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Soya Sauce Braised Chicken


(serves 4)
Braising in soya sauce is one of the most basic Chinese cooking styles. My recipe is slightly modernized but its essentially the same Chicken In Soya Sauce that my mother used to cook for me when I was young. My ‘trick’ is to cook the chicken for only a short amount of time but have it soak in the braising liquid for a long time. The result is chicken that is really tender but still tasty. Its a great for to cook chicken if you don’t have an oven.   
 

Ingredients Soya Braised Chicken

  1. Chicken Leg with Thigh (4)
  2. Dark Soya Sauce (1/4 cup)
  3. Chinese Wine (1/4 cup)
  4. Onion (1)
  5. Maple Syrup
  6. Five Spice Powder
  7. Nutmeg
  8. Black Pepper

Optional Ingredients in photo

  1. Potatoes
  2. Bok Choi
  3. Egg
  4. Konnyaku Vermicelli (aka Shirataki)

Preparation 

  1. Defrost the chicken completely and pad dry with kitchen towels. Trim off any visible chunks of fat on the the thigh with a pair of scissors. The skin tends to shrink so leave any excess skin on.
  2. Marinate the chicken in 4T of maple syrup.
  3. Prepare your optional ingredients (see notes below) at this stage. If they require more than 7 minutes of cooking time, par-boil them for a while, otherwise, just cut them to the right size.
  4. Next, cut an onion into thick rings. Choose a pot which the chicken will fit snugly in a single layer. Stir fry the onions in the pot with 3T of vegetable oil over a very low flame.
  5. After the onion becomes soft and starts to caramelize, this will take some time, mix 1/4 cup dark soya sauce, 1/4 cup Chinese wine with 1 cup water and add this to the pot.
  6. Turn up the heat and bring to a strong boil. Add 1 heaped T of sugar, 1T five spice powder, 1T nutmeg and 1T black pepper.
  7. Arrange the chicken legs nicely into the boiling pot upside down and pour in all the left over maple syrup marinade. Top up with the optional ingredients to bring up the level of the liquid. Ensure the chicken is fully submerged. The vegetables don’t need to be completely covered as the liquid will be splashing about as it boils.
  8. Boil the chicken for exactly seven minutes. Leave the pot uncovered so the liquid can thicken and place the cover on only for the last 30 seconds. After turning the fire off, leave the pot covered for several hours, preferably overnight. This is the part where the flavour soaks into the chicken.
  9. You don’t want the meat to be overcooked, so remove the chicken first when reheating. When the braising liquid comes to a boil, turn the heat off before putting the chicken legs back in the pot. Give the chicken 5 min to warm up before serving.

Notes

  • You can swap in or add all kinds of other flavours to the soya sauce at step 6 depending on your preference, for example ginger slices, cinnamon, cloves.
  • There are many optional ingredients you can add to the pot with your chicken, just remember they must be of a type that does not adsorb too much flavour. For the photo I used potatoes, bok choy and shirataki, a yam based vermicelli which is already mostly water. Other possible options are chestnuts, yam and any kind of leafy vegetables.
  • If you don’t have Chinese wine, try sherry. My favourite for this recipe is actually sake. Do not skip the alcohol as it is needed to mellow out the soya sauce. It will evaporate anyway.
  • If you are using chicken breast meat, consider brining it first.
  • There will be lots of chicken-flavoured braising liquid left over. It is very useful. You can use it to braise additional vegetables that cannot be left in the braising liquid overnight, like eggplant, carrots, mushrooms. You can also use them to marinate boiled eggs (as in picture), as a BBQ marinade, to fry noodles etc. If you strain the liquid before storing it in an air-tight container in the fridge, it can easily last a fortnight (it should congeal into a gel).  
 
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Posted by on July 1, 2014 in Main Courses, Oriental, Poultry, Recipe

 

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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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What is Kaya?


 

         1. Hainanese Kaya        2. Nonya Kaya(Home)      3. Nonya Kaya(Store)        4. Hybrid Kaya

Kaya is a custard made with coconut milk that is popular in Singapore and Malaysia. Like regular jam, it is most often used as a bread spread (its technically not a jam since it is not made from fruit) at breakfast and afternoon tea. Because of its sweet taste, Kaya is also used as an ingredient is various local desserts in Southeast Asia from Thailand to Indonesian. If you are from outside the region, think of it as something like creme brulee in a bottle. 

The recipe for making kaya varies from household to household but typically involves cooking a mixture of 10 eggs, 500g of sugar and 500 ml of coconut milk over a double boiler, stirring frequently. Its pretty much the same as making a sabayon or custard, except you stand there cooking and stirring for a very, very long time.

There are two main types of Kaya. The more original variety is Hainanese Kaya (bottle No.1), Hainan being a large island of China. Many Hainanese ventured into Southeast Asia during the hey day of the British Empire. A lot of them worked as cooks (and tailors) in commonwealth cities and aboard British merchant ships where they encounted a thing called jam on toast. Over time, they invented their own ‘jam’, which became Kaya. That’s the reason you won’t find Kaya (or Hainanese Chicken Rice or Hainanese Pork Chop to name a few more examples) anywhere in Hainan today, they were invented by overseas Hainanese. The term Kaya was probably coined by the Malays, who refer to it as Seri Kaya. Hainanese Kaya is made with brown sugar which results in its distinct orangy colour. Some modern commercial formulations use honey instead.

There is another version of Kaya that is green; this is called Nonya Kaya (bottle No.2). How did this originate? Its another complicated story, also related to the Chinese migrants. When early Chinese migrants inter-married with the locals in Malaysia, they formed a sub-community called the Nonya. The Nonya add pandan leaves to a lot of their cuisine and when they learnt to make Kaya, they also added pandan to that. Their varierty of Kaya uses white sugar, but compensates for the loss of the caramelized taste by adding the juice from pandan leaves. This gives Nonya Kaya its unique flavour and fragrance. Commercially, food dye is added to Nonya Kaya (bottle No.3) to give it a darker green colour. Nowadays you can also get a hybrid Kaya (bottle No.4) that is made with both brown sugar and pandan leaves.

Besides spreading it on toast, how else can Kaya be used? Being very sweet, Kaya goes very well with salted butter and you can use it in place of syrup or icing sugar on pancakes, waffles and french toast. Kaya also works well as a filling in a Danish type pastry (for example you could replace the sesame paste of my Sesame Swirl Puffs with Kaya). Finally you can experiment with Kaya in those savoury dishes that require a touch of sweetness, such as in pan fried foie gras.

 
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Posted by on March 26, 2013 in Desserts, Ingredients, Oriental

 

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Homemade Dill Mayonnaise


(makes 2 cups)
There is a world of difference between homemade mayonnaise and store-bought mayonnaise, a difference anyone, even children can taste. Homemade mayonnaise is a bit more yellow because of the egg yolks so that’s how you can tell immediately its not off-the-shelf. But when you taste it, that’s when the quality comes through. Its richer, fluffier and creamier all at the same time. Its really easy to make with simple ingredients. Try it once and there’s no turning back.  
 

Ingredients

  1. Eggs (3)
  2. Vegetable Oil (1-1/4 cup)
  3. Dijon Mustard (1t)
  4. Dill Weed (2T)
  5. Lemon (1/2)

Preparation 

  1. Take 3 eggs out of the fridge two hours ahead to let them warm to room temperature.
  2. Seperate the yolks into the mixing container. You won’t be using the whites. Add 1t of dijon mustard and the strained juice of half a lemon.
  3. Beat the mixture till it is well mixed. I use a hand-held electric blender in a tall clear tumbler but you can do it by hand if you want to.
  4. Measure 1 and 1/4 cup of vegetable oil into a pitcher. Continue blending and add the oil a little at a time. You must add the oil very very slowly at first. If the oil looks seperated from the mixture, you are adding it too fast. When half the oil has been incorporated into the mixture, you can pour the rest in a bit faster.
  5. When the mayonnaise starts to stiffen, add 1t salt and 1t pepper. Beat/Blend at high speed to bring the mayonnaise up to the right consistency. Don’t over do it or the oil will seperate again.
  6. Spoon the mayonnaise into your intended storage container. Mix in 2T of dill weed using a spoon. Cover with cling film that is pushed down to evacuate all the air and refrigerate.
  7. Dill is good with seafood. If you don’t like dill weed, here are some other choices for flavouring your mayonnaise:
    1. GARLIC crushed (= Aioli, not Rouille)… good on bread with bouillabaisse 
    2. ANCHIOVIES in oil… perfect for schnitzels
    3. HONEY and more mustard… chicken nugget dip
    4. CUMIN… also nice with crab cakes, and boiled eggs
    5. PESTO… a bold flavour for meat sandwiches
    6. SHALLOTS minced and fried… great for poached fish
    7. or refer to my earlier Mayonnaise Glazed Sole recipe

Notes

  • The egg yolks are left uncooked, that’s the secret to the natural taste and texture. Fresh eggs would be best but if not, make sure you bought the eggs less than a week ago. If the yolk sac has begun to thicken or turn orange, your egg has expired. 
  • Since you are not pasturizing any of your ingredients like the food companies, this will not keep as long as bottled mayo. That’s the one downside of homemade mayonnaise. Make sure all utensils and equipment touching the mayonnaise, and your hands, are spanking clean.
  • This is one of those times you should not use olive oil because it has a strong taste. I usually use canola oil for this, but if you have concerns over erucic acid, use alternatives like sunflower seed or soyabean oil.
  • If you are using an electrical blending appliance, make sure it is the type that does not need the cover to be on when its operating or you will have to open and close it 100x.
 
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Posted by on June 3, 2012 in French, Ingredients, Recipe

 

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Bread and Butter Pudding


(serves 10)
One of my absolute favourites, buttered bread soaked and then baked in custard. In a contest between Bread and Butter Pudding and French Toast, we see one of the rare instances where British cuisine triumphs. A great dessert made from simple ingredients, that can be made before hand, that can be made in large quantities with little effort, that can be eaten hot or cold; What more could anyone ask for?      

Ingredients

  1. Milk (800ml)
  2. Eggs (6)
  3. Butter (80g)
  4. Bread (1 loaf)
  5. Raisins (1/2 cup)
  6. Sugar (1/2 cup)
  7. Nutmeg
  8. Cinnamon
  9. Rum

Pre-preparation 

  1. A day before, slice your loaf into 3/4 inch slices. You can’t use pre-sliced bread as the slices are too thin.
  2. Next we do the ‘test fit’. Pick a shallow pyrex dish than can hold at least 10 cups. Arrange the slices once in the bakeware so you know exactly how many slices you’ll be needing. Overlap the slices like a stack of fallen dominoes and use a left right arrangement, as shown in the photo below. 
  3. Leave the bread in the fridge to dry out the bread, with or without the dish.
  4. Soak 1/2 cup of raisins in 3T of rum.

Preparation

  1. Its now one day later; spread butter on one side of each slice of bread. Use salted butter as a bit savoury taste is essential. Sprinkle nutmeg and cinnamon on the buttered side of the bread. Be generous with the butter, nutmeg and cinnamon as they are what gives flavour to the pudding.
  2. Arrange the buttered bread in the pyrex, the same way as before. Scatter 3/4 of the raisins between the slices of bread.
  3. Lightly beat 4 eggs and 2 egg yolks with half a cup of sugar in a mixing bowl. Stir in 800ml of milk and any of the rum not soaked up by the raisins. Put the whole mixture through a fine strainer to remove strands of albumin.
  4. Pour the strained mixture into the pyrex. The bread will float even when its wet (ever feed swans in a pond?) but their arrangement will make sure only a small amount of each piece sticks out. If you ignored me and arranged them like a brick wall, some pieces will be completely free floating now. If you ignored me and used a deep baking dish, all the bread will gather at the top now.
  5. Let the bread soak for half an hour. You will need to gently push the bread (with your palm) down once in a while so they become totally submerged. Even though they float, the idea is to make sure the portions above the custard are soaked as well. If you ignored me and used thin pre-sliced bread, the bread will begin to fall apart now.
  6. Preheat your oven to 150oC (300oF).
  7. After the soaking is done, sprinkle the remaining raisins and 1T of sugar on the surface. Place uncovered into the oven and bake for about 40 minutes.
  8. The bread will eventually be seen to puff up and this is a sign the pudding is close to being done. Wait a while more and the bread should begin to brown nicely, that is when the pudding can come out. Allow the pudding to stand for a few hours before serving.

Notes

  • Glazing the pudding is a nice extra touch and a chance to add an extra layer of flavour. When the bread puffs, this is the signal for you to brush on a layer of golden syrup, mapel syrup, marmalade etc. Place back into the oven after brushing on the glazing of course.
  • The best bread to use is supposedly brioche, i.e. a bread with a high egg and milk content. If you are unsure, this just means any bread that is yellow. Any bread that is tough or is made from whole grain will not work.
  • If you wish to serve the pudding warm, you still need to allow it to cool before you reheat it. I would normally serve warm B&B pudding with a vanilla custard sauce (made easily from custard powder). 
  • Some people swear that panettone, left over from christmas, is the best bread to use but i have never tried this. It helps of course that panettone conveniently has soaked raisins embedded in it to start with.
 
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Posted by on September 18, 2011 in Desserts, English, Recipe

 

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Runny Yolk Boiled Eggs


(serves 4)
Half a boiled egg is perfect as an amuse-bouche or hors d’oeuvre. Its easy to prepare and can be cooked ahead of time. To avoid the powdery taste of fully cooked yolk, many recipes simply scoop the yolk out and mix it with something creamy like mayonnaise but I prefer the more natural solution, which is to have the yolk still runny after the white has cooked. In Japan, where the practice of eating molten egg yolk developed, this dish is called Ajitsuke Tamago or just plain Ajitama for short.
 
Ingredients
  1. Large Eggs (2)
  2. Smoked Salmon (25g)
  3. Garlic (3 cloves)
  4. Dark Soya Sauce 
  5. Chinese Cooking Wine 
  6. Vinegar
  7. a Drawing Pin

Preparation

The first thing we learn about boiling eggs is to put cold water in the pot with the eggs to prevent them from cracking and leaking their contents. This rule does not hold here as timing is absolutely crucial in having the yolk runny and white solid. Not to worry, there are a few tricks to that.

  1. Start by putting your eggs in a bowl of warm water to bring their temperature up. This will reduce the sudden temperature change when you place them in boiling water.
  2. Next place a pot of water to boil with a few T of vinegar. Make sure you have sufficient water to cover the eggs.
  3. When the water begins boiling, use a drawing pin and punch a small hole at the base (the wider end) of the each egg. This will further serve to relieve stress on the shell as it heats up and will prevent cracking.
  4. Lower the eggs into the boling water with a large spoon and simmer for seven and a half minutes. If you are using medium sized eggs, reduce the boiling time by 30 seconds to 7 minutes. Use a timer if you have one.
  5. As the eggs are simmering, prepare a bowl of iced water. Once the eggs are ‘done’ transfer them immediately to the iced water. After the eggs have cooled sufficiently, tap them over their entire surface to fully crack the shells. As the eggs are cold, the egg itself should have shrunk enough to detach itself from the shell membrane and this will help you to avoid damaging the eggs’ surface as you peel them.
  6. Mix 6T soya sauce, 2T Chinese Cooking Wine and 1t of sugar in the smallest container you have that can house the eggs without stacking them. Place the eggs in and top off with water till the eggs are fully submerged. Cover with clear film and refrigerate for a few hours, or overnight if possible. After the eggs are stained, they will retain some taste from the marinade.
  7. Near the time of dining, slice each egg into two, and place a few drops of the marinade onto the yolk to impart more flavour.
  8. While you are letting the eggs warm to room temperature, peel and slice three cloves of garlic as finely as you can and pan fry them in a dash of oil till they are golden. Also cut one slice of smoked salmon into tiny squares. Use them both as condiments for your egg.

Notes

  • The boiled egg is versatile. Other than the garlic/smoked salmon combo suggested, you can try a wide variety of savoury alternatives like caviar, salmon roe, crispy fried bits of Iberico ham etc. The soya marinade can also be replaced with things like BBQ sauce, olive tapenade, tea leaves or mashed anchovy.
  • The ice water is essential. Instant cooling will help ensure that your eggs are cooked to the correct degree each time. Besides, slow cooling results in a grey coating on the yolk which we’d like to avoid.
  • In case you were wondering about the vinegar: All egg shells are made from calcium carbonate and the acid in vinegar leaches some of this out, making the eggs easier to peel. 
  • I was told recently by a chef that adding salt to the boiling water will centre the yolk. I can’t understand how this would work, but I’ll try it out in my next run.
  • If you want to use a zip-loc bag to marinate the eggs in, make sure the bag is kept in a bowl the entire time.  If you lift the bag, its narrow base will squeeze the eggs and cause ruptures.
  • This type of egg, that is to say Ajitama, is served with many types of Ramen.
 
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Posted by on December 5, 2010 in Appetizers, Recipe

 

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Liver Pâté Soufflé


(serves 6)
This is a wonderful hot appetizer, light, with just the right hint of Pâté to arouse thoughts of greater things to come. It doesn’t need any fancy ingredients and can be made in jiffy if you are pressed for time. It also makes a good side dish when paired with the right meat dish.

Let me come clean here by admitting this is a ‘fake’ soufflé. Instead of using beaten egg whites to create the fluff, it uses what I call the french toast method. Don’t worry, you are allowed to do this for savoury soufflés, as sometimes you don’t want the end result to be too light. And its much more convenient if you do it this way.

 

Ingredients

  1. Liver Pâté (125g)
  2. Onion (1/2)
  3. Bacon(4 slices)
  4. Diced Bread (4 cups)
  5. Cream (1 cup)
  6. Milk (2/3 cup)
  7. Eggs (3)
  8. Tarragon
  9. Basil
  10. Cognac

Preparation

  1. Stack the bacon and cut lengthwise into 3. Then cut further into small quarter inch bits. Throw these into a frying pan on low fire. Cut the onion into similarly small pieces and when bacon the fat begins to melt, add the onion to the pan.
  2. When the onion softens, add the Pâté to the pan and stir fry for a further minute before turning off the heat.
  3. Dice your bread without the crust into half inch cubes. Add these into the frying pan (no heat) and mix until they absorb all the liquid. Then distribute the pan’s contents evenly into 6 ramekins. There is no need to brush the inside of the ramekins with butter or anything, this soufflé does not stick. If you don’t have ramekins, just use whatever you would normally use for casseroles.
  4. Mix half the cream and the three eggs in a mixing bowl.
  5. In a pot, heat to almost boiling the rest of the cream and all the milk. Slowly pour this hot half&half into the mixing bowl with the eggs, stirring all the time to make sure the egg doesn’t get cooked. As seasoning, stir in 1t each of chopped tarragon and basil, 1t sugar, a pinch of salt and pepper and 1T of brandy.
  6. Pour the egg mixture evenly into the ramekins and leave to settle for at least half an hour.
  7. 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.

Notes

  • There is no need to use an expensive goose pâté here as this is a baked dish. I typically use a canned pork liver pâté by plumrose. Its cheap and it keeps a long time.
  • After a bit of cooling, this soufflé pulls away from the walls so you can actually flip the whole soufflé out and serve it on a plate (right side up) with whatever decorative or side items you fancy. Lets see you do that with a egg white soufflé.
  • Why do some recipes ask you to soak the bread overnight in the fridge? Because those recipes are handed down from grandma and she didn’t heat the milk/cream in those days. It takes a long time for the bread to disintegrate in the cold.
 
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Posted by on October 1, 2009 in Appetizers, French, Recipe

 

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