Friday, January 31, 2014

Ginger Caramel Chicken/ Five Pepper Chicken

Today's culinary ideas and recipes seem to be filled with complicated equipment, hard to find ingredients, restaurant type techniques, etc. etc.  It does not need to be this way.  A basic pantry and any protein can make up a very good meal.  The goal of keeping it simple does not mean keeping it flavorless.  Simplicity can mean using clean, fresh flavors and a basic technique to come up with something wonderful.  Keep the pantry stocked with some solid items, and you can create a myriad of dishes.
We were looking for something easy and familiar for dinner.  I cut up a chicken and tossed it in the marinade, let it sit for about an hour.  Soon after, dinner was served.  Nothing complex or sophisticated about this dish.  Just cook up some rice and serve. 

I did a variation with more pepper.  Chinese-American buffets usually have a dish called black pepper chicken, so I wanted to fool around with a Vietnamese style pepper chicken.  I altered the marinade and added a few things to the sauce changing the name to "Five Pepper Chicken." I like the spicy version, so you can choose between two types of chicken.

Variation- see bottom "Five Pepper Chicken"

Ga Kho Gung- Ginger Caramelized Chicken

Marinade- (reserve 1/2 of the marinade)
3/4 cup fish sauce
3/4 cup grated ginger
3/4 cup garlic, minced
2 Thai chili
1 cup palm sugar

2 tbsp canola oil
1 onion, diced
1/3 cup chicken stock

Heat the oil in a large skillet, and gently add the chicken removing it from the marinade.  Brown it on all sides then remove to a plate.  Add some sliced onions and caramelize.  Gently place the chicken back into the pan and continue to cook.  Pour in the reserved marinade and chicken stock.  Reduce until it forms a nice glaze.

Ginger chicken is served as Ice-T, Chuck D, Dr. Dre, and KRS-One joined my imaginary roundtable. Oh yeah, I am joining the "Original Gangster" for lunch, at least I am thinking about it!  My playlist included amazing classics such as "By the Time I Get to Arizona," "Straight Outta Compton," and many others by the seem-to-be-forgotten old skool rappers.  Where has all the rap gone?  These guys set a stage for what has become something I don't quite understand.  Well maybe I am not in their target audience, but once upon a time I was in the crowd! 

Alternate method-
Marinade- 1 tbsp soy sauce
1/2 tbsp black pepper
1/2 tbsp Sichuan peppercorns
1 tbsp green peppercorns
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp garlic, chopped

Mash all ingredients into a paste and rub into the chicken.  Let it soak for about an hour.

1 tbsp coconut oil
2 tbsp sugar
2 Thai chilies
1 tbsp red bean curd
1 tbsp red chili paste
1 cup chicken stock

In a heavy bottom skillet, heat coconut oil and sear the chicken skin side down.  Brown the skin nicely, then flip it over and cook for another 3-4 minutes shaking gently every now and then so it does not burn.  Add the rest of the ingredients and cook on med low heat until the sauce thickens, and the chicken is thoroughly cooked.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Shaking Beef

An unusual name for this popular dish stems from the method of cooking rather than the finished product. As the steak option in many Vietnamese restaurants, shaking beef is a common choice among first time diners who might be unsure of what to order. The technique of shaking the beef in the wok or skillet gives this dish its name, and the simple marinade and sauce make it easy to duplicate at home.  

The beef is cut into cubes as many Vietnamese meat dishes will use cut up proteins rather than a larger cut.  Watercress provides a nice spicy kick and a good clean finish.  Use a little extra sauce to finish and pour over the greens.  

Thit Bo Luc Lac-Shaking Beef
1.5 pounds beef (ribeye, sirloin) ½ inch cubes
1 onion, thinly sliced

1 tsp salt
1tsp pepper
1tsp sugar
1 tbsp sesame oil
¼ cup mirin
¼ cup rice wine vinegar

¼ cup light soy
2 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp dark soy
1 tbsp garlic minced
1 tbsp chili paste

green onions, cut into 1 inch pieces, green only

Thoroughly combine all of the marinade ingredients and toss with the cubed beef.  Let it rest for about 1-2 hours. Then combine all the sauce ingredients. 

In a very hot skillet or wok, add a small amount of oil and sear the beef.  As it begins to brown, start shaking vigorously to cook the meat on all sides.  When it is well seared, remove the meat to a plate, and add the sliced onion.  Caramelize the onion, and add the meat back to the skillet.  Pour in the sauce and throughly coat.  Toss in the green onions and gently mix with the meat and sauce.  Place the watercress in a bowl or plate and pour the meat and juices on top.  Serve with a side of nuoc mam.