Saturday night non-takeaway: Chicken Karaage!

21 Mar

So tonight I finally made chicken karaage and it was good!

Well, when I say karaage, I use the term very loosely.  Karaage is a Japanese dish of chicken marinated in ginger and garlic, soy and sake, and is fried to lovely crispy pieces.  I don’t have sake in my cupboard on a regular basis (I’ve never had sake in my cupboard, ever!) but I do have shaoxing and sherry (as I cook more Chinese dishes than Japanese).  So I tried substituting the sake with the shaoxing.  I think it works.  I will save up for sake, but for the meantime, shaoxing in the recipe works.  And works well, if I say so myself!

Oh, I didn’t have potato flour (aka potato starch) as well, so I’ve substituted it with cornflour.

Ingredients:

  • 500g chicken thigh fillets, cut into large-ish bite-sized chunks
  • 2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 tablespoons Shaoxing rice wine
  • 4 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 3 heaping tablespoons cornflour
  • vegetable oil for deep-frying

Directions:

  1. In a ziplock bag, combine chicken, ginger, garlic and soy. Carefully massage the chicken through the bag and marinade for at least 1 hour (better if you let the chicken marinade overnight though).
  2. In a bowl, fish the chicken out of the bag and mix with the cornflour until all chicken pieces are well-coated with the cornflour
  3. In a frying pan, heat up the vegetable oil.  When the oil is hot enough, carefully drop chicken pieces and fry until golden brown (should take about 3-4 minutes).
  4. Serve with a slice of lemon or a teriyaki sauce, on its own or over a bed of fluffy steamed rice!  Speaking of rice, I wrote a post on how to cook rice perfectly (I’ve been cooking rice since I was 11 so I like to think I know what I’m talking about – way before there were non-stick pans!).

Chicken karaage

Here’s a little recipe on sticky sauce that goes well with the karaage.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 4 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 200ml water

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a rolling boil, stirring constantly.  Once boiling turn the heat right down and allow to reduce until there is only half of the liquid, making sure that you stir occasionally so that none of the sugar burns.  This is brilliant as a little sauce to be sprinkled (sparingly) on steamed rice if you’re having friend chicken or fish.

Sticky sauce

An Ode to Gallus

8 Mar

I love chicken.  If you ask me what I miss most from the Philippines, it will probably be Chickenjoy from Jollibee (a fastfood restaurant in the Philippines) and fried chicken from Max’s (am not quite sure this is a fastfood restaurant but it is Filipino and I grew up going to Max’s!).  So it follows that when I moved to the UK, I would look for a chicken place to go to.  And I thought I’d found a great chicken place.

We discovered Gallus, Empire of Chicken on Timeout.  They were offering a £10 voucher for a £25 food spend.  Alan said that as it was £10 for £25 of food, you couldn’t really complain.  So we looked on the website and thought, what the hey, it’s something new.  So on our next trip to London, off we went to Gallus!  And let me tell you, £25 bought you a lot of food!

Gallus offered a lot of chicken choices – you had chicken skewers, chicken burgers, salad with chicken, sides (there were chips, side salads, coleslaw…and a lot more that I can’t remember!), desserts and a good selection of drinks!

Gallus Mexican chicken salad

We went back several times because the chicken was genuinely good.  Because the chicken was marinated in several ways, you never really got bored of the chicken choices.  You could go Mediterranean, Oriental, South Asian or Latin American.  You could go mild, spicy, or umami.  The servings were generous and it was excellent value for money.  The staff were polite but very attentive and they knew their product – we never felt there was a question too silly about the food they served!

But if you notice that I keep talking in the past tense, it is, sadly, because Gallus has closed.  We walked past the Charing Cross Road restaurant to find that all the windows were papered and the sign has been removed.  I know that they didn’t really have a lot of footfall whenever we went (I think we managed about 4 trips – it was conveniently close to the theatres so it was brilliant for pre- and post-theatre meals) but I had hoped they were more popular and that people would cotton on to the fact that they were good.

Gallus chicken burger

It is sad that in the wonderful melting pot of wonderful places to eat that is London, Gallus was eaten up, swallowed and spitted out like, dare I say it, chicken bones.  If you didn’t get to eat at Gallus, you missed a great chicken place that served succulent chicken pieces that offered a better option than KFC for almost the same price.

I have high hopes that Gallus will rise from the ashes like another fowl of myth.  And maybe this time, their marketing will be much better and people will flock to the empire of chicken!

Gallus chicken skewers

Be careful what you wish for!

7 Mar

I remember myself saying this several times during a conversation whilst I was making tea at work:  “I wish I’d get properly sick just so that I can get over it!”

I did just that.  Get properly ill.  Could not get up out of bed, had no energy, had a massive headache and just felt like death.  I still feel that way today but as I’ve been off work properly for a week (I went to work on Tuesday, but went home after 3 hours!) I need to go to work on Monday.  Although, if I’m honest, I don’t feel like I am actually well already.

Be careful what you wish for.  Because sometimes when you get what you want, it doesn’t turn out the way you want it to.  That being said, I’d love the win the lottery.  Properly.

Yes please!

Quotable Mother Goose

3 Mar

I am a worrier and I had to smile when I read this quote in the book that I am currently reading (Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman).  It was so apt and so what I needed to read!

Serendipity!

This is going into my worry journal!

Mother Goose quotable

Book change: Practical Magic

2 Mar

Sometimes you find that books are hard to read; sometimes because the pace is not quick enough or sometimes things move on too quickly for you to catch up, or sometimes because there are too many hard truths that you can relate to that reading has become uncomfortable, or sometimes it’s just not exactly the read you expected it to be.  I’m at that stage in reading Us by David Nicholls.  I love it, but I’ve hit a reading wall with it, so I’m putting it down for a while and coming back to it later.

I’ve started on a different book: Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman.  I read it once when I was in a “witchy” phase (chalk it up to taking anthropology and world history in one semester and working on a paper on comparative witchcraft!) but I don’t think I completely appreciated the book when I read it.  I loved the movie though (Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman in one movie with one heck of a soundtrack!).  The movie screenplay is different from the book but nevertheless, I loved the movie and the book.  I’ve started the book again and I am reading it with different (probably more jaded) eyes and a fresh perspective.  I knew why loved it then and I am enjoying it now.

There’s a twist to this as well: I’m reading an actual book!  The action of actually turning a page is priceless.  Don’t get me wrong, I love my Kindle (being able to carry a veritable library in one’s handbag is amazing!) but there is something beautifully interactive with reading an actual book!

Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman

Tabbouleh is yum!

25 Feb

I am completely obsessed with tabbouleh!

It’s a lovely green salad with a LOT of herbs (parsley and mint), bulgar wheat, tomatoes, cucumbers, spices and lemon.  It’s a Middle Easter salad that is usually served as part of a meze.  It’s really simple because it’s really just all the ingredients chopped up, mixed with the salt, pepper, garlic, oil and a squeeze of lemon, but it’s really amazing.  It’s a bit prep-heavy because you’re chopping veg and the herbs into tiny bits and having to cook, drain and cool the tabbouleh, but it is certainly worth it.  Once the salad has been cooled and you take a mouthful, it’s a party in your mouth!  It’s a great side to a kebab meal or grilled or roasted meats or on its own.

I am all for simple, no-fuss, minimum prep dishes, but give me a chopping board and tabbouleh ingredients and I will happily mince the ingredients because the prep is so worth it!

Tabbouleh

Chinese potsticker dumplings

22 Feb

I’ve almost always bought the potstickers (which are similar to the Japanese gyoza), whether cooked and ready to eat or frozen.  I’ve never really made them myself.  Mostly because I thought the pleating would be a difficult thing to do.  I’m a perfectionist so anything that doesn’t look good to me is a disappointment (reminds me of the mini-melt down I had when I first made carrot cake whoopie pies.  It involved a quiet scream and the throwing of the poor, innocent ice cream scooper!).  To avoid the disappointment, I just don’t do things.

But lately, I’ve been fairly adventurous (helped along by Alan’s encouragement!).  Last week, I made siomai.  This weekend, it was Chinese pork potsticker dumplings.  I must have watched a lot of “how-to-pleat” videos on youtube to mentally prepare myself for the exercise.  The dumplings turned out really well and has (probably) been given the Alan seal of approval.  I used store bought dumpling wrappers – the next time I’m doing it, I’m doing EVERYTHING completely from scratch!

Ingredients:

  • 110g ground pork2015-02-21 19.00.12
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 tsp dark soy sauce
  • 1 tsp rice wine
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • ½ ground white pepper
  • 1 tbsp corn starch
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 clove garlic, grated
  • 1 tbsp freshly grated ginger
  • 1 heaping tbsp chives chopped finely
  • 18 dumpling wrappers

Directions:

  1. In a bowl, mix all the ingredients together until well incorporated.
  2. Taking a dumpling wrapper, dampen the edges of the dumpling wrapper.  Place 2 teaspoons of the mixture in the center of the wrapper, and holding the wrapper like a taco, start pleating the edges of the wrapper, pinching with each pleat to seal the dumpling well.  Place on a parchment paper-lined baking tray and set aside until ready to cook.
  3. My version of cooking the dumplings might be different from most people, but it works for me.  There are other ways, so feel free to cook them any other way that works for you.  I place water and vegetable oil in a wok (or shallow saucepan) and allow the water to heat up to a gentle rolling boil.  Place 6-8 dumplings in the boiling water and allow to boil covered for 5 minutes.  Uncover the dumplings and swirl (carefully) around to make sure that the dumplings aren’t sticking to the bottom of the pan.  Allow the water to evaporate and add a little oil to fry the dumplings until they’re golden brown.
  4. Serve with your favourite dip!

Chinese pork dumplings

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