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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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Claypot Chicken Rice – Rice Cooker version


(serves 3)
Claypot Chicken Rice is Cantonese comfort food classic where rice is flavoured with chicken and sweet soya sauce. Traditionally, Claypot Chicken Rice is cooked in a claypot as the name implies but in modern times it is very often cooked in a rice cooker at home so it is done perfectly every time. The recipe is somewhat special in that the rice and chicken are cooked separately, and then again together. Additional items used to flavour the rice are fragrant Chinese sausages and Shiitake mushrooms. The chicken is tenderized with bicarbonate of soda, making it super tender and juicy. 
 
Ingredients Claypot-style Chicken Rice
  1. Chicken Thigh & Leg (1)
  2. Red Chinese Sausage (2)
  3. Brown Chinese Sausage (2)
  4. Dried Shiitake Mushrooms (4)
  5. Raw Jasmine Rice (1.5 cups)
  6. Minced Ginger (2t)
  7. Dark Soya Sauce
  8. Chinese Wine
  9. Vinegar
  10. Sesame Oil
  11. Coriander Seed Powder
  12. Corn Starch
  13. Bicarbonate of Soda

Preparation Part I

  1. Debone the chicken leg and cut it into bite sized chunks, You can leave the skin on. Marinate in 3T of water, 2T soya sauce, 1T sesame oil, 1T Chinese wine, 2t corn starch, 1t sugar, and 0.5t bicarbonate.
  2. Soak 4 shiitake mushrooms in 1 cup of cool water plus 2T soya sauce and 1T sugar. Midway through the soaking, snip off the stems and discard them.
  3. Cut off the tip of the sausages with the string attached and slice them into 1/3 inch pieces.
  4. Rinse the raw rice a few times it in the detachable rice cooker pot. Add 90% of the amount of water you would normally use. Mix in the sausage pieces and set to cook as per normal. Use Jasmine Rice or any other type of long grained rice.
  5. After an hour has passed since step 1, and the rice cooker has gone to ‘keep warm’ mode, add 1T of vinegar to the chicken and mix well.
  6. Cut the mushrooms in the quarters and coarsely mince 2t of ginger while the vinegar neutralizes the sodium bicarbonate.
  7. Fry the ginger in 3T of vegetable oil in a pan. After the oil has been splattering for 30 seconds turn up the heat and add the chicken plus marinade. Stir fry the chicken, the idea is to get the chicken pieces glazed.
  8. Next, add the mushrooms, including the soaking liquid. Simmer on medium until the liquid is reduced by half. Sprinkle in 1t white pepper and 1t coriander seed powder.
  9. Arrange the contents of the pan on top of the rice inside the rice cooker (see picture below). Sprinkle all the remaining liquid from the pan over the chicken in the rice cooker evenly.
  10. Set the rice cooker to cook a second time. When it returns to ‘keep warm’ mode again, your chicken rice will be done. You can make your claypot chicken rice well ahead of time and reheat with the ‘keep warm’ function of your rice cooker.

Notes CP Chicken Cook

  • Chinese sausages should be easy to find in any Chinatown. If you really hate liver, use 4 red sausages instead. If you can’t find any, use Chorizo as a substitute for the red sausages and use braunschweiger (i.e. liverwurst) for the brown ones. They will be different in size to the Chinese sausages, so adjust the quantity accordingly. For reference, a Chinese sausage is 6 inches long and 3/4 inch in diameter.
  • If you have one of those rice cookers with fuzzy logic and all kinds of settings, just use the simplest one- usually labelled as ‘quick cook’ or something similar.
  • If you don’t have a rice cooker, it will be very difficult to cook this in a metal pot so I suggest you don’t try. The rice gets burnt very easily.
  • If you like this recipe, have a look at my Oyakodon recipe, which is the Japanese version of chicken rice. 
 
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Posted by on July 23, 2013 in Main Courses, Oriental, Poultry, Recipe

 

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Oyakodon – Japanese Chicken and Egg Rice


(serves 3)
Oyakodon a.k.a. Oyako Donburi a.ka.a Oyako Rice Bowl is a scrumptious mixture of tender simmered chicken pieces with scrambled eggs served on piping hot rice. The chicken is marinated in a semi-sweet sauce which when combined with the flavour from shiitake mushrooms and dashi broth results in the perfect sauce to go with rice. It’s no wonder Oyakodon is one of the most popular rice dishes in Japan. As it is an all-in-one complete meal, Oyakodon is quite a convenient dish to serve, it can be made in under an hour.  
 
Ingredients Oyakodon
  1. Chicken Thigh & Leg (2, boneless)
  2. Onion (1)
  3. Eggs (4)
  4. Dried Shiitake Mushrooms (4)
  5. Cooked Japanese White Rice (3 bowls)
  6. Scallion (3 shoots)
  7. Ginger (1t)
  8. Dark Soya Sauce
  9. Mirin
  10. Hon Dashi
  11. Sesame Oil
  12. Dried Seaweed (optional)

Preparation Part I

  1. Julienne the scallion into small 1/8 inch slices, keeping the white bits seperate from the green bits.
  2. If you didn’t buy your chicken legs deboned, you’ll need to debone them yourself. Seperate the skin from the meat as well. Trim off any large bits of fat from the meat and then cut the meat into bite sized chunks.
  3. In a bowl mix 4T soya sauce, 2T mirin, 1T sesame oil, 1t sugar, 1t pureed ginger and the white part of the scallion. Marinate the chicken pieces in this.
  4. Fry the skin in 1T of vegetable oil in a pan on low heat until the skin gets crispy. There is no need to move the skin save to flip it once.
  5. In the meanwhile dissolve 1t hon dashi pellets and 1t sugar into 1 cup of room temperature water. Soak your shiitake mushrooms in this.
  6. Peel and slice the onion into half rings.
  7. Rinse your rice and set it to cook in a rice cooker.
  8. At this stage the mushrooms would have softened a bit. Snip the stems and discard them. Slice the mushrooms into 1/4 inch strips and continue to soak them in the same liquid.
  9. Remove the skin from the pan, leaving the oil in the pan.
  10. Let the chicken marinate while the rice gets cooked, for about thirty minutes.

You may do everything in part I ahead of time

Preparation Part II

  1. Beat 4 eggs in a bowl with 1T mirin. Leave them in the open to warm up.
  2. Pan fry the onion pieces in the pan with the chicken oil until they begin to soften.
  3. Turn up the heat. When the pan is hot, drain any remaining chicken marinade into the bowl with the mushroom.
  4. Add the chicken pieces to the pan and stir fry the chicken, ensuring all surfaces are browned. Turn the heat down when the meat begins to shrink. Next, add the mushroom slices, including all the liquid. Sprinkle liberally with pepper and continue cooking until the liquid has been reduced by half in volume.
  5. Push the chicken pieces to the side of the pan and pour the egg mix into the middle (which will still contain sauce). Turn off the heat after 30 seconds or until just half of the egg mixture begins to solidify. Mix everything in the pan one last time without smashing up the soft egg too much.
  6. Scoop your cooked rice straight from the rice cooker into 3 large bowls, filling them 3/4 of the way up. Top off each bowl with the contents of the pan, including all the sauce. The egg should continue to cook til it is slightly runny.
  7. Sprinkle on the green bits of the scallion immediately while everything is still steaming hot. You may also add some thin strips of dried seaweed (Nori) if you like.

Notes

  • Oyako means Parent and Child, a reference to main ingredients being Chicken and Egg .  
  • If you are going out to buy mirin for the first time, check out my What is Mirin? page first. If you really cannot get your hands on some mirin, you can also find out how to make a substitute there.
  • What if I can’t find any shiitake mushrooms? The flavour from the shiitake (She-tar-kay) mushrooms is important too. If you really need to, try substituting with dried Porcini or Morel. Don’t use fresh mushrooms as they will impart an unwanted bitter gamey taste.
  • What if I don’t know how to cook rice? Refer to my White Rice Page. It goes without sayinh, it’s best to use Japanese rice for this dish.
  • If you like, you can cut the chicken skin that has been fried crispy into little pieces and sprinkle it on with the scallion at the end. You should not however leave the skin on the chicken. Together, there is no way to cook the skin properly and yet leave the chicken meat tender. 
  • Please note – the egg in the photo is a bit over cooked, it should be a bit runnier. My bad. If you want your egg to have a nicer colour and texture, use 4 yolks with 3 egg whites instead.
 
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Posted by on June 11, 2013 in Japanese, Main Courses, Poultry, Recipe

 

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Thickening Soup with Congee


Congee is a porridge made from simmering rice till it falls apart. Unlike the gruel which Oliver Twist was subject to, Congee is actually considered to be a quality dish in the Far East and in Western parlance is more like a meat or seafood stew. In some versions, like Japanese Okayu and Teochew  Moi, congee is made with the inividual rice kernals left intact. In most cases though, and the Cantonese are probably most famous for this, Congee is considered well made only if the rice is simmered till it disintegrates completely, leaving a silky smooth thick rice gruel. This type of congee is great for thickening soups and stews.

Wheat flour is troublesome to use as a thickener for soups as flour needs to be cooked at above the tempeature of boiling water before it looses that raw flour taste. It can’t be added to a soup directly, you have to fry it in butter to make a roux first. Corn starch creates an undesirable gooey texture. It also has a tendency to seperate and loose its viscouscity with time and after boiling so it can only be added at the last moment and all the soup must be consumed immediately. Is there something else we can use to make our soups thicker and richer?

Cantonese style congee on the other hand has none of these issues and it is quite a healthy alternative. It also has a very subtle plain taste which will only enrich and not alter your soups primary flavour. Although you can use congee to thicken any soup, it is best used to with chowder or puree type soups. For pure cream soups like cream of chicken or oysters florentine soup, you’d be better of making a roux from butter and flour for that distinct buttery taste.

Both bowls contain 1 tablespoon of the same rice boiled for exactly fifteen minutes. The rice in the bowl on the left was pre-frozen and is halfway turned to mush. The rice in the bowl on the right however was left unfrozen and the individual grains are still clearly intact.

There is however a well known shortcoming with congee, which is perhaps the reason it is not often suggested as a soup thickener. It takes a long time for rice to disintegrate completely, perhaps upwards of 2 hours of slow simmering. Some people use an immersion blender to shorten the cooking time but that means cooking the congee seperately and besides you only need a very small amount thickening purposes.

Let me give you a better way. Soak the rice for five minutes and then freeze it in a zip lock bag. Water inside the grain will freeze and expand, and as it does it will weaken the integrity of the rice kernals, making them fall apart more easily. It doesn’t matter how long it is frozen, for an hour or overnight.

Finally some details about the actual process. There is no need to boil some congee seperately, just add raw rice when you are boiling the stock. The rice should pretty much disintegrate in about half an hour if it was has been frozen before. If it’s a stew or chowder, just add the rice directly at the beginning. It’s as simple as that. How much should you add? Rice expands to many times its original size when hydrated and I would say up to (i.e. sometimes less than) 1 tablespoon per cup of liquid. 

Notes

  • Use only oriental type rice, preferably the short grained type. Japanese rice is one such type. These will breakdown faster. Tough varieties, like those you use for making risotto, and defintely wild rice, are unsuitable. Check out my rice page for details on types of rice grains.
 
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Posted by on December 1, 2012 in Ingredients, Oriental, Soups

 

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Chicken Ginseng Soup (Samgyetang)


(serves 6)
Chicken Ginseng Soup, the deluxe version of chicken noodle soup, is one of my Korean favourites. It’s a sumptuous soup made from young chicken and ginseng, a root greatly prized in Asia for its health-promoting properties. The third ingredient is glutinous rice, which has the magical property of transforming the earthy tones of ginseng into a delectable flavour even while it adds body to the soup. Together they make a really tasty nutritious broth, especially for someone who is under the weather.   
 

cut open to reveal the glutinous rice within

Ingredients

  1. Young Chicken (i.e. small)
  2. Ginseng slices (1/4 cup)
  3. Raw Glutinous Rice (3/4 cup)
  4. Dried Red Dates (15)
  5. Garlic (1 bulb = 12 cloves)
  6. Chicken Stock Cubes (2)
  7. Coriander Seed Powder

Preparation 

For the general theory of preparing East Asian soups, please refer to my Chinese Consommé post. If you are not familiar with glutinous rice, refer to my White Rice page.

  1. Rinse 3/4 cup of glutinous rice a few times.
  2. Open up a bulb of garlic and peel each clove after cutting off the tips. You should end up with a 12-15 whole cloves of garlic .
  3. Spoon the rinsed rice into the body cavity through the rear of the chicken. Cut a small opening in the chicken below the neck to allow free flow of water into the body cavity from the front.
  4. Place the chicken in a tall pot which is slightly larger than the chicken. This way, the entire chicken can be covered without using too much water.
  5. In a kettle, boil 2 litres of water. Pour this into the pot (with the chicken in it). After a minute drain away the water.
  6. Boil another 2 litres of water in the kettle and add this to the pot, followed by 2 chicken stock cubes, 1t salt and 1t coriander seed powder. Simmer, semi-covered, for 20 minutes.
  7. After the first simmer, add 15 dried red dates, the garlic cloves and 1/4 cup of ginseng chips. Simmer on low for a further hour, topping up with hot water as necessary. Keep the chicken totally submerged until the last 15 minutes.
  8. After the hour is up, leave the soup to cool for a few hours on the stove, with the cover on. When the soup has cooled, skim off some of the fat on the surface.
  9. When its time to serve the soup, bring the soup to a boil for 5 min. Some people like to add chopped spring onions at this stage, but i think its more for garnishing than taste. Depending on your tastes, you should need to add a further 1 to 2 t of salt before serving. Add this incrementally, checking the soup each time.
  10. The key ingredients (except the chicken) to make your soup.

Notes

  • Do not use any other type of rice. Glutinous rice is known for the integrity of its kernel and other types of white rice would simply disintegrate long before the soup is done. That being said, do not over boil the soup or even glutinous rice will break up. Besides, no other type of rice has the same complimentary chemical interaction with ginseng.
  • The timing for this recipe assumes the glutinous rice is inside the chicken. If you decide to use parts instead of a whole chicken, reduce the amount of rice to 1/2 a cup and add it to the pot 20 minutes after you the garlic, dates and ginseng instead. Rice cooks much faster outside the chicken. Be forewarned, the soup will also be more murky. 
  • Depending on the size of your chicken you can use more or less rice, but you don’t want to stuff the chicken too fully. Once the rice expands, access to the boiling soup may be impeded for the rice right in the center.
  • Just use American ginseng, it is cheaper. Forget the mumbo jumbo about the medicinal differences between Asian and American Ginseng. My recipe uses ginseng slices (again because it is cheaper) but you can use an equivalent amount of whole ginseng roots (pictured) if you like. In that case add the ginseng right at the beginning.
  • Why didn’t we just add all the ingredients at the beginning? Because the garlic and ginseng (slices) would become too mushy before the rice is cooked.
  • Why do we need to add the first lot of boiling water? Why do we need to let the soup cool before reboiling? You were supposed to refer to my Chinese Consommé post. 
 
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Posted by on April 10, 2012 in Oriental, Poultry, Recipe, Soups

 

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Chicken Nasi Briyani


(serves 3)
Biryani originates from India and is one of the most popular rice dishes in Singapore and Malaysia, where it is known as known as Nasi Briyani. In all types of Briyani/Biryani, you cook meat curry with rice instead of cooking them seperately as in most curry dishes. In this version of Nasi Briyani, I employ the Chinese fried rice method to cook them together. This way the rice is moist on the outside, yet remains fluffy on the inside. The perfect comfort food.   
 

Ingredients

  1. Curry Chicken
  2. Raw Basmati Rice (1/2 cup)
  3. Coriander (1 cup, chopped)
  4. Ginger (2t, grated)
  5. Turmeric
  6. Coriander Seed Powder

Pre-Preparation (Curry) 

  1. You will first need to prepare the curry according to my Singapore Curry Chicken recipe. Do this ahead of time.
  2. Take note, you won’t need the whole amount of the curry cooked with that recipe unless you are making a double version. You will also need to make a few simple modifications to the recipe:
    1. To create more chili oil, add 3T of vegetable oil (you need an oil with a mild taste so use canola or sunflower seed oil) before you start boiling. 
    2. Skip the potatoes altogether.
  3. When the curry is done, skim 4T of chili oil from the top of your chicken curry and keep this in reserve.
  4. Extract and shred 2 chicken legs (with thighs) or their equivalent from the curry. Also measure 1.25 cups of curry (inclusive of onion bits) and pour this over the shredded chicken.

Pre-Preparation (Rice)

  1. You will also need to boil some turmeric flavoured rice, also ahead of time. If you don’t know how boil rice, refer to my White Rice Page.
  2. Start with half a cup of raw rice rice. You should use Basmati rice, and if you really can’t find some at least make sure you use a long grain variety –  if you don’t want the whole thing to turn to mush.
  3. After you have rinsed the rice and before you start cooking it, add 1/2 t of turmeric to the water. This makes the rice come out yellow.
  4. After the rice is cooked, allow it to cool in the open for an hour so it dries up. 

Preperation

  1. Julienne your coriander in two portions. Cut the bottom one third (i.e. the stem part) of the coriander first. Then do the rest (i.e. the leafy part) and keep them seperate.
  2. Remove the skin from a thumb sized piece of ginger and grate it. You should end up with 2t of grated ginger.
  3. In a large non-stick pan, heat up 3T of vegetable oil (again, not olive oil). Pan fry the coriander stems and grated ginger on high heat till there is a strong aroma of ginger coming from the pan.
  4. Add the (cooled) turmeric rice to the pan. Douse the lumpy rice with the chili oil you skimmed earlier and then break up the clumps by pressing down on them gently with a flat implement. Stir-fry for 1-2 minutes, keeping the heat on high, until you see a bit of the rice browning.
  5. Pour in the chicken and curry. Continue to stir-fry to make sure every grain of rice comes into contact with the curry. When the curry begins to dry up, add most of the leafy coriander, sprinke on 1/2 t of sugar and 1t of coriander seed powder and turn the heat down. Continue to fry for a further minute and then remove from the flame.
  6. Taste and then sprinkle on salt to your satisfaction. Plate your Nasi Briyani and then garnish with the remaining coriander.

Notes

  • This is the maximum amount you can cook at one go on a normal flat 12 inch pan. If you try to cook more, you won’t have enough of a cooking surface to dry the curry. If you want to do a double portion, use a paella pan, wok or something of similar size.
  • If you didn’t notice, the Indian version is Biryani, the Malay version is Briyani. Quirk of transliteration from a century ago.
  • Some recipes also use raisins and/or cashew nuts. You can consider adding these.
  • You can also use curry chicken from another source. The amount however will depend on the thickness of the curry sauce.
 
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Posted by on April 5, 2012 in Main Courses, Oriental, Poultry, Recipe

 

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Baked Rice Pudding


(serves 1, scalable to many)
Rice Pudding is a surprisingly popular dish around the globe, even in places which don’t eat rice as a staple. This particular recipe is of the English variety and is a dessert. Besides being absolutely scrumptous, my recipe is a quick and convenient one. As each portion is made individually, it is totally scalable. It only takes about forty minutes to complete, including baking time.
 
Ingredients
  1. Rice (2T)
  2. Cream (3T)
  3. Custard Powder (0.5t)
  4. Sugar (1t)
  5. Raisins (1T)
  6. Pine Nuts (1T)
  7. Butter
  8. Nutmeg
  9. Golden Syrup

Preparation

  1. The recipe assumes you are using mini-ramekins. Any kind of small baking container which holds half a cup of water will do.
  2. I’ve found that using Japanese Rice for rice pudding is best. It is a short grain which remains wetter when cooked, but at the same time has a very nice chewy texture. Start by placing 2T of raw rice in your ramekin. Fill the container with cold water and give it a good stir to rinse the rice, then pour away the water.
  3. Marinate your raisins in 1T of dark rum. This step is optional in case you are adverse to liquor.
  4. In a bowl, mix 0.5t custard powder and 1t sugar with a spot of hot water, stirring it till you get a smooth consistency. Next, stir in 3T cream and a sprinkle of nutmeg. Add the whole mixture to the rice.
  5. Add boiling water (about 4T) to the ramekin till you almost reach the rim, followed by a small knob of (salted) butter. Cover the ramekin with aluminium foil, just use one foil even if you have multiple ramekins.
  6. The baking is simple, just remember : 15+10+5 for the toaster oven. Have the toaster oven on for 3 minutes to preheat it and then bake the ramekin for fifteen minutes. If you are making more than one portion at a time (you can do up to 4 in a standard toaster oven), add 1 minute to the initial 15 minutes for every extra ramekin.
  7. After 15 minutes, lift off the foil and add 1T raisins and 1T pine nuts. Stir the rice to get all of it off the ramekin bottom, this makes for a fluffier pudding. Recover with the same foil and bake for a further 10 minutes.
  8. After 10 minutes remove the foil, drizzle on a flat t of golden syrup per portion and then bake uncovered for a final five minutes. This will dry up the pudding and give it a nice crust.

Notes

  • You can use cinnamon instead if you don’t like the spicy taste of nutmeg.
  • If you can’t find golden syrup or don’t know what it is, use maple syrup or honey.
  • If you use a regular oven it will take longer as the heat is less direct. If you use 1-cup ramekins instead of mini ramekins, it will take longer too because of the greater volume.  I can’t list all the baking times for various combinations, just remember that the rice-custard must have been boiling for a few minutes before the part where you add the raisins and pine nuts. You can also do the initial stages of the baking by boiling in a pot to saved time.
  • In case you were wondering, 12T= 0.5 cups.
 
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Posted by on February 6, 2011 in Desserts, English, Recipe

 

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The White Rice Page


White Rice is without a doubt the best tasting staple grain in the world, since most of it ends up being eaten in its plain form instead of being ground up and transformed into a bread or noodle. It is consumed in Southeast Asia, Indochina, Japan, Korea and the Southern half of China at almost every meal, day after day after day, as plain boiled rice. I attribute the popularity of rice to its firm yet fluffy texture, and its amazing ability to soak up the flavour of whatever it is eaten with.
 
While Risotto and Pilaf feature sometimes in Western menus, it is a pity that rice as a viable side dish of carbs has not really caught on, not even in fusion cuisine. My own observation is that white rice goes well with poultry and seafood, as well as dishes with cheese and/or creamy sauces.
 
Instant Rice
Let me start by saying that instant rice has no place in any self-respecting kitchen. It is rice that is precooked and then dehydrated, which you then rehydrate yourself. Some things like stock can be dehydrated, but rice is not one of those things.  The process destroys the texture and aroma of rice.
 
Storage
Premium rice will come in vacuum sealed heavy duty plastic. Do not open the package until you actually plan to use the rice. Once the packaging is opened, raw rice can be stored for a few months at room temperature as long as it is kept dry in an air tight container. If it is not consumed after a few months you run the risk of weevils, which is a minute infesting insect normally associated with rice. You can keep rice much longer, for over a year, by storing it in your fridge in a zip-loc bag.
 
Cooking White Rice
To get the perfect pot of rice, you simply rinse the rice, place it in the rice cooker with some water, press a button and wait. If you really want to cook rice, I strongly urge you get a rice cooker. It is notoriously difficult to boil rice over an open flame. A bit too much water and you get mush, a bit too little water and end up with rice pebbles. If even a bit of rice gets burnt, and trust me this happens very easily, the burnt smell gets infused into every grain into the pot.  Rice cookers are inexpensive appliances and they have become pretty versatile; you can use them to steam stuff or even stew like a crock pot. Nowadays they even come with microchips which makes them more forgiving if you have too much or too little water.

Before rice is boiled it should be rinsed a few times, usually in the container it is about to be cooked in. Swirl the rice in water that half fills the pot and then pour out the the water quickly, discarding the bits that float along with the water. These are the grains which have been damaged by weevils. Rinsing also removes any corn starch which may have been used to improve the appearance of the grains. Some people like to use the discarded water for watering plants. After rinsing twice or thrice, leave about 1.5 cm of water over the rice (the rule of thumb is to have just enough water to cover your index finger placed atop the rice).

Types of Rice
Here is a brief description of some common premium varieties of rice.

Jasmine Rice 
This is also commonly known as Thai Fragrant Rice, because it is originates from Thailand, the world’s largest exporter of rice.  A similar variety is grown in Australia and exported. Jasmine Rice is a long grained variety with a slightly translucent appearance. Its key attribute, which is why it is so popular, is that it does not become as sticky as other types of rice upon cooking, even though it becomes just as tender. For this reason, it has displaced the shorter grain varieties from China as the defacto standard for quality Chinese rice. You will usually find Jasmine Rice being served in the affluent homes of East Asia and in reputable Chinese restaurants worldwide. Jasmine Rice is perfect for making fried rice, although I’d leave it out to dry for an hour or so after cooking to dry it up first.

Basmati
Basmati is another long grain variety like Jasmine, which comes from the Indian sub-continent. It is rarer and more expensive than Jasmine and is sometimes referred to as the King of Rice in India and Pakistan. Although it  shares many of the same qualities as Jasmine, it is even thinner, giving it a very elongated appearance when cooked. Indian rice dishes such as Nasi Briyani would typically use Basmati. If you are preparing Curry, Chicken a la King or perhaps Beef Stroganoff, this is the rice variety I’d recommend.

 

Japanese Rice
Japanese rice, also known more formally as Japonica, is the only type of rice eaten in Japan and considered a high quality variety. This is also the rice that must be used to make sushi. Rice that is cultivated is Japan is never exported, and any Japonica the rest of the world eats is an ‘inferior’ crop grown in the California. You can recognize raw Japanese rice as it is unusually roundish, short and always well polished. It is also more opaque than Jasmine and Basmati. As it is a short grain type, cooked Japanese rice is sticky which allows you to pick up balls of rice using a pair of chopsticks with no difficulty. What sets it apart from other short rice is it doesn’t become mushy, even though its surface is sticky. Many consider Japanese rice a prized variety because of this unique quality. If you are making a baked dish with rice, like this Lobster Thermidor Style dish, I’d use this variety.

Glutinous Rice
This is sometimes called sticky rice, or mochigome if you are in Japan. Its a medium length grain which takes a very long time to cook. Consequently, it is not normally used as a every day staple grain. You can recognize it easily as it is totally opaque and is has a pearly white appearance. On the occasions that it is eaten as ‘rice’, glutinous rice is not boiled after rinsing, but is soaked for several hours and then steamed (or pan fried till it is cooked, a very labourious process ). Because glutinous rice is very sticky and chewy, it is very often used to make steamed leaf wrapped rice and meat dumplings. It is also a commom component of desserts in many parts of Asia. As for me, I usually use glutinous rice as a soup ingredient when I make Korean Chicken Ginseng Soup.

Arborio Rice
Strictly speaking, Arborio Rice doesn’t belong on this page as its also not boiled like white rice but slow cooked into a creamy risotto. But it is a white variety and its found in my kitchen. Arborio grains look a bit like Japonica but are even shorter and chubbier. I won’t go into the details about making Risotto here, you can look that up on my Risotto Page.

Notes

    • Rice is easily flavoured. If its a powdered flavour like turmeric or a liquid flavour like chicken stock or butter, add it before the rice starts cooking. If its something solid like bacon or mushrooms, place it on the rice when it is half cooked and continue cooking.
    • While white rice tastes the best, it is the worst in terms of nutrition since all the vitamins and nutrients are contained in the shell which has been polished away. This is a reason why wild rice is preferred in the West. In the old days, when Asians were poor and used to eat rice without any meat or fresh vegetables, they’d develop vitamin dificiencies like Beri-Beri. However, as everyone eats meat and vegetables regularly now, this has become a problem of the past, so eat as much rice as you please.
 
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Posted by on January 19, 2011 in Ingredients, Japanese, Oriental

 

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Porcini and Chicken Risotto


(serves 5)
Porcini mushrooms and risotto are a match made in culinary heaven. Sometimes referred to as the king of mushrooms, porcini are often dried to enhance their flavour and when rehydrated, give a rich nutty ‘soup’ which can be added as stock to the risotto. This particular recipe also introduces some chicken and proscuitto to bring out a meaty undertone, but in a manner which doesn’t compete with the flavour of the porcini.

IngredientsPorcini and Chicken Risotto

  1. Dried Porcini Mushrooms (30g)
  2. Proscuitto, sliced (100g)
  3. Arborio Rice (1.25 cups)
  4. Chicken Leg and Thigh (1)
  5. Shallots (4)
  6. Butter (50g)
  7. Grated Grana Padano (1/4 cup)
  8. Chicken stock cube
  9. Cognac

Preparation

  1. Simmer your chicken leg in 3 cups of water and one chicken stock cube, for at least an hour. For best results, do this the night before.
  2. After the stock has matured and cooled, remove the skin and shred the soft chicken meat by hand into small bundles of fibres. If you don’t boil the chicken for long enough, you won’t be able to do this.
  3. You also need to soak your porcini in 1 cup of water for about an hour before you begin making the risotto.  Use cold water, as hot water will give the porcini a slight rubbery texture after it rehydrates.
  4. Roll up your proscuitto slices and cut each roll lengthwise into two. Then cut bits of the half rolls to arrive at small rectangular slivers. On medium heat in a non-stick pan, fry the proscuitto to a crisp with 2T of olive oil. Sprinkle in 1/2 t of sugar and then remove the meat using a strainer for later use. Return the dripped oil to the pan.
  5. Julienne the shallots into small pieces that are the size of rice grains and fry them in the retained oil plus an additional 2T of olive oil to form a sofritto. Its best you use the same pan without washing. Stir-fry under low heat until the shallots are limp, taking care not to caramelize them. 

Stop here if you are preparing ahead of time, for this marks the point of no return. Once you begin the next stage, you’ll need to serve the risotto soon after it is done.

  1. Turn up the heat on the pan and add the rice into the soffritto, stirring well to coat the kernels with oil. Add the shredded chicken and continue to stir-fry for 5 minutes or so. Seperately, reheat your chicken stock to a boil.
  2.  At this stage it is usual to add some sort of wine to the rice but in this case, we’ll be adding the procini and the flavoursome water used in their soaking instead. Reduce the heat to produce a low simmer.  Stir until the risotto begins to dry, then proceed to ladle in the hot chicken stock. Add just a ladle of stock each time, stirring frequently to prevent sticking. Continue doing this for about 20 minutes and when the stock runs out, just use plain water instead.
  3. When your risotto becomes creamy and al dente and you can let it almost dry up, after which you turn off the heat.  Total simmering time varies a bit with the type of grain you are using, so rely on taste and appearance to decide if the risotto is done and not a timer.
  4. Cut a ¼ slab of butter into 1 cm cubes and mix it with finely grated grana padano, a milder hard cheese which doesn’t crowd out the porcini flavour. This forms the mantecatura, which is stirred in towards the end when risotto is made.  In addition, sprinkle on some black pepper and 2T of brandy. After tasting, you may add a bit of salt or more cheese as a final adjustment if you deem necessary.
  5. Cover the pot and let the risotto rest for 5 minutes so that it can absorb a bit more liquid and fluff up. Garnish with the crispy procuitto as the final touch.

NotesDried Porcini

  • My first risotto recipe contains many of the finer points on making risotto, which I have opted not to repeat here. You should refer to that post if you don’ make risotto often.  
  • 30g sounds like a really small amount to use, but as the mushrooms are dessicated, this works out to be almost a cup in volume.
  • I know I’ve said don’t use stock cubes for risotto, but this is a special case. The salt content is taken into account in the recipe.
 
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Posted by on March 29, 2010 in Italian, Main Courses, Poultry, Recipe

 

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