If there is nothing else to eat, Hainanese Chicken Rice is the go-to meal for me. If the world runs out of other types of foods, I can survive on chicken rice everyday. If the world runs out of chickens. Then I guess I will just have to make do with rice. But God won’t let that happen so I will still have chicken rice.
So is this Chicken Rice any better than the famous ones like Boon Tong Kee or Chin Chin at Purvis Street? Yes. This chicken rice and the accompanying Sio Bak is nothing short of tok kong. For $4.50 (SGD) it is cheaper than the branded ones and much much better than the Sambal Petai Fried Rice my woman had yesterday at Yishun Ring Road.
The Chilli sauce is shiok and the soya sauce sweet and savoury. Mixed together, it’s just perfecto! Best part is the coffee-o is only 70 cents (SGD). Best sia.
Wanna know where? It’s this coffee shop at Block 531 Bedok North Street 3. Hai Tian 531 Coffee Shop.
There is always some leftover ingredients after a great feast with family and friends and often times I am left with this nagging feeling that I shouldn’t waste food by throwing it out with the trash.
Mummy always told me that people in Africa are suffering without food and here I am throwing it out. The truth is, whether I throw the food or eat it, the food wont go to these improverished groups anyway. It was just my mum’s way of telling me that her money was hard-earned and that I shouldn’t take what I have for granted.
Years passed and I am telling my son to finish up after his dinner. Haha. Okay, I said all that to say these days I try to jumble all those leftover ingredients into what I call “Special Fried Rice”. The key word here is “Special” because it is a jamboree of all the premium ingredients in the fridge.
Leftover Roasted Pork Belly
Leftover Eggs Chinese Sausage (probably the only ingredient that isn’t leftover)
Leftover Cooked Rice
1. Minced some garlic, fried them up in a heated wok with some oil. Once the garlic is fragrant, add the sausage and all the premium leftover ingredients into the wok.
2. Stir fry ingredients until fragrant, then add the cooked rice and a little dark soya sauce. Continue frying. Sprinkle some white pepper. Add light soya sauce if you like, but I didn’t as the premium ingredients were already quite salty.
3. Fry until the wok flavour is in the rice or until the rice is fairly broken up and well fried (not burnt). Serve!
A friend of mine posed me the challenge of trying out something new; a new recipe. Gordon Ramsay’s Beef Wellington. As if it isn’t difficult enough already to prepare for Christmas dinner, but to re-create a classic like the Beef Wellington in my home kitchen is going to be a challenge, and in a sense, I like the challenge. But preparing it would mean inviting an army to help me finish it.
Gordon does it in classic style and there is always that intensity in the way he does his cooking, hoping around like a monkey. As for me, I like to take my time and make my cooking easy and on my own terms. I think cooking shouldn’t be so intense. But I guess it depends on who is running the kitchen and who’s the slave driver.
I am following Gordon’s fantastic and easy to follow YouTube video on making this classic Christmas Roast – Beef Wellington. You can also do likewise. A caveat though, I have a feeling there could be some “special steps” that were snipped off the video so that he could squeeze it into a short 8 minute video. And we all know that nobody cooks in double that time either.
I always start with a mandatory stock check of inventory when it comes to equipment needed to make something that requires more than a pot and a wooden spoon. Of course, I always try to reduce my equipment list to a pot and a wooden spoon, but I have a feeling that this recipe is going to require a lot more than just that.
Food processor – to mince the brown mushrooms.
Clingwrap – this one can easily get it at NTUC.
Brush – Phoon Huat sells a nice brush.
Oven – if you don’t already have one, don’t bother trying to cook this dish, and don’t bother buying one of those cheap ovens at some hypermart because I assure you the experience and the technical compliance of the equipment is equivalent to the price you pay for the item.
Recipe – I gleaned this off Gordon’s recipe. I think the best form of flattery is imitation. That said, if not nice, don’t blame me, I only follow.
For the Beef Wellington:
900 grams piece of Beef Fillet of even thickness (from the centre cut) – the problem I have with that is that I usually shop at the wet market, and the butcher only sells one variety of meat – beef. The specialty stores are usually far away from where I live, so I guess I will have to buy this off at Cold Storage.
Sea Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper
2 tbsp Olive Oil
English Mustard, to brush meat
For the Mushroom Duxelles: don’t worry about the name, it just means mushrooms paste.
700g Chestnut Mushrooms, cleaned and stalks removed – I can only find and use Brown Mushrooms or White Mushrooms, essentially they are all the same.
handful of cooked Chestnuts – this is the gao-lat that we usually buy by the roadside where the uncle usually shouts “gao-lat!” at the top of his voice.
1 Garlic Clove, peeled and chopped
2 Thyme sprigs, leaves only
For the assembly:
8 slices of Parma Ham
500 grams ready-made all-butter Puff Pastry
plain Flour, to dust
2 Egg Yolks, lightly beaten with 1 tbsp water (eggwash)
1. To make this Gordon Ramsay Beef Wellington recipe, trim the beef of any sinew and season well with salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over a high heat, add the fillet and quickly sear the outside all over for about 5 minutes until evenly browned, turning as necessary. Transfer to a plate and while still hot, brush all over with mustard. Set aside to rest.
2. For the duxelles, put the mushrooms, chestnuts and garlic in a food processor with a little salt and pepper and blend to a fine paste, stopping to scrape down the sides a few times. Heat a dry large frying pan. Scrape the mushroom paste into the pan and add the thyme leaves. Cook over a high heat, stirring occasionally, to drive off the moisture and intensify the flavour. The duxelles must be sufficiently dry otherwise it will make the pastry soggy; the mixture should adhere easily. Spread out on a tray to cool.
3. Place a large piece of cling film on a clean surface. Lay the Parma ham slices on top, overlapping them slightly, to form a rough rectangle large enough to envelop the beef fillet, making sure there are no gaps. Season the ham with a few twists of pepper then, with a palette knife, spread the duxelles on top, leaving a 2.5cm margin along the edges.
4. Lay the beef fillet along the middle of the mushroom layer. Keeping a tight hold of the cling film from the outside edges, neatly roll the Parma ham and duxelles over the beef into a tight barrel shape. Twist the ends of the cling film to secure. Refrigerate for 15 minutes to firm up.
5. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface to a large rectangle, the thickness of a £1 coin and brush with some of the eggwash. Unwrap the beef from the cling film and place it in the middle. Leaving a large enough rectangle to wrap around the beef, trim off the excess pastry. Roll the pastry around the beef to envelop it and then press the edges to seal. Pinch the pastry at the ends to seal and trim off the excess. Wrap the log tightly in cling film and chill for 10 minutes, or overnight if you are preparing ahead.
6. Preheat the oven to 190°C/Gas 5. Remove the cling film and brush the parcel all over with egg wash. Lightly score the pastry at 1cm intervals with the back of a small knife for a decorative effect, if you wish. Place on a baking tray, sprinkle with salt and bake for about 35 minutes; if the pastry appears to be browning too quickly, lower the setting slightly. Leave to rest in a warm place for about 15 minutes before cutting into thick slices to serve, with the accompaniments.
When I first saw it on cable TV, I thought at first that this guy must be nuts. He did look like a nutty professor as well and who would have thought that he really has some good ideas up his sleeves.
Roast chicken, one of the toughest dishes to master. The roast chickens that I have had so far were all either roasted too dry or too hard. Some roasted chickens were so over roasted that they taste like rock cakes (over burnt cakes).
Heston promised to change all that forever. But there’s a price to pay – and that’s the price of patience. Coupled with that an insane obsession with perfection. Intermingle those qualities together and you would soon find yourself chowing down some really delicious roast chicken.
How I know? I tried it. And it works. The best part is, the juices in the chicken just oozes as you cut through the meat. The breast meat juicy as ever.
Recipe – serving for 4
Whole fresh chicken 1.5kg
Thyme 6-7 sprigs
Butter 80 grams
Red wine 1 cup
1. Douse the chicken in salt water solution overnight in a container. 60 grams of salt to a litre of water. Simple as that. Doing this boost the moisture in the chicken.
2. When ready to roast, pad dry the chicken, and rub butter all over the bird, giving it a good massage. You generally want to make sure the chicken is “relaxed” while you roast the bird.
3. Add thyme into the anal cavity of the chicken and wedge a lemon (halved) into it as well. Then preheat the oven to a temperature of 90 degrees for about 10 minutes. I chose fan mode with top heating.
4. Roast the chicken for about 1.5 hours at 90 degrees breast facing upwards. Remember not to tight the legs of the chicken but rather allow it to all hang out.
5. There should be no flavor lost and the chicken after roasting should also look pale and relatively uncooked in a way. But with a kitchen thermometer you can test to see if the chicken is cooked at 90 degrees.
6. Let the chicken rest for another 45 minutes before rubbing the chicken with another layer of butter. Doing so will enhance the flavor of the chicken and allow it to brown.
7. Once ready, preheat the oven to a maximum temperature of 260 degrees. And roast the chicken for about 15 minutes. The skin of the chicken should be crispy and slightly brown.
8. Deglaze the bottom of the roasting pan and turn it into a sauce for the roast chicken.