newest favourite: coriander chicken
Bottom left-hand corner: coriander chicken, my latest favourite!
i grew up detesting parsley (coriander, or cilantro, is part of the parsley family). i tend to hate flavours that ‘get in the way’ of my favourite foods, which is why i used to pick out pickles from cheeseburgers, parsley from steamed beef balls (classic dim sum dish), etc. over years of travelling/moving around, i’ve grown more tolerant of this soap-like herb, and now instead of finding parsley pungent, i like to think of it as being aromatic - not to mention a very pretty garnish!
the coriander plant (photo in public domain on Wikipedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Coriandrum_sativum_-_Köhler–s_Medizinal-Pflanzen-193.jpg)
now i can’t claim credit for inventing this dish as it was actually WS who first cooked this one evening when i was huddled in my room freaking out over a job application. after tasting it and asking him how he did it, i managed to replicate the dish last night and thought it was about time i blogged so here we go!
Coriander Chicken (for two portions)
250 grams chicken breast, diced in bite-sized pieces
50 ml lemon juice
half a yellow onion, minced
a stub of minced ginger (optional)
parsley or coriander/cilantro, approx 10 stalks with leaves
sliced green chilli, 1x (optional)
1. Marinate chicken in 4 tablespoons of lemon juice and 5 stalks of parsley. Sprinkle salt and black pepper. Let sit for at least 15 minutes.
2. Heat wok or skillet with oil. I would use about 1.5 tablespoons here.
3. Fry ginger, chilli and onion until soft and fragrant.
3. Add marinated chicken. Stir fry for two minutes.
4. Add remaining lemon juice, 2 tablespoons of fish sauce, and remaining parsley.
5. Stir fry until chicken cooked.
6. Add 1-2 teaspoons of white sugar, stir fry chicken until it starts to brown a little more.
7. Crack black pepper over dish. Serve hot, garnished with extra parsley if desired.
everyone loves a good simple pasta. now i think something happened to me when i was around 22 years old because i suddenly started craving for cream-based sauces despite having grown up on bolognese and seafood tomato pastas. (i think this change coincided with me moving to England so maybe there’s something about this country that makes me crave for cheese and cream?)
anyway, spaghetti carbonara is a go-to of mine when i am feeling really lazy because it is quite easy to cook! you can whip it up in half an hour, no problem. there are tons of great carbonara recipes out there, all of which are essentially variants of the classic combination of: olive oil, garlic, pancetta, eggs, Parmigiano Reggiano (=Parmesan, the French name) cheese, and spaghetti. following a recipe is all well and good if you want to try to replicate exactly the standard taste. but i think that’s a bit boring so here’s my ‘healthier’ take on spaghetti carbonara!
For two portions, you will need:
about 250 grams of spaghetti, 200 grams if you have a smaller appetite
4 cloves of garlic
approx. 80 grams of pancetta OR sliced bacon pieces OR sliced ham, which is what i go for a lot of the time because i often have leftover ham in the fridge from sandwich-making
salt and freshly ground black pepper
half a yellow onion, minced
spinach leaves, amount depends on how much veggie you want to add! i say 150 grams is about enough
for the sauce: 2 eggs + 200 grams (about 4/5 of a cup) of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano/’Parmesan’ cheese + a little bit of milk, about 1 T
1. In a small bowl, beat eggs and cheese well. Mix in milk, add salt (1 teaspoon) and black pepper to the mixture. This will form the base of the sauce. Set aside.
2. Boil pasta in salted water - the salt lowers the boiling point of the water; i’m not sure if it actually affects the taste of the pasta - does anyone know?
3. At the same time, in a frying pan fry the pancetta/bacon/ham in a little olive oil on low-medium heat. Use more oil for ham and less for pancetta/bacon as the fat will be rendered!
3. On low heat, add onion and garlic to pan. Fry until fragrant.
4. Wilt in spinach to the mixture. Everything will be smelling REALLY good at this point - we’re almost there!
5. When the spaghetti is done (do a taste test; spaghetti is usually done in 11-13 minutes), strain it but keep the original pot under the strainer so you retain some of the hot, starchy pasta water. You will need a good 2 tablespoons of liquid - no worries if you forget to retain the water; you can substitute with milk.
6. Add spaghetti to your frying pan of garlic, bacon, etc. Make sure it mixes well.
7. Switch off heat. Now take the first bowl of your eggy-cheese mixture, and pour it into the frying pan. Add the starchy pasta water (or milk) to the pan. Gently mix the pasta and sauce mixture; the heat of the pasta will cook the eggs without scrambling them.**
8. Serve on hot plates. Add freshly ground black pepper and salt to taste.
9. Mmmmmmmmm :). Eat up!
***For those who don’t like the thought of raw eggs - don’t worry, the eggs WILL cook and if it makes you feel any better, i’ve never had problems with carbonara despite having a weak-ish immune system :P. The trick is to make sure the pan is hot even though it’s not sitting above a flame, and to thin out the egg-cheese mixture enough with milk and water so that it cooks very quickly in the pan.
Dessert with Love: Fruit Skewers
all you need are a few kinds of colourful fruit and some bamboo skewers. i’ve used strawberry, cantaloupe, tinned pineapple, and rock melon here.
red or green grapes are also good substitutes for the more tropical fruits. tip: try not to use fruits that oxidise very quickly, so avoid using apples or bananas or peaches/nectarines because these will brown!
i brought these to a new year’s eve party, and they were great and went fabulously with the wines and cheeses my friends had brought :).