Tuesday 31 January 2012

Last meal on Earth - Quick & Easy Scrumptious Pan-Roast Chicken

Quick & Easy Scrumptious Pan-Roast Chicken
Chicken laid onto the chopped vegetables
Well seasoned and ready for the oven
A thing of beauty.....yum!

I was asked not so long ago, what will my last meal on earth be? Well, a roast chicken of course, I replied, almost without any hesitation. Who doesn't enjoy it? It's one of those dishes that everyone knows and savours at some point in their life. Unless you are a vegetarian, in which case, I think you are missing out. No offence, but when cooked right, it is truly the king of all roasts. Certain element has to be abide by in order to achieved the most scrumptious, succulent and juicy chicken ever!

The bird, free range of course is essential. I will also look for a corn-fed ones too. That is a personal preference, but I do find them tonnes more flavoursome than ordinary battery-farmed variety. When I was growing up, I briefly lived in a Malaysia Kampong, a typical local village, where chicken are roaming free everywhere. Every morning, you be awaken by the crowing, wings-flapping and sometimes if you are lucky enough, by the pecking on you semi-conscious body. Those are these tiny delicious feathered creatures that are quite unlike these plump, pale and bland corpses you find in your local supermarket.

The timing, the skin needs to be crispy and the meat need to be cooked but not overdone. Nothing worse than ruining a perfect supper by offering a dry, chewy object. Unless , of course if you are planning to choke you dinner guests to death. In which case, may I advice to just chuck the dehydrated body over the dining table, they won't survive the impact and it's much quicker and less painless that way. 

Flavour! Flavour! Now that you've got a good quality chicken, seasoned it well before you roast it for heaven sake. Judging from my tone, you can possibly tell that I have had many unfortunate experiences of having to endure countless insipid birds. Mostly in some pretentious gastropub where the gravy offered served as garnish rather than sauce. Yes, they were dripped onto plates, possibly with a syringe. Not to be out done by these fancy joint, there were also these pub chains where gravy is a-plenty, but they were so watery and flat that I could find more taste in the glass of water on the side. 

Roast whole chicken is something that I reserved for the weekend when I will have more time to give it some tender-loving-care. So on a normal hectic day when I craved for a comforting roast, this is what I usually make. Last night was a fine example, coming home from work and feeling absolutely exhausted after succumbing to two weeks of nightshift and still on the recovery mode, I've decided to prepare this quick and easy pan-roast chicken. It's speedy because all I need to do is chop up some vegetable into rough chunks, toss with some seasoning and pop into the pan. Lay the chicken legs on top of these. Sprinkle on any fresh or dried herbs and season with some paprika, cayenne pepper, sea salt and pepper and a lug of olive oil. The pan then goes into the oven and the whole meal are ready in 45 minutes......so simple for such a delicious dish. 

If this was to be served to me on my dying bed, I will die a happy man.

(Serves 4)


4 large free-range cornfed chicken leg
2 medium onions, cut into quarters
2 medium courgettes, cut into rough chunks
1 large aubergine, cut into rough chunks
4 medium plump tomatoes, cut into quarters or 4 small tomatoes, halves
4 large potatoes, about 150g each, cut into large chunks
2 garlic cloves, crushed
olive oil
1 1/2 tbsp of paprika
a small pinch of cayenne pepper 
1 tbsp dried thyme and oregano, or any other dried herbs that you fancy
1 lemon
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
a small handful of peashoots, watercress or baby spinach, for garnish


Preheat the oven to 200°C.

Place all the vegetables in a large bowl. Add the garlic and and drizzle some olive oil. Toss thoroughly with your hands until well coated and pour into a large oven proofed frying pan or roasting dish. Lay the chicken on top and sprinkle the paprika, cayenne and dried herbs. Cut the lemon in half and squeezed the juices all over the chicken and then add them to the pan for extra flavour when roasting. Drizzle with more olive oil and season liberally with salt and pepper. Place in the oven and roast for 45 minutes. Check to see if the chicken is cooked by cutting into the thickest part of the thigh and the juices should runs clear.

Transfer onto individual warm plates, spoon over some juices from the pan and serve garnished with some salad leaves.

Monday 30 January 2012

Char Siu - Cantonese Roast Pork

Char Siu - Cantonese Roast Pork
Makes several diagonal cuts from opposite directions about
3/4 down the width
Marinated overnight and ready for the oven
Out of the oven and lightly brushed with maple syrup
Char Siu - Cantonese Roast Pork

Char Siu is a delicious Cantonese dish that is normally bought from a restaurant or  Shāo là (Roast meat) stalls and very rarely prepared at home. In Singapore, it is commonly served with rice and drizzled with a dark sweet gravy. The strips of pork is first marinated in a mixture of Hoisin sauce, yellow bean paste, shaoxing rice wine etc and then skewered and either barbecue over a fire or roast in an oven. When roasted, this aromatic and juicy pork has a reddish brown appearance with a slightly charred edges, especially around the fat. I have use gochujang in this recipe which is not traditional but it does gives it a signature reddish tint and the slight spicy kick goes very well with the honeyed sweet pork.

(Serves 4)


1 kg pork loin
3 tbsp maple syrup or runny honey

For the Marinade:
2 tbsp hoisin sauce
2 tbsp yellow bean paste
4 tbsp soy sauce
3 tbsp dark brown sugar
1 tbsp shoaxing rice wine
1 tbsp gochujang (Korean chilli paste), optional
a pinch of sea salt


Make 3-4 diagonal cuts from opposite direction of the pork, cutting three-quarters through the width without cutting it into pieces. This allows for better absorption of the marinade and also give the pork a traditional char siu look.

Prepare the marinade. In a large bowl, combined all the ingredient. Put in the pork and leave to marinate overnight or at least 5-6 hours. 

When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 180°C. Remove the strip of pork from the marinade, reserve this for basting later. Place the pork on a wire rack over a roasting tray that is filled with about 1cm deep of water. This helps to prevent the juices  that drip from the pork burning, and the steam from the water helps to keep the pork moist. Roast in the oven for 20-25 minutes, remove fro oven and dip into the reserve marinade and return to the rack, this time the bottom side up. Roast for another 20-25 minutes, until the pork is reddish brown and cooked through. 

Removed and immediately brush all over thoroughy with maple syrup or honey. Carve into slices and serve immediately.

Sunday 29 January 2012

Slow-Cooked Harissa Lamb with Coriander, Cherries and Apricots

Slow-Cooked Harissa Lamb with Coriander, Cherries and Apricots
served with Jewelled Couscous
Lamb bubbling and cooking away
Slow-Cooked Harissa Lamb with Coriander, Cherries and Apricots

Rose Harissa

What's not to like about this? Rich, succulent lamb that's been braised for a long time in the low heat oven till it falls apart. Imagine having a mouthful of  marshmallow in your mouth, the soft, melts-in-your-mouth tenderness, accompanied by the piquant flavour from the harissa. This is exactly the kind of food I often longed for when the nights are getting colder. Slow-cooked food that bubbled way gently for hours in the oven or on the stove.
Harissa is a North African spice paste that are normally added to meat or fish stew, and are just as delicious when used as a flavouring in couscous. I am using Rose harissa that include rose petals as part of it's ingredient here which I think add another dimension to the dish.

(Serves 2)


a couple olive oil
500g stewing lamb, such as shoulder, or chump end, cut into 3-4cm pieces
1 onion, finely chopped
2 celery sticks, finely diced
a handful of fresh coriander, roughly chopped, leaves separated from the stems
2 garlic cloves. crushed
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tbsp harissa
400ml chicken stock
juice of 1 orange
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
a handful each of dried cherries and apricots


Preheat the oven to 180C. Heat a casserole pan over a medium-high heat with some olive oil. Sear the chunks of meat until they are browned. Removed from the pan and set aside. Do this in batches if necessary so as not to crowd the pan. Once finished browning all the meat, turn down the heat to a medium add the onion and celery to the pan and sauté for 10 minutes, until soften and translucent.

Add the chopped coriander stems and the garlic to the pan, along with the ground coriander and cumin. Cook for 2-3 minutes, until the spices and the garlic are cooked and gives off an aromatic fragrant. Add the harissa and the stock.

Return the lamb to the pan. Add the orange juice and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and bring to the boil. Transfer the casserole into the oven and cook for 1 1/2 hours, until the meat is soft and tender. Remove the casserole from the oven. Add the dried fruits, replace the lid and return to the oven for another 15-20 minutes.

Add the chopped coriander leaves and serve with some jewelled couscous.

Jewelled Couscous

Jewelled Couscous
Back (L-R) Dried cranberries, dried cherries, pistachio nuts
Front (L-R) Diced cucumber, spring onion, pomegranate seeds
Jewelled Couscous

A truly beautiful and delicious side dish that will goes with just about any thing. It is also yummy on it's own as a light lunch. The combination of ruby red pomegranate seeds, together with the brittle and crunchy nuts and the fresh perfumed herbs just make this an explosion of flavours and textures. On top of that, this is also incredibly easy and quick to prepare. No cooking involved, just some chopping and a gentle click on the kettle's button. What could be more simple than that?!

Any other combination of nuts and dried fruits such as figs, raisins, dates, almonds, hazelnuts can be used for this .

(Serves 4)


zest and juice of 1 lemon
zest and juice of 1 orange 
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp sesame oil
250g couscous
1 tbsp dried cherries
1 tbsp dried cranberries
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
75g pistachio nuts, lightly toasted in a dry hot pan and roughly chopped
seeds of 1 pomegranate
3 spring onions, finely sliced
1/2 cucumber, deseeded and diced
a handful fresh mint leaves, roughly torn
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


Bring a kettle to the boil. Pour 450ml into a jug and add in the lemon and orange juice and the oils and mix well.

In a large bowl, combined the couscous with the dried fruits and the zests. Pour the hot liquid over and season with salt and pepper. Add the ground cinnamon and mix well. Cover with clingfilm or a large plate and leave for about 5 minutes, until all the liquid has been absorbed and the couscous has swelled up, soaking in all the flavours. Fluff up the couscous with a fork to break up any stuck together clumps.

Add all the remaining ingredients to the couscous and mix well. Season to taste and serves.

Japanese Chicken and Egg on Rice - Oyakodon 親子丼

Oyakodon 親子丼
Oyako-nabe pan (a pan specially made for cooking
donburi bowl rice dishes
Simmering the chicken and onion
Adding the beaten eggs in a circular motion
Ready to serve

Oyakodon, literally translates into 'parent-child-rice bowl dish' is an example of simple Japanese home cooking. It is so named due to the presence of the chicken (parent) and egg (child).  This is an ultimate comfort food that takes no time to prepare at all. The chicken and onion are first cooked in a sweet savoury broth and then top with beaten eggs. The whole dish is then remove from the heat just as the eggs are beginning to set so you get this soft creamy eggs that surround the tender and flavoursome chicken. The whole dish is served on top of a bowl of freshly steamed rice that continue to gently 'cook' the eggs. Each velvety mouthful yield a depth of flavours that is just exquisite. 

For excellent results, use the best quality chicken and eggs that you can get your hands on. These are, after all, the stars of the dish.

(Serves 2)

3 large chicken thighs, skinned, boned and cut into bite sized pieces
1 small onion, thinly sliced
4 tbsp Dashi or chicken stock
2 tbsp sake (Japanese rice wine)
1 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp mirin (sweet cooking sake)
2 1/2 tbsp soy sauce
3 free range eggs
2 donburi bowl portion of hot steamed rice, preferably Japanese sushi rice
1/2 sheet of Nori (Japanese seaweed), toasted and cut into thin strips with scissors, for garnish

In a bowl, combined the Dashi or stock, sake, sugar, mirin and soy sauce and mix well. In a separate bowl, lightly beat the eggs.

Put the hot rice into individual donburi or a medium size bowls.

Pour half of the Dashi mixture into an oyako-nabe pan or a small frying pan  and bring to the boil over a medium heat. Add half the chicken thigh pieces and onion slices and simmer for 2-3 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through and the onion has soften. Pour in half  the amount of beaten eggs gently along the edge of the pan in a circular motion. Cover and simmer for about 30 seconds while shaking the pan gently. The eggs should just starting to set but still slightly runny in the middle. Turn off the heat and slide everything onto the rice in one of the donburi bowls. The remaining heat from the rice will continue to cook the eggs. Repeat this process for the other portion.

Serves garnished with nori strips .

Thursday 26 January 2012

Korean Spicy BBQ Pork ( 제육볶음 Jeyuk Bokkeum )

Korean Spicy BBQ Pork  ( 제육볶음 Jeyuk Bokkeum )
Thinly sliced pork
Ingredients marinating in the spicy paste
Pan frying the pork in the large frying pan
Delicious and succulent pork
Korean Spicy BBQ Pork on Rice
( 제육볶음덮밥 Jeyuk Bokkeum Deopbap)

Korean food were widely available in Singapore where I grew up.  This is a dish I remember well as I used to have it all the time in Korean restaurants or in the little Hawker centres that is dotted around the lovely island of Singapore. Jeyuk means pork and bokkeum means stir-fry. Jeyuk bokkeum is a highly popular Korean BBQ dish. Very often, this is served sizzling on a hot cast iron plate. I can still remember the sound of it hissing as the waiter make his grand entrance, slowly approaching, followed by the perfumed fragrant that filled the air.  And the velvety smooth spicy pork that is also honey sweet fill the mouth with a tingling yet comforting sensation.
The meat are first thinly sliced, so that they absorbed the lovely delicious marinade consisting of Korean chilli paste (gochujang), honey, fruit and other wonderful stuff and cooks really quickly on the hot plate to retain moisture and succulent. Of course, mere mortals like us will hardly owns a cast iron sizzling plates although this is on my 'to buy' list or hoping father Christmas will get me one for Christmas, but that is a year away. 
However, this is just as delicious grilled on a barbecue or pan-fried in a large frying pan. Make sure that the pan is sizzling hot so that some of the marinade is caramelised  to give that BBQ yumminess. I used pork shoulder but any other cuts can be used although not too lean works the best. 

(Serves 4)

750g pork shoulder, very thinly sliced across the grains
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
3 spring onions, cut into 2cm length
Sunflower oil or vegetable oil
1 tbsp sesame seeds, toasted in a dry pan
green part of 1 spring onions, sliced, for garnish

For the Marinade:
5 tbsp Korean chilli pepper paste (gochujang)
3 tbsp soy sauce
3 tbsp mirin (Japanese sweet rice wine)
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp Korean chilli powder (gochugaru) 
1 tbsp maple syrup or honey
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp grated ginger
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 pear, grated

In a large bowl, combine all the marinade ingredients. Add the pork, onions and spring onions and mix well. Leave to marinate for at least 1 hour. 

When ready to cook, heat up a large frying pan over high heat with a drizzle of oil. When smoking, add the pork and pan fry for 7-8 minutes, until cook and slightly caramelised (Do not to overcrowd the pan or the meat will stewed and become tough instead of pan fried, do this in batches if necessary). 

Serves with some hot steamed rice and garnish with a sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds and spring onions.

Wednesday 25 January 2012

Japanese Crispy Nori Chicken - Toriniku no Tatsutaage 鶏肉の竜田揚げ/Karaage 唐揚げ

Japanese Crispy Nori Chicken
( Toriniku no Tatsutaage 鶏肉の竜田揚げ )
Japanese Crispy Nori Chicken
 ( Toriniku no Tatsutaage 鶏肉の竜田揚げ )
My Bento Box - Crispy Nori Chicken and
Green Beans with Sesame Dressing

There are times when I suddenly craved for fried chicken. It is one of my guilty pleasure and I am not afraid to admit it. This is one that I make quite often simply because it is delicious and by marinating the chicken in ginger juice and sake just give it such subtle sweetness and lovely flavour. The katakuriko starch produces such delicate crispy coating that just make this fried chicken so perfect and tempting. This is just  the perfect dish to packed into my bento or lunchbox.

(Serves 4)


8 large chicken thighs, skinned, boned and cut into large bite-sized pieces
3 tbsp Japanese soy sauce
3 tbsp mirin
1 tbsp sake
2 tsp fresh ginger juice (Obtained by grating fresh ginger and squeeze out the juice)
1 garlic clove, crushed
Sunflower or vegetable oil, for deep frying
60g katakuriko or potato flour
2 tbsp Aonori or nori flakes (see yakisoba for more details)
Sea salt 
lemon wedges, to serve


In a large bowl, combine the soy sauce, miring, sake, ginger juice and garlic. Add the chicken and marinate for one to two hours.

Fill a large saucepan with enough oil for deep frying and heat to 180°C or alternatively use a deep-fat fryer.
Combine the katakuriko or potato flour, aonori  and a large pinch of salt in a bowl. Remove the chicken from the marinate and wipe dry before coating it thoroughly with the flour mixture. Shake off any excess before lowering each piece into the oil. Deep-fry for 7-8 minutes, or until golden brown and crisp and the chicken is cooked through. Drain well on paper towel.

To serve, arrange the chicken on plate and garnish with lemon wedges.

Korean Kimchi Fried Rice - 김치볶음밥 Kimchi Bokkeum Bap)

Korean Kimchi Fried Rice  - 김치볶음밥 Kimchi Bokkeum Bap
Stir-frying the chopped ingredients 
Cooking the rice with the kimchi
Korean Kimchi Fried Rice, topped with a traditional fried egg
Korean Kimchi Fried Rice  - 김치볶음밥 Kimchi Bokkeum Bap
(L-R)  Korean red chili paste (Gochujang)
and fermented cabbage Kimchi 

Exhausted from the series of nightshifts from my job of late that I just want to have a simple supper. Something that is both easy and quick and yet must be tasty enough to satisfy my taste bud and my hungry soul.
Korean Kimchi fried rice seems to be an obvious choice. It takes minutes to cook and requires very few ingredients, most of which I tend to keep in my kitchen anyway. The main ingredients for this, as the title suggested, are Kimchi and some leftover steamed rice. Like a good Chinese fried rice, this dish is best made with cold rice as freshly cooked rice tend to produce a wet and gloopy result. I often cooked a big batch of steamed rice for a meal and freeze any leftover as these can then be defrost quickly in a microwave and used for a quick supper of fried rice when needed. Kimchi is basically fermented vegetables that are essential for every Korean household and are eaten with every meal. The most common variety are the cabbage kimchi. In additions to these, any meat and vegetable combinations that takes your fancy can be added but I have stuck to the more traditional route with diced bacon, carrot and top off with a sunny side up fried egg. 
(Note: If you are using freshly steamed rice, make sure that you make it well in advance and allow it to cool completely)

(Serves 2)

Around 450g cold cooked short grain rice, best Japanese sushi, if not, Jasmine or Basmati will also do
1 tbsp sunflower oil or vegetable oil
1 garlic clove, crushed
3 stalk spring onions, cut into thin rings and separate the green from the white
3-4 strips of bacon, diced 
200g kimchi, cut into small pieces
1 small carrot, diced
2 tbsp Korean chilli pepper paste (Gochujang)
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp sesame oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp sesame seed, toasted in a dry pan
1 tsp of black sesame seed, toasted in a  dry pan (Optional)
2 sunny side up fried eggs (Optional)

Heat the oil in a large frying pan or a wok over medium high heat. When smoking, sauté the garlic and the white part of the spring onions for a minute, until fragrant and add the bacon and continue to stir fry for another minute before adding the kimchi, carrots, gochujang. Stir fry for 5 minutes until the kimchi has soften and the flavours  has develop. Mix in the rice and soy sauce and stir until everything is well incorporated and the clumps of rice has been broken up, about 4-5 minutes. Add the sesame oil, stir to mix and turn off the heat. 

Serves top with a fried egg per person and garnish with the reserved green part of the spring onions and the toasted sesame seeds.

Monday 23 January 2012

Chinese Five-Spice and Honey Lacquered Chicken à la Peking Duck Style

Five-Spice and Honey Lacquered Chicken, with Sticky Glutinous
Rice Balls and Griddled Broccoli with Garlic, Chilli and Lemon
Lightly blanch in boiling water
Pour the glaze over the chicken 
Marinated overnight and ready for the oven
Chinese Five-Spice and Honey Lacquered Chicken à la Peking
Duck Style

I love Peking Duck, but it's one of those dishes that is so tricky and time consuming to get it right. All the efforts required in order to get that crackling skin and succulent meat. This, in my view is a much simpler version of the dish. The chicken is first blanch in boiling water, just as you would with Peking Duck, and then it is coat with this luscious and sticky five-spice glaze. It is then allow to dry in the fridge overnight before roasting in the oven. This ensure the flavours permeates the skin and also produce a crispy skin when cooked. Seeing that it was Chinese New Year's eve last night, what could be a better reason and timing for me to cook this.

(Serves 4)

1 medium chicken, weighing about 1.3kg
3 tbsp five-spice powder
150ml Chinese black vinegar
100ml dark soy sauce
3 tbsp soft dark brown sugar
6 tbsp honey
sea salt
1/2 lime

Prepare the chicken a day in advance. Combine the five-spice powder, vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, honey and a large pinch of salt in a pan and bring to the boil over high heat. Simmer for about 8-10 minutes , until reduced and thicken into a glossy, sticky sauce. Remove from heat and allow to cool. 

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to the boil. Dip the chicken into the boiling water, remove, and dip again. Drain the chicken and place in a large dish. Pour over the now cooled five-spice glaze and coat the chicken thoroughly with the glaze. Lift the chicken and allow any excess to be drip off and transfer to a clean dish. Refrigerate uncovered overnight. Reserve the glaze and keep it in an airtight container in the fridge.

The following day, remove the chicken from the fridge. Pre-heat the oven to 200˚C. Place the chicken in a roasting tin and roast in the oven for 1 hour -1 hour 15 minutes, until the juices run clear.

To crisp up the skin, 10 minutes before the end of cooking, turn up the oven temperature to 240˚C. Do keep an eye on the bird to prevent it burning. Remove from the oven and allow the chicken to rest for at least 15 minutes before carving.

While the chicken is resting, heat up the reserved glaze with a splash of water in a pan over medium heat. Simmer for a 2-3 minutes until you have a loose, pouring sauce. Finish off with the juice of half a lime.

Carve the chicken into portions and serve with a drizzle of the sauce.

Saturday 21 January 2012

Ma Po Doufu/Tofu 麻婆豆腐 ( Pock-Ma Bean Curd)

Ma Po Doufu 麻婆豆腐 ( Pock-Ma Bean Curd)
Sichuan Peppercorns
Prepared ingredients
Cooking the Ma Po Doufu in the wok 
Ma Po Doufu 麻婆豆腐 ( Pock-Ma Bean Curd)

A quitessential Suchuanese dish, Ma Po Doufu is named after an old woman from Cheng du who created this tofu and meat dish. Her pockmarked complexion led to her being nicknamed "Pock-ma" or "Pock-woman' and thus immortalised in this famous Sichuan dish. Traditionally made with beef, but this can also be made with pork but I thought I should stick with tradition and use minced beef. Sichuan peppercorns is a must as this is what give this dish the signature tongue numbing and tingling sensation that is utterly unique and the Douban jiang or chilli bean paste provide the spiciness. One mouthful of this will send your taste buds run wild.
Seeing it's only a couple of days before the Chinese New Year, this is the perfect time for me to introduce this dish and what a perfect time for you to try this at home.
                                       新年快樂 !
                             恭喜發財 !

(Serves 4)

400g silken or firm bean curd, drained
150g minced beef or pork
1 tsp Sichuan peppercorns
1 tbsp groundnut or vegetable oil
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tsp finely chopped ginger
3 spring onions, finely sliced into rings (reserved the green part for garnish later)
1 tbsp fermented black beans, rinsed and roughly chopped
1 tbsp Sichuanese chilli bean paste (Douban jiang)
1 tsp dried chilli flakes (more if you like it really spicy)
1 tbsp Shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry 
1 tbsp soy sauce
a small pinch of sugar
200ml chicken stock or water
1 tbsp roasted sesame oil
1 tsp potato flour or cornflour, mixed with 1tbsp cold water

For the Marinade:
2 tsp soy sauce
2 tsp Shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry
1 tsp roasted sesame oil
a small pinch of sea salt
a small pinch of sugar

Toast the Sichuan peppercorns in a dry pan over a medium heat for about 5 minutes, until fragrant. Remove and grind to a powder in a mortar and pestle or a spice grinder. Reserved and set aside.

Cut the bean curd into 2cm cubes. Place the meat in a bowl together with the ingredients for the marinade and leave to marinate for 20-30 minutes.

Heat up the oil in a work over high heat until smoke rises. Add the garlic, ginger , black beans and white part of the onions and stir-fry for 30 seconds, then add the minced meat and stir-fry until it is slightly browned and partially cooked, mashing and chopping with a wok scoop or metal spatula to separate the pieces (you don't want clumps of meat).  Add the chilli bean paste , chilli flakes and rice wine and continue to stir-fry for 1 minute, until fragrant and the sauce have permeate the meat. Pour in the stock and slowly bring to the boil over moderate heat.

Add the bean curd and stir very gently so as not to break it up. Season with the soy sauce and sugar and levee to simmer for about 5 minutes, until the bean curd has absorb the flavour of the sauce. Pour in the well-stirred potato flour mixture and blend well. The sauce will start to thickened and has a glossy shine to it. Remove from heat and pour into a warm serving dish.

Drizzle with the sesame oil; garnish with a sprinkle of the ground Sichuan peppercorn and the reserved spring onion. This not only adds a very pretty red and green contrast but also subtle flavouring. Serves piping hot with some steamed rice.

Homemade Japanese Curry Rice - カレーライス

Japanese Chicken and Vegetables Curry Rice
Roll cut the carrots
Sauté the vegetables 
Cooking the curry
Japanese Curry Rice カレーライス

Curry has over the past years become one of Britain's favourite food. The popular ones remains the Indian curry vindaloos or the newer addition to the curry reign, the aromatic Thai green curry. Japanese curry is altogether quite different and quite underrated, in my view. It is thicker and slightly sweeter than both the Indian and Thai curries. It is not as spicy as the two but still retains the unmistakable flavour and taste of a curry. It is great for those who always shunned away from curry thinking that all curry are as fiery as they come.
Very often, the Japanese curry are serves with Tonkatsu/ Pork cutlets on a bed of rice, but of course any meat or vegetables can be thrown into the mix which makes this an extremely versatile dish.  I have recently made a chicken, carrot, potatoes, onions and peas version for my colleagues in work for our nightshift and they loved it!

(Serves 4)

For the Roux:
25g butter
3 tbsp flour
3 tbsp good quality curry powder
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (more if you like it spicy)
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp tonkatsu sauce or worcestershire sauce

For the Curry:
1 tbsp sunflower oil or any vegetable oil
2 large onions, diced
8 large chicken thighs, boned and skinned and chopped into large pieces 
2 carrots, either diced into 2cm cubes or roll cut (hold the whole carrot and roll it as you cut diagonally, this give a much more beautiful presentation, see photo above)
800ml water
2 large potatoes, cut into large chunks
1 large apple or pear, peeled, cored and finely grated (do this in a food processor if wish)
50g peas, frozen or fresh
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

First make the roux. Melt the butter in a pan over medium heat, add the flour and curry powder and cook for a minute or two, until you get a thick paste. Add the cayenne pepper, tomato paste and tonkatsu sauce and combined. Cook for another 4-5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove fro heat and set aside,

In a large saucepan, heat up the oil over medium heat and sauté the onions until golden brown and caramelised, about 25-30 minutes. Careful not to let it burn. Add  the chicken and cook for another 6-7 minutes until browned. Add the carrots, potatoes, grated apple or pear and top with water. Bring to the boil, Ladle some of the cooking liquid into the roux and whisk until smooth, then pour the smooth paste into the saucepan and gently stir until thicken. Turn the heat down and simmer for 30 minutes or until the carrots and potatoes are cooked. Finally add the peas and heat through.

Serves over a bed of rice.


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