RSS

Tag Archives: Chinese Cuisine

Braised Dried Abalone with Mushroom


(serves 6)
Dried Abalone is one of the most exquisite of all Chinese delicacies and is served without fail at any respectable banquet. In Chinese cuisine, dried foodstuff when cooked properly is often preferred to the fresh original and Dried Abalone is considered to be the King of Dried Seafood. That’s why people take the effort to cook Dried Abalone over up to a weeks time. Compared to fresh abalone, Dried Abalone has a more intense flavour as well as a nicer tender texture to the bite.    
 

Ingredients Braised Abalone

  1. Dried Abalone (6 of 30g each)
  2. Dried Shiitake Mushrooms (6)
  3. Chicken Feet (12)
  4. Crushed Ginger (1T)
  5. Mini Chinese Cabbage (Bok Choy)
  6. Hon Dashi
  7. Chinese Wine
  8. Light Soya Sauce
  9. Oyster Sauce
  10. Brown sugar

Preparation 

  1. warning: this requires about a week of preparation.
  2. Soak the dried abalone in cold water. Keep in the fridge for 2 days changing the water every 12 hours or so. You can soak for a shorter period of time if you are using small abalone.
  3. The day after you put the abalone in the fridge start making the stock. Blanch the chicken feet in boiling water in a pot for a minute and then discard the water. Add 4 cups of fresh boiling water and bring to a simmer. Add 1T of Hon Dashi pellets. Simmer the stock for 20 minutesSnip This and allow to cool. Repeat the 20 minute simmer several times over a 24 hour period adding water as needed. If chicken feet make you squeamish or are hard to find, see my notes below for alternatives.
  4. After the long soak, you will notice you abalone have grown in size. Snip off the bits protruding from the round part of the abalone with scissors. It’s circled in red in the picture. This part contains the entrails of the abalone, so dig out any black bits you see as well. Then rinse well under running water.
  5. Place the abalone in a pot of cold water containing 1T of crushed ginger and 1T of Chinese wine. Bring to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes. This step removes some of the abalone’s seafood odour. Allow to cool and then discard the water.
  6. Pour the chicken stock through a strainer into the pot with the abalone. Add 1T soya sauce, 1T oyster sauce and 2T Chinese wine. Simmer for 20 minutes and allow to cool with the cover on. Do this 4 to 5 times a day for the next 4 to 5 days. Add more water as needed to ensure the abalone are submerged the entire time or else the exposed part will become dark and hard. At first you will notice a strong smell of dried seafood but do not be alarmed, this will diminish to a nice aroma before you are done. The danger of sticking to the pot’s bottom is greatest when you begin reheating, so check often until you see bubbling.
  7. On the third day of simmering, soak 6 shiitake mushrooms in cold water with 1t of brown cane sugar for an hour. Snip off the stems and add the mushroom caps together with the mushroom soaking liquid to the pot. Continue simmering as before.
  8. When the abalone is done it will be bigger yet again as the gelatin from the stock will have bloated it further. The circular bottom of the abalone is the hardest part so your abalone is done if that part has softened as much as the surrounding flesh.  When you cut the abalone in half the core should be of the same colour as the rest of the abalone.
  9. After the abalone is nice and soft, remove all the solids and boil down the liquid until it thickens into a light sauce. It is normal to serve the abalone with some baby bok choy or broccoli so add this to the sauce as you are boiling it down if you wish.
  10. Hydrating Abalone

Notesabalone in simmer

  • The best quality dried abalone is from Japan, they are the ones that soften most easily with braising. The medium sized ones are from Yoshihama while the large ones are from Amidori. They also happen to be the most expensive. For home cooking the ones from Dalian China are a good compromise in terms of price and quality. Abalone from South Africa is the cheapest, but they don’t tend to get as soft.
  • The size of dried abalone is measured in ‘heads’. This is the number of abalone in a catty (600g) and ranges from 6-30. The smaller the number, the bigger the abalone. The ones I used are about 20 head.
  • Dried abalone must be aged to draw out the correct taste. This is done (by the wholesaler) by alternately sunning the abalone and storing it in a jar over a few years, after which it will darken and develop a white dusty look. Beware of clean looking dried abalone of a light colour if you are buying through the internet, as they are un-aged.
  • The golden rule of rehydration is to use cold water. Do not use hot water as it makes rehydrated foodstuff tough and rubbery
  • The number of times you need to simmer depends on the size of your abalone. This recipe assumes size 20 head abalone. Smaller ones require less simmering and larger ones more simmering.
  • The best pot to simmer abalone in is one made of clay, as pictured. They spread and keep heat well. You can still use a metal pot if you don’t have one. 
  • Chicken FeetChicken feet is ideal for this recipe because of the gelatine it produces when boiled. They have very little fat but a lot of skin and connective tissue. Gelatine is the secret to the nice texture of rehydrated abalone. Pork tail also give off gelatine, but unlike chicken the taste of pork does not blend that well with seafood so you need to use pork that is not ‘porky’. I’ve also tried oxtail, taste-wise its not a bad alternative but oxtail leaves a lot of floaty bits and oil which you have to remove.
  • I have found hon dashi to be the easiest way to flavour the stock properly but a more traditional alternative would be to use dried scallops or conpoy.
  • A common use for any left over abalone sauce is to toss it with egg noodles, like a pasta sauce.
  • Don’t use fresh mushrooms as they have the wrong flavour and they would disintegrate with so much boiling anyway.
  • Here are some reference pages to Shiitake Mushrooms, Chinese Wine and Hon Dashi.
 
Leave a comment

Posted by on February 21, 2015 in Main Courses, Oriental, Poultry, Recipe, Seafood

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

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).  
 
Leave a comment

Posted by on July 1, 2014 in Main Courses, Oriental, Poultry, Recipe

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Claypot Chicken Rice – Rice Cooker version


(serves 3)
Claypot Chicken Rice is Cantonese comfort food classic where rice is flavoured with sausage 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. Golden Syrup
  12. Coriander Seed Powder
  13. Corn Starch
  14. Bicarbonate of Soda

Preparation

  1. Soak 4 dried shiitake mushrooms in 1 cup of cold water plus 1T soya sauce and 1t sugar for 2 hours. After the first hour snip off the stems and discard them, then cut each mushroom in half and continue soaking. Soaking overnight is the best.
  2. Debone the chicken leg and cut it into bite sized chunks, trim off all the loose skin and fat. Mix 2T soya sauce with 1t golden syrup and 1T each of sesame oil and Chinese wine in a big bowl and marinate the chicken with this. Separately mix 1t corn starch and a pinch of sodium bicarbonate with 1/3 cup of cold water and add this to the marinating chicken.
  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 in the detachable rice cooker pot. Use Jasmine Rice or any other type of long grained rice. Mix the sausage pieces into the rice evenly and pour in the mushroom water (but not the mushrooms). Top up with water until the water level is half a finger over the rice (i.e. less than the amount of water you would normally use) and set the rice cooker to ‘cook’. As soon as the rice cooker has gone to ‘keep warm’ mode open the lid to let the rice dry out a bit.
  5. After an hour or more has passed since step 2 add 1T of vinegar to the marinating chicken to neutralize the bicarbonate and mix well. Wait 10 minutes and then strain the marinade into a separate container.
  6. Coarsely mince 2t of ginger. Fry the ginger in 3T of vegetable oil in a pan on high heat. When the ginger begins to brown and the oil is really hot, add the chicken. Stir fry the chicken until no visible part of the meat is raw.
  7. Next, add the marinade and mushrooms to the pan. Bring to a simmer briefly and sprinkle in 1t white pepper and 1t coriander seed powder.
  8. Arrange the contents of the pan on top of the (now cooked) rice inside the rice cooker (see picture below). Sprinkle all the left over liquid from the pan over the chicken in the rice cooker evenly.
  9. Set the rice cooker to cook a second time. When it returns to ‘keep warm’ mode again, your chicken rice will be done.

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 Chinese sausages, use braunschweiger (i.e. liverwurst) instead. 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.
  • You can make your claypot chicken rice well ahead of time and reheat with the ‘keep warm’ function of your rice cooker.
  • If you want to skip the bicarbonate for a natural chicken texture, remember to skip the vinegar as well.
  • If you don’t have a rice cooker, you will need a clay pot. 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. 
 
1 Comment

Posted by on July 23, 2013 in Main Courses, Oriental, Poultry, Recipe

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

Dried Shrimp Roe


Dried Shrimp Roe is a Chinese condiment made by salt-curing the eggs of prawns before they hatch. They are considered a semi-delicacy in Southern Chinese Cuisine and they impart a salty umami-rich seafood flavour to whatever food they are sprinkled on. Good quality Dried Shrimp Roe is a bright vermillion colour and looks a bit like paprika. Lower quality versions are darker in colour, these would be more salty and fishy. All varieties last way beyond the stated expiry date as long as you keep them refrigerated, they are after all cured and completely dessicated.

You’ll come across Dried Shrimp Roe as a condiment in quality wonton noodles. They are also sometimes cooked with with bean curd. Have you tasted Pasta Nera? That black pasta uses squid ink to give it a unique taste. Dried Shrimp Roe is used in the same way to flavour premium quality dried chinese noodles. They are mixed into the noodle dough before the noodles are dried and release their taste when the noodles are boiled. Where can you buy Dried Shrimp Roe? Anywhere they sell other kinds of Chinese dried seafood, and also in some chain wonton noodle shops if they happen to have their own brand. The Cantonese name of Dried Shrimp Roe is ‘Ha-Tzi’, meaning the offspring or seed of prawns and corresponds to the bottom two Chinese characters of the box shown in the picture.

How would you use Dried Shrimp Roe outside of traditional Chinese cooking? Have you ever tasted Bottarga (a salt-cured fish roe from Sardinia) or Karasumi (the Japanese version of Bottarga) with pasta? There is no need to cook Dried Shrimp Roe and in general you can sprinkle it on cheese, oil or cream based pasta dishes for an extra layer of flavour. I think of them as a poor man’s version of the fresh sushi type caviar I sometimes use with pasta. The taste of this roe is milder than it looks so you can afford a heavier touch. The contrasting colour will be beautiful. Dried Shrimp Roe won’t work so well with tomato and ragout based pasta. Enter Bottarga + Pasta into a search engine to get some ideas for recipes. 

How about some other uses? One of my favourites is scrambled eggs topped with this tasty red powder. You can also sprinkle it on seafood soups as a condiment. Rehydrate your shrimp roe in vegetable oil to get a nice crunchy texture and you’ll be able to use shrimp roe to flavour a variety of salads or as a topping on BBQ/baked seafood.  

Dried Shrip Roe Hydrated with Oil. This bowl is only 3 inches in diameter, so you can imagine how small each egg is.

.
 
Notes
 
  • Dried shrimp roe is not the same as the shrimp eggs used as aquatic food. Two different things altogether.
 
Leave a comment

Posted by on December 1, 2011 in Ingredients, Oriental, Pasta, Seafood

 

Tags: , ,

Steamed Snapper in Soya Sauce


(serves 2)
Steamed fish is a relatively healthy way of cooking fish, and when done in the ‘Cantonese’ style is much more tastey then you might imagine. My technique is a fusion method which incorporates the ease of Western cooking, and you won’t even need a steamer or any form of steaming cookware. You also won’t have to worry about over or under cooking your fish.  
 
Ingredients
  1. Snapper Fillet (2 x 160g)
  2. Chives (6 stalks)
  3. Corriander (2 bunches)
  4. Garlic (6 cloves = 1/2 bulb)
  5. Light Soya Sauce
  6. Sesame Oil
  7. Chinese Wine

Preparation

  1. The type and quality of fish is important when steaming. You can use fish which has been chilled but never fish that has been frozen. Besides Snapper, other species of fish with meat of the same smooth crisp texture and consistency, such as Garoupa, are also suitable. Start by bringing your fish fillets to room temperature by soaking them in luke-warm water.
  2. Julienne the chives (also called spring onion in some places) into 1/4 inch bits keeping the solid/white bits seperate from the leafy/green bits. Cut the root portion off the corriander but otherwise leave the sprigs as they are. When you are done you should have something like what is shown in the picture.
  3. Peel and put through a garlic press 6 cloves of garlic.
  4. Mix 3T of light soya sauce, 2T of Chinese Wine, 1T sesame oil, 1t sugar and 1/4 cup water in a bowl .
  5. Fry the white portion of chives with a spot of oil in a frying pan till they begin to brown. Make sure you use a pan which has a cover.
  6. When your chives are ready, let the pan cool a bit and then pour the soya mixture into the pan with the green portion of the chives. Set the heat to produce a low simmer and when the soya mixture begins to boil, place your fish fillets in. If your fish still has the skin attached, put it in skin-down so the skin has a chance to interact with the wine before it boils off.
  7. After one minute, flip the fish pieces over and place the corriander on top of the fish (see picture below). Cover and continue to simmer for one minute. After the minute is up, turn the heat off and allow the fish to ‘steam’ for a further 15 minutes with the cover on.
  8. In the meanwhile, fry the garlic in a spot of oil in a seperate pan. When the garlic begins to get darker, turn off the heat and let the residual heat of the pan continue to darken the garlic till it reaches a gloden brown.
  9. When the fish has finished ‘steaming’, put aside the corriander. Plate the fish and spoon the soya liquid over it. Next spoon the garlic together with its oil on the fish and finally garnish with the corriander.

Notes

  • This type of steamed fish is of the ‘Cantonese’ style and is best served with rice. You can of course use staples such as (unsalted) mashed potatoes or polenta instead.
  • If your fish fillets are thin, you can reduce the 2 boiling phases to 30 seconds each to prevent over cooking.
  • There are two main types of soya sauce, make sure you use the Light soya sauce (as opposed to Dark or Aged soya sauce).
 
Leave a comment

Posted by on February 13, 2011 in Main Courses, Recipe, Seafood

 

Tags: , , ,

 
%d bloggers like this: