon the sauce onto the plate, around but not on the terrine.
  6. Finally, arrange the scallop petals on the plate on the sauce.
Loaf Terrine

Loaf type terrine I made a long time ago. See how hard it is to control the shapes in a loaf. This one used salmon and spinach for colour, resulting in a sharp colour contrast

  • The structure of seafood terrines varies widely. Mine is a simple one with no solid bits but you can put chunks of any kind of seafood you like in yours. Just make sure they cut easily (i.e. nothing chewy like clams)
  • You can make the colours more vibrant if you wish. One option is to use salmon as the fish for the red part and add some chopped spinach to the green part (see picture). Other options include adding a t of grenadine syrup or few drops of red colouring to enhance red, and adding t of Midori liqueur or a few drops green food colouring to enhance the green.
  • I used a stainless steel round form to divide the terrine into inner and outer layers. If you don’t have these in your kitchen, one option is to make a Swiss-roll by spreading a thick layer of Nori fish paste on a suitably sized sheet of Nori, rolling it up and standing it up in the ramekin as the centre. You’ll get a nice spiral pattern as your core. You can also just dispense with appearances and use a simple left-right arrangement.
  • Traditionally terrine is made in one large loaf shaped block but I found that it is much easier to steam ramekins. If you want to make a one loaf terrine, you’ll have to cook the terrine on a pan of water in the oven, and replace the cling film with the more cumbersome parchment paper or perhaps cabbage leaves.
 
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Posted by on August 3, 2013 in Appetizers, French, Japanese, Recipe, Seafood

 

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