Monday, 31 August 2015

Yellow Bean Chicken

There are many types of bean paste available in Chinese cooking: chilli bean paste for instance (made from broad beans) as well as, of course, black bean paste. This recipe uses the most common type of bean paste made from soy beans - sometimes called yellow bean (although it isn’t actually yellow) or fermented bean paste it can, confusingly be sweet, salty or hot making it important to know which you're getting!

This recipe is adapted from one in Ching’s Fast Food, with changed made to quantities as well as the velveting method.

Yellow Bean Chicken
serves 2-3

500g skinless chicken thigh fillets, trimmed of fat & sliced
1 tbsp groundnut oil
150g green beans, trimmed & cut in half
5 shiitake mushrooms, sliced
sea salt & freshly ground pepper
2 spring onions, finely chopped
For the marinade
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 tbsp Shaoxing rice wine
2 tbsp yellow bean paste
4 tbsp light soy sauce
2 tbsp runny honey
1 tbsp potato (or corn) flour
1 tbsp water

Mix together the marinade ingredients and the chicken in a bowl then cover with cling and set aside for around 20 minutes.

Heat a wok over high heat until it starts to smoke then add the oil and swirl around to coat the sides of the wok. Add the chicken (and marinade) and stirfry for 4 minutes and then add the beans and keep stirring around briskly for another minute.

Tip in the mushrooms and keep stirfrying for another couple of minutes.

Check the seasoning and adjust carefully to taste if necessary then sprinkle over the spring onions.

Serve immediately with plain rice.

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Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Lamb Rogan Josh

I’d been wanting to cook lamb Rogan Josh, one of my very favourite Indian dishes, for absolutely ages: and had been gathering recipes to do so for just as long. Many that I had sourced were very authentic but authenticity, as often happens, takes time and so I decided one evening to opt for a quicker, if perhaps not as “real” version. As such I’m not sure that this is particularly authentic at all and on top of that the yoghurt lightened it much more than I would have liked. It certainly tasted great though.

Apparently (so says Camellia Panjabi) “rogan” is Hindi for “red”, referring to the deep red colour using Kashmiri chillies (although see my comment regarding adding yoghurt as above) and “josh” means “fat”, referring to the fat which should melt out of the meat during braising. As well as the use of Kashmiri chillies this recipe also uses traditional rogan josh spices cardamom and fennel. If you can’t find Kashmiri chilli powder or the dried chillies themselves, you can use a standard chilli powder and add paprika to boost the red colour instead.

Lamb Rogan Josh
serves 2 generously

550g lamb leg (or shoulder), diced
1½ tbsp clarified butter (or ghee)
1 large onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, peeled & roughly chopped
25g root ginger, peeled & roughly chopped
400g canned tomatoes
250ml water
100ml yoghurt, whisked
½ tsp sea salt
1 tbsp Kashmiri red chilli powder
½ tbsp ground coriander
½ tsp turmeric
½ tsp fennel seeds, ground
3 green cardamoms, lightly crushed
1 black cardamom, lightly crushed
½ tsp black peppercorns
3 cloves
1 bay leaf
½ blade of mace (optional)
¼ tsp turmeric

Fry the onions in the clarified butter in a large saute pan for about 20 minutes until lightly browned. Add the cloves, bay leaf, cardamom, peppercorns & mace & fry for 1 minute.

Then add the coriander, fennel, turmeric, chilli powder, paprika and coriander, frying for a minute or so more.

Throw in the meat and brown for about 5 minutes.

Blitz the tomatoes, garlic and ginger in a blender with a little water and add to the pan, cooking for a minute or so more.

Lower the heat to low and stir through the yoghurt.

Cook for a minute or two before pouring in the water and adding the salt.

Cook for about 2 hours until the meat is very tender removing any whole spices and the bay leaf and mace before serving with basmati rice.

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Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Cod Cakes in Tomato Sauce

I should do some sort of recipe census one day and see which chefs I tend to cook most of. I’m pretty sure that Yotam Ottolenghi would feature pretty highly up the list. Everything I’ve tried of his so far has been winner and there are many more I still want to try (braised eggs with lamb, venison stew and black pepper tofu all spring immediately to mind).

The Guardian website is a good source of his recipes and of course that was where I saw this one. These fishcakes are it seems, according to Ottolenghi “popular among Syrian Jews” being as they “capture much of the spirit of Sephardi food”. They are also delicious.

Cod Cakes in Tomato Sauce
serves 2

1½ slices good white bread, crusts removed
300g white fish fillet, skinless and boneless,
½ medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
15g flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
15g coriander, finely chopped
½ tbsp ground cumin
¾ tsp salt
1 large free-range egg, beaten
2 tbsp olive oil
For the tomato sauce
1 tbsp olive oil
¾ tsp ground cumin
¼ tsp sweet paprika
½ tsp ground coriander
½ medium onion, chopped
65ml white wine
200g tin chopped tomatoes
½ red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
1 small garlic clove, crushed
1 tsp caster sugar
sea salt and black pepper

First make the tomato sauce. Heat the oil in a very large frying pan for which you have a lid and add the spices and onion. Cook for eight to 10 minutes, until completely soft, then add the wine and simmer for three minutes. Add the tomatoes, chilli, garlic, sugar, half a teaspoon of salt and some black pepper. Simmer for about 15 minutes, until quite thick, taste to adjust the seasoning and set aside.

While the sauce is cooking, make the fishcakes. Put the bread in a food processor and blitz to breadcrumbs. Chop the fish very finely and put in a bowl with the breadcrumbs and everything else but the olive oil.

Mix well, use your hands to shape into compact cakes about 2cm thick and 8cm wide. If the cakes are very soft, refrigerate for 30 minutes so they firm up (you could also add some dried breadcrumbs to the mix, but do so only sparingly – the uncooked cakes should be quite wet).

Heat half the olive oil in a frying pan and sear the cakes for three minutes on each side, so they colour well on both sides. Add the remaining oil as you fry the cakes.

Place the seared cakes gently, side by side, in the tomato sauce – if need be, squeeze them a bit so they all fit in a single layer.

Add just enough water partially to cover the cakes – about 100ml or so – cover the pan with a lid and simmer on a very low heat for 15–20 minutes.

Turn off the heat and leave the cakes to settle, uncovered, for at least 10 minutes before serving.

Serve warm or at room temperature with, for instance, some steamed couscous.

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