Thursday, April 26, 2012

Thai Duck Curry


Earlier this week, I ordered a whole roast duck from the Chinese supermarket and only ate half of it. The other half sat in my fridge and I didn't know what to do with it. One day, I was looking through the fridge thinking what to do with the duck and spotted a pot of ready-made curry sitting in the corner. That was when I decided to turn my unappealing leftovers into the popular Thai dish - duck curry! 

How to Make Duck Curry

Ingredients at a glance - roast duck, yellow thai curry sauce, red bell pepper, lemon, onion, fish sauce, basil, peanut butter, and chili pepper flakes.

You can usually find roast ducks in Chinese supermarket food courts or Chinese BBQ takeouts. My leftover curry was made with yellow curry powder, chicken broth, water, and coconut milk.  For this dish, I decided not to de-bone the duck for convenience. I think having the bones left in may even intensify the flavor.


First, take care of the food prep - chop the onion into square pieces, julienne the bell pepper, crush the garlic, and juice the lemon. 


Heat vegetable oil in a pan over medium heat. Sauté chopped onion and bell pepper for about 5 minutes or until soft. Season with salt and pepper. Add garlic and cook for 2 minutes. 


Stir in curry sauce and cook for about a minute. Add in peanut butter, basil, chili pepper, and fish sauce. Stir, reduce heat, and let it simmer for 10 minutes. 


Add in the roast duck and let it simmer for another 10 minutes. Turn off the heat, drizzle lemon juice, and stir. The dish is ready to serve.


It's easy turning leftovers into a delicious dish. This tastes just like the duck curries I have in Thai restaurants, except with a lot more duck meat. 


   
Ingredients:

Half a BBQ roast duck
3-4 cups of prepared curry sauce, or enough to cover the duck and vegetables
1 yellow onion
1 red bell pepper
1/2 tsp of chili pepper flakes
1 tsp of dried basil
1 tsp of fish sauce
1 tbs of lemon juice
1 tbs of creamy peanut butter 
2 cloves garlic, crushed 

Directions:

1. Chop the onion into square pieces, julienne the bell pepper, crush the garlic, and juice the lemon.

2. Heat vegetable oil in a pan over medium heat. Sauté onion and bell pepper for about 5 minutes or until soft. Season with salt and pepper. Add garlic and cook for 2 minutes.

3. Stir in curry sauce and cook for about a minute. Add in peanut butter, basil, chili pepper, and fish sauce. Stir, reduce heat, and let it simmer for 10 minutes.

4. Add in the roast duck and let it simmer for another 10 minutes. Turn off the heat, drizzle lemon juice, and stir. The dish is ready to serve.

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Friday, April 20, 2012

Parmesan Chicken Penne Casserole


This baked chicken penne recipe uses ingredients similar to chicken pasta. By making it a casserole, you retain all the flavors at the bottom of the dish. During the baking process, the cheeses on top act as a barrier to seal in moisture and other flavors leaving you with some very juicy chicken. This makes a great potluck dish because everything is contained in one pan allowing for easy transport.

How to Make Parmesan Chicken Penne Casserole

Ingredients at a glance: chicken breast, penne pasta, onion, mozzarella cheese, parmigiano-reggiano, spaghetti sauce, and mushrooms.


Boil the dehydrated penne pasta in a pot for 9-10 minutes. Drain, rinse with cold water, and allow to dry in a colander. Rinsing the pasta with cold water will immediately drop the temperature to prevent it from getting soft. Meanwhile, cut the chicken breast into 4 pieces and pound them to uniform thickness.



Season the chicken with salt and pepper on both sides. Pan sear each side for 2 minutes or until golden brown on the outside. Grease a 9 x 9 inch bake dish with vegetable oil, and sprinkle chopped garlic and chili pepper. Place the seared chicken breasts in the dish.




In a deep skillet, heat a table spoon of vegetable oil. Sauté diced onions and mushrooms on medium-high heat for 3-4 minutes or until fragrant. Add a pinch of salt and pepper for taste. Transfer the onions and mushrooms to the baking dish over the chicken.  


Pour 15 oz of spaghetti sauce over the mushrooms / onions layer, and then place 2 oz of mozzarella on top of the spaghetti sauce. It's important to be easy on the sauce or it may become too watery.


Toss the cooked pasta with 5 oz of spaghetti sauce and place on top of the mozzarella cheese layer. 
Top the pasta layer with 3 oz of grated parmigiano-reggiano and 2 oz of mozzarella cheese. Place the dish in a preheated 350 F oven and bake for 30 minutes. Let it rest for 10 minutes before serving. 






Ingredients:


2 1/2 cups of dehydrated penne pasta
1 chicken breast, cut into 4 pieces and pounded
1 cup of mushrooms, sliced
1 cup of brown onion, chopped
20 oz of spaghetti sauce
4 oz of mozzarella cheese
3 oz of grated parmigiano-reggiano
1 tsp chili pepper
2 1/2 tbs of vegetable oil (1/2 tbs for greasing the bake dish)
salt and pepper for taste and season

Directions:

1. Boil the dehydrated penne pasta in a pot for 9-10 minutes. Drain, rinse with cold water, and allow to dry in a colander. Meanwhile, cut the chicken breast into 4 pieces and pound them to uniform thickness.

2. Season the chicken with salt and pepper on both sides. Pan sear each side for 2 minutes or until golden brown on the outside. Grease a 9 x 9 inch bake dish with vegetable oil, and sprinkle chopped garlic and chili pepper. Place the seared chicken breasts in the dish.

3. In a deep skillet, heat a table spoon of vegetable oil. Sauté diced onions and mushrooms on medium-high heat for 3-4 minutes or until fragrant. Transfer the onions and mushrooms to the baking dish over the chicken.

4. Pour 15 oz of spaghetti sauce over the mushrooms / onions layer, and then place 2 oz of mozzarella on top of the spaghetti sauce.

5. Toss the cooked pasta with 5 oz of spaghetti sauce and place on top of the mozzarella cheese layer.
Top the pasta layer with 3 oz of grated parmigiano-reggiano and 2 oz of mozzarella cheese. Place the dish in a preheated 350 F oven and bake for 30 minutes. Let it rest for 10 minutes before serving. 

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Sunday, April 15, 2012

Chicken Katsu with Tamagoyaki


Chicken katsu is Japanese style deep-fried chicken with Panko (bread crumbs). For health reasons, I chose the pan-fried style with less oil, and used chicken breast instead of thigh meat. You can also make a bonus side of Tamagoyaki (Japanese style egg roll) from the remaining chicken batter. Like I always say, nothing should go to waste! 

How to Make Chicken Katsu

Ingredients at a glance - eggs, flour, katsu sauce, cayenne pepper, panko bread crumbs, and chicken breast.  


Cut the chicken breast into smaller pieces, and pound them to uniform thickness. Season the pounded chicken fillets with salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper on both sides. 


Dust the chicken fillets with flour on both sides. Beat eggs. Soak the chicken fillets into the egg batter and leave them there until they're ready to pan fry. It's okay to leave the chicken in the egg batter for a long time. 


Heat a pan skillet with a good amount of vegetable oil on medium heat. Dip one egg-saturated chicken fillet into the panko on both sides, and then place onto the skillet to pan fry. Repeat with the other fillets. Flip until one side is golden brown. Pan fry each side for about 4-5 minutes, or until inside is completely cooked. The chicken katsu is done at this point. Keep the egg batter from the chicken katsu for the side dish. 



How to Make Tamagoyaki

Making the tamagoyaki is fairly easy and it's best to be done on the same pan while it's still hot. Turn the heat to low, add a dial of oil, and pour the egg batter into the skillet. When the egg coagulates, roll it up with a spatula. I added some green onions to the batter for extra taste. There's no need to add other spices to the egg because the batter already contains the seasoning from the chicken katsu. 



The chicken katsu with a side of Tamagoyaki is done! Pair this pan-fried chicken with katsu sauce that can be found in most Asian supermarkets. I also topped the egg roll with some bonito flakes and mayonnaise. This is what I call a "two birds in one stone" dish! 



Ingredients:

1 chicken breast, cut and pounded 
4 tbs of vegetable oil
1/2 cup of flour
3 eggs, beaten
1 cup of panko
1/2 tsp of cayenne pepper
pinch of salt and pepper to taste
katsu sauce for dipping

For the Tamagoyaki (optional):
1 tsp of bonito flakes seasoning
1 tbs of mayonnaise 

Directions: 

1. Cut the chicken breast into smaller pieces, and pound them to uniform thickness. Season the pounded chicken fillets with salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper on both sides. 

2. Dust the chicken fillets with flour on both sides. Beat eggs. Soak the chicken fillets into the egg batter and leave them there until they're ready to pan fry. 

3. Heat a pan skillet with a good amount of vegetable oil on medium heat. Dip one egg-saturated chicken fillet into the panko on both sides, and then place onto the skillet to pan fry. Repeat with the other fillets. Flip until one side is golden brown. Pan fry each side for about 4-5 minutes, or until inside is completely cooked. The chicken katsu is done at this point. Keep the egg batter from the chicken katsu for the side dish. 

4. With the same skillet, turn the heat to low, and add a dial of oil. Pour the egg batter into the skillet. When the egg coagulates, roll it up with a spatula and serve. 

5. Pair the chicken with katsu sauce. Top the egg roll with bonito flakes and and mayonnaise.

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Saturday, April 7, 2012

Menta Ramen in Santa Clara


There are quite a few ramen joints in my area--Kahoo, Orenchi, Misoya, and now most recently, Menta.  Menta Ramen just opened last week and is located within a walking distance from my house (same plaza as Thaibodia).  I went to check it out with my family today and I have to say it's decent.  The restaurant is relatively clean with decor similar to Misoya.  I ordered the Menta ramen, which is the tonkatsu broth.  On first taste, I can immediately tell that the broth is no comparison to Orenchi.  It's easy to tell the difference between broth that took an entire day to make and one that took only a few hours...this being the latter.  Noodles have the perfect consistency and the portion size is adequate.  My favorite ramen is still from Orenchi, but due to the price and wait, I think Menta provides a good alternative.  Since this place so close to home, I'll surely come back.

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Swiss Sauce Chicken Drumsticks


For clarification, Swiss sauce has nothing to do with Switzerland. It is a kind of sweet soy sauce marinade originated from Guang Zhou in China. So how did the name came about? According to urban legend, a westerner came across a dish at a local restuarant (sweet soy sauce chicken wings), and asked the waiter what it is. The waiter told him that it's "sweet wings". The foreigner misinterpreted "sweet" as "Swiss". Since then, people have been referring to this sweet soy sauce as Swiss sauce. 

It doesn't say Swiss Sauce in English on the label,
but this is the Swiss sauce sold in
Chinese supermarkets.
Although this sauce is widely available in major Chinese supermarkets, it is so easy to make from scratch that I never saw a point in buying it. Swiss sauce is basically 1-2-3-4-5: 1 part dark rice wine, 2 parts sugar, 3 parts black rice vinegar, 4 parts soy sauce, and 5 parts water. Most people would make this recipe with chicken wings, but I wanted to try something new so I did mine with drumsticks instead. 

How to Make Swiss Sauce Chicken Drumsticks

Main ingredients - black rice vinegar (may replace with balsamic vinegar), dark rice wine (may replace with white wine), soy sauce, and chicken drumsticks with skin on. 


In a bowl, mix dark rice wine, sugar, black rice vinegar, soy sauce, and water. This will be the Swiss sauce for simmering the chicken. 

Heat a deep skillet with vegetable oil. Place drumsticks with front side down and pan-fry for 10-15 minutes on medium-low heat, or until golden. Flip the drumsticks to the other side and pan-fry for 10 minutes. 



Pour in the Swiss sauce and bring it to a boil with high heat. Turn the heat down to low and let it simmer for 20 minutes on one side, and another 20 minutes on the other side. Close the lid during simmering. 



Turn to high heat and let the Swiss sauce reduce. The high sugar content in the sauce will caramelize rapidly under high heat, so it's important to stir the drumsticks occasionally to avoid burning. Turn each drumstick and make sure every single side is saturated with the sauce. Repeat the stirring and turning action until the sauce becomes bubbly and sticky. Turn off the heat and the dish is done. If you are not confident with using high heat for sauce reduction, you may use medium heat. It will take longer but you will have more control over the caramelization. 


These chicken drumsticks are sweet and salty with a hint of rice wine. The sauce is very sticky, so prepare to get your hands dirty!


Ingredients: 

1 tbs dark rice wine (may use white wine)
2 tbs sugar
3 tbs black rice vinegar (may use balsamic vinegar)
4 tbs soy sauce
5 tbs water
6 chicken drumsticks
1 tbs vegetable oil

Directions:

1. In a bowl, mix dark rice wine, sugar, black rice vinegar, soy sauce, and water. This will be the Swiss sauce.

2. Heat a deep skillet with vegetable oil. Place drumsticks with front side down and pan-fry for 10-15 minutes on medium-low heat, or until golden. Flip the drumsticks to the other side and pan-fry for 10 minutes. 

3. Pour in the Swiss sauce and bring it to a boil with high heat. Turn the heat down to low and let it simmer for 20 minutes on one side, and another 20 minutes on the other side. Close the lid during simmering. 

4. Turn to high heat and let the Swiss sauce reduce. Stir the drumsticks occasionally to avoid burning. Turn each drumstick and make sure every single side is saturated with the sauce. Repeat the stirring and turning action until the sauce becomes bubbly and sticky. Turn off the heat and the dish is done.

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