Shandong Chicken

SHANDONG CHICKEN
Serves 4
Time required: 1h20 mins cooking + 6 hours min resting time in fridge

Ingredients:

1 2kg whole chicken (free range preferred)

For marinade:

1 tsp table salt

2 tbsp dark soy
2 tbsp shaoxing wine
1cm ginger piece, finely grated
2 tsp sugar

Wash the chicken and pat dry. Rub the chicken, inside and out, with the salt.

Combine the dark soy, wine, ginger and sugar in a small bowl and mix so the sugar is completely dissolved. Pour the mixture over the chicken, making sure that it gets into every crevice of the skin.

Let the chicken rest uncovered in the fridge for at least 5 hours. It’s best if you put it on a rack so that the bottom of the chicken also gets nice and dry. This part will make sure you get a nice and crispy skin when it cooks. If possible, it would be best to leave the chicken in the fridge overnight.

After the chicken has rested in the fridge, take it out and spatchcock it by cutting it down the back side. Google the procedure if you’re unsure how.

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius and get out your hairdryer (not kidding!).

Blowdry the chicken all over using a hairdryer. This is for extra crispy skin! We felt a bit silly doing it, but the result was so amazing that it was well worth it. Once you feel that you’ve dried the skin as much as possible, put the chicken in the oven and start watching the magic happen.

Meanwhile, make the dipping sauce.

Dipping sauce:
1/4 cup chinkiang black vinegar
3 tbsp light soy
2 tsp sugar (or to taste – you can make it sweeter if you like)
2 garlic cloves, minced
small bunch of coriander stalks, finely chopped
few chive stalks, finely chopped
1 fresh chilli, minced

Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl.

When the chicken is done, cut it into however many pieces you like. Our chicken was tender and falling of the bone, so we cut it the “Chinese way”, with bones and all. It was still easy to eat.

Place the chicken pieces in a flat-ish bowl and pour some of the dipping sauce over it, reserving some of the sauce for dipping your meat into at the table for extra flavour.

Serve with steamed rice and whatever side dishes you like (we served ours with stirfried snow peas & spring onion and Sichuan cucumber salad).

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#169 – Swaziland

Well, it certainly took us a fair while to finally cook a dish from Swaziland. So long, in fact, that the country in the meantime has changed its name to eSwatini! Fun times.

We were a bit apprehensive, as our previous African cooking escapades have resulted in culinary disasters. See The Gambia and Cameroon, for further reference.

However, the meal was actually quite delicious, and thus a pleasant surprise. Swaziland is a small, landlocked country that neighbours South Africa and Mozambique, so we are quite far removed from the Maggi-cube-mania of West Africa. Phew!

The dish we chose was a traditional oxtail stew with red kidney beans. We’re not actually sure what makes it distinctly African, as the ingredients (onion, garlic, celery, garlic, carrot, tomato paste, bay leaves… you get the picture) are what you’d expect in any European stew as well. Must be the colonial influence.

We roughly followed this recipe, and made the following adjustments:
– Cut back on the tomato paste by half
– Used fresh bay leaves from our potted plant
– Used dried kidney beans, which gave off enough starch to thicken the gravy; hence, the cornstarch was omitted
– Added freshly chopped parsley to serve
– Increased the cooking time from 3 hours to 5,5 hours; those oxtails are some tough motherfuckers

Yum! We wholeheartedly recommend this dish as an easy, cheap and simple wintertime dinner. We served it with mealie bread (cornbread) from Lesotho.

#15 – Bangladesh

bangladesh

Whoa, this post is really overdue. Like, really really overdue. So overdue, in fact, that we can’t remember the very good recipes for the two dishes we cooked. And that’s a real shame because they were delicious.

Bangladesh is the eighth most populous country in the world, home to a whopping 163 million people (2016 estimate). Comparing that to (Western) Australia, it’d be like putting an extra 161 million people in an area spanning roughly from Perth to Albany. Geez.

Anyways, with that many people, and such a fertile landscape, there’d bound to be some good food to cook. And there was. Obviously, Bangladesh is an Islamic country, so pork and alcohol were out of the question (sad!), so we settled on ‘biye barir’ which is a special chicken roast dish (roast refers here to a curry… because… Hinglish?), accompanied by a savoury dahl dish (flavoured with fresh curry leaves from our potted tree!). Biye barir is used served during the Eid holiday, after the month of Ramadan. One can only imagine how delicious it would be to delve into after such a long period of fasting.

We adapted this recipe to our taste. It was a fantastic meal. We had steamed ghee rice and paratha, too. YUM. The dahl was something Joel whipped up by instinct (clever boy).

Double-cooked pork belly a’la Tek Sen

Have you ever visited Georgetown, Penang? If so you would’ve most likely eaten at Tek Sen Restaurant, a family-owned open-air eatery in the heart of the historical town. Tek Sen is very famous these days and draws a crowd every lunch and dinner. We’ve visited a number of times and fell in love with their ‘twice cooked pork belly’. It is truly one of the most delicious things to have ever graced our mouths! We have been attempting to recreate over the last number of years and we finally feel like we have a recipe that is pretty bang on!

TWICE COOKED PORK BELLY
Serves 3-4 as part of a meal
Time required: 1 hour 15 mins

Ingredients:

500 grams pork belly
2 cloves chopped garlic
1 chopped Chilli (depends on size and your desired spice level)
Plenty of oil (for frying)

Sauce:

1 tbsp Chinese black vinegar
1/2 tbsp sweet bean paste
1 tbsp light soy
1 1/2 tbsp sweet soy (kecap manis)
1 tbsp sugar

Method:

Poach pork belly in water for 45 mins skin side down then place in the fridge or freezer to firm up (at least 30 mins). Dice up the pork belly into small pieces (see photo below).

To make the sticky sauce, combine all the ingredients in a small bowl and mix well.

Heat oil in wok or deep fryer and fry pork belly until golden and some of the fat has rendered, 5-10 minutes. Drain pork on paper towel.

To a clean, hot wok add a splash of oil and then add the pork belly, garlic and chilli and stirfry for 3-4 minutes. Add sauce and cook with the sauce until it caramelizes and creates a sticky, glossy coating over the pork! This last step should take around 5-7 mins. Keep tossing the pork to prevent it from burning.

Serve with steamed rice and preferably some greens to lighten up the meal. See our recipe for steamed Kangkung with garlic or our garlic/soy stir-fried Chinese water spinach 🙂

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#5 – Andorra

This post is long overdue. And because of that, it will be very short… We cooked Andorran food on 11th April, which is almost a month ago (!)… Hence, we’ve forgotten the finer details of the occasion.

I had actually spent a really long time researching the country and its cuisine. There actually isn’t much to report back on. The food is very closely related to Catalan cuisine, a region in Spain. There is also a heavy French influence.

We decided to try and cook a healthy meal. Despite Andorra being a landlocked country, they do seem to love seafood. With that in mind, we settled on Bacalla amb Samfaina, which translates to cod with ratatouille. We also prepared a warm salad of baby spinach with raisins and pine nuts.

Cooking the ratatouille, I definitely felt outside of my comfort zone! We have been so much Asian food that just sauteeing and simmering Meditteranean vegetables like that, felt almost too… basic? In any case, the meal was sufficiently yummy, and Andorra is done and dusted!

#179 – Tonga

tonga (1)

Who knew that were that many countries in the Pacific? So far, we’ve covered Micronesia and Tuvalu, and now Tonga. They all have frighteningly similar cuisines. Are we going to run out of dishes before long?

We have never been to Tonga. It looks very beautiful… It’s just so far from Perth. I’m a wee bit jealous of the people on the east coast who can get cheap flights to these magical destinations. For now, my knowledge of Tonga is restricted to Jonah from Summer Heights High, haha.

Anyway, this was a delicious dish. Ceviche is the bomb. We had actually planned to make something very similar when we were cooking the Philippines. They add coconut to their ceviche too! It was something I’d never even consider before I researched Filipino food, but I am certain that we will cook this again and again and again. Is there anything better than coconut milk or cream? I am the type of person that can eat it straight out of the can. It’s my kryptonite.

IKA OTA
Serves 3-4 as part of a meal
Time required: 45 mins

Ingredients:

200 g sashimi grade kingfish (substitute tuna)
1 green capsicum
1 red chilli (deseeded if you no like spicy)
1 lime
1 lemon
1 can coconut cream (we used 470ml Ayam brand)
Fresh coriander, for garnish

Method:

Cut the fish into thin slices, so that the citrus can easily penetrate it. Put into a bowl.

Press the lime and lemon juice over the fish – all of it! Shake the can of coconut cream to combine it evenly, before adding it to the bowl.

Chop the chilli finely, discarding the seeds if you want it less spicy. Add it to the fish. Give everything a nice stir so the ingredients are evenly mixed.

Chill in the fridge for at least 20 mins, allowing the lime and lemon juice to work its magic. Remember to add the fresh coriander just before serving.

Voila! You’re ready to eat. We served the ika ota with honey-soy-sesame chicken wings and steamed koshihikari.

#190 – United States of America

 

When the random number generator gave us number 190, and we saw that it was the US, there was no doubt in my mind as to what I wanted to cook. About 3 years ago, I got on the fried chicken train and I haven’t looked back. Fried chicken, in all it’s various shapes and flavours, is truly one of the best things on this planet. And I also tend to think that this particular style of fried chicken, hailing from Nashville, Tennessee, is the best of the best.

I can’t quite believe that I used to not like fried chicken. It sounds impossible. It’s kind of like someone saying they don’t like bread, or pasta, or something equally delicious and non-threatening. But that’s how it was, and I never got it as takeaway (I still consider KFC gross, though, and Joel says he’s never eaten the Col.’s chicken without purging afterwards), and never ordered it at restaurants. All of that changed when Joel introduced me to Japanese katsu chicken (boneless, juicy breaded and fried chicken, dipped in wasabi and soy, eaten with pickles). It blew my mind and opened my eyes to the world of fried chooks.

Since then, katsu and karage have been firmly on the menu at FWK (often a weekly occurrence). Then, last year I went to Washington DC for a 3-month internship and I discovered the weird and wonderful world of American food. And though the Nashville hot chicken is not originally from there, I still got my first introduction to it. Let’s just say that the saliva-inducing promotional photo didn’t live up to its hype (Good Stuff Eatery is very overrated).

Fast forward to a trip to Melbourne in May 2017 where Joel and I entered nirvana after having lunch at Belle’s Hot Chicken. OMG. That sh*t is one of the best meals I’ve ever eaten.

Before I let myself get carried away with just how good this dish is, let’s just get on with it. You will need to start this recipe the night before. We used chicken thigh, but next time we will use chicken breast. The sinful combination of the buttermilk marinade and butter-lard chilli paste ensures that the meat stays juicy AF (not to mention the deep frying…)

You can buy lard at Coles and Woolies. We recommend the soft brioche buns from Woolies (substitute with white sandwich bread for extra authenticity). Finally, get your hands on some gochugaru! Korean red pepper flakes are an amazing chilli variety. It’s deep and earthy, without being very spicy, so you can add a lot! It also has a fantastic colour which will make any curry, bolognese or any other dish look fantastic. You can get it from Asian supermarkets.

 

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You know you want it

 

OK, let’s go.

NASHVILLE HOT CHICKEN SANDWICH
Serves 2
Time required: 30 mins cooking, 24 hours marinating (start this recipe the night before)
Special equipment: pastry brush

Ingredients:

The night before:
2 pieces boneless chicken thigh or breast (with or without skin – up to you! We chose skin-off)
1/2 tbsp salt

Toss the chicken in the salt and refrigerate overnight.

In the morning:
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 tbsp pickle brine
1 tbsp hot sauce (we used Frank’s)
1 small egg

Mix the marinade ingredients in a bowl, and coat the chicken. Refrigerate again until it’s showtime!

Showtime:

Batter:
1 cup plain flour
1/2 cup tapioca starch
1 tsp salt

Sauce:
2 tbsp lard
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp cayenne (you can add more depending on how spicy you like it)
1 tbsp gochugaru (Korean chilli flakes)
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp garlic powder
Pinch of salt & pepper

Sandwich:
Four slices of long gherkin pickles
Handful of “light” coleslaw made from chinese cabbage (seasoned with a tiny bit of mayo and apple cider vinegar, plus salt and pepper)
Thin layer of whole-egg mayo
Thin layer of dijon mustard

Method:

First up, remove the chicken from the fridge (d’uh). We like to let things come to room temperature before frying or deep frying.

Next, heat enough oil in a wok or heavyset pan so you can at least shallow fry the chicken breasts (we deep fried ours – meaning, we used a *lot* of oil). You’ll need the oil to reach 175 degrees Celcius, though we don’t use a thermometer, we just go by the sizzle!

Then, make the chilli sauce by combining all the ingredients in a small saucepan and heating it over a medium flame. Tip: add the cayenne last; that way you can control exactly how hot you want it. You do not have to “cook” the ingredients, just make sure that the butter and lard melts and all the spices are incorporated. Set aside.

 

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The chilli ‘dressing’ – note we made a bigger amount because we had more chicken pieces

 

Next, make the flour mix by simply combine the flour, starch and salt on a plate or bowl. Simples!

Now it’s time double dip your birds. One by one, take the chicken pieces out of the marinade, shake off the excess liquid, and toss it in the flour mix. Then repeat the action so that the chicken has been dipped in the marinade and the flour twice over, finishing in the second flour dip.

Before you fry, make sure that the oil is the right temperature; neither too hot nor hot enough.

Fry the chicken until it’s a deep golden brown – and insanely crispy (the tapioca starch will do that). This should take about 5 mins, depending on the size of the chicken. Remove from the oil and put on kitchen paper to get rid of the excess oil.

 

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Post-fry, pre-baste

 

Baste with the chilli-lard dressing.

Then assemble your sandwich! We served ours with homemade tangy slaw and pickles. It was ridiculously good and so over the top. Definitely only for special occasions! The sandwiches were probably 1,000 calories each (gulp).