Thursday, April 2, 2020

Chicken Drumsticks- Chinese Steamed and Taiwanese Fried...


Hi friends... Happy April! If you have been following me on instagram, you will see that yesterday I made a fluffy egg soufflรฉ omelet to welcome Easter April. It still needs a bit more work (I tested it twice), and will be happy to blog post on Easter weekend when I'm satisfied :). For now, let's talk chicken ๐Ÿ”... Chicken is the most popular eaten meat. There's never ending ways to cook it and I find we are always looking for new recipes to try as we get stuck in the rut of cooking it the same way over and over again. I cook with all cuts but prefer bone-in pieces (chicken legs, chicken drumsticks, whole) for that deep flavour and they're always cheaper than boneless. Save $ by buying bone-in, cut off the meat and reserve the bones, freeze sealed for soup stock or sauce-making for handy use later.

My boys are getting bigger, hungrier. When one package of 10 chicken drumsticks๐Ÿ— used to feed us five, I need to double up now to take care of dinner business. I prefer to make extra when it comes to meat, which is helpful for a creative with leftovers the next day. Last night, I offered two Asian inspirations- classic Chinese steamed with green onions and ginger oil, and Taiwanese fried "popcorn-style" with Thai basil! This shows the duality in Yin and Yang foods ☯️ - yin is seen more fresh and neutral as with steam preparations, and deep-fried is strongly yang- more invigorating and warming. Both equally loved over here. Sharing in hopes to inspire something new to jazz up your chicken meal repertoire... 

Steamed and Fried Chicken Drumsticks- Yin and Yang ☯️

Chicken purchased on two different occasions- top frozen and pulled out to thaw for use. Depending on store sales, I've picked up drumsticks as low as $0.99/lb. usually at Asian supermarkets. Even so $15 for 21 drumsticks feeding five is so much cheaper than take-out.


Chicken Marination: salt and pepper for steamed; fermented beancurd, oyster sauce, Chinese cooking wine. chopped garlic and salt and white pepper for fried "popcorn-style".


For the steamed chicken: place chicken on a heat-proof dish set over a rack in a large pot or skillet with water underneath. Covered, steam on medium-high for 30 minutes or until chicken is thoroughly cooked. I love the natural essence liquid released by the chicken during steaming. I highly recommend using this deliciousness to cook your rice in. Reserve the chicken juice, keep the chicken covered with foil, placed in the oven set at warming. Use your convention oven to do that. 

Delicious natural chicken essence from steaming

Wash your rice and rinse until clear. Pour in the reserved chicken juice. Cook your rice as you do- it will turn out fluffy and unbelievably tasty ๐Ÿ˜Š!

Make chicken essence-infused rice!

For the green onions and ginger oil, chop two green onions, finely chop 1-inch knob of peeled ginger; place into a small bowl with a few dashes of salt. Heat up 1/4 cup oil in skillet or pot until smoking hot and carefully pour over the onion mixture. Listen to that sizzle as it slightly cooks the ingredients! This is so delicious served over chicken especially simple steamed or poached.


The chicken essence is also super to flavour and cook Chinese greens. Here I am sautรฉing snow pea leaves.


Onto the second chicken dish- Taiwanese deep-fried "popcorn-style". This is probably the most recognized and delectable popular street food from Taiwan making head waves in the west. Meat is marinated and deep-fried, with the tender morsels sprinkled liberally with salt and five spice powder once out of the hot oil served along fried Thai basil leaves. 

Chicken drumsticks is my take on the actual bite-size thigh pieces- it was making the classic earlier this week (sooo gooood) that inspired me to make it again. I couldn't get to the store but I had drumsticks on hand so why not do my own variation minding a longer frying time?

Last night's duo Chinese chicken meal balanced with greens.

Having more time on my hands, I landed on an amazing youtube recipe that made a better popcorn chicken version than I had. It uses pungent-fragrant fermented bean curd in the marinade, and mixed with oyster sauce, Chinese cooking wine, garlic and white pepper, it blew me and my family out of the water.... ๐ŸŒฌ๐ŸŒŠ. Soooo RiDiCulOusly Diviiiine ๐Ÿ˜œ! Coated with coarse sweet potato starch, then deep-fried twice for golden extra crunch while flavourful tender served along attractive salted crispy wispy fried Thai basil leaves ๐ŸŒฑ.

Finished with a sprinkling of five spice powder and salt our taste buds were flying heaven high baby ๐Ÿ˜‡.

Taiwanese Popcorn Chicken with Thai Basil (adapted by Seonkyoung Longest)
Serves 4

1 small cube fermented bean curd 
1 Tbsp. oyster sauce 
1 tsp. shaoxing wine 
1/4 tsp white pepper 
3 cloves garlic
1 lb. boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1” cubes 
or/ 1 lb. bone-in skin-on chicken drumsticks
frying oil 
3/4 cup sweet potato flour or potato starch

Handful Thai basil 
1 tsp. salt 
1/2 tsp. five spice powder (Chinese cinnamon, cloves, star anise, fennel seeds, Szechuan peppercorns)
1/4 tsp. white pepper 
1/4 tsp. paprika or cayenne

Fermented bean curd is made of soybeans, salt, rice wine and sesame oil or vinegar.

Marinate the chicken in a medium bowl with all the ingredients up to oil. Refrigerate at least two hours or overnight (the flavour deepens the longer it melds).

Coat each piece of chicken in potato starch. Shake off excess. 

I had leftover egg so I used it as a egg wash to coat before the flour. Not necessary step.

Add the oil in a saucepan (I like to cook mine in batches, thus using and wasting less oil). Heat over medium-high heat until a wooden skewer inserted in the centre emits bubbles shooting up its sides. 

Working in batches, slowly drop the pieces one at a time into the oil; let fry turning them occasionally with tongs, until crispy and golden all over about two to three minutes (for bite-size pieces), for six to eight minutes for whole drumsticks. Remove the chicken with a slotted spoon and transfer on a rack over top a baking sheet/plate lined with paper towels (this will keep the bottom of chicken from getting soggy). Note: 
Use a slotted spoon to remove debris to keep oil clean in between frying and to prevent burnt bits.

Extra Crispy TIP: Once chicken are all fried, fry again for another minute! 

To ensure chicken drumsticks are cooked through, place into preheated 350F oven for five minutes. Pierce into one in the thickest part- if juices run clear it is cooked.


When the chicken are all fried, carefully drop in a small bunch of washed and dried Thai basil leaves, close the lid quick and fry for five seconds (BE CAREFUL). Remove with slotted spoon and transfer to rack or on paper towels. Sprinkle the chicken generously with sea/kosher salt and five spice powder, and serve with the fried basil leaves.


This was the actual bite-size popcorn chicken I had the other day that prompted me to make again- but with skin-on chicken drumsticks.


Looks so good right!? Believe me it was Diviiiine!

Lemon is optional. Can make the batter soggy if too much.

Love the yu choy greens with oyster sauce and sautรฉed snow pea leaves with garlic to round things out!


The green onion and ginger oil is good on both styles of chicken- YUM!


Full Recipe:

Taiwanese Popcorn Chicken with Thai Basil (adapted by Seonkyoung Longest)
Serves 4

1 small cube fermented bean curd 
1 Tbsp. oyster sauce 
1 tsp. shaoxing wine 
1/4 tsp white pepper 
3 cloves garlic
1 lb. boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1” cubes 
or/ 1 lb. bone-in skin-on chicken drumsticks
frying oil 
3/4 cup sweet potato flour or potato starch

Handful Thai basil 
1 tsp. salt 
1/2 tsp. five spice powder (Chinese cinnamon, cloves, star anise, fennel seeds, Szechuan peppercorns)
1/4 tsp. white pepper 
1/4 tsp. paprika or cayenne

Marinate the chicken in a medium bowl with all the ingredients up to oil. Refrigerate at least two hours or overnight (flavours deepen the longer it melds).

Coat each piece of chicken in the starch. Shake off excess. 

Add the oil in a saucepan (I like to cook mine in batches, thus using and wasting less oil). Heat over medium-high heat until a wooden skewer inserted in the centre emits bubbles shooting up its sides. 

Working in batches, slowly drop the pieces one at a time into the oil; let fry turning them occasionally with tongs, until crispy and golden all over about two to three minutes (for bite-size pieces), for six to eight minutes for whole drumsticks. Remove the chicken with a slotted spoon and transfer on a rack over top a baking sheet/plate lined with paper towels (this will keep the bottom of chicken from getting soggy). NOTE: Use a slotted spoon to remove debris to keep oil clean in between frying and to prevent burnt bits.

Extra Crispy TIP: Once chicken are all fried, fry again for another minute!

To ensure chicken drumsticks are cooked through, place into preheated 350F oven for five minutes. Pierce into one in the thickest part- if juices run clear it is cooked.

When the chicken are all fried, carefully drop in a small bunch of washed and dried Thai basil leaves, close the lid quick and fry for five seconds (BE CAREFUL). Remove with slotted spoon and transfer to rack or on paper towels. Sprinkle the chicken generously with sea/kosher salt and five spice powder, and serve with the fried basil leaves.



Monday, March 30, 2020

I Come As One. But I Stand As Ten Thousand...


It's very different times to say the least. Flashback 02.20.2020 ๐Ÿ”ฅ. It was my birthday and my sentiments then was, "I can say my vision so far has been 20/20 ๐Ÿ‘€... 2 is pronounced "yee" in Cantonese which also sounds like the word "easy". Although it sure doesn't feel it with a big home reno, a move underway and multi-tasking different work commitments, however it is with clarity that for 2020, I priorit-eyes none other than- my family." Little did I know a month later "easy" is far from what is the present truth amidst the uncertainty of the coronavirus pandemic, but was I ever so accurate to say the focus is family. Well, yes also for everyone around the world. We moved into a temporary lease, our house is almost finished renovations, and the family is taking things in stride- my husband has been working from home, the kids toggling between screen time, Netflix, reading, on-line learning and horsing around and me, still in the kitchen- cooking up a nourishing storm. 

No matter what is happening right now, we cannot let it stop what we love and break our spirits ๐ŸŒธ!

We are inundated with c-news daily with growing cases, what feels like doom and gloom. I am optimistic for our future. Society has been going down a bad path and we all need this time to reflect, focus on what's important, shed old ways, and come together to approach things more sensibly as we move forward.

We have to have the courage to leave who we were before to become more.


As we all have been adjusting to new ways, new norms, I have put off my blog to organize things around the temporary home. With the increasing importance of cooking and meal preparations, you will see me here more regularly sharing practical tips such as shopping, batch-cooking, pantry-cooking, getting creative with leftovers and healthy comfort recipes with an emphasis on fresh produce and multicultural cuisines. Better yet, if you are on instagram follow me @susanssavourit, as I often snap and vid in stories and post what's going on in my kitchen- the meals I am on the go cooking and recipe inspirations that I hope you will replicate with yours. Sharing a collection of recent social posts in hopes to do just that:

Nowruz Mobarak to my friends and family ode to Persian New Year March 19th ๐Ÿ’•. Yes, I have Persian in my family-- all three sisters, my close cousins married Iranian with beautiful Persianese children ๐Ÿ˜Š. These are unparalleled times. Chinese New Year was disrupted this year and two months later we are facing uncertainty globally.

In a time of complexity we find comfort in simplicity. Kotlet is a simple but delicious Persian dish of savoury mini patties made from staple ingredients ground meat, potatoes, onions, herbs and spices- turmeric, saffron and sumak. It’s incredibly tasty, and easy to make. If you can make a meatball, you can make kotlet!


Persian Kotlet

Persian restaurants and supermarkets with hot counters are here to serve us for take out and delivery so take a break from cooking. Give them support  and enjoy some of their wicked bbq specialties such as jujeh (saffron chicken kebabs) and koobideh (ground beef kebabs) served with fluffy basmati rice and grilled whole tomatoes.

 

These days as I am counting my blessings, I think of these unfortunate children and their parents who are holed up in their hotel rooms. It was hard for them then, but it must be at the point of unbearable now ๐Ÿ˜ž. I am a Culinary Consultant with TDSB Newcomer Services and I've been cooking  a hot lunch once a week for 80 Nigerian refugee students at a Scarborough elementary public school, split into two weekly sessions who are currently living in hotels. Many come to school hungry because the food served to them there is very poor with little nutrition and variety. From the honest to goodness hearts of the school staff ๐Ÿ˜˜ they have already been cooking up a simple lunch once a week (pooled out of their own pockets) to offer up something hot and comforting. And with me there, these kids would get two weekly hot lunches! Now with schools closed, the kids solely rely on the hotel food ๐Ÿ˜ž. My thoughts and prayers goes out to you. Stay strong and hang in there! ๐ŸŒธ

Remembering our first session, I started off with a Taste of Home, serving a beloved traditional Nigerian dish Jollof rice with oven-baked curry drumsticks many miss from back home and adored! There are so many flavour profiles to Nigerian-style Jollof rice but most common ingredients are rice, tomatoes and tomato paste, onion, salt, and red pepper spice. Beyond that, any kind of meat, fish, vegetable, or combination of spices can be added. 


Nigerian Jollof Rice

Reminiscing happy and rewarding times...


Finished off with a trifle cup treat layered with pound cake, fresh strawberries, fresh whipped cream and chocolate chips. Cheers, expressions of gratitude and sheer delight exuded from these kids for a very successful lunch service. Please take good care. I hope to be able to cook for you again ๐ŸŒธ.


True or False? Home cooking and meal preparations is ever more important these days while staying indoors to keep us actively nourished and healthy. YOU BET!


I will buy what you don't buy. That's the beauty of knowing how and willing to cook everything! A beautiful bunch of leeks abandoned in its pile amongst the emptying refrigerated produce shelf. Along with a big bag of potatoes I got the other day, it was the winning formula for cheap and cheerful creamy leek and potato soup ๐Ÿฅฃ!


According to Produce Made Simple, leeks not unlike garlic, are believed to reduce the risk of chronic diseases like heart disease, while also boosting a body’s anti-cancer and anti-diabetes properties. Leeks gradate in colour from white to dark green. Typically, the bottom half- the “white to light green part” in recipes, is the most tender. The tough dark green ends are usually used to flavour stock or are simply discarded. I would reserve them for that extra flavour boost or sliced in stir-fries.

I love a hearty bowl of leek and potato soup, that cooks in broth until ingredients are tender, then pureed and simmered hot with added cream. Simplicity at a time of complexity. The home kitchen is where the hearth always is ๐Ÿ’—. 

Leek and Potato Soup

Cook everything! Yes that is the mantra... #nowaste #lovefoodhatewaste. You can almost guarantee that off-cuts will be a-plenty- people not willing to buy & don't eat, and don't know how to cook. And did I mention it's usually cheap. I go to my local Asian supermarkets for that. Eyeing a bountiful display of fresh large salmon fish heads on ice, it came quickly together in my head what I can do with them. I always scan my fridge before I head out and knowing I had leftover cilantro, green onions, Chinese chives, nappa cabbage, and ginger, I envisioned Chinese fish head soup was in the horizon.


So what is so good about fish head? Extra-high levels of vitamin A, omega-3 fatty acids, iron, zinc and calcium, protein, and elasticity collagen to keep joints lubricated and skin healthy! I marinate the sliced heads (ask the butcher to do that) with salt and pepper for an hour, coat it lightly with potato or corn starch or flour, then pan-fry both sides until crispy. I bring a pot of water to a boil and simmer the fish alongside the above ingredients for an hour. So delish!

Chinese Salmon Fish Head Soup

The next day...

The best use for leftover rotisserie chicken carcass- making broth for chicken noodle soup! Already flavourful, just add your choice of veggies (leftover bits are perfect for this) and noodles (ie; egg noodles, macaroni, fideo), remove the tender meat (discard the bones) and voila ๐Ÿฅฃ!

This has been lunch many days- use veggies you have on-hand

An example from my instagram story.

Pantry cooking is really the best thing to make simple, accessible no fuss-meals quickly. An idea is with canned tuna, mayo, Dijon mustard, onions and frozen green peas, and macaroni- Tuna Pasta Salad! Get creative and customize to your families' preference.

Tuna Pasta Salad

What I have in a jug in my fridge regularly. I swear by this Korean Cinnamon Ginger Punch Sujeonggwa with persimmon for zero sickness! Ramulus cinnamoni ( a Chinese medicine herb similar to cinnamon sticks) with its key function of expelling cold, warming the meridian to promote coronary circulation, and activating yang to promote body-fluid metabolism; Ginger- anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, warming and persimmon- rich in phytochemicals and immune-boosting.

For 1/2 hour, simmer-boil 5 cups of water with 1/3 cup ramulus cinnamoni or 3 Chinese cinnamon sticks, separately simmer-boil 3 cups water with 2-inch knob ginger slivered, then strain cinnamon and ginger and combine liquids. Mix in 3-1/2 Tbsp. golden sugar and add 2 chopped dried persimmons. Let cool and store in a 2-L jug in the fridge.

Best cold prevention drink!

Ahhh... the good ol' days. I never appreciated home-style Vietnamese Chicken Curry until I had it prepared by my husband's family in Montreal. Long before we had children, our bi-annual six hour drive to visit, often arriving in the middle of the night, was almost always greeted at the door with the beautiful wafting aroma of curry. Although Vietnamese curry paste contains many pungent flavourings, the result is a delicate, mild rustic dish, comforting and delicious served with cooked thick vermicelli or toasted-until-crusty Vietnamese bread.

What better way than to end my winter culinary program with the seniors just before March break. I am not sure when we will resume classes again. I will cherish the memory of spending our last session making a big batch of curry paste (11+ ingredients) together to fill jam jars so that everyone can take to make this soup ๐Ÿฅฃ at home. I just heard from lovely senior learners Gordon and Marion- they used their paste to make Vietnamese curry in the instant pot and said it was delicious ๐Ÿค—!! And I used mine to make curry chicken wings! The beauty of big batch preparations so that you can use and eat at your whim on a later date!


Curry Paste for Chicken and for Wings

Same goes for meal preparations! Big-batch bolognese sauce for a meal one night and frozen for an easy thaw, heat and eat on another occasion or two. Remember, use up all those leftover bits of veggies, also broccoli stems are perfect for this, all chopped up for a hearty, healthy and nutritious sauce (extra hidden veggies for the picky ones). Cooking in a big batch to eat the next day or to freeze for another, buys you time on a day when you don't. It's a life-saver! I encourage you to prepare ahead with meals that are freezer-friendly.

Big-Batch Bolognese Sauce

The kids are working hard at their on-line activities with school. What better than to take a break, take a live lesson with me in my kitchen rituals. This day was about baking cookies. Not just going through the motions of following a recipe but the understanding of how ingredients work together and substitutions. We made Crispy Chewy Oatmeal Cookies with chocolate chips- I've always made them with raisins, but seeing we had dried cranberries and black currants on hand... these were the welcomed change-up substitutions.

Mom and Son Learning, Cooking and Bonding

Hot potting is the healthy answer to those who love to cook, those navigating how to cook and everyone in between. Bring your favourite broth to a boil and toss in your choice of ingredients ranging from greens, mushrooms, tofu, meats and seafood, and finish it off with noodles as the Asians do it. Customize to your hearts' delight and change up the multiple offerings at your next meal. My family favourites are mushrooms, konnyaku noodle bundles, watercress, quail eggs and frozen sliced beef. Enjoy their natural flavours or dip in your mixed condiments of choice. Cook in a pot over the stove and set it on the table for everyone to scoop or better yet cook directly at the table with a portable burner.

However you cook it, it is a fun tasty communal experience that can be had over and over again to introduce new flavours and an array of nutritional benefits that your soul will thank you for.



For more ideas on Hot Potting

We don't have cable and with one of my favourite city public places- the library closed, no dvds to borrow, I turn to Netflix for my flick fix and cooking inspiration. This Netflix series caught my attention "Street Foods" and inspiring it was ☀️. I highly recommend it! Many of the vendors featured have dedicated 40, 50, even 60 years of their life to perfecting one dish. First up- Bangkok with this revered 73-year old chef Jay Fai. Her food is flawless. She is fearless. Powerful, cooking everyday with passion and pride that exudes from every dish she touches. Her famous crab meat omelet is cooked in a volcanic hot wok (thus her goggles) and battle wounds. Line ups snake and the wait can be hours but it's worth it I'm sure!

In Osaka, Toya, the fiery flame throwing chef renowned for his broiled tuna (finished with a blow torch) is comedic, energetic and fearless. He says he will work until he dies, exhibiting his life long passion in cooking, honing his craft and sharing it forward to his patrons.

73-year old Jay Fai from Bangkok
Toya from Osaka

"My greatest wish is to keel over when I'm working. That's all!"-- Toya

Kanpai ๐Ÿป and Deep Respect ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿป


I Come As One. But I Stand As Ten Thousand... This Too Shall Pass.
No matter what is happening right now, we cannot let it break our spirits ๐ŸŒธ!
Continue to do what you do. Stay Calm. Eat Well. Be Well All ๐Ÿ™.

I'll see you again here my friends. Come back often.