On Wednesday, 15th of August, was Julia Child’s 100th birthday. Even though it’s a hot summer’s day, I thought I’d pay Julia an honour by cooking something as warming as coq au vin. I didn’t actually used a rooster for this dish, i used a chicken. I should probably called it poule au vin since it’d be more appropriate, oh well. Same difference.
Chicken soaked in red wine and then braised in the same liquid until the meat is tenderized with a sauce thickened with some beurre manié is simply quite delicious. I cheated a bit by skipping a few steps like not flambeing the chicken with cognac, not using pearl onions and not cooking the vegetables each at a time. It still worked out pretty well.
Mushrooms. I want to share that I find shitake mushrooms or any mushrooms of the dried variety works better than fresh ones for this dish. You see, fresh mushrooms have a lot of liquid that you must get rid off by cooking for a long time. And mushrooms when not cooked properly is an acquire taste. You have to love it so much to not mind the rotting wood flavour/aroma, which is something you’ll get from soggy mushrooms. So do yourselves a favour and use dried mushrooms, re-hydrate and let the liquid be part of your stock too.
My kitchen was hot from making coq au vin but every sweat drop was worth it. This is my sort of semi-cheat version.
There are many kinds of curried chicken in Malaysia and while I am not sure which kind this is, it is the kind that is served in my mother’s and grandmother’s kitchen. If it spanned two generations, I can assure you that this recipe works.
I used to over-think this recipe when I was in my university days because I want, so badly, to replicate the taste from home. And the result is a curry that tastes like it was over-thought, if that made any sense. I put too much curry powder, too much cumin, too much coriander, too much of everything. While it was good, overbearingly spicily good, it was perhaps quite heavy handed. I’ve learned that it is crucial to understand balance when handling spice.
This curry feels, tastes and smells very much like home and it is a keeper. It is like the curry served during Chinese New Year’s reunion dinner along with all the other yummilicious dishes. The spice is just right and it is downright addictive.
Home-style Malaysian Chicken Curry
6 chicken legs, drumsticks and thighs separated.
1 star anise
1 stick of cinnamon stick
1/4 cup of curry powder
1 teaspoon garaam masala (optional)
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
1 large potato, cut into large chunks
2 large tomatoes, quartered
1/2 cup of coconut milk
250ml of water
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon sugar
Curry Spice – to be pounded/blended
2 medium sized red onions, chopped into chunks
5 cloves of garlic, peeled
1 tablespoon dried whole coriander
1 teaspoon dried whole cumin
4 pods of cardamom seeds, discard pod after extraction
I like to pound my spices with a mortar and pestle but go ahead and use a blender.
This chicken curry tastes better the next day and is great eaten with rice and breads, especially the South Asian kind like Naan bread. The end result of this dish can be rather oily, don’t be alarmed, the red chili oil that surfaces actually helps cook this curry better. You could always scoop the excess away after you’re done cooking or get rid of the chicken skin.
It’s been such a lovely weather lately, hot without much humidity, an excellent reason to crank up the kitchen. *rubs hands together*
Also, on the 31st of August will be Malaysia’s independence day. My fellow foodie blogger from Malaysia, Babe_KL is hosting an open house on her blog collecting family favorite recipes for our 53rd Independence Day. The theme is Food From Our Hearts, an excellent theme for a recipe that’s spanned two generations. 🙂
I love Kaffir lime leaves. They impart a wonderful citrusy flavor and when they’re sliced finely and added to chicken curry, it brings the dish to a whole new level. The lemony scent it gives off in this chicken gulai dish opens up the appetite of even the pickiest eaters.
In case you’re wondering what gulai is, it essentially means curry. But in my understanding when gulai is made at home by my family, it usually has a citrusy tone to the curry with the addition of Kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass and/or juice of pineapples. This chicken gulai, besides the Kaffir lime leaves, I’ve also added pineapple juice to round off the flavor. It tastes very much like home. Actually this entire weekend has been like a trip down memory lane for my taste buds.
Chicken Gulai (Chicken Curry with Kaffir Lime Leaves)
A good curry starts with a good base. Pounding the spice in a mortar and pestle releases the flavors and meld them together better than blending it with a blender. When possible, try to pound your spice instead of blitzing them. There’s more love when you hand pound your spices. 😉
250grams of chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch slices
6 Kaffir lime leaves, finely sliced (Tip: Roll the leaves together into a long tube and slice)
250ml of thin coconut milk
50ml of thick coconut cream
50ml of pineapple juice
5 tablespoon vegetable oil
salt to taste
Spice paste (ground)
5 cloves of garlic
1-inch thick of galangal
1 stalk of lemongrass
1-inch thick turmeric root/ 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
2 tablespoon curry powder
Serve with rice.
***If you wonder why there are carrots in the gulai, the pictures are showing you the vegetarian version of the gulai during cooking period. The spices are exactly the same. Oh, this is also P’s first experience eating proper Nyonya food too.
I’ve also made some onde-onde, a cousin to the mochi but it’s coated with grated coconut and stuffed with palm sugar that bursts in your mouth with sweetness. It possibly my favorite childhood Nyonya kueh, a Malaysian tea time snack. That recipe will come next!
You will never say boiled chicken is boring ever again after you try this recipe. The chicken is perfectly cooked through, soft, luscious and of course, delicious to eat. This is something that my mother would even make on a regular basis for dinner because it’s so easy. I am sure all of you would agree that most Chinese cuisine’s preparation time is always a drag. Long and tedious. But this is an exception to that. The only catch is you would need to plan this a little bit ahead of time, about 2 hrs ahead of time if your chicken is fresh and defrosted.
I did not make the rice to go with my chicken because I didn’t feel like having rice with the meal, strange as it sounds. But the recipe for the rice is below, for those of you who want to try the complete Hainanese-style Chicken Rice meal. Oh and before I forget, the chicken is usually served in room temperature.
So let’s get cooking.
1 1.5kg Chicken (cooking time do not vary, this method works with even a larger chicken)
1/2 star anise
8 garlic cloves, crushed slightly
1 onion, peeled and halved
2 sprigs of spring onions, tips cut off and left whole
2 big slices of ginger
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon of whole black peppercorns
2 teaspoon of salt
Enough water to cover a whole chicken in a very large pot.
You are doing good. Now, this is the ridiculous part. Turn off the heat completely and leave the chicken in for 1.5 hours. Do not open the lid, do not stir, do not shake, do nothing. Go read a book or shoot some zombies on your XBOX.
I like to give it a cold bath to stop the cooking completely and also to give its skin a very smooth and luscious texture. Cooling the chicken like this makes it easier to handle while you cut it up for serving. I leave it in the cold bath for about 10minutes
To serve, my grandmother usually prepares a yummy sauce filled with herbs to go with this chicken; I will too because I can’t get enough of it. It goes extremely well with the chicken and with rice.
Sauce for Hainanese-style Chicken:
2 tablespoon of Oyster sauce
2 tablespoons of soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon of sesame oil
1 teaspoon sesame seed
2 cloves of garlic, minced finely
2 tablespoon of shallots, minced finely
1 stalk of spring onion, chopped finely
1 sprig of parsley, chopped finely
2 tablespoon of garlic oil and golden garlic bits (minced garlic + enough oil to cover in a small bowl + microwave 2-mins till golden brown)
3 tablespoon of chicken broth (from cooking the chicken)
Feel free to double or halve the recipe to feed more people.
2 cups of jasmine rice
1 tablespoon of butter
3 cloves of garlic, whole
2 stalk of spring onions, ends trimmed and kept whole
2 slices of ginger
3 1/4 cups of chicken broth (from earlier)
If you don’t have a rice cooker, you can also cook this in a pot. Just make sure you lower the heat to a simmer/low when the rice starts boiling. Cook for 10 minutes or until all liquid is absorbed and turn off the heat completely. Wait 5 minutes before serving the rice.
The left over cooking liquid from the chicken makes a good soup base to go with the meal. Add some carrots, shitake mushrooms, Chinese cabbage and/or other root vegetables you like to eat and it’ll be a great accompaniment to the Hainanese-style Chicken Rice meal. 🙂
During Chinese New Year, I almost died from eating so much food! Well, not literally. It was a lot of food. But first, I am gonna share with you a very delicious Lor Bak recipe from my grandaunt. She’s a pro when it comes to making Nyonya fares, after my grandmother (who is the guru) passed on, we go to her sister for great Nyonya fare.
Usually, the reunion dinner is special because we’d have Lor Bak (meat with five spice spring roll), Joo Hoo Char (dried cuttlefish with jicama stirfry), Sio Bak, Sio Ark, Sio Keh (roast pork, roast duck, roast chicken all in that order), Nyonya Chicken Curry, Hu Peow soup (fish maw soup), fresh steamed fish, loh hon chai and several other dishes that is varied every year. But the ones listed above is a staple during our reunion dinner. I know it’s a lot even for 12-15 people.
So during my CNY reunion dinner with my family, we had steamboat (hotpot) and Lor Bak on the sides while we waited for the soup to boil. I made it using a recipe that’s age old in our family and while it didn’t actually LOOK like my grandma’s Lor Bak, it sure tasted like it. One reason why it didn’t look like the original is because I didn’t wrap it tight enough. Pfft.
But here’s the recipe for Lor Bak:
Originally, people use pork as the filling but my grandmother and grandaunt switched to chicken decades ago for health reasons. I’m used to the chicken version but you can go ahead and use pork tenderloins in replacement 🙂
Bean curd skins, cut into 5×4 inch squares (for wrapping), you would need about 20 sheets.
500gram chicken breast fillets
3 stalks of spring onion, chopped finely
1 shallot, chopped
1 cup of jicama bean, julienned into 0.5 cm thickness
1.5 tablespoon of good 5 spiced powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
a handful of crispy fried shallots (store-bought ones are fine and recommended for convenience sake)
3 cloves of garlic, chopped and sauteed in oil until golden brown (you want a bit of the crisp garlic and oil)
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon of soy sauce
2 tablespoon of cornstarch
Oil for deep frying
1. Heat oil until it is 300 degrees Fahrenheit. I prefer this temperature because the meat cooks as the spring roll turns golden brown evenly.
2. In a large bowl, combine ALL of the ingredients above except for the bean curd skins. Mix well. Let the chicken marinade for about 15-30 minutes.
3. With 1 sheet of bean curd skin, put in 2-3 fillet of chicken with a bit of the ingredients from the marinade. Wrap as you would a spring roll and be extra careful to roll it tightly so it doesn’t open up while frying. To keep the bean curd skin together after rolling in the filling, dab your fingers in the marinate from the bowl and wet the ends of the bean curd sheet before sealing it off.
4. Repeat step 3 until all the filling is used up.
5. Deep fry the Lor Bak until it becomes crispy golden brown.
6. Let it cool a little bit before cutting.