Taiwanese Chicken Bites

Taiwanese chicken 7

We had this chicken for the first time at an outstanding restaurant in Huatulco.  Only about 7 tables, most of them on the sidewalk, and yet they had the most amazing fusion of flavours.  The owners spent a fair bit of time traveling around Asia, and this is reflected in their food.  If you get a chance to try out “Mercader”, then go.  Until we go back, I will just have to make this at home!

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Globetrotting tonight ….. served with Korean Fried Cauliflower (KFC) and loved it!

 

Ingredients
Chicken
1 1/2 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs

Marinade
1 medium head of garlic
1/2-inch ginger
3 green onions, white and 1-inch of the green part, minced
2 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon mirin
1 teaspoon sweet potato starch
1/2 teaspoon Chinese 5-spice powder
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Taiwanese chicken 1

Just the aroma of this marinade will have you salivating!

Coating

1 eggs
1/2 cup cold water
2-3 cups sweet potato starch (I had to ask one of our daughters to buy this from an Asian market in Vancouver and bring it home for me!)

To fry
3-4 cups peanut, rice bran or avocado oil

To serve
Leaves from 1 bunch of fresh Thai basil
salt and white pepper to taste

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Have everything ready to go before starting to fry the chicken.

 

Directions
1. Cut the chicken into 1-inch chunks and place in large bowl. Make the marinade by mincing or forcing the garlic through a press into a small bowl. Add the minced green onions, soy sauce, Mirin, 5-spice, white pepper, sweet potato starch and cayenne pepper, stir to form a paste and then scrape into the bowl with the chicken. Mix to coat all the chicken and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or overnight.

2. Once the chicken is done marinating, place the eggs in medium sized bowl with the 1/2 cup of water. Beat together with a fork. Place the sweet potato starch in another medium sized bowl. Heat the frying oil in a sauté pan or wok until it reaches 350˚F. Using chopsticks or tongs, dip the chicken first in the watery egg mixture then in the starch and fry the chicken pieces without crowding them too much for 3-4 minutes or until golden brown. Try not to overcrowd the pan, I usually fry about 6-8 pieces at a time in the wok and 8 – 10 pieces in my 10” sauté pan.  Side note, I don’t recommend using a deep fryer that re-uses the oil.  The sweet potato starch is so fine that it doesn’t filter easily.

3. Once fried, place the chicken on a wire rack or a plate lined with paper towels to drain. Immediately toss with generous amounts of salt and white pepper to taste. Once you’ve fried all the chicken, fry the Thai basil leaves for 30 seconds or until they darken and then serve with the chicken.

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Sun Dried Tomato Pasta with Chicken and Spinach

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Tender chicken, barely cooked spinach, crunchy bacon and tangy parmesan … this pasta dish has it all,   It’s a meal in a dish.

It seems like many years ago I just L O V E D a recipe like this at a local restaurant, creamy yet intensely flavoured and tasty chicken bits.  It took a while, but I finally found this one from RecipeTin Eats, and it is perfect!

Ingredients

  • 300g / 10 oz fettuccine
  • 30g / 2 tbsp butter , separated
  • 2 chicken breasts , cut in half horizontally
  • 1/2 tsp each salt and pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves , minced
  • 1/2 cup (125ml) dry white wine (sub more chicken broth)
  • 1/2 cup (125ml) chicken stock / broth
  • 1 1/4 cups (315ml) cream , thickened / heavy 
  • 3/4 cup (75g) parmesan , finely shredded
  • 70g / 2.5oz baby spinach
  • 100 g / 3oz sun dried tomato strips

SERVING:

  • 120g / 4oz bacon , cooked and crumbled
  • More parmesan
  • Parsley , for garnish (optional)

Instructions

  • Cook pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water for time per packet minus 1 1/2 minutes.
  • Just before draining, scoop out a mugful of pasta cooking water. Then drain pasta.

CHICKEN:

  • Sprinkle both sides of chicken with salt and pepper.
  • Melt half the butter in a large skillet over hig heat.
  • Add chicken and cook for 2 minutes on each side until deep golden.
  • Remove chicken onto plate, rest for a few minutes then shred with 2 forks.

ALFREDO SAUCE:

  • Turn down heat to medium high. In the same skillet, add remaining butter and garlic.
  • Cook garlic for 30 seconds until golden, then add wine.
  • Simmer rapidly, stirring to scrape the brown bits off the bottom of the pan. Once mostly evaporated, add chicken broth, cream, parmesan and sun dried tomato.
  • Simmer on medium for 3 – 5 minutes, stirring leisurely, until it reduces and thickens.
Sun dried tomato pasta 1

The most important aspect of this sauce is letting it thicken enough to be rich and glistening.

ESSENTIAL TOSSING:

  • Add spinach, chicken and cooked pasta.
  • Toss for 1 1/2 – 2 minutes on the stove, until sauce thickens and coats the pasta strands – Use pasta cooking water if needed if it gets too thick.
  • Serve immediately with parmesan, crumbled bacon and parsley (if desired).
Sun dried tomato pasta 2

Fresh herbs really pop with colour and freshness in this dish, I added some fresh basil out of the garden and it was a perfect touch.

Beautiful Bowl

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This bright and beautiful bowl is packed with intense flavour and crunchy bits along with the chewy barley combined alongside pickled radish & ginger.

Dressing:

  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup miso paste
  • 4 tsp honey
  • 3 tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 tsp wasabi paste
  • 2 tsp fresh lime juice
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 cup minced cilantro (use the stems!)

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and give it a good whiz until it is bright and creamy.

Beautiful bowl 1

Gather all the dressing ingredients together and it will take just a few minutes to combine.

Beautiful bowl 2

Use the stems of the cilantro, that is where the most flavour is – mince it first before blending.

Beautiful bowl 3

Bright, fresh, green – this dressing is a flavour packed bomb.  I’m sure it would be great on anything as well as this bowl …. I’m going to put it to use in whatever way I can find.

Pickled Radish:

  • 6-8 radishes, thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Slice radishes, and sprinkle with salt and sugar, then pour the rice vinegar over.  Allow the radishes to sit for at least 10 minutes.

Beautiful bowl 4

Barley:

  • 4 cups water
  • 1 tsp chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 tbsp miso paste
  • 1 1/2 cups pearl barley

Bring water, miso and stock to a boil, then add the barley.  Bring to a slow gentle boil and allow barley to cook until just tender – about 25-30 minutes.  Rinse under cool water and allow to drain.

This recipe was inspired by Whitewater Cooks, and her Beautiful BC Bowl with salmon ….but you can do whatever you like with it.

YOUR BOWL:

If you are cooking a protein, marinade in some of the dressing, and then grill until cooked.  Grilling is by far the best – the honey will stick to any fry pan you use!

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This is as customizable as your fridge!  Use what you’ve got – tonight we had leftover flank steak so that made our protein, but honestly without a protein you will enjoy this just as much.

Assemble bowl with the barley, protein of choice and an assortment of toppings.  Tonight we used:

  • roasted peanuts
  • roasted sesame seeds
  • avocado
  • sliced snow peas
  • halved cucumber slices
  • slivered green onions
  • sautéed mushrooms
  • sautéed red onions & sweet peppers
  • cilantro, roughly chopped
  • nori sheets – roasted lightly and slivered

Everything about this bowl is a delight!  Customize it to your tastes.

 

Oven Roasted Chicken Breasts

These chicken breasts will convince you that a quick delicious meal can be on your table in 20-30 minutes.  In the time this takes to roast you can have some rice made and vegetables sautéed for a complete dinner.

Chicken breast 2

These chicken breasts were so moist that the juices just glistened.

JUICY CHICKEN BREASTS – super easy, super quick and delicious!

  • Always season your chicken breast, not just salt and pepper but choose your favorite spices and herbs. Make sure to pat the chicken dry first before seasoning because moisture causes steam which will prevent your chicken from browning.
  • Don’t be afraid to add a little bit of fat like olive oil or butter. Chicken breasts need some fat to keep them juicy and flavorful.
  • If you’ve got the time, brine your chicken for 2 to 4 hours in a solution made with water, salt and other things you may prefer like soy sauce or beer. Basic brine ratio is 1 tbsp salt to 1 cup of water.
  • Baking time can vary depending on the thickness of the breasts, so invest in an instant read thermometer for best results. Cooking time is generally 20 to 30 minutes, or until the internal temperature registers 165 F degrees.
  • It’s important to take it out of the oven right then and allow it to rest for all those juices to evenly distribute throughout the chicken breast.
  • Save the pan drippings and use them to drizzle over the chicken for extra flavor!
Chicken Breast

I used paprika, garlic powder, Italian seasonings as well as salt and pepper.  The secret is to use way more seasoning than you think you will need, and top with a pat of butter.  That butter seeps down into the chicken and also helps to create those delicious pan juices.

I don’t usually love plain chicken breasts without stuffing, or crispy skin but these breasts are so moist and delicious I loved them, and so will you.  I found this recipe on “Jo Cooks” and couldn’t believe how quick and easy it was for this amount of flavour.

Taiwanese Popcorn Chicken

I can’t tell you how light and fluffy this popcorn chicken coating is.  It comes down to the potato starch I think.  All the aromatics seep into the chicken with this marinade and every bite is a burst of flavour.  You might think I made a quick trip to Taiwan for this recipe ….. but you’d be wrong.  We tasted this first in Huatulco, Mexico and dreamt of it until I figured out how to make it.

Taiwanese chicken 7

Mercader Restaurant in Santa Cruz Huatulco, is where we first tasted this incredible bite of chicken.  The owner/operators have travelled extensively and bring flavours from all over the world to play with Mexican ingredients.

Chicken
1 1/2 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs

Marinade
1 medium head of garlic
1/2-inch ginger
3 green onions, white and 1-inch of the green part, minced
2 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon mirin
1 teaspoon sweet potato starch
1/2 teaspoon Chinese 5-spice
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Coating
1 egg
1/2 cup cold water
2-3 cups sweet potato starch

Oil for frying.

Directions
Cut the chicken into 1-inch chunks and place in large bowl. Make the marinade by mincing or forcing the garlic through a press into a small bowl. Add the minced green onions, soy sauce, Mirin, 5-spice, white pepper, sweet potato starch and cayenne pepper, stir to form a paste and then scrape into the bowl with the chicken. Mix to coat all the chicken and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or overnight.

Taiwanese chicken 1

Mix all the marinade ingredients together, and stir together in a bowl large enough to hold the chicken as well.

Taiwanese chicken 2

Stir the chicken pieces into the marinade, and cover.  Place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes and up to overnight.

 

Once the chicken is done marinating, place the eggs in medium sized bowl with the 1/2 cup of water. Beat together with a fork. Place the sweet potato starch in another medium sized bowl.

Taiwanese chicken 3

I had an egg white in the fridge today. so used just that instead of a whole egg.

Taiwanese chicken 4

Heat the frying oil in a sauté pan or wok until it reaches 350˚F. Using chopsticks or tongs, dip the chicken first in the watery egg mixture then in the starch and fry the chicken pieces without crowding them too much for 3-4 minutes or until golden brown. Try not to overcrowd the pan, I usually fry about 6-8 pieces at a time in the wok and 8 – 10 pieces in my 10” sauté pan.

Taiwanese chicken 5

Don’t overcrowd the oil or the temperature will drop.

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Season with the salt and white pepper as soon as it comes out of the fryer.

Taiwanese chicken 8

Make a dipping sauce to take this over the top.  Combine sweet soy sauce, spicy oil, a bit of sesame oil, sliced garlic and green onions.

Taiwanese chicken 9

Addictive.  

I found this recipe on a great website, “Eat the love”, and it’s perfect.  My only addition is the dipping sauce.  I’m hope that I can also find the sweet potato starch he uses, but so far I’ve only been able to find regular potato starch.

 

 

Caesar Salad

Caesar salad 3

Love the textures of a great Caesar salad – contrasting fresh crisp greens, crunchy bacon and croutons, soft parmesan and a creamy dressing.

Everybody needs a great Caesar dressing in their kitchen, try this one and adjust to your families taste.  My grandkids don’t love garlic, so when they are over I usually go light on the garlic cloves but that’s totally up to you!

  • 1 egg (or 1/4 cup mayonnaise)
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1-3 cloves garlic
  • 2 anchovy fillets (packed in oil)
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1-2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • pinch of sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup oil (I like to use a combo of vegetable oil and really good extra virgin olive oil)
  • dash hot sauce (totally optional)

Combine all ingredients except oil in jar or blender.  Shake/blend really well until smooth, and slowly add oil until emulsified.  Taste and adjust for salt and pepper, adding more if necessary.

Caesar salad 1

Everybody helps make dinner around here, and Stella is learning the fine points of knife work!  Don’t worry, she quickly learned to rest the knife against her knuckles to avoid trimming her fingers……

Caesar salad 2

Assembling that cheese grater has all Sloan’s attention.

  • Wash your lettuce leaves and spin dry (you can do this ahead of time, wrap in clean kitchen towel and keep in fridge until ready to use, it really crisps up the lettuce)
  • Cook bacon until crisp and crumble.
  • Toss stale bread chunks in olive oil and a bit of salt and pepper and toast until dry and crunchy.  (This is also a great place to use dried herbs, and some garlic powder)
  • Grate Parmesan cheese

Toss lettuce pieces in very large bowl with the bacon, croutons and parmesan cheese.  Just before serving toss with dressing just until everything has a delicious coating.  Taste and squeeze a bit of lemon over if you like.

This easily goes from a side dish to a whole meal if you serve Caesar salad with grilled chicken or shrimp, and a side of garlic toast.

 

 

Cafe de Paris Beurre

Cafe de Paris 8

How to enhance an already perfect medium rare steak?  Cafe de Paris Beurre.  It’s that easy.

What’s that, you say????  Only the most amazing flavour packed umami bomb you will ever create.  Don’t be alarmed by the list of ingredients.  This makes a whack of butter, which you can give away to your best of friends, or stash in your freezer to pull out when needed.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 pound, 5 ounces unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 ounce ketchup
  • 3 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 ounce capers, rinsed
  • 2 ounces shallots, finely diced
  • 1 tablespoon flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chives, snipped
  • 1 teaspoon dried marjoram
  • 1 teaspoon dill, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped thyme leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon tarragon leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon rosemary leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 8 anchovy fillets, rinsed and finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon brandy
  • 1 tablespoon madeira
  • 1 teaspoon worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon Cayenne powder
  • juice of one lemon
  • zest of 1/2 lemon
  • zest of 1/4 Orange
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
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Just a few of the many ingredients needed.

Cafe de Paris 3

Okay, it might not look appetizing right now, but it smells incredible …

 

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a large bowl, beat the butter by hand or use an electric mixer set to slow speed, until it has a slightly creamy texture.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine all the other ingredients and mix thoroughly. Add this mixture to the butter and beat again until all the ingredients are completely combined.
  3. Place a double thickness of foil, about 12 inches long, on a flat surface and line with a similar-sized piece of silicone paper. Spread half the butter along one of the foil edges and roll up to form a long sausage shape — roll it with your hands like a rolling pin to get a tidy shape and eliminate any air pockets. Twist the ends to seal. You can also use plastic kitchen wrap, which I did this time.  Repeat this process with the remaining butter. Place in the fridge to chill before use.
  4. To use, slice a ½ inch thick disc of butter and place on top of a grilled steak (or a steamed spud). Traditionally, the steak is placed back under a hot grill (broiler) to soften and brown the butter, but I don’t reckon you need to do this, just let it melt from the heat of the steak.
  5. The butter can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for a few weeks or in the freezer for several months.
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Ready to roll into logs and pop in the freezer (or gift bags!)

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Don’t just think of steaks, top any chicken or fish dish, or use it in place of garlic butter on bread.

Cafe de Paris Beurre 1

I tried out quite a few recipes I found, and this one from Food Republic, is the definite winner, and the most like a butter topped steak we had a “Red Door” in Whistler.  If you aren’t a meat lover, don’t even worry – it’s just amazing on vegetables, scrambled eggs or melted and drizzled over popcorn!