Posts Tagged ‘ ginger ’

Drunken and Bruised…

Sorry… that title does not allude to any juicy tales of what may or may not have happened to me last night… it actually describes the two dishes that are the subject of today’s entry.

Over the past couple months, I’ve been obsessing over the show Masterchef Australia. It’s got a great format, and is the only cooking reality TV show that I can stand for more than one episode. Even though I only caught the season half way, there are tons and tons of food ideas and food preparation techniques that I have picked up from the show, some of which I have already put into use, and others that I have added to my ever growing food bucket list.

The meal I made today is one that I had been dying to make ever since I saw it on the show. Drunken Chicken with Bruised Salad was a contestant’s recipe that was so loved by the judges that they asked him to make it again, and added it to the show’s repertoire of recipes. I guess I was excited to make it because it has been a long time since I have used ingredients that were completely new to me. It’s also kind of shown me that though I know a lot about food… I still have a helluva lot to learn.

This was quite an easy dish to make… the most difficult part was running around town to find all the ingredients. Because this dish is Asian-inspired, I’m sure people in the west who don’t live in relatively big cities might have some difficulty tracking down the tougher ingredients, like the gula melaka (Indonesian palm sugar), dried shrimp, and shaoxing.

The meal was very well-received by my family, though they were a bit apprehensive at the appearance of the food. There are a few adjustments I’d make to the recipe….

For the chicken, I’d definitely add in a bit more ginger… a 6 cm piece, if not 8 cm.

As for the salad…

1. I’d cut the snake beans into 2cm pieces, 3cm max. 4cm was just too long.

2. I’d add in a little more palm sugar to the dressing. I found my dressing to be really acidic. The limes here in Cambodia tend to pack a lot of punch and flavour, but if you are using bottled lime juice or limes that are not in season, you might not have that problem. When I made it, I put in an extra two tablespoons of sugar, and that balanced things out quite well.

3. I only put in 3 tablespoons of fish sauce for a doubled recipe. Fish sauce just tends to be really salty, depending on where it’s from, so be careful.

Overall, as I said this meal was quite a success. I really, really liked the salad, as the only thing that wasn’t on point was the length of the snake beans. I’m already looking forward to making it again, as soon as I find a seller at the local market who doesn’t gouge me when I try to buy dried shrimp….


Mackerel. Maquereau. Makreel.

On Wednesday, I went to the open-air market in Leiden. Leiden’s a pint-sized university town about a 15 minute bike ride from my house. As well as being the birthplace of Armin van Buuren, it’s also the most decent market I can get to easily. We ended up getting 3kilos of fresh mackerel, some for freezing and some for dinner that night.

Now what to do with the mackerel? Usually, we spice it with a ton of garlic and ginger and some hot (way up there on the Scoville scale) pepper. This time around, I decided to do something different… so I went for this Japanese-inspired recipe. again.

This was my first time filleting fish since my fishing trip to Norway in 2008…  I missed my fishing buddies dearly, but moreso, I missed having a sharp fishing knife! I had to sharpen my knife 3 or 4 times just to get through four fish without massacring them completely.

Didn’t have any mirin (sweet Japanese wine), which is a shame because it would’ve given the fish a great flavour… so I used dry sherry and threw in a tablespoon of honey to make it a bit sweeter. Other than that, the only other change I made was to add a bit more ginger.

I decided to cook the fish on the barbecue. Cooking filleted fish on the barbecue can be a bit daunting because the flesh is so delicate. Usually I put some foil down on the barbecue, and then put some parchment paper on top of that, and then proceed to cook my fish. This usually results in burnt paper though, so I decided to try and cook it on the bare grill. I googled a bit and found out the secret to grilling fish well. It’s kind of obvious, really. 1. Oil your fish or oil your grill. 2. Make sure your grill is really hot. Then it only needs to be on there for a few minutes. As with steak, only flip a fillet once. That’s it… and it worked!

I added a bit of cornstarch to the leftover marinade and made a glaze for the fish. I’d say this is a great, flavourful, simple recipe that I’ll definitely use again. The flavour lends itself to be used on other kinds of fish as well, especially salmon. I look forward to making it again!