chicken drumstick : 5 spice brine : crispy ginger fried rice : plum chili sauce

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My first time cooking for a a fellow blogger’s project. Last night I prepped this dish as a submission for a fun cooking project at stefangourmet.com, with a few restrictions, this cooking challenge was very attractive, it forced me to leave my comfort zone and try some new flavors and explore chinese cuisine a bit. Base ingredients were: chicken, chillies, greens and nuts… 

Simple enough, right?  well, easier said than done, specially if using ingredients unfamiliar to you. I wanted t come up with a nice asian recipe of my own using staple chinese ingredients (the only thing I know about chinese cuisine is that is delicious!). Here is what I did:

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1. Research staple ingredients online

I ended up here. Super helpful. Most of the ingredients were familiar, but I’ve never used plum sauce, chili paste or chinese fish sauce, but I wanted to integrate those into my dish if possible. I chose a few unfamiliar ones.

2. Research each ingredient in the context of a recipe online

Plenty of recipes online featuring chicken and chili paste, plum sauce and fish sauce, five spice powder, etc. This is getting exciting at this point. Exciting and overwhelming.

3. Select ingredients that would work when combined into a dish

I didn’t want to overcomplicate the dish, and my research yielded even more ingredients and more combinations of them, to the point where I needed to find common denominators that worked well and stop. No need to increase the odds of failure.

4. Buy ingredients

I live in Los Angeles, so finding the ingredients was super easy, I went to my local Ralph’s and was able to get everything there, but this can be trickier in other cities/countries I’m sure.

5. Taste each ingredient on its own

This was the funnest part, tasting chili paste for example, I don’t even like hot-spicey foods that much, I’m pretty sensitive to strong spices. The chili paste was so good! Spicy and full of other flavors! The fish sauce, that was the strongest fishiest saltiest thing I’ve ever had, I fell in love with it after one teaspoon. 5 spice powder, that reminded me of indian cuisine and garam masala mixes, it contains cinnamon, star anise, cloves, fennel seeds, peppers… and last but not least, plum sauce, delicious sweet and sour plum jam with ginger, salt and vinegar.

6. Based on their volume (intensity of flavor) come up with ratios

This is possibly the trickiest part. After having tasted chili sauce, plum sauce, chili paste, fish sauce and the 5 spice powder , all of which were delicious, I had to come up with how much of each ingredient to use, and how.

7. Plan your recipe by component

I wanted fried rice to go with my chicken, and I wanted some cilantro and parsley for garnishing. Those were the 3 components, so I wrote down roughly what I wanted to do with each one of them, how to cook them, how to flavor them, etc…

8. Plan your presentation

Having an idea of what a final plated dish looks like helps a lot. I drew some sketches, wrote down some notes, etc.. it really helps planing plating and choosing garnishes before you even go to the grocery store.

9. Get cooking

Always, prep ahead everything, this is key, specially when trying new things. I chopped veggies, mixed spices in little bowls, trimmed the drumsticks, made rice, and had everything lined up and ready to be used.

Below is a compilation of notes I wrote down for this dish, they might not make sense sometimes, but I didn’t want to alter them too much, it’s kind of fun to read them, and I sometimes didn’t or couldn’t do everything I had planned, like the drumsticks wouldn’t fit in the cream whipper (as weird as this sounds), so had to improvise a bit too. And it is not a recipe, but close enough:

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Macro photography special edition, shanghai chicken for stefan:

Photography of final dish:

use cloth (darker than white stuff, yes)
take photo away from walls, bg shouldn’t compete and be darker
take macro photography as well of main dish

Prep (mise en place):

Rice:
leeks (transversal cut extreme CU)
garlic (back light thin slices CU)
ginger (extreme CU, knife dicing ginger)
rice (macro photography of rice falling)
mirin (to deglace leeks and garlic) (macro photography super close up, oil and water splashing)
beat eggs, throw away half the white (high speed CU)
sugar + salt + pepper (need to food process more black pepper)
snow peas, open, peas in, steam in oven, brush with butter  (ECU, backlit?)
pistacchios or almonds, crushed (great ECU highspeed chopping)
shouldn’t overcook yolks, should remain a bit runny and bright yellow

Chicken:
drumsticks (frenched), cut bottom so they can sit up at a slight angle
Infused in 5 spice marinade with , rice vinegar and garlic, fish sauce, pepper, sugar
use Isi cream whipper to accelerate infusion (use plastic baggies)
prep plum sauce: tbsp plum sauce + 1 tbsp chili paste + 2 tsp fish sauce + 2 tbs rice vinager (ECU whipping this mix)
roast chicken drums, sitting up, 20 mins, brush with plum sauce, bake another 10 mins
roast sesame seeds until golden
sprinkle sesame seeds over chicken  (medium shot of tray, roasted legs being sprinkled)

Microwaved Greens:
prep soup plate, serin wrap
place leaves of cilantro and parsley over it
brush with peanut oil (ECU brush going over parsley)
microwave for 10-20 seconds or until crisp (ECU before and after would be nice)

Plating (should photograph progression step by step):
tsp of sesame oil on a plate
Spoon full of fried rice over it
Sit drumstick over rice
Butter snow peas, in, arrange nicely
Fried greens in, arrange nicely
finish with a drizzle of olive oil and some maldon salt
add a few drops of chili sauce over drops of olive oil
sprinkle chopped almonds

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Until the next food project! Oh, I forgot, it was DELICIOUS! šŸ˜€

braised pork belly over onions : orange : garlic

braised pork belly over onions : orange : garlic @ thatothercookingblog.com by Paul Palop

Still on the big Island. A few nights ago I almost lost my fingertips, nope, not due to a kitchen disaster, something much cooler, night diving with manta rays on the west coast, the surge was so strong that holding on to rocks at the bottom was pretty pointless, must be how little veggie bits feel when you stir your soup bowl. wow.. powerful cooking metaphor. Diving with manta rays is listed as one of the 10 things to do before you die apparently… I don’t believe you can do much after that anyways. I have to say, it was AMAZING. I wanna do this every night.

I’ve decided to slow down a bit after that experience and spend some time cooking something. I’m not gonna cook a manta ray, just in case you got all excited about possibly reading the weirdest blog post ever. I’m going to prepare pork belly, I bought it in a nearby market, and it looked so great and it was cheap too, I couldn’t resist. Pork braises wonderfully, takes time to break down its meat and have that melt-in-your-mouth texture, 3 hours in the oven can get you there. Pork belly is extremely fatty and it welcomes vinegar, in this case I used white wine vinegar, is what I had at hand. I would replace that with champagne vinegar in the future. Pickles also helped balancing the richness. The caramelized onion and the roasted garlic were SO GOOD. Anyways, here’s what I did:

braised pork belly over onions : orange : garlic @ thatothercookingblog.com by Paul Palop

This is a very simple dish to make, very few ingredients and tools, the oven works all the magic.

braised pork belly over onions : orange : garlic @ thatothercookingblog.com by Paul Palop

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 3 hours
Serves: 4-6 people

braised pork belly over onions : orange : garlic @ thatothercookingblog.com by Paul Palop

Gear:

baking dish
cutting board and knife
preheated oven at 250f-300f

braised pork belly over onions : orange : garlic @ thatothercookingblog.com by Paul Palop

Ingredients:

1 lb pork belly
1 Tbs brown sugar
1 navel orange, reserve juice, meat, peels
2 Tsp white vinegar (champagne vinegar if you have it)
4-6 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
S+P

braised pork belly over onions : orange : garlic @ thatothercookingblog.com by Paul Palop

Method:

01: add a little olive oil to the baking dish
02: place onion and garlic in baking dish
03: with your hand, toss to coat with olive oil
04: add orange juice and its meat to baking dish
05: add vinegar
06: add pork
07: salt and pepper generously
08: toss and coat again yep, used my hands there too
09: place baking dish in oven, 3 hours *
10: Remove from oven, strain fat excess, plate.

braised pork belly over onions : orange : garlic @ thatothercookingblog.com by Paul Palop

braised pork belly over onions : orange : garlic @ thatothercookingblog.com by Paul Palop

* The braising liquid is basically the water contained in the onion, the orange juice and the vinegar. This liquid will be pretty much reduced by the time your oven time is done. I raised the oven temperature 3 times over the course of the 3 hours. Started at 250F and ended at 300f.

done.

Arepas, Corn Flour Goodness.

Arepas, Corn Flour Goodness.
The process of making arepas is super easy. I have yet to measure the water to flour ratio, i always add water bit by bit until i hit the right consistency. My guess is one cup of flour one cup of water. Corn flour absorbs so much water. Ive been seasoning them with salt and pepper. I add some vegetable oil to the mix, more creamy and chewy. Lately I’ve experimented with adding baking soda and vinegar, makes the arepa rise a bit and become more fluffy.

The simplest arepa recipe I can think of calls for 2 ingredients. Corn flower and water.

This is the corn flower brand I grew up with and still love. I find it at a store near my house: El Camaguey, although I’m sure it can be found in many other stores and there are many other brads, specially mexcian ones, popular in the US. This ingredient is extremely versatile and since it’s precooked, it is ready to go, unlike polenta which needs careful cooking.

Harina PAN contain no additives.

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harina_P.A.N.

Few things I’d like to try on this post:

 

1. uneven frying of arepas on a skillet, solve it. Im sure you can get an even browning.

2. oven arepas. No oil, will it brown? I’m sure it will. 400f

3. sour arepas. vinegar, lime. Baking soda?. Done! it actually worked really well.

4. savory arepas. Baking powder. what would happen.

5. sweet arepas. chocolate arepas? papelon? corn goes well with tons of things.

6. mozzarella stuffed bugnuelos. Now that i’ve made my own cheese, this could be fun

7. crispy crackers. Keep oil to a minimum. Herbs.. etc.

8. garlic infused water. Garlic arepas. This could be awesome.

more to come when i get back to this blogging thing šŸ™‚