Braised Chicken with Potatoes and Soy Bean Paste

These are what I grew up with. I ate these for lunch almost every week, without fail. If you add in more shallots, a couple of Shiitake mushrooms and a dash of palm sugar, congratulations my dear because you have just cook up a Nyonya Delicacy called Chicken Pong Teh. I personally like Pong Teh with pork belly. Really gotta cook that some time...more on that later.

I cook these with soy bean paste. It's brown, very salty and known as Taucheo to me. I don't know what you call them in English but if you go to any Asian groceries and tell them you want soy bean paste, this is it.

Braised Chicken with Potatoes and Soy Bean Paste

(serves 2-3)

2 whole chicken marylands, chopped into smaller pieces

2 tbsp EVOO

4 to 5 cloves of garlic, finely minced

Large thumb size piece of old ginger, peeled and crushed well into paste

1 tbsp heaped Taucheo or soy bean paste

3 cups of water or more

3 potatoes, peeled and cubed to bite size

1 tbsp or to taste of light soy sauce

Dash of kecap manis or dark soy sauce

Heat up the oil until it is hot and add in the garlic and ginger. Saute until golden brown and fragrant and add in the Taucheo. Stir continuously to mix well until 'pecah minyak' or when oil separates from the mixture and rises to the surface. Add in the chicken pieces and brown lightly. Add in water, potato cubes, soy sauces and a pinch of salt. Bring to boil and let it simmer on low until chickens are cooked and potatoes are soft tender. Remove any fat and scum along the way.

Dish up and serve with hot steamed rice.

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Roasted Pork Ribs

I roast pork ribs for Yann and Desmond when they were here some time back. They have been so nice to me. Yann cooked two dinners and one lunch for us and I decided this is pay back time.

Pay back time with succulent, juicy, fall off bones pork meat. Yann cooked a curry fish head and stir-fried a napa head. Awesome dinner, I love it! Everything was polished off!

I've used a chicken wing marinade for these ribs adapted from Gertrude of My Kitchen Snippet. They are so yummy. Sweetish and spicy. Here's the recipe. Thank you so so much Gertrude. Your recipe always makes me so impressed by others all the time!

Roasted Pork Ribs, lightly modified from My Kitchen Snippet's Oven Baked Chicken Wings
(makes enough to serve 4 or 5 people)

1 kg American spare ribs
3 tbsp of soy sauce
½ tsp of garlic powder
1 tsp of paprika
1.5 tsp of cayenne pepper
1 tbsp sugar
Salt and pepper to taste

Wash and clean the ribs thoroughly. The below step is optional but good if you do it. See step-by-step photos here by Michael Chu.

There is a thin membrane on the inside of the ribs that goes over all the bones. Removing this membrane is optional, but generally a good idea. It can become a very tough sheet that tastes and feels like you're chewing on plastic if you cook it with the ribs. To remove it, just thrust a blunt object (like the blunt tip of a thermometer) in between the membrane and the bones. Wiggling your tool around a little should give you enough room to get a finger beneath the membrane. Once you've got a grip on the membrane, pull it away from the back of the ribs. You'll need to use some force, but if you're smooth about it, the membrane should come away as one piece. Using a paper towel can help you grip the membrane better if you have butterfingers.

Combine all the rest of the ingredients in a bowl. Mix well and coat the ribs with it thoroughly. Cover and refrigerate overnight, stirring occasionally.

Preheat oven to 180°C. Cover a baking dish with aluminum foil. Spray it with some garlic infused olive oil. Prop up the pork ribs on its side, coating liberally with marinade if there's any. Roast for 2 hours or until golden brown and slightly fall off bone when pierced with a fork. Flip them over on the otehr sides occasionally. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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Caramelized Black Pepper Chicken with Onions

I cook this on a day our house ran out of light soy sauce. I flip through a thousand recipes from my collection and can't seem to find one dish that doesn't require light soy. It's hard to do without light soy in your pantry when you have strong urge to eat Asian cuisine and nothing but Asian food! I wanted something to down with steamed rice because it's been a long time since I last had steamed rice.

I chance upon this recipe. It's yummy, sweet and peppery. It's not overly sweet because I cut down the sugar a bit. I added a whole large sliced yellow onion which is quite sweet. Most important of all, it is so simple to prepare and doesn't require soy sauce. Being a Vietnamese dish, it calls for Nam Pla or fish sauce, 1/4 cup of that and I thought it would be overly salty but no, that's what the sugar is there for.

It's worth the try if you want something quick under 30mins for the weekend when you don't feel like going out.

Caramelized Black Pepper Chicken with Onions
(adapted and modified from Chef Charles Phan here)

1/2 cup dark brown sugar (I cut it down by just a tablespoon)
1/4 cup fish sauce (nam pla)
1/4 cup water
3 tablespoons ShaoXing Cooking Wine
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger
1 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper
3 fresh Thai chilies, sliced thinly

Combine all the above in a small bowl and mix well.

1 tablespoon canola oil
1 shallot, thinly sliced
1 large yellow onion, sliced into half rings
450g skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into long, thin strips
4 Coriander sprigs for garnish, roughly chopped

Here's a trick I learnt from my previous housemate. Rub the chicken with just a small pinch of baking powder. You'll thank me for that, just do it. This will yield the most tender and flavorful chicken.

Heat the oil in a large pan. Add the shallot and cook over moderate heat until softened, about 4 minutes. Add the onions and take it further until soft and slightly caramelized. Add the fish sauce mixture and the chicken and simmer over high heat until the chicken is cooked through, about 10 minutes. Throw in3 springs of chopped coriander, turned off the heat and stir briefly.

Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with remaining coriander. Serve this over a bowl of steamed rice.

Try it!

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Baby Spinach with Bacon Dressing

Have to agree with Pioneer Woman, this is indeed the best spinach salad ever! The warm bacon dressing is a killer. I use cider vinegar but I think any other wine vinegar would have tasted even better.

Crumbled bacon, pomegranate seeds along with caramelized red onions and sauteed mushrooms with every mouthful of bacon-dressing-coated-baby-spinach, it's a perfect yum and was a hit last Christmas!

The hard boiled egg....Jeez, I hate how Aaron spoils my good looking dish sometimes really! Can you imagine 9 out of 10 times he makes hard boiled eggs, they turned out perfecto btu the only time I need it to garnish my salad, he screw it up. I dare not even ask him to slice. I sliced it myself before he makes things worst. But it's okay, it still taste good. Aaron, I forgive you.

Please click on Pioneer Woman's link here for step-by-step awesome photos and funny stuffs. She cracks me up with laughter every time. I love you Pioneer Woman, I really do!

Pioneer Woman's Baby Spinach Salad with Warm Bacon Dressing, Sauteed Mushrooms, Caramelized Onions and Crumbled Bacon

3 nicely sliced hard-boiled eggs 7 slices middle bacon rashers, pan fried and crumbled, dripping reserved 250g baby spinach, properly cleaned and spinned dry
Pan fry 1 small red onion, thinly sliced with 2 tbsp of the bacon dripping. Season with salt to caramelize it until soft and done. In the same pan with no extra dripping needed, sauteed 1 package of white button mushrooms, sliced thinly until very brown.

Combine the baby spinach, caramelized onions, sauteed mushrooms, crumbled bacon in a large mixing bowl and toss around. Mix together the following and warm it over the stove and pour over the spinach mixture. Toss well to coat again. Season with extra salt if needed or to taste.

3 tbsp bacon dripping
3 tbsp cider vinegar
2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp Dijon Mustard
Dash of salt

Arrange egg slices on top of salad and sprinkle over a handful of pomegranate seeds and serve immediately. I'd recommend preheating the dressing only when you need to serve. Do not assemble before hand.

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My Christmas Fare

Sharing with you all here some photos I manage to snap for our Christmas Eve dinner last year. Everyone seem too busy ushering in 2010 but I 'm still in 2009. Year 2009 has been a good year for me. Not good, but great. I don't usually put up picture of faces but Year 2009 has been a good year, I felt I've met so many new faces and learnt so much from people I should post up our dinner pic. That's me in Red Santa top with Aaron and our housemates in our balcony.

Here's the dining table at the balcony, overlooking Adelaide city. It's an awesome view and perfect weather though it's summer.

I cook what I'm familiar and have cooked before. These orange tomato glaze chicken by Tessa fitted everyone's tastebud perfectly.

Linguini al granchio for our staple. This is also by Tessa and I have to say, this is something I would make over and over again, not just for Christmas.

Baby spinach salad with bacon, mushrooms, onions, egg and warm bacon dressing. Couldn't agree with Pioneer Woman further, best salad ever! Recipe coming up soon wit more pics!

They look so Chrismassy and tasted absolutely wonderful. Everything was polished off plate but this one is a real winner.

These are the grape tomatoes used for the linguini. They look so beautifully studded with star shaped stalk. Red, ripe, juicy and very very sweet!

Goodbye Year 2009, Welcome Year 2010.

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