Sunday, December 30, 2012

Roast Duck - The Series (Roast Duck Hash)

I was scrolling through my photo stream and realized that I didn't do a post on the first meal I made the morning after my roast duck dinner.  The leftover bits of crispy duck skin, brussel sprouts and three types of roasted fingerling potatoes made a beautiful looking hash.

In case you missed Roast Duck - The Series (Crispy Skin Roast Duck with Brussel Sprouts and New Potatoes), I used a mix of fingerling potatoes  (baby yukon, red and purple peruvian).  I especially love the nutty flavor and vibrant color of the peruvian potatoes.

Roast Duck Hash
1/4 cup roast duck meat and skin, finely chopped
1/2 cup roasted potatoes, smashed and mashed
1/4 cup roasted brussel sprouts, chiffonade (finely cut into thin strips)
1/2 small onion, diced
1/2 tsp crispy fried shallots, crumbled
1/2 tbsp flour or cornstarch
1/2 tsp duck fat
salt and pepper, to taste

In a mixing bowl, combine duck, potatoes, brussel sprouts, onion and fried shallots.  Taste the mixture and add salt and pepper to taste.  Sprinkle in flour/cornstarch and mix.  Make sure the flour/cornstarch is fully incorporated into the mixture.  The flour/cornstarch gives the hash that crispy finish.
In a cast-iron pan or a heavy bottomed frying pan, heat up the duck fat for 15 seconds.  Add the hash mixture.  Cook and stir for about 15 seconds.  Spread and press the hash mixture evenly down on the pan.  Cook over low-med heat until the bottom is crispy, about 10-15 minutes.  With a spatula, divide the hash mixture into quarters and flip each piece over, trying not to break it any further.   Press down and cook for another 10-15 minutes, or until the other side is brown and crispy.
Serve with eggs cooked however which way you like.  I personally prefer poached or over easy.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Hainanese Chicken Rice

The difference between Kwai Fei Gai (Empress Chicken) and Hainanese Chicken Rice is the rice.  Empress Chicken is served with plain steamed rice.  Hainanese Chicken Rice is served with steamed rice that is cooked with the chicken poaching liquid and fragrant garlic.

Hainanese Chicken Rice
2 cups Kwai Fei Gai poaching liquid
1 tsp chicken fat
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1 cup jasmine or brown rice

In a medium pot, sautee the garlic in chicken fat for about 30 seconds.  Add rice.  Sautee for about 2 minutes, stirring.  Add poaching liquid from Kwai Fei Gai recipe.  Bring to a boil.  Lower to a simmer.  Simmer uncovered for about 15 minutes or until liquid is down to the level of the rice.  Do not stir.  Turn heat to low and cover for 10 minutes or until liquid is completely absorbed.  Turn off heat.  Fluff rice.  Serve with Kwai Fei Gai and Ginger scallion sauce.

Empress Chicken (Kwai Fei Gai)

My favorite chicken is Kwai Fei Gai.  Fried chicken is a close (very close) second.  
Kwai Fei was a royal concubine who became Empress and one of the most powerful rulers of China.  This was supposedly a favorite dish of hers conjured up by one of the royal chefs.  Imagine making that decision to serve cold chicken to a lady who had the power and authority to have you beheaded on a whim.  Good thing she liked it, huh?
I love this chicken because it is not just simply cold boiled chicken.  The skin is firm and "bouncy" when you bite into it.  The chicken is rubbed with shaoxing wine before cooking.  The meat is tender and succulent.  The ginger scallion sauce is so good that I save half of my rice so that I can mix it the pesto-like sauce into it at the end of the meal.
I know of 2 methods to make the chicken.  Steaming and poaching.  
Steaming is great because it is faster and less work.  
I love poaching because I can use the poaching liquid as broth afterwards.  Cook up some rice noodles and save some chicken.  You got chicken pho for your next meal.  Or use the broth to make steamed rice and you can turn this into Hainanese Chicken Rice.
This simple dish highlights the freshness and quality of the main ingredient.  Which is why the best kwai fei gai is made with whole, freshly slaughtered, free-range, "chinese yellow chicken".  I put that in quotation marks because I really don't know if there is actually a special breed or if that's just how chinese chefs refer to the free-range chickens that they prefer.  The skin on those chickens have a better (firmer) texture.
I do not have immediate access to such a chicken.  Although, my boss did recently tell me about a vendor at one of the farmers' market in San Diego who sells organic, free-range, never been frozen chickens that he raises on his chicken farm.  One day...
Since I wanted to make this on a non-farmers' market day, I had to settle for never frozen chicken leg quarters from Fresh & Easy.

Kwai Fei Gai (Steamed)
2 chicken leg quarters
2 tbsp  shaoxing wine
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp salt
Ginger-scallion sauce

Rub the chicken all over with shaoxing wine.  Rub the chicken all over with vegetable oil.  Ok, that's enough rubbing.  Sprinkle chicken with salt.
Fill a large pot with 3 inches of water.  Set a steaming rack in the pot.  Bring water to a boil and then lower to a simmer.  Place chicken on a plate with raised edges or a Pyrex dish that fits inside the large pot.  Place the plate/Pyrex dish on top of the steaming rack inside the pot.  Cover the pot.  Keep at a simmer for 15-20 minutes.
While the chicken is steaming, fill a mixing bowl halfway with ice.  Add 2 cups of water to the bowl of ice.  Once the chicken is cooked, immediately dunk the chicken into the bowl of ice water.  This makes the chicken skin seize up, giving it that firm and "bouncy" texture.
Serve with ginger-scallion sauce and steamed rice.  Either pour the ginger-scallion sauce all over the chicken or use it as a dipping sauce.

Kwai Fei Gai (Poached)
2 chicken leg quarters
2 tbsp shaoxing wine
3 tbsp shaoxing wine
2 tbsp shaoxing wine
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp salt
1 stalk green onion
1 knob ginger
Ginger-scallion sauce

Fill a stock pot a little more than halfway with water.  Add green onion, ginger, salt, vegetable oil and 3 tbsp shaoxing wine.  Bring poaching liquid to a boil.  Lower to a simmer.
While poaching liquid is boiling, rub chicken leg quarters with 2 tbsp shaoxing wine.
Fill 2 mixing bowls halfway with ice.  Add 2 cups of water to each bowl of ice.  Set aside the second bowl of ice water.
Add chicken to poaching liquid.  Poach chicken for 3 minutes.  Lift chicken out of poaching liquid with a pair of tongs and dunk chicken into the first bowl of ice water.  Return chicken to poaching liquid for 3 minutes.  Keep repeating this cycle of poaching and ice water dunking about 20 more times or until chicken is cooked through.  On the final icy water dunk, use the second bowl of ice water to avoid salmonella.
The ice water dunking makes the chicken skin seize up, giving it that firm and "bouncy" texture.

Rub chicken, once again, with 2 tbsp shaoxing wine and then with 1 tbsp vegetable oil.
Serve with ginger-scallion sauce and steamed rice.  Either pour the ginger-scallion sauce all over the chicken or use it as a dipping sauce.

Ginger Scallion Sauce

I love this ginger scallion sauce.  It's kind of like a chinese, unblended pesto sauce.  It is essential for Kwai Fei Gai (Empress Chicken).  Sometime I just pour it over steamed rice and eat just that.
This recipe makes 3-4 servings.  If refrigerated in a tightly covered jar, this can last for about a week.

Ginger Scallion Sauce
3 stalks green onion, finely minced
2 knobs ginger, grated
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp ginger powder
1/4 cup vegetable oil

Combine green onions, grated ginger, salt and ginger powder in a large ceramic heat-proof bowl.  In a small saucepan, heat up the vegetable oil over medium-high heat for about 2-3 minutes.  Carefully and SLOWLY, pour/drizzle the oil into the bowl.  I emphasize SLOWLY because if you pour too fast, the mixture will bubble over and boiling hot oil may overflow or splatter from the bowl.  To avoid the burn unit, do it SLOWLY.  
Stir.  Let cool for about 2 minutes and enjoy.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Beef Stroganoff

Back in college, my group of friends and I would combine all of our culinary knowledge (which consisted of "my mom does this...") and pocket change together to scrape up enough ingredients to make a meal.  The results were usually good.  Surprisingly good.  Especially when our group was a brazillian-filipino-chinese-persian-bosnian-newyorker-midwest-cali mix.  No, none of use were exchange students.  Some immigrants and first generation Americans though.

One meal that I store in my memory bank is when the first of our group got their first apartment.  After 9 months of dorm living, that was something worth celebrating.  

We started off the celebration with browned ground beef and caramelized onions with some steamed rice.  One guy in the group added a huge dollop of sour cream to his bowl and mixed it all together.
"This is what we ate in Europe all the time!" Or something like that.  It was years ago and we were drinking alot.

Another guy in our group puts sour cream on everything, so he did the same.

The rest of us were intrigued, so we followed in suit.

Only years later did I realize that it was beef stroganoff sans the mushrooms.  Most beef stroganoff recipes cook the creamy sauce right into the beef mixture, but then how do you reheat the leftovers without breaking the sauce?  I love mixing in the sour cream at serving so that I never have to worry about how to reheat my lunchtime leftovers at work the next day.  If the beef mixture is extra hot, then the cold sour cream will bring down the temperature of the food to just right.

Beef Stroganoff
1 lb ground beef
2 tsp oil
1 1/2 cups sliced mushrooms
1 onion, diced
3 tbsp garlic powder
2 tbsp worcestershire sauce
8 oz sour cream
chives or parsley for garnish (optional)
cooked egg noodles or steamed rice

Brown the mushrooms in a heavy frying pan.  Or even better, use a cast iron pan if you got one.  Once the mushrooms start to brown, add the onions.  Stir and cook until the onions are caramelized.  Add the ground beef.  Add garlic powder and worcestershire sauce.  Add salt and pepper.  Once the beef is completely cooked through, taste and add more salt, pepper or garlic powder if needed.  The sour cream will mute some of the flavors, so don't be afraid of strong flavors.

Fill bowls halfway with cooked egg noodles or steamed rice.  Fill the bowls almost the rest of the way with the beef mixture. 

Stir a large dollop of sour cream into each bowl.  Garnish with minced chives or parsley.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Chinese Sausage Fried Rice with Salty Duck Egg

I had a sudden craving for fried rice the other day, but was fresh out of regular chicken eggs.  I was too lazy and cozy in my little apartment to even run out to the corner store.  Luckily, I had some salted duck eggs from when I made Three Yolk Steamed Eggs.  It coats the rice with a wonderfully rich, umami flavor.  I used thinly sliced chinese sausage as the protein, a little savory sweetness.
I chopped up a tomato and added it at the end.  The freshness of the tangy raw tomato was a nice contrast to the saltiness of the duck egg, not that it was overly salty to begin with.  The ratio of salty duck egg to rice was just perfect.  There was just enough flavor with out being overpowering.  I also think that my wok has finally reached that level of seasoning for my dishes to achieve "wok hay" or "essence of the wok".  I feel like I should celebrate that.  Throw my wok a party or something.

I have always loved the flavor of the yolk in a salty duck egg.  I even prefer the moon cakes that have the salty duck egg in the middle.

Chinese Sausage Fried Rice w/ Salty Duck Egg
Chinese Sausage Fried Rice w/ Salty Duck Egg
2 cups cold, cooked rice
2 links chinese sausage, sliced
1/2 cup peas, fresh or frozen
1 tomato, chopped
1 small onion, diced
1 salted duck egg
2 tsp oil

If the salted duck egg is raw, which is the type I used, separate the whites and the yolk.  Then dice up the yolk, which will be solid.  If the duck egg is cooked, then dice up the whites and the yolks.
Heat up the wok and then add the oil.  My mom always says not to add oil to a cold wok.  Swirl the oil around to wok.  Stir fry the onions and chinese sausage until caramelized.  Add the cold rice and peas.  Stir fry for 2-3 minutes.  Push the rice to the sides, creating a hollow in the middle of the wok.  Add the whites from the salty duck egg to the center of the wok.  If the egg was cooked, just add the whites with the yolks.  Scramble the rice into the egg whites, constantly scrapping at the bottom of the wok to prevent sticking.  Stir fry for about 2 minutes.  Add the yolks.  Stir fry for a minute to make sure everything is thoroughly mixed together.  Add the peas and stir fry until cooked, about 3 minutes.  Add tomatoes and stir fry for 2 minutes.  Turn off heat and serve.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Three Yolk Steamed Eggs (Sam Wong Dan)

Have you ever heard that the skills of truly great chefs are tested by the simplest dishes?  I'm not a great chef, but I get it.  Egg dishes always require precision and timing.  Poached eggs, soft boiled eggs, hollandaise sauce, shirred eggs, and my foe...the steamed egg.
My steamed eggs have always come out dry, with the liquid separated from the eggs.  After much trial and error (and many dozens of eggs), I have finally managed to achieve that silky, smooth consistency. The secret is a slow simmer.  You just can't rush this dish.
I am somewhat of a purist, so I don't add much seasoning to this dish.  Besides, the saltiness from the salted duck egg will be flavor enough.

Three Yolk Steamed Eggs (Three Emperor Steamed Eggs)
4 large chicken eggs
1 salted duck egg, raw
1 century egg

Separate the whites and yolk from salted duck egg.  Carefully crack open the chicken eggs so that you can save one of the half shells for measuring out the water needed.  Add the whites from salted duck egg with chicken egg.  Add 12 half shells of water.  Whisk until blended.  If you want, you can strain the whisked egg mixture through a fine sieve to reduce air bubbles for a smoother surface.  I didn't do that since the slow simmer eliminated most of the air bubbles.  Pour mixture into heat proof bowl that is smaller than the pot that you are using.
Dice up the yolk from the salted duck egg.  Dice up the century egg.  This is when an egg slicer comes in really handy.
Stir salted duck egg yolk and century egg into whisked egg mixture.  Fill a large pot of water with 2 inches of water.  Place a steam rack in the center of the pot.  Heat the water to boiling and then reduce to a slow simmer.  Carefully place the bowl of egg mixture on top of the steam rack.  Cover.  Maintain the slow simmer for 10-12 minutes.  Serve immediately with steamed rice.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Fish Ball with Roe Filling

On one of my recent asian grocery shopping trips, I spent some extra time browsing through the frozen dumplings section.  I discovered these little gems.
I usually buy the regular fish balls, which are fish meatballs made from cod or haddock. They are great additions to asian noodle soups.  They are usually boiled in a spicy curry sauce and sold on skewers in Hong Kong.  In Sweden, they are called fiskbullar and usually sold in cans.
I keep a constant supply of homemade chicken stock in the freezer.  There are always  either egg or rice noodles in my cupboards for those lazy meal days.  Add some green onions, fried shallots, protein and veggies.  VoilĂ .  Instant meal. 

I cooked the fish ball with roe in the stock for my noodle soup.  The roe imparted a slight sweetness into the soup.  The fish ball had a mild flavor with a firm texture that is nice to bite into.  
I was back at the store the very next day to get more.  That's when I discovered these: