This is one of the simplest recipes you can imagine. It’s tasty, salty (my weakness in food; don’t let my sweet tooth fool you) and made with pantry ingredients. I just love this stuff. I saw this first on Chinese Food Made Easy but it was J who suggested we try it after we both arrived home one evening after a very tiring day.
I bought the book primarily because I wanted to learn how to cook Chinese food, or a version of it, at home, without resorting to unnecessary trips to the takeaway. The good thing is that we don’t do that often, but once in a blue moon I do get that annoying urge for something very salty. Instead of rushing out to get food containing who-knows-how-many-extra-grams of salt,
which quite frankly I don’t need and I would guess other unmentionable things, J and I opt for this either alone or as a side. It definitely hits the spot.
Serves 3 to 4 as a snack or side dish.
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil or rapeseed oil
- 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 cup thai rice, cooked
- 3 large ripe tomatoes, sliced
- 3 tablespoons dark soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
- pinch of pepper
- 2 spring onions, finely chopped
- a sprinkle of fresh coriander
Heat up a wok, or a non-stick pan over very high heat and add the vegetable oil into the pan. (You must work quickly but carefully from here on, so take a deep breath and go for it.) Add the beaten eggs and scramble them for a couple of minutes.
Next add the rice and stir well to break it up. Add the tomatoes and stir-fry everything for a few more minutes. Everything is practically already cooked so you don’t really need more than five minutes I would say.
Pour in the soy sauce, sesame oil, pepper and spring onions. Give the rice another good mix and serve immediately. Sprinkle some coriander on top of each serving.
(Recipe adapted from Ching-He Huang’s Chinese Food Made Easy, HarperCollins, 2008.)
I love to call this Oh-So-Crispy chicken. It really is! This is somewhat messy to make but oh-so-worth-it. Serve it with jasmine rice and you’re ready to go. I tried this recipe, with variations, from the sweet Ching-He Huang’s Chinese Food Made Easy and it has become one of my favourites. I think if I had to plot out some kind of best-of chart, this would easily be in my top 5. What I like most about it is that you don’t need to go out of your way to get special ingredients you will use only a couple of times. Come to think of it, perhaps this is the reason I tried it in the first place. I always have soy sauce and toasted sesame oil in my pantry, and instead of groundnut oil (which I happen to have) you can easily use vegetable oil. Cornflour is always a staple anyway to thicken sauces.This recipe serves 4 to 6 people but you can scale it up or down as you wish. You need to marinade the chicken first so give yourself a little bit of preparation time for this. Apart from that, it’s all pretty manageable. You will need:
- 700g chicken thighs, boneless and skinless, chopped into large bite-sized pieces
- 14 tablespoons cornflour (This is best as it is tasteless. Avoid plain flour.)
- Groundnut oil
- ground pepper
- Jasmine rice, to serve (cooking method: absorption, infused with one star anise in the water)
For the marinade you will need:
- 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped or crushed
- 1 spring onion, finely chopped
- 4 tablespoon dark soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon Chinese five-spice powder
- 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
- 2 teaspoons dried chilli flakes
- Cook the rice. Remember to put the star anise in the water. (And keep it for presentation later.)
- Place the chicken in a bowl or glass dish and put all the marinade ingredients all over the meat. Mix well (I use my hands and then wash them). Cover with clingfilm and place in the fridge overnight. But if you don’t have that much time, 4 hours give or take will also work well.
- When you are ready to serve, prepare another clean bowl with the cornflour. Remove the chicken from it’s marinade and place it in the flour. Coat evenly and flick gently to remove any access flour.
- Heat a wok or a pan. When it’s really hot (and not before) pour in a good glug of oil in the pan and slowly drop in a small piece of bread. If this turns golden brown then you are ready to fry the chicken, until it turns golden brown on the outside. The meat will need around 8 to 10 minutes to cook. Remember that chicken has to cook really well.
- Cook the chicken in batches not all at once. This will keep the oil at a constant temperature to create the crispness of the meat. It will take a bit of time but that’s the way to do it. You wouldn’t want all this to go to waste after all the work!
Serve with the jasmine rice and a simple green salad as a side. Enjoy!
I’ve been reading Ching-He Huang’s Chinese Food Made Easy (Harper Collins, 2008) and Ching’s Fast Food (same publisher, 2011). I love Ching – her girly giggle and her never-ending enthusiasm for food are contagious. I prefer Ching’s Fast Food best because apart from being a recipe book, it is also a kind of memoir. I love this combination. I don’t have any clue about real Chinese cooking – and I mean the *real* deal, not the Americanised recipes we are so accustomed to eating in many so-called Chinese restaurants. As Ching says “Chinese food remains unappreciated…but there are signs that the disparity between takeaway food and ‘real’ Chinese cuisine is lessening.” Which is a good sign. It would be fantastic to experience a home-cooked meal, but alas, I could be waiting for quite a while! Ching’s recipes in both books are a twist on the traditional ones, I find her to be most inspiring and I will definitely try to be more adventurous with my cooking…
There’s nothing wrong with tradition though, which brings me to a family of books which I purchased from the National Trust. I have two favourites: The National Trust Farmhouse Cookbook and Complete Traditional Recipe Book. I have made quite a number of recipes from both books. The latter is quite thick and it’s almost split half and half (sweet and savoury/cooking and baking). The Farmhouse Cookbook is not to be overlooked though; it takes you to different NT properties and tells you about local specialities and ingredients, and of course how these are sourced. They are a good reference for anyone who wants to know more about British food (yes, there *is* such a thing) and British heritage.
Hopping from the UK to Italy now…(it’s almost sounding like Euro 2012)! Well, I won’t go into that but there’s no denying that the food in Italy is not just great – it’s divine. If you agree and you love to cook, then you just have to have Anna Del Conte’s Gastronomy of Italy. I know I have mentioned this book before but I cannot have a list of favourites and not include it! It would be just plain wrong. It’s not just a recipe book – it’s a mixture of food and history, and you know how much I enjoy this kind of literature. This is a must-have for anyone interested in the subject.
I won’t bore you anymore with my ramblings (on books that is…) but I hope that you will find all this helpful if you’re thinking about getting some cookbooks either for you or for a foodie friend. Now for a brief disclaimer to put things right, please note that I was *not* paid by anyone to review these books. They are just the ones I like at this moment and of course whatever I wrote about them is my personal opinion. Patti chiari, amicizia lunga, or so they say…