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Chicken A La King Risotto


(serves 6)
On a whim I decided to combine two of my favourite Chicken and Rice recipes, Chicken and Porcini Risotto and Chicken A La King. It turned out to be yet another match made in culinary heaven. The rich nutty flavour of porcini goes very well with the special brand of sweetness that comes with capsicum. The recipe also uses brined chicken breast to keep the chicken extra tender and separate from the rice.

Ingredients

  1. Dried Porcini Mushrooms (30g)
  2. Arborio Rice (1.25 cups)
  3. Brown Mushrooms (150g)
  4. Chicken Wings (4)
  5. Chicken Breasts (2 halves)
  6. Capsicum a.k.a. Bell Pepper (2)
  7. Onion (1)
  8. Garlic (1T minced)
  9. Butter (50g)
  10. Grated Parmigianino-Reggiano (1/2 cup)
  11. Cream Cheese
  12. Rosemary

Early Preparation

  1. Brine and poach chicken breasts as per the procedure given in this post. You can do this ahead of time and then warm up the chicken breasts in the hot stock before slicing them.
  2. Simmer 4 chicken wings in 4 cups of water with half an onion and 1t salt. Continue simmering until the meat is practically falling off the bone, adding water is necessary. You can also use 8 mid joints. Start making the stock at the same time you begin the brining.
  3. You also need to soak your porcini in 2 cups of water. Use cold water, as hot water will give the porcini a slight rubbery texture after it rehydrates. Keep in the fridge.

Preparation

  1. Bring your chicken stock to a slow simmer. Add the juices from the poached chicken breast and the porcini water (but not the porcini itself) to the stock pot.
  2. Cut the capsicums in half and remove the stem, core and seeds. Cut the tops and bottoms off and add them into the stock. Cut the sides into 1/4 inch squares and set them aside.
  3. Cut the brown mushroom into thick slices.
  4. Mince the garlic and julienne the remaining half of the onion into1/8 inch pieces. In a large pan, fry the onion bits on low heat in 2T of oil until they become yellow and limp. Add the garlic and continue pan frying for a minute.
  5. Turn up the heat on the pan and add the rice into the pan, stirring well.
  6. After another minute, add a ladle of stock (liquid only) to the pan and reduce the heat to produce a low simmer. Add the capsicum pieces to the pan at this stage.
  7. Stir until the risotto begins to dry, then add another ladle of the hot chicken stock. Stir frequently to prevent sticking. The stock pot must be kept simmering to avoid shocking the rice. Continue doing this for about 20 minutes.
  8. In the meanwhile grate the Parmigianino finely. Cut ¼ of a block of butter into 1 cm cubes and mix it with the grated cheese. Allow the butter to soften out in the open. This forms the mantecatura.
  9. Dissolve 1T of cream cheese in the last ladle of hot stock before adding it to the pan. Add both the brown mushrooms and the porcini at this stage.
  10. When your risotto is al dente 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.
  11. Stir in the mantecatura and let the risotto rest with the cover on for five minutes. Slice the Chicken breasts.
  12. After tasting, you may add a bit of salt or more grated cheese to the risotto as a final adjustment if you deem necessary. Arrange the sliced chicken over your plated risotto. Garnish with black pepper.

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.  
  • Capsicums comes in 4 different colours which have different tastes. Red is sweet and easiest on the taste buds, Green is an acquired taste as it is less ripe and bitter. Orange and yellow capsicums are in between the two. I would recommend you use red and orange for this dish.
  • For reference these are my Chicken A La King and Porcini and Chicken Risotto recipes.
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Chicken A La King


(serves 3)
Chicken A La King is simple conceptually, but it is one of the most difficult dishes to perfect. My mom taught me how to make this the standard way when I was young and over the decades I’ve developed my own improved method of preparing Chicken A La King, one that has superior flavour and at the same time avoids all your typical A La King problems (see notes). I have yet to taste a better version in any restaurants I’ve tried – something I can’t say about any of my other recipes. 

Ingredients

  1. Chicken Legs with Thigh (2)
  2. Capsicum a.k.a. Bell Pepper (1)
  3. Brown Mushrooms (150g)
  4. Leek (1)
  5. Milk (1 cup)
  6. Butter (100g)
  7. Flour (3T)
  8. Anchovy in Oil (10g)
  9. Chicken Stock Cube (1/2)
  10. Cream Cheese (1T)
  11. Worcestershire Sauce
  12. Sherry
  13. Coriander Seed Powder
  14. Cooked Rice (4 cups)

Preparation 

  1. Pour 1 cup of milk in a cup and spoon 1T of cream cheese into a bowl, to let them warm up.
  2. Fry 2 slivers of anchovy in its oil in a pot until you can mash the anchovy into a fine suspension. Add 3 cups of water and half a chicken cube and bring to a low simmer.
  3. Cut the leek in two and put the top (green) part into the stock pot. Slice the bottom portion lengthwise into half, then cut into 1/8 inch thick half rings. Cut the mushroom into 1/4 inch thick slices. Cut the capsicum into 1/2 inch squares; making sure you discard all the seeds and white pulp.
  4. Debone the chicken legs and add the bones to the stock pot. Cut the meat into bite sized chunks – its more important that the pieces of chicken are of the same thickness than of the same volume. Place any excess flaps of skin into the stock pot.
  5. Mix 1T of oil, 1T Worcestershire sauce, 1t coriander seed powder, 0.5t salt in a large bowl. Put the chicken chunks into the bowl and mix well.
  6. Stir fry the leek pieces in a large pan with some oil on low heat until they begin to go limp. Turn up the fire and push the leek to one side of the pan.
  7. Add the chicken when the pan is really hot and stir fry until no visible part of the chicken is raw. Then combine with the leek and continue to stir fry until the chicken is cooked (i.e. shrunk a bit like the first photo). Move the chicken to a temp container.
  8. Melt 70g (1/3 of a standard block) of butter in the same pan on low heat. Spoon in 3T of flour and stir fry until the flour begins to darken. Very slowly add the cup of milk a bit at a time while stirring continuously with a flat spatula to combine all three ingredients. When all the milk is used up, continue the process by adding the hot chicken stock instead. Finally, stir the cream cheese into the sauce. When you are done you should have a smooth velvety white sauce.
  9. Add the diced capsicum to the sauce and continue to simmer, until the capsicum is no longer rigid. This will take a while, perhaps 10 minutes, add hot water as needed. Next add the mushrooms and 1T of sherry. When the mushrooms begin to shrink, add the chicken and simmer for 1 more minute. Sprinkle on black pepper and taste the sauce to see if salt is required.
  10. Serve with steamed white rice, topped with a knob of butter.

Notes

  • Capsicums comes in 4 different colours which have different tastes. Red is sweet and easiest on the taste buds, Green is an acquired taste as it is less ripe and bitter. Orange and yellow capsicums are in between the two. A mixture of two types would be visually pleasing if you are cooking a double portion.
  • If you are using chicken breasts instead of legs, you should brine them first. There will be no need to marinate the brined chicken pieces as they are already salty.
  • Chicken A La King is supposed to be served with steamed white rice. If you don’t have rice, the other permissible option for Chicken A La King is puff pastry cups (a.k.a. vol au vent). I am against serving it with bread or pasta as some websites show. 
  • How is my recipe different from the commonly used ones?
    • 1. Cooking the chicken separately under a high heat will remove any freezer taste.
    • 2. Using chicken stock enhanced with anchovy brings out the flavour of chicken in the white sauce.
    • 3. The extended cooking time for the sauce removes any residual taste of flour and fully infuses the sauce with the taste of the capsicum.
 
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Posted by on February 20, 2018 in English, Main Courses, Poultry, Recipe

 

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Types of Bottled Truffle Produce


I love truffles, they enhance the pleasure of eating for so many different dishes. Unfortunately, it is impractical to keep fresh truffles around at home just so you can shave some onto your food whenever the need arises. That’s not to say truffles can’t be used in home cooking. Bottled or Jarred Truffle Produce can be kept in the fridge for a long time, they capture the aroma and flavor of truffles nicely and there is a variety of such products to choose from, including Truffle Paste, Truffle Sauce, Truffle Cream and Truffle Mustard.     

Rudimentary Naming Conventions for TrufflesTruffle 1000

  1. White Truffle is the more expensive variety, as they can only be found in the wild using specially trained pigs or dogs. The best White Truffles come from Piedmont in Italy. These are also called Summer or Alba Truffles.
  2. Black Truffles are less, but still expensive. They cost less as they can be cultivated, albeit with some effort. It’s debatable if they are really inferior to the White Truffle. Maybe they cost less simply because they are more common. The best Black Truffles come from Perigord in France, so Black Truffles are sometimes called Perigord Truffles, and also Winter Truffles.
  3. Both Black and White Truffles can be found beyond the borders of Italy and France, but these are generally considered to be inferior cousins to the Alba and Perigord.
  4. ‘Tartufo’ is Italian for truffle, ‘Tartufi’ the plural and ‘Tartufata’ is Italian for truffle product. If you see any of these on the bottle, it is a product of Italy. ‘Truffe’ is French for truffles. If you see this on the label, this means the bottle is from France.
  5. The truffle percentage content is an indicator of quality, and it varies greatly from product to product. Always determine the country of origin and check the truffle percentage content before buying any bottled truffle produce.

Basic Guidelines for Cooking with Truffles

  1. Heat dissipates the aromatics of truffles and since truffles are 80% aroma and 20% taste, cooking truffles is tantamount to not having truffles in the first place. Thus one only adds the truffles after  the cooking is done.
  2. Truffles go with savoury foods. Macaroni and cheese for example tastes great with truffles. Pasta in a consommé reduction is another viable pairing with truffles. Sour and sweet foods are the opposite. So truffles don’t work with tomato based sauces, vinegar, red wine reductions or anything with fresh or preserved fruits.
  3. Don’t use fragrant ingredients that compete with the truffles for the centre stage. Garlic, raw celery and onions, sardines, smoked meats, blue cheese, BBQ sauce are all foods to avoid with truffles. Mild foods on the other hand serve as the perfect medium for truffles. Some examples are scrambled, steamed or poached eggs, butter, brioche, mushrooms, potatoes and cream soups.

Truffle Paste (Pate)Truffle Pate

This is bottled truffle produce of the highest quality and needless to say it is also the most expensive. According to the label at the back of the jar, it is 70% truffles by weight with the remainder being mostly olive oil and truffle juice. Truffle Paste has the most intense aroma, and luxurious taste and texture.

As you might expect something this expensive would be from France and will usually contain the phrase ‘Pâte de Truffe’ on the jar. Actually it is not really a paste, but more a suspension of truffle bits in oil. Do not get misled by the term pâte, pâte does not need to contain foie gras or liver; this is pâte made from truffles.

Use this when the truffle is meant to be a topping, akin to caviar, say like when served on a blini. In other words your intention is to taste the truffle directly in a concentrated dose, as opposed to mixing it into some food. Of course if cost is of no concern to you, then use it all the time by all means.

Truffle Sauce (Salsa)Truffle Salsa

Truffle Sauce is a less concentrated version of bottled truffle more suitable for every day use and gram for gram it is perhaps only a tenth of the price of Truffle Paste. It is more common in Italy, and the label will usually say “Salsa Tartufata” or “Salsa di Tartufo”, but not always. Sometimes it is also ‘mislabelled’ as a pate (see the top picture, a truffle pate from Italy is actually a sauce). Typically the truffle content of Truffle Sauce is somewhere in the 3-5% region, with most of the rest of the solids in the bottle being minced mushrooms. Don’t look down on Truffle Sauce, it still packs a punch with its truffle aroma.

If you are stirring truffle into your scrambled eggs, pasta or a cream of mushroom soup, this is probably the type of truffle product you’d use. I also use for truffle mayonnaise. Truffle Sauce is also an ideal gift to bring to a casual home dinner, instead of that boring bottle of wine.

Truffle CreamTruffle Cream

Truffle Cream is in the same quality category as Truffle Sauce and also tends to be an Italian product. The truffle content will be around the same, that is to say 3-5%, but it is typically (but not always) light coloured and has a more creamy texture. In Italian the label is similar to Truffle Sauce except the word ‘Salsa’ is replaced with ‘Sapor’ or ‘Crema’. ‘Sapor’ means flavour or taste. You are also more likely to see labels in plain English as it is produced in various Commonwealth countries too. Unlike Truffle Paste and Sauce, Truffle Cream contains more than just truffles, mushrooms and oil. If you have a look at the nutrition information you’ll see additional ingredients like vegetable extracts, herbs, spices and emulsifiers.

One of the best ways to use Truffle Cream is to mix it into a cream sauce like hollandaise or béarnaise. Another is mashed potatoes. In general, the time to use Truffle Cream is with light coloured food. This way you get the taste and aroma of truffles but not dark flecks of truffle, and your guests will be pleasantly surprised.

Truffle MustardTruffle Mustard

The truffle content of Truffle Mustard is usually not stated but I can’t imagine it to be much given its price. Its even cheaper than Truffle Sauce and Cream. It tends to be French in origin and the label might say something like ‘Moutarde a la Truffe’.

This type of truffle product is best just as a condiment with steak, roast pork and game birds. Not so much with lamb or chicken. Basically it as a really expensive mustard, so use it as such.

Truffle Oil

Truffle Oil is the least desirable kind of truffle product and I really don’t recommend it, which is why I don’t have any on hand to take a photo of. I suppose you could use it for salads. It contains very little truffle and is not value for money. If you insist on buying Truffle Oil look for bottles with a few flakes of truffle in them for many actually contain no truffle at all and are purely artificially flavoured. Alternatively, get a bottle of truffle pate, divide it into 20 bottles and top them off with olive oil.

Whole and Sliced Truffle

The other type of bottled truffle I am not too keen on is whole or sliced truffle in oil. The solids are 100% truffle and this makes it very expensive. When it comes to truffles texture is secondary to aroma and flavour. In my opinion the effect of having large pieces of truffle on your food compared to small bits is really not that much.

Please note I am not endorsing any of the brands featured here. These bottles are just what I happened to have in the fridge at the time.

 
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Posted by on November 8, 2016 in French, Ingredients, Italian

 

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Eggs Scrambled with Truffle and Morels


(serves 3-4)
Scrambled Eggs are quite mild in flavour but have a nice runny texture when cooked properly. They go well with Truffles as they don’t compete with the intense aroma of Truffles. They also go great with Morel Mushrooms which complement the eggs with a delicate yet distinct flavour. Put all three together and you have the perfect food to satisfy the most refined palate.
Scrambled Eggs is one of the fastest and easiest appetizers to make once you have mastered the technique, and if you are planning a long formal dinner, this dish will afford you the time to focus on your other courses.  

IngredientsScrambled Eggs 1000

  1. Eggs (4 Large)
  2. Truffle and Mushroom Salsa (5t)
  3. Milk (200 ml)
  4. Dried Morel (15g)
  5. Butter
  6. Coriander Seed Powder

Preparation

  1. Soak the Morel Mushroom in the milk for at least one hour. You can also soak it overnight in the fridge. 15g of dried morels is about 1 cup in volume.
  2. Beat 4 large eggs in a bowl.
  3. Strain the morel-flavoured milk into the eggs. Lightly squeeze the morels caught in the strainer to release more liquid.
  4. Add a pinch of salt to egg-milk mixture and beat until you have a consistent colour.
  5. Melt 2T of butter in a pan. Pan fry the morels for 1 minute. Turn off the heat.
  6. Pick out the morels and keep them for later use. Sprinkle 0.5t of coriander seed powder into the butter left in the pan.
  7. Add the egg mixture to the pan and begin cooking with very low heat. Keep stirring to constantly remove any cooked films of egg from the bottom of the pan.
  8. When you see the egg doesn’t flow to fill up any spaces made empty by your stirring, turn off the fire immediately. Add a light sprinkle of white pepper and 2t of truffle salsa and continue to stir until the pan cools a bit more.
  9. Plate the scrambled eggs, arranging the morel mushrooms on top. You can use either a soup dish or a martini glass. Top off with 1 addition t of truffle salsa for each serving.

 Notes

  • You can also use Truffle Paste instead of Truffle Salsa if you like. For more information on Bottled Truffle Produce check out my Truffle Products page .
  • You need to stir with an implement that has a flat edge, such as a flat wooden spatula. Don’t use anything rounded as you won’t be able to scrape the cooked egg off the pan bottom.
  • You cannot add pepper or coriander seed powder to the raw egg mixture directly as it will tend to clump together immediately. Salt is ok as it melts.
  • The place where the amateur typically fails in this dish is over cooking their scrambled eggs. They have to be cooked until they have the consistency of semi-melted ice cream and no further. If the egg clumps together into clean pieces, its over done. If you have a problem keeping the heat down, you can intermittently turn the heat off to control the cooking process better.  
 
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Posted by on October 26, 2016 in Appetizers, Italian, Recipe

 

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Lamb Sausage Ragu with Conchiglie


(serves 3)
This is a speedy (relatively) and convenient method of making a Lamb Ragu Pasta that makes no compromises on taste. I avoid the arduous task of slow-cooking mutton by using the minced meat from lamb sausages. In fact I find the starch, fat, herbs and spices of the sausage actually make for a better pasta sauce. The result is a delicious wholesome and flavourful meat sauce that can’t be beat.
 
Ingredients Lamb Conchiglie 1200
  1. Lamg Sausage (350g)
  2. Brown or White Mushrooms (100g)
  3. Onion (1)
  4. Garlic(1 bulb = 12 cloves)
  5. Conchiglie (3 cups)
  6. Oxo Stock Cube (2)
  7. Red Wine (1 cup)
  8. Turmeric
  9. Coriander Seed Powder
  10. Oregano

Preparation

  1. Peel and then cut your onion into 6 wedges. Then slice them coarsely and pan fry in a large pan with some oil on low heat.
  2. In the meanwhile, slice your lamb sausages lengthwise on one side and peel off the skin. Place all the minced lamb in a bowl with half a cup of water. Mix well to loosen up the meat.
  3. Remove the onion from the pan, turn up the heat, add some oil and throw in the meat. Break up the clumps of meat as the water boils away. When the meat begins to brown, return the onion plus any drippings to the pan and continue stir-frying for another minute.
  4. Next add 1 cup of wine. Then add 2 oxo stock cubes (I normally use beef but you can also use lamb) dissolved in 2 cups of hot water.
  5. Peel your garlic bulb and throw the individual cloves into the pan. Quarter each mushroom into and add them to the pan as well.
  6. Add 1t sugar, 1t turmeric, 1t coriander seed powder and 1T oregano. Turn down the heat and simmer covered for 45 minutes to1 hour – until the sour taste of the wine is gone. Add water as needed such that you end up with a light sauce. You can make the sauce ahead of time, just keep it in the fridge til its needed.
  7. Boil your pasta in a pot of water with a dash of olive oil until it is about 2/3 cooked. Strain and then add your pasta to the pan and stir fry until the pasta is al dente. Add water as required such that you end up with a thick sauce just as the pasta is done. Splash on 4T of olive oil after turning the fire off.
  8. Sprinkle on some black pepper and perhaps some parsley after plating.

Notes

  • You can use 3/4 cup red wine plus 1/4 cup Marsala wine for a more authentic Italian taste – remember to skip the 1t of sugar in step 6.
  • Conchiglie a.k.a. seashell pasta is the best choice of pasta for this kind of sauce as it can hold the bits of meat better. Another type of paste suitable for this dish is farfalle, a.k.a. butterfuly pasta.
  • The picture would look nicer if I had just cooked the pasta separately and then poured the sauce over it, but then it wouldn’t taste nearly as good. Sometimes you have to sacrifice looks for taste.
  • Ragu and Ragout are both a dish made from gamey meat and chopped vegetables. Ragu is Italian and is usually cooked as a sauce. Ragout is French and is usually a stew.
 
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Posted by on July 18, 2016 in Italian, Main Courses, Pasta, Recipe, Red Meat

 

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Japanese Wafu-Style Orzo


(serves 3)
How does one cook a light pasta that still tastes good? For the answer we have to look not to Italy, but to the Far East where the Japanese have developed Wafu Cuisine, a style incorporating the best of Japanese and Western cooking. Miraculously, my Wafu Pasta recipe is not based on cream, cheese or oil, yet it’s still delicious and satiating. You will find this Italy meets Japan recipe great for the formal dinner table but also perfect for those times when you just want to have dinner on the sofa.      
 

Ingredients Wafu Orzo

  1. Scallops (12=200g)
  2. Shaved Ham (100g)
  3. Mushrooms (100g)
  4. Corn (1 ear)
  5. Scallion (4 sprigs)
  6. Orzo a.k.a. Risoni (200g)
  7. Miso
  8. Butter
  9. Sesame Oil
  10. Sherry

Preparation 

  1. Slice each scallop into 3 discs. Marinate them in a mixture of 1T of sesame oil and a flat 0.5t of salt.
  2. Cut the mushrooms into thin slices. Any kind of brown or white mushrooms will do. If they are large, cut them in half before slicing.
  3. Julienne the bottom 1/4 (white) of the scallion into one bowl and the second 1/4 (green) into a separate bowl. Discard the remaining tips.
  4. Cut the ham into small pieces. Brine soaked pre-sliced ham, the type that is sold for sandwiches, has the texture best suited for the Wafu style.
  5. Shave the corn kernels into a bowl. Retail the cob.
  6. Fry the white scallion bits with1T of sesame oil in a pan. When the scallion begins to brown, add the shaved ham. Continue to stir fry for a minute. Mix 1 heaped t of miso with 1T sherry and add this to the pan followed by 1 cup of water. You now have a ham and scallion miso soup base.
  7. While the mixture is simmering, rinse 200g or orzo in boiling water and then add the orzo to the pan, followed by the corn kernels and mushroom. Scrape the cob with the back of a knife blade over the pan. Leave uncovered on a low simmer.
  8. In the meanwhile melt a large knob of butter in a second pan over high heat. When the butter browns add the scallops. Stir fry for thirty seconds and then turn off the heat. Immediately add a second large knob of butter to cool the pan.
  9. When the liquid in the first pan thickens, test the texture of the orzo. If it is still hard, add 1/4 cup of hot water and continue simmering. Repeat until the orzo is just right, then pour the scallops and butter into the pan and mix well.
  10. Spoon the orzo into your serving dishes. Dust with black pepper and garnish with the green scallion bits.

Notes

  • I suppose I should start off by explaining what the Japanese Wafu-style is. It translates as ‘Winds in Harmony’ and refers to the way the Japanese prepare Western dishes to suit local tastes. Its a style of cooking that developed gradually after WWII and has now become immensely popular in family restaurants in Japan. You could go as far as to say it is a type of fusion cuisine. Salad dressing containing soya sauce, yozu or sesame oil and mayonnaise containing wasabi are both examples of Wafu.   
  • One important aspect of Wafu cooking is it tends to be balanced with delicate flavours. If you want to stay true to the Wafu style, stay away from strong tasting ingredients like garlic, olive oil, bacon, blue cheese. A little cream is ok, but not too much. 
  • This is quite a flexible recipe and you can substitute a number of ingredients to create many different varieties of the pasta. You could for example swap the corn for baby asparagus (you might want to add a bit of sugar though), the shaved ham for smoked turkey or the scallop for clams.
  • The prime flavour for the sauce is Miso. For more information on Miso, refer to this page
 

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

 

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