Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Udang Gulai Nenas 娘惹鳳梨蝦 Prawns With Spiced Pineapple Gravy - "Malaysian Monday 44"

I am an extremely lazy cook but thanks to Malaysian Monday, I have been making an effort to cook something from home once a week at least for the past one year. Despite my hard work very few of my friends actually seek to try out any of my Malaysian dishes. There are way too many excuses; too complicated, too oily, too many ingredients etc...etc... And to prove them wrong I have prepared a dish that is extremely easy to prepare, fat free and with so few ingredients one can simply do without a shopping list.
This is a very aromatic Nyonya dish; it is a little sweet, a little tart and with just enough kick from the spices to get you out of your mid-winter hibernation. Well...that almost sums up this wonderful dish that I am sharing with you today I think. With both Melaka and Penang (together with Singapore, these former Straits Settlements all have rich Nyonya/Peranakan heritage) now on the "must visit" list for tourists visting Malaysia after gaining their world heritage status, I can only hope the fabulous Nyonya cuisine will also gain the recognition it truly deserved.

serves 4 as part of a Malaysian meal
you'll need;
600 g of whole prawns
1/2 a pineapple, peeled, eyes removed and cut into chunks
900 ml of prawn stock* or water
2 tbs of sugar
salt to taste
1 tamarind peel (optional)
1 bunch of Thai basil, picked (about 1 cup)
*for the prawn stock - simply simmer reserved prawns shell and heads (I always have some in my freezer) with water for 20 minutes and before removing the solids.

for the spice paste;
6 large shallots or 20 Asian shallots
3 cm piece of fresh turmeric, peeled and chopped
5 cm piece of galangal, peeled and chopped
5 red chillies, chopped
2 tsp of shrimp paste (belacan)

Cut off the pointy end of the prawn heads and remove the sand sacks.

Prepare the pineapple.

Chop up the fresh spices will make pounding or blending a lot easier.

Process the spices until a fine paste is achieved, add a little water if needed.

Place spice paste together with prawn stock or water, sugar and pineapple in a wok or pan and bring it to a boil.

Lower the heat and simmer until the sauce is thicken. Season with salt.

Add prawns and allow the prawns to poach gently in the gravy.

Finally add in the Thai basil and stir through.

Serve immediately with plenty of steamed rice.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Chicken Breast Stuffed With Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Wrapped In Prosciutto

I know it sounds a little daggy with all the stuffing and wrapping business going on but  what important is it tastes good right? What's more, I am doing what I preached about trying new things with the humble chicken. I wasn't exactly clear how the dish would turn out but I must say the gamble did pay off handsomely. By all means create your own stuffing and serve with a side of your choice but one mustn't overcook the chicken as that is the biggest sin any cook could commit. 
Good news for chicken lover as there are a few more chicken dishes coming your way over the next few days!

recipe from the tummies' kitchen
serves 2 as a one dish meal
oven preheated at 220 C (conventional)
you'll need;
4 medium size skinless chicken breasts, free range if possible
8 thin slices of prosciutto
salt and pepper to taste
extra virgin olive oil
a dressed salad to serve

for the stuffing;
1 cup of blanch spinach, squeezed out excess water
150 g of sun dried tomatoes
1/2 cup of grated parmesan cheese
rind of 1 lemon
dash of olive oil
pepper to taste

Place all ingredients for stuffing except for the spinach in a food processor and blend until you get a rough paste.

Make a pocket with each breast and place 1/4 of the blanched spinach and stuffing into the cavity.

Place 2 over wrapping pieces of prosciutto on a chopping board and wrap the stuffed breast with that. Repeat the same with the rest of the chicken breasts.

Heat a roasting pan over the stove and brown the chicken, seam sides down for a minute before turning over once. Place the roasting pan into the preheated oven and bake for 18 to 20 minutes depending on the size of the breasts. Remove chicken from the pan and allow to rest for at least 7 minutes before slicing.

I served the stuffed chicken breasts with a side salad of witlof and bacon crisps.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Chicken Cooked In Milk

In the year 2009 we consumed 1.7 million camels, 293 million cows, 518 million sheep, 633 million turkeys, 1.3 billion pigs, 2.6 billion ducks and a whooping 52 billion chickens according to the statistics found in the latest National Geographic. It didn't come as a surprise to me considering chicken has been the cheapest and most easily available form of animal protein to the majority of the world population after big scale animal farming was introduced.
Furthermore it is also extremely versatile in the kitchen; it can be steamed, deep fried, smoked, poached, curried and the list goes on. Although there is nothing wrong with the good old roast chicken we all loved but we should always be a little more adventurous and try out new recipes with the humble chicken.... remember what Darryl from the classic Aussie film, "The Castle" said after finding out it was chicken for dinner? "it's what you do with it darl!" Here I have substituted pork loin with a whole chicken using the same recipe from a previous post and it worked beautifully. The chicken is tender and moist not to mention the wicked poaching liquor that also double as a sauce. One piece of advice - do not attempt to turn this into a low fat meal by using skim milk as you won't be getting the beautiful sauce with the tasty curds in it.
P.S Always buy free range chickens if your budget allows; not only they taste better, the few extra dollars spent will also buy us a peace of mind knowing they were treated humanely before turning up at out butchers and supermarket shelves. 

serves 2 to 3 
oven preheated at 220 C (conventional)
you'll need;
1 free range chicken 
rind of one lemon, cut into pieces
1 onion, peeled and cut into chunks
4 cloves of garlic, bashed
1/2 a cinnamon stick
enough full cream milk to cover the chicken
salt and pepper to taste
1 bay leaf
a handful each of thyme and rosemary
extra virgin olive oil
a knob of butter
sauteed chicory with garlic to serve

Prepare the aromatics.

Season the chicken with salt and pepper inside out.

Melt the butter together with a little olive oil and brown the chicken all over. Remove the chicken and drain off all the fat leaving all the delicious brown bits that stick to the bottom of the pot.

Return the chicken to the pot, add the aromatics and pour enough milk in to cover 3/4 of the chicken.

Place it in the preheated oven for 60 to 70 minutes depending on the size of the chicken, basting the bird from time to time.

Cut the chicken into desirable portions and serve with a sauteed green.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Ayam Goreng Nyonya 娘惹炸雞 Nyonya Fried Chicken - "Malaysian Monday 43"

I took the opportunity to stock up on spices both fresh and dried during a recent trip to Victoria Street. With all the essential ingredients for any good Malaysian feast on hand, choosing something to cook for this week's MM post was literally like a walk in the park. This is a very easy dish to prepare with ingredients one can count with both hands. The best thing about this method of cooking is it will ensure the flesh to be juicy and the skin super crispy, better still you don't have to worry about preparing a sauce to go with these heavenly golden beauties as it comes with one!
P.S Both lemongrass and galangal can be quite woody; and it is a real pain trying to turn these spices into a smooth paste, the problem can be easily solved by blending them together with the coconut milk, this will ensure a nice smooth sauce too. 

serves 4 as part of a Malaysian meal
you'll need;
6 chicken maryland, jointed
1 lemongrass (white part only), finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
6 slices of galangal, chopped
400 ml of coconut milk
1.5 tsp of coriander powder
1.5 tsp of turmeric powder
1 tbs of sugar
salt to taste
oil for frying

Chop up the wet spices for easy blending.

Place coconut milk, seasonings and spices both wet and dry in a blender and process until smooth.

Joint the chicken. 

Place spiced coconut milk and chicken pieces in a pot and mix well. Bring the content to a boil then lower the heat and simmer for 20 minutes.

Remove chicken from the pot and allow to cool. Continue to simmer the cooking liquid until it is quite thick. Remove the excess oil, check for seasonings and set aside - this will be served as a sauce with the fried chicken.

Deep fry chicken pieces in batches until golden and crispy. Drain well before serving.

Serve fried chicken together with the sauce.

I am hosting this month's event so please send all your entries to me at sureshchong@yahoo.com
To find out about the event and how to take part please click HERE.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Stir Fried Rice Noodles With Flowering Chives And Prawns 韭菜花蝦球炒河

I can never resist not picking up a bundle or two of the beautiful flowering chives whenever they are around. This beauty goes very well with almost everything but it is especially delicious when paired with seafood. I did just that by using prawns and flowering chives in a tasty noodle stir fry, with my favourite hor fun (fresh rice noodle) of course! Chicken will work equally well here and if you prefer beef, how about some fried rice noodles with beef (乾炒牛河) instead?

recipe per serve
you'll need;
250 to 300 g of fresh wide rice noodles, loosen and mixed in a tbs of light soy
2 garlic cloves, chopped
8 prawns, peeled and deveined
a small bunch of flowering chives or garlic chives, cut into 4 cm lengths
a handful of bean sprouts, topped and tailed
1 tbs of light soy
2 tbs of oyster sauce
dash of fish sauce
dash of sesame oil
dash of white pepper
cut chillies in soy to serve

Peel the prawns, leaving the tails intact then devein and set aside.

Prepare the vegetables. Bean sprouts are topped and tailed to give the dish a better appearance. 

Char rice noodles in a very hot wok with a little oil, do not attempt to move the noodles too much to avoid breakage. When noodles are nicely charred, remove and set set aside. This is a great step for every home cook who wants to achieve the smokey flavour so important in a good stir fry.

Saute garlic with a little oil for 30 seconds before adding the prawns.

When the prawns are 30% cooked, throw in the flowering chives and cook for a further 30 seconds on high heat.

Return the noodles to the wok, add seasonings and mix well. 

Finally stir in the bean sprouts and cook for another 20 to 30 seconds. Check for seasonings before serving.

Serve immediately with some cut chillies in soy.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Eggs En Cocotte With Tomato Sauce And Chorizo

This is a post for my new friend D who requested for some breakfast dishes a while back. I must say I have never been a breakfast person as some toasts and a cup of tea is all I want after my well deserved sleep in over the weekend. However I did have this stashed away somewhere after trying out some of the recipes from one of my many untested cookbooks. There is a small chapter on eggs en cocotte (in casserole) in 1080 Recipes by Simone and Mes Ortega and I have simply replaced the bacon with chorizo sausage from one of the recipes. Perhaps this is a dish worth getting up a little earlier for.... if not it will make a terrific lunch or brunch if that's what you prefer to call it!
P.S I would also like to congratulate my friends D and B for completing their post law school course, well done boys!

recipe adapted from 1080 Recipes by Simone and Mes Ortega
oven preheated at 220 C (conventional)
serves 3
you'll need;
3 tbs of olive oil
2 chorizo sausages, sliced
1 red onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
400 g of canned tomato, chopped
1 tsp of sugar
6 eggs
salt and pepper to taste
crusty bread to serve

A bit of cutting and chopping.

Brown chorizo in batches, rendering some of the fat. Remove and set aside.

In the same pan, saute onion and garlic for 2 minutes then add in the chopped tomatoes and continue to cook for a minute. Season with sugar and salt.

Return chorizo to the pan and simmer for a further 5 minutes. Check for seasonings.

Spoon sauce into 3 coccottes or ramekins and break 2 eggs into each ramekin. Lightly season with salt, place the ramekins in a baking tray with a rack and half filled with boiling water. Bake in the preheated oven for 4 to 5 minutes.

After 4 to 5 minutes, the egg whites should be just set and yolks remain runny.

Serve immediately with toast or bread of your choice.

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