Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Japanese Chicken with Nori & Sesame Rice

A few hundred years ago saw the manufacture of soy sauce develop from something that would happen in people’s households to an utterly commercial industry. To increase production, and naturally increase profit, the thick, whole soybean mixture was replaced with a mixture of half wheat and half soybean. The liquid which resulted from fermentation of this became known as Shoyu, the common type of soy sauce still used today.

Tamari is a type of Japanese soy sauce that is made without wheat and is therefore suitable for those with wheat allergies (the name presumably comes from the fact that Aspergillus tamari is the species of funghi used in its fermentation) . It is also made with more soybeans than ordinary soy sauce, resulting in a smoother, more balanced, and complex flavor: its dark colour and soft rich aroma & flavour make it useful in marinades and dressings but if you can’t find it just substitute dark soy sauce.

I’ve previously talked about Nanami Togarashi here, and as well as the nori it is optional: do try and get your hands on black sesame seeds for the rice though as they make it look great and bring a lovely nuttiness to it. This is a prepare-ahead recipe as I marinate the chicken overnight. If you can’t do this, do try and give the marinade at least a couple of hours.

This recipe is adapted from one here.

Japanese Chicken with Nori & Seasame Rice

serves 2

For the chicken
1 tbsp tamari soy sauce
juice of 1 lemon
½ tbsp mirin
1 tsp freshly grated ginger
1 ½ tsp brown sugar
1 garlic clove, peeled and minced
4 free-range chicken thighs, excess fat trimmed, each cut into 2 or 3 pieces

For the rice
1 cup basmati rice (approx 150g)
½ sheet nori seaweed, crumbled
2 tsp black sesame seeds
To serve
nanami togarashi
small handful fresh coriander leaves, finely chopped
3 spring onions, finely sliced
½ green chilli – deseeded, finely sliced
lemon wedges

Whisk the chicken marinade ingredients (tamari, lemon juice, ginger, brown sugar, mirin and garlic) in a large mixing bowl.

Add the chicken thighs, mixing well. Cover the bowl with cling and place in the fridge to chill and marinate overnight.

When you are ready to cook, remove the bowl of chicken from the fridge to bring to room temperature.

Rinse the rice thoroughly at least 2 or 3 times and then add to a medium saucepan that has a tight fitting lid with about 300ml of water.

Bring to the boil and then turn right down to a very low heat and cover the pan with a lid (I often put two sheets of kitchen roll between the lid and pan to ensure an even tighter fit).

Simmer the rice for around 12, 13 minutes then remove from the heat and leave to stand, covered for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, lightly oil a griddle pan and heat up.

Drain the marinade from the chicken into a small frying pan, add 1 ½ tsps each of brown sugar and tamari and set aside.

When the griddle pan is hot, add the chicken thigh pieces with a little of the marinade and cook for 3-4 minutes before turning over and repeating on the other side for a further 6-7 minutes, adding a splash of lemon juice as you cook.

Towards the end of the chicken cooking time, gently heat the marinade in the saucepan.

Remove lid from the rice, add the crumbled nori, sesame seeds and a good grinding of black pepper then mix it all up with a fork, fluffing the grains of rice as you go.

Divide the rice between 2 plates and scatter with green chilli, coriander, and spring onion

Serve the chicken alongside the rice, with little bowls of the heated sauce and nanami togarashi, some extra tamari & lemon wedges.

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Monday, 26 August 2013

A Postcard from Marrakech

It seems so very very long ago now that we had a long weekend in Marrakech - and of course it was: more than five months ago in fact.

We stayed in a lovely riad in a little, slightly smelly alleyway right in the centre and yet a million miles away from the madness and hubbub that surrounds you there. It was hard to believe once we passed through the front door that the Djemma el-Fna was just a short walk away. And yet it was.

Naturally I had a list as long as your arm of food I wanted to try and places I wanted to eat but we fitted in a lot of sightseeing too: the Saadian tombs, Palaces Bahia and Badi, the medina, souks and Djemaa el-Fna, a hot air balloon ride, the Jardin Majorelle... I'm exhausted just thinking about it.

As ever I took a lot of photos, some serious editing has narrowed down the field for this post. Unfortunately I can't remember exactly what was eaten so there has been a little guesswork. Where possible though I have done my best to work out where we ate.

View from the Kosy Bar overlooking Place des Ferblantiers on our first night

Delicious bread that came with our first night's meal

I think this was some sort of Lamb Mechoui with vegetables

Breakfast at the riad: plentiful and delicious

Front door of the riad: an oasis of calm

Bab Agnaou, built in the 12th century & one of  the 19 gates of Marrakech

The 2nd mausoleum of the Saadian Tombs

Ornate plasterwork & murquana detail

In the grounds of the tombs

Berber pharmacy

View of the Atlas mountains from the El Badi Palace ramparts

16th century walls and view

And a 21st century puss

Tagines ready for the lunchtime rush in the mellah

Djemaa el-Fna looking decidedly calm.. that won't last 

More delicious bread and an olive tapenade at Terrasse des Epices

Trio of Moroccan salads: carrot, aubergine, potato

A posher version of Lamb Mechoui

Lamb, prune & almond tagine

Mint tea: lovely

Approaching the Souk des Teinturiers - dyers' souk

Ironworker's Souk

The Djemaa el-Fna is starting to get busier

One of the many orange juice stands in the square: about 30p

Dried fruit, nut and spice stalls also abound

Not to mention snake charmers

Place des Ferblantiers as dusk falls is a great place to hang out...

people watch.....

and get a nice refreshing beer...

Back in the riad, peace and quiet prevails

Dinner at the riad starts off with a mixed salad

This dish of mixed meat & couscous doesn't look particularly big here... it was enormous

We barely made a dent in it but it was terrific

A simple dessert of strawberries and banana was surprisingly tasty

Our hot air balloon is going up - eek!

Up & away at sunrise

So beautiful & peaceful

The competition...

Giving myself a mini coronary

Our very amusing pilot shortly after this demonstrated a "crash landing"

Back on solid ground and a Berber breakfast 


Boys playing football just outside the Berber village

Petulant camel baby

Stork's eye view of the nests atop El Badi Palace, from the Riad roof terrace 

Detail on the roof

Chicken pastilla to start at Al Fassia, a restaurant in Gueliz (the new town)

Mixed skewers with saffron rice

One of my all time favourites: Kefta Mkaouara (tagine with spicy lamb meat- balls & eggs)

All the food at Al Fassia is exclusively prepared & served by women

Peeking through the cacti at Le Jardin Majorelle

Yves Saint Laurent bought the gardens in 1980 and his ashes are scattered there

Doorway at the Ben Youssef  Medersa

And another on a grander scale

The cedar, marble & stucco carvings are amazing

Closed since 1960 the medersa gives a fascinating glimpse into life in an Islamic college

As the sun sets the Djemaa el-Fna really comes to life: you'll find  whirling dervishes, storytellers, magicians...

And of course dozens upon dozens of food stalls

We started off with some bread & delicious dips, harira and calamari

Sweet trolleys pass by tempting those with a sweeter tooth

Our final stop and the last of our food: delicious little sausages grilled over coals and served with bread, chilli sauce and olives

Lightning fast reactions are required in the souks, else you find yourself mowed down

Shopping in the souks isn't just for tourists

Actually these were the last of our food 

A sweet pastilla and a lemon meringue tart

Le Riad Turquoise, 82, rue Touareg Berrima, 40008 Marrakech
Kosy Bar, 47, Place de Ferblantiers, Mellah, Marrakech
Terrasse des Epices, 15, souk Cherifia. Sidi Abdelaziz. Marrakech Médina Al Fassia Guéliz, 55, boulevard Zerktouni 40 000 Marrakech
Marrakech by Air,

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