Twice cooked Szechuan Chicken

As a cold snap hits Sydney and winter settles in, this twice cooked Szechuan Chicken will give you just the right combination of heat and spice to warm things up.

Whilst it might look frighteningly hot, the combination of Szechuan peppercorns, cayenne pepper, large sweet peppers, and dried chillies somehow combine into a delicious warm sweet spiciness rather than mouth-numbing torture!

You can of course adjust the amount of heat by reducing the amount of Szechuan pepper, cayenne pepper and dried chillies you use but I would highly recommend trying this adapted recipe of mine to experience a more authentic version of the real thing.

I also like using a combination of thigh fillet pieces with some small pieces of bone-in chicken such as small chicken wings but this is optional.

Prep time: 30 minutes Cooking time: 35 minutes

500g skinless thigh fillets cut into pieces
2-3 small chicken wings cut into half
1 tablespoon Shaoxing cooking wine
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 cup cornflour
1 teaspoon cayenne powder
1 teaspoon Szechuan peppercorns, dry roasted in pan then ground to powder in spice grinder or mortar and pestle

For cooking:

1 tablespoon sesame seeds
1/2-1 cup whole dried red Chillies
1 teaspoon dried chilli flakes
1 large red chilli pepper or 1/2 red capsicum sliced thinly
1/2 bunch of spring onions sliced into pieces diagonally
1 teaspoon sugar
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon shaoxing wine
2 tablespoons soy sauce
5 garlic cloves and equal amount of ginger thinly sliced
1/4 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup chopped coriander for garnish

1. Mix soy sauce and shaoxing wine, half the cayenne powder and half the Szechuan pepper together then marinate chicken in this mixture for 20 minutes or so

2. Mix corn flour, rest of the cayenne powder and ground Szechuan pepper then put into a plastic ziplock bag and coat chicken in portions dusting off extra coating mixture then place coated chicken aside and repeat until all the chicken is coated.

3. Heat vegetable oil in wok, then fry chicken for 4-5 minutes. until crispy coating forms. Set aside to drain on paper towel.

4. Remove excess oil from wok, then return to heat and add 1 tablespoon shaoxing wine. This will release any stuck bits from bottom of pan, ginger and garlic, dried chillies, fresh chilli pepper, spring onions, chilli flakes, sesame seeds, sugar, soy sauce and heat for 1-2 minutes.

5. Add chicken to sauce and cook for 10 minutes until chicken is cooked through, adding chicken stock if more liquid is required but you really want to keep the amount of liquid to a minimum.

6. Garnish with coriander and serve with jasmine rice.

Spice up your life!

Many people from different cultures and backgrounds worldwide have a special place in their hearts for spicy foods, and it turns out that these foods don’t only taste great, but provide wonderful health benefits as well. Although everyone prefers a different level of spice in their foods, it doesn’t actually matter how much your food […]

via 6 Health Reasons To Eat Spicy Foods More Often — Our Better Health

Homestyle Osso Bucco

As winter approaches here in Australia slow cooked Osso Bucco is a great recipe to warm the soul. Osso bucco is the cross-cut shank of veal featuring the marrow bone. You can use beef osso bucco but they tend to be much bigger and take longer to cook. I really prefer the smaller veal osso bucco. Order from your butcher if you need to. The meat in this recipe is slow cooked until tender and just falling off the bone and the marrow becomes soft and adds great flavour to the sauce. sucking the marrow out of the bones is not elegant but highly recommended! Served with a zingy gremolata, creamy mash and a fresh rocket and fennel salad, this a fabulous one pot wonder dish that will impress family and friends. It is very simple to cook and is economical as well with a short, sharp ingredients list.

Prep time: 20 minutes  Cooking time: 2 hours

Ingredients:
12 small veal osso bucco (about 1.5kg)
1 cup plain flour for dusting osso bucco
100 grams unsalted butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large onions diced finely
2 carrots diced finely
2-3 cloves of garlic very finely chopped
3 stalks celery diced finely
400g of canned diced tomatoes
1.5 cups chicken stock
1 cup white wine
salt and black pepper to taste
half a bunch of parsley finely chopped
Fine zest of 2 lemons preferably microplaned or vey finely chopped

Method
Melt half the butter in a large heavy based casserole pot, big enough to fit the osso bucco and other ingredients in.

Roll the osso bucco one by one in flour and then brown well in the butter, doing this in small batches and adding more butter to pot until all the osso bucco is browned. remove from pot and set aside.

Add olive oil to pan, heat and then add onions, half the garlic, carrots and celery, Cook gently until onion is golden and soft.

Add the osso bucco to the pot, then tomatoes, white wine and chicken stock. Add 1 tspoon salt and 1 teaspoon cracked black pepper. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for 1.5-2 hours until osso bucco is tender. If required carefully remove osso bucco from sauce and allow sauce to reduce to a tick gravy consistency, then return osso bucco to sauce and reheat before serving.

While osso bucco is cooking prepare parsley, lemon zest and half the garlic and mix together with a pinch of salt. This is the gremolata for sprinkling on  the osso bucco when served.

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Homestyle osso bucco with gremolata and creamy mashed potatoes

Osso bucco is great with creamy polenta, risotto to mash. I serve it with a sharp green rocket and baby spinach salad with finely shaved fennel – all gorgeous Italian inspired flavours that compliment the rich main course perfectly.

 

 

 

Spicy Prawn Rice with carrots, peas and mushrooms

This is a delicious combination of ingredients that is lovely as a dish on its own with a yoghurt raita and salad, or served alongside  grilled chicken or lamb. It’s like an Indian risotto but you don’t have to stand over it stirring!  Perfect for entertaining as it can be made ahead of time – it’s even better the day after! It’s also great for a shared spread or picnic as it can be served at room temperature.

You just need to allow prep time as there a few steps prior to assembling the dish and cooking in the oven. You can also leave out or reduce the chilli powder and green chillies to make it less spicy.

Prep time: 30 minutes  Cooking time: 1 hour
Ingredients:

500g green prawns shelled and deveined
1.5-2 cups basmati rice
2 medium carrots roughly diced
350 grams of button mushrooms roughly diced
1/2 cup of peas
2 large onions sliced in rings
150 grams of butter for frying prawns
3 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil for frying prawns
1.5 teaspoons chilli powder
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
2 teaspoons cummin powder
1 stalk of curry leaves
stick of cinnamon
4 cardamom pods(optional)
1 teaspoon cummin seeds
4 large mild green chillies chopped
2 teaspoons crushed ginger and garlic paste
1 teaspoons salt

Method:

Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees celcius

Place peeled and deveined prawns in a bowl and add chilli powder, turmeric powder and cummin powder. Mix through and leave aside

Par boil rice for 10 minutes in salted water. until half cooked, par boil diced carrots seperately in salted water – strain rice and carrots and set aside

Slice onions into rings and chop up green chillies into thin rings

Heat oil and butter in a large non-stick frying pan and fry prawns until just turning pink, remove prawns from oil and set aside

In same oil and pan, add cinnamon stick, cummin seeds, cardamom pods, and curry leaves and fry gently for a minute or two

Add onions, green chillies and ginger garlic paste and fry gently until onions are transparent stirring from time to time, to avoid sticking to pan – remove onion mixture from oil and put into a deep casserole dish or pot with lid that can fit all the ingredients

Add in rice, prawns, carrots, peas, mushrooms to onion mixture and mix through so ingredients are evenly distributed

Mix 1/2 teaspoon of salt with 3/4 cup of water and pour over rice mixture
Cover with lid and place in oven for one hour or until rice is fluffy and moisture has evaporated. Sit for at least 15 minutes before serving

Delicious just on it’s own with yoghurt and a green salad or as a side with grilled chicken or lamb

Review: Super Catch in Meatpacker’s District NYC

Catch is one of the super trendy restaurants in Meatpacker’s featuring all-the-rage Asian fusion in a souped up warehouse like space over 3 levels in the Meatpacker’s district in New York City. With a wide ranging menu, and an expectedly seafood focus, menu decision-making is difficult but the over the top pricing for some offerings helps to cut down the options if you’re not straight from Wall Street.

Originally opened by by US Top Chef program winner, Hung Huynh, the menu features Raw Bar with Seafood Towers, rolled, cold and hot selections as well as US “entrees” and extensive sides. Here’s the current Dinner menu

We sampled the Tartare Trio of salmon, hamachi and tuna served with American Caviar and a wasabi creme fraiche, Crispy Prawns with a tangy mayonnaise, Chicken San Choy Bow, Wagyu on a Rock and the Charred Cauliflower. We also had a special on the night a “pizza” with figs, proscuitto, rocket and quail eggs and Parmesan which was super good. (The low key lighting makes it a bit challenging for good blog photos.)

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Tartare trio of salmon, hamachi and tuna with American caviar at Catch NYC

All the food was deliciously fresh with well balanced flavours and very reminiscent of Australian Asian-fusion cooking which we had been missing in our 3 weeks of travel in the US. The atmosphere and supercharged vibe however is definitely 100% NYC!! It is like having a great meal in a nightclub. Afterwards we wandered up to Level 3 rooftop bar for views over the Manhattan skyline. A great place to really feel you are in the Big Apple that’s for sure! Make sure you book.Visit Catch NYC

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Rooftop bar at Catch in NYC

Soulful style at Marvin in Washington DC

Marvin’s is a very cool bistro, bar and nightclub in Washington’s happening “U street corridor” on 14th Street NW. Established in 2007, the food is inspired by Marvin’s Gaye’s travels to Belgium and southern “soul” food he grew up with in America. The decore is contemporary but comfortable, making you feel instantly at ease. Understandable why it is such a favourite with the locals.

 

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Marvin restaurant inspired by Marvin Gaye

We had come to eat like the locals so started off with Chicken fried oysters and Shrimp ‘n Grits. The oysters were fried in a spicy batter and came with a remoulade, mayonnaise. They were crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside making for a delicious contrast. The Shrimp had been cooked in tangy spices and were served with cheesy grits, jus from the shrimps and scattered with toasted almonds. (Grits are small broken corn grains that when are well are creamy almost like polenta.) The flavours from the shrimp enlivened the grits and made the dish extremely more-ish!

For entrees (mains) we chose the Pepper Crusted Hanger steak with green beans, shiitake mushrooms and  bordelaise sauce and Chicken and Waffles which was served with gravy, syrup and collard greens. I never thought I’d ever be caught eating waffles for dinner but I have to say the pairing was divine, especially with the sweetness of the accompanying sauces and the bitterness of the collard greens. The steak was very Belgian French in style, spiced with pepper and cooked perfectly to medium rare as requested.

Once again we had no room for the tempting dessert menu but I took a photo so you can see the delicious choices on offer.

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Dessert Menu at Marvin in Wsahington DC

After dinner we wandered upstairs to catch some tunes on the rooftop deck which was filled with a hipster crowd enjoying the cool sounds from the DJ.

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Excellent evening of food and entertainment. Plan to spend longer than you expect.