Posts Tagged ‘ poulet ’

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….

Chicken Saté

To even out the spread, we included a couple chicken dishes in our menu. One dish that is pretty popular in The Netherlands is saté, and it’s pretty common fare at Indonesian restaurants and street food stalls. I’ve made different variations of ‘chicken-on-a-stick’ in the past, but this was my first time making it southeast Asian style. I decided to branch out of my usual Martha Stewart/Jamie Oliver recipe niche and went with a popular recipe on foodnetwork.com.

I didn’t have any coconut milk, nor did I have any low-sodium soy sauce or chicken stock, so I didn’t use them in my marinade. The chicken fortunately was not very salty, despite the fact that I ended up with more salt than called for. I marinated the chicken for about 3 days, not on purpose but because we didn’t end up serving it at the party because we had so much food!

As for the dipping sauce, we just bought some packaged peanut sauce to make our lives a little easier. To spice it up, we just threw in a few chili pepper rounds as we heated up the sauce.

Indian Feast…

A few times a year, I like to make a good Indian meal. I find having a good Indian food experience in a restaurant is very expensive. It can easily set you back €200 for four people, without dessert, and without drinks. So I’ve resorted to making the food myself.

I cooked Indian food every couple months  while I was in Korea, although on a much smaller scale. I would make my own naan, but as far as the tandoori chicken or the butter chicken went, I would buy a spice pack. Thank you, Asian Kitchen!

Needless to say, a good home-made Indian meal has been a long time coming at my house, so here it is!

I started off by making my own garam masala. We didn’t have any in the house, and I couldn’t find any in Wassenaar. Fortunately for me, I had all the ingredients needed to make it. What a fluke!

Next, I made my own paneer, or cheese, for my veggie dish, palak paneer, which is basically spinach cooked in a cream and tomato sauce. The hardest part of making the paneer was tracking down cheesecloth. At one point, I decided I was going to use my sister’s (unworn) pantyhose, but then I managed to find some cheese cloth at the kitchen store in our little town. It set me back 6 euros, which I’m sure is way more than you’d pay in Canada, but I didn’t mind too much because it’s reusable and can be washed at a really high temperature.

Most recipes say to use homogenized milk, or milk with a fat content of at least 3.25%. I decided to use volle melk, which is as close as you can get to that in Holland. I googled and found that volle melk is in that same ballpark when it comes to fat content, but my experience making the milk taught me a little different. From 2 litres of volle melk, my yield was just shy of 150g worth of cheese. For anyone who plans to make their own paneer in Holland, you might be wise to use more milk than most recipes call for.

I didn’t take a picture of the paneer, but here it is in the palak paneer:

Next, I made the butter chicken…. Rather than suffering in an effort to make tandoori masala, I just added in a little more garam masala and then threw in the ingredients that were missing. The butter chicken turned out great–my only gaffe was to use a bit of ghee in an effort to sweeten the butter chicken. I ended up with an odd kind of sweet taste that was too strong, so I balanced that out with some more fenugreek, which kind of has a bitter taste.

I added a 1/4 cup of cashews to the recipe, just because it’s something I’ve seen being done in Indian restaurants, and a few other recipes recommended it. I also threw in a bit of madras curry to make the sauce a bit more flavourful. That may well be a faux pas in authentic cooking, but I found that it improved the dish quite a bit.

Most of the butter chicken I’ve tried in restaurants has been on the sweet side, so I also added in some white sugar until it tasted about right. It’s no Bombay Choupati, but I do what I can. The only thing I would do next time to improve on my dish is make it spicier… and not put ghee in it.

Next, the naan. Thanks to my sister for making and rolling out the bread. Pretty straightforward. Since I don’t have a tandoori oven, we use a bbq for the airiest results. About an hour before grilling the naan, I crushed a few cloves of garlic and put it in about a 1/4 cup of ghee. I later brushed this mixture on both sides of the naan as it grilled. It tasted just like in the restaurant!

Since we didn’t have enough yeast in the house to make a triple batch of naan (we love the stuff A LOT), I decided to add saffron rice to our menu. Thanks to my mom for cooking the rice. If you do plan to use this recipe, heed the advice and use chicken broth instead of water, it’ll make all the difference in flavour. Next time, I intend to add cashews and raisins to it for a stronger flavour.

Last but not least, the drinks! Mango lassis. There are probably some great mango lassi recipes out there, but we didn’t use any. Just some full fat yogurt, a couple cans of mangoes, some caradamom, sugar and some mango juice.

Making Indian food is always a half-day trial, but it certainly is worth it in the end. Good food facilitates good conversation 🙂