HOLEYBALONEY

Pan-fried Salmon with Zucchini Noodles

Salmon is my favourite fish. It’s full of good fats and a great source of protein. It is also one of those ingredients that can be prepared in a million different ways, be it raw, steamed, baked, pan-fried etc. No matter the preparation, it’s pretty much going to be a great dish.

Today I decided to pan-fry a fillet and while figuring out what base to put it on, I came by some zucchinis and had a flash of inspiration. What could be better than a bed of zucchini noodles?

Ingredients

  • Salmon fillet
  • Zucchini
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Flour

Sauce

  • Creamy peanut butter x 1 tbsp
  • Tabasco Sauce x 1 tsp
  • Salt

 

PREPARATION:

Salmon

1) Pat dry the salmon on both sides. The dryer the better.

2) Season salmon with salt and pepper

3) Sprinkle a pinch of flour on the skin. This allows the salmon skin to dry up even more. After all, the dryer the better. 🙂

4) Heat some olive oil in a skillet on high heat

5) Place salmon in skillet skin side down, and bring down to medium heat. Pan-frying salmon needs to be a gradual rise in temperature so that the fillet is nicely cooked throughout, yet the skin is just nice and crispy. If the heat is too strong the skin burns up very quickly and will be flaky.

6) Lightly press it to the pan for 30 – 60s, paying extra attention to the centre. Salmon very lightly curls up in the heat so you need to ensure that you get even crisping of the skin.

7) Skin side of salmon should pan fry for about 4-5 mins, depending on thickness.

An indicator that the skin side is done is that the fish will lift off the pan extremely easily without any force. I also usually take an estimate by looking at the sides of the salmon. As long as both the sides are fully cooked, it is about time to flip it.

8) Flip salmon over and continue to cook the flesh side for another 2-3 mins.

9) Take off pan and leave to rest

Zucchini Noodles (Zoodles)

1) Making the zoodles depends on personal preference. You can use a julienne peeler, or if you like thicker cut noodles, you can use a potato peeler and then slide them up. Just remember to remove both tips first.

2) In the same skillet that you were pan-frying the salmon, turn the heat back up and add the zoodles to the pan. There is no need to add anymore oil, as using the residual oil in the pan after the salmon will add more taste to the zoodles.

3) Stir fry for 3-5 mins, until tender.

4) If you are doing a serving of one, you can do this in the same skillet while the salmon is pan-frying.

To serve

1) To make the sauce for the zoodles, whisk all the sauce ingredients in a bowl together with some oil from the skillet.

2) Add the zoodles into the sauce and mix well

3) Serve salmon on top of the zoodles

 

Enjoy!

 

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Spicy Korean Chicken Stew

 

In my opinion, this is a simple meal that is sure to impress. The cooking time is relatively short and there is quite a lot of flexibility in the dish and you can safely change ingredients around or use different chicken parts. The gochujang provides most of the flavour in the dish so there is less messing around with the flavouring.

I’ve cooked this dish with full chicken wings (chopped into 3 parts), thighs, drumlets, mid-wings etc and they’ve all turned out great. The only thing you’d need to pay attention to is time, as mid-wings cook very quickly and will dis-integrate if they are cooked for too long. If you are using a mix of mid-wings & drumlets, they’ve got to go into the pot at slightly different times. This ensures you don’t get a pile of bones with no meat on it when those mid-wings break apart. Alternatively, you can use the whole chicken, chopped into medium sized pieces or thigh meat.

Ingredients:

  • 1 kg chicken (chopped into mid-sized pieces)
  • 5 mid sized carrots
  • 5 mid sized potatoes
  • 2 large yellow onions
  • 6 Fresh garlic cloves (peeled)
  • 1.5L Water

Marinate:

  • Korean spicy paste (gochujang)
  • Chili powder
  • Light soy sauce
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, sliced

Method:

  1. Marinate the chicken in 3 tbps of light soy sauce, 3 tbps of gochujang and chili powder. Leave to rest for at least one hour.
  2. Cut potatoes, carrots & onions into roughly the same size as the chicken pieces.
  3. Heat up a little oil in a pot and stir fry all the potatoes, carrots, onions & garlic for a few minutes. This releases the flavours before stewing and it enhances the intensity of the stew. Remove.
  4. Pan fry the chicken in the same pot. Ensure to let the chicken brown for a while.
  5. Add potatoes, carrots & onions back into the pot and mix it with the chicken.
  6. Add water and bring to boil.
  7. Bring to a simmer let it simmer for 60 mins, or until chicken is soft.
  8. Taste along the way and add more gochujang as necessary.
  9. Garnish with scallions.

 

 

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Rice Cooker ‘Claypot’ Chicken Rice

I like my fancy rice cooker with the added functions that make my life we easier, such as soup or congee function. There’s even a cake function which I tried once but failed so badly due to my laziness to measure the amount of flour to use.

There’s a recent rise in the popularity of simple one pot dishes, which I find extremely clever, seeing how busy our lives are. A simple one-dish wonder where all the staples and the nutrients are. The best part? Only one pot to wash. Absolutely perfect! Terribly awesome, until you realise how incredible it is with the rice cooker.

Other than the usual soups, I’ve cooked a variety of dishes using the rice cooker, such as Hokkien Fried Rice (鹹飯), mac&cheese and steamed carrot cake. So since I was craving for some claypot chicken rice that day, I decided to put my rice cooker to good use again.

This makes enough for 4.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups of rice, washed
  • 4 large chicken thighs (chopped into small pieces)
  • 4 Chinese sausages / lup cheong / 臘腸, cut into 1cm cubes (3/4) + thinly sliced (1/4)
  • 200g Shitake mushrooms, washed & thickly sliced
  • 4 Bok Choy

Sauces

  • Light soy sauce
  • Oyster sauce
  • Sesame oil
  • chilli powder

Aromatics

  • 10 cloves of garlic, unpeeled
  • 1 finger of ginger, sliced thinly (2/3) + julienne (1/3)
  • Shallots, chopped finely

Method

  1. Before I start, in this instance, I’ve bought de-boned thighs, removed the skin and fats, to make this a healthier dish. It is perfectly fine to leave the skin on and with bones too. The fats from the chicken will make the dish a bit more flavourful, but the oil from the sausages is good enough.
  2. Marinate the chicken with light soy sauce, oyster sauce and sesame oil, proportions 2:1:1
  3. Sprinkle some chilli powder for additional kick. Entirely optional.
  4. Wash 3 cups of rice in the rice cooker’s inner pot till the water runs clear.
  5. Tip on how much water to add to the rice: Place your last finger in the pot so it is just resting on top of the rice, and fill water till a little lower than the first line.
  6. Fire up a skillet, fry up the ginger julienne, shallots and garlic until the aroma is released. Add to rice cooker.
  7. Add sliced ginger to rice cooker & give the mixture a quick stir.
  8. Add sliced shitake mushrooms, ensuring it’s evenly spread out.
  9. Start rice cooker in standard rice cooking mode.
  10. Add all the chicken pieces & cubed sausages to the skillet on medium-low heat.
  11. After 2 mins, flip meat. The chicken should get a little bit of charring on each side.
  12. Now this is the part that gets a bit tricky, as it really depends on your rice cooker. Mine beeps about 15 mins before the end. Generally the meat should go into the pot when the rice is about 80% cooked..
  13. Add the chicken and cubed sausages to the rice cooker & ensure it is evenly spread out.
  14. To get a crusty rice base, I restart the cooking when it is entirely done and let it go for another 15 mins. Add the sliced sausage at this point.
  15. Switch the rice cooker to keep warm mode & add the bok choy.
  16. Add dark soy sauce into the pot and mix well. The rice should be quite dark in colour.
  17. Enjoy!

 

 

 

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Chili Con Carne

I love Chili con Carne. It’s my kind of comfort food, especially with some sour cream, shredded cheese and a hint of tabasco.

When I do make Chili, I usually make a large pot, and usually for parties. This is the reason the recipe below is for a large portion. What I have done is to write the recipe in a way that should be easy to break down into smaller portions, or expanded. The general portioning is 500g of meat to 1 cans / cups of diced tomatoes, kidney beans, sweet onions, bell peppers.

The one thing to note though, is don’t go for lean meat. The fats in the ground beef will drain off as you cook so you need the extra fat in the ground beef to keep the meat moist and juicy. Reduce the amount of oil that you use during the sweating of the onions to tone the fat content down. This dish needs to stew for many hours to really let all the flavours mesh.

Ingredients:

  • 1kg ground beef
  • 500g ground pork
  • 3 cans of diced tomatoes
  • Fresh tomatoes, diced (optional)
  • 3 cans of kidney beans
  • Chopped garlic
  • Chopped shallots
  • 3 cups of diced sweet onions
  • 3 cups of diced green red peppers
  • Small can of tomato paste
  • Ground thyme
  • Ground cumin / cumin seeds
  • Chili powder / paprika
  • Salt
  • Shredded cheddar cheese (optional)
  • Sour cream (optional)

 

Cooking Method:

  1. Ensure all your ingredients are at room temperature. Ingredients that are cold will not release their full flavour.
  2. Marinate pork with some thyme; and beef with cumin. Refrain from putting too much dry herbs during the marinate process. Probably about 1 round teaspoon per 500g. You can add more later as well.
  3. Pour a teaspoon of olive oil in a hot cast iron pot. Do not let the oil start to smoke as that means it is too hot.
  4. Add the shallots and onions and turn the heat down to medium. Stir the onions slightly and ensure they are spread out in the pot. Let it sweat for a few minutes, stirring it occasionally.
  5. Add the garlic now.
  6. When the onions begin to turn translucent, scoop everything on to a plate.
  7. Turn up the heat and add the beef and pork into the same pot. Break apart all chunks to uniformed, mince-sized bits. I like my chili with a bit of a roasted taste so I like to leave the meat to brown in the pot without stirring too often. However, if you are a bit worried about possibly burning the meat, stir it often.
  8. While the meat is still browning, around the halfway mark, tip the  bell peppers into the pot.
  9. When the meat is no longer pinkish, add the onions back into the pot. At this time, every time you add something into the pot, you need to stir it to ensure even mixture.
  10. Add diced fresh tomatoes. (optional)
  11. Add canned diced tomatoes.
  12. Add half a can of tomato paste into a little hot water and mix it up well. Then pour it into the pot.
  13. Add 3 tablespoons of chili powder / paprika. (Adjust to own taste)
  14. Stir the mixture well and bring it to a boil.
  15. Once the chili is boiling, turn the heat down to medium-low. Leave the pot uncovered.
  16. Let it simmer for ~3 hours, stirring occasionally.
  17. Every 30 – 45 mins, try the chili for taste. Only start adjusting for taste in the last hour.
  18. At the last 45 mins, drain the kidney beans and add it to the pot. Mix well.
  19. 30 – 45 mins after adding the kidney beans, turn off the heat and cover pot.

For serving options, I sometimes eat it plain with some tabasco sauce, or with white rice. It goes really well at parties too, just scoop it up with nachos / tortilla chips. Eat it with sour cream (or greek yogurt for the health conscious) and shredded cheddar cheese. Or you can add it on fries, tacos, pita bread…… The possibilities of chili is endless, which is why I love it!

You can just portion it out in ziploc bags or containers and freeze them. It can last a few days and all you need to do is to warm it up! It actually tastes better the next day!

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Pig’s Trotters in Black Vinegar | 豬腳姜醋

Typically a confinement dish, Pig’s Trotters in Sweet Vinegar has recently becoming a dish that even folks who are not currently in their confinement period love to eat. Despite the name, the dish is cooked with the entire leg, and not just the feet. The biggest benefit of this dish is that it repels ‘wind’ in the body, an ailment that happens after women give birth, hence a popular confinement dish. It also helps to warm up the body and provide lots of nourishment from the ginger, vinegar and pig’s trotters.

I’m not any big chef, nor a MasterChef wannabe, but just thought of recording how I made these dishes, to serve to remind myself if I decide to make them again. Hopefully this will help someone out there who wants to try out this dish as well. Like almost all Cantonese dishes, it is not difficult, but tedious and with many small steps. Some of these steps could be removed and the procedure sped up, but it will compromise the taste of the dish.

The key in this dish is most definitely the vinegar, and I only use Chan Kong Thye’s sweet black vinegar. It’s been the one that my grandmother trusts and uses for the past 3 decades, and I’ve also known many other people who cook this dish and also uses the same brand. There are 2 types of black vinegar, the one with yellow label and pink label. They are almost the same, but the pink label is of a higher quality. The price was not much different (less than S$1) so I bought the higher quality bottle.

 

Ingredients:

  • Sweet Black Vinegar x 2 large bottles
  • Pig’s Trotters x 2 chopped into large pieces
  • Old Ginger x 3 large pieces
  • Brown Sugar x ~500g (or as required)
  • Water x ½ bottle
  • Hard-boiled Eggs
  • Sesame Oil

 

Cooking Method:

  1. Remove the skin of the ginger and chop it up to large pieces. Use the hilt of your knife and hit the ginger so it breaks open.
  2. Heat 2 tablespoons of sesame oil. Ensure that the oil does not smoke.
  3. Stir fry the ginger constantly for at least 5 mins on high heat, until the fragrance of the ginger is released
  4. Pour both bottles of vinegar into a separate pot. My grandmother uses a claypot to cook this dish, but glass or ceramic pot will do just fine as well. Try not to use a metal pot, as the vinegar is acidic and prolonged cooking will damage the pot.
  5. Add in the sugar & water. I do not normally add sugar as we like it strong, but sugar is a good ingredient to reduce the acidity of the vinegar.
  6. Transfer the ginger into the vinegar, taking care not to pour in all the remaining oil.
  7. Bring the vinegar to a boil, then turn to low heat to simmer for 1 hour. You can cook the pig’s trotters immediately, or leave it overnight to cook another day. Keep the pot well covered.
  8. (While vinegar is boiling) Wash the pig’s trotters and remove as much of the visible fat as possible. This will reduce the fat that is present in the dish, making it less unhealthy.
  9. Blanch pig’s trotters in boiling water for 20 mins. This is somewhat of a cleansing method, removing all blood and any dirty things inside the bones. Boiling the trotters for 20 mins will also cook the trotter. In this way, when the trotters are simmering in the vinegar, the vinegar immediately gets to work breaking down the muscles in the meat, making it nice and tender.
  10. Clean the trotters again in tap water. Rinse well and pat dry.
  11. Add the trotters to the vinegar and continue to simmer for another 90 mins.
  12. Turn the heat off and let it cool.
  13. Once cooled, add in the hard boiled eggs.
  14. Leave it overnight. Reheat and serve with rice.

 

One key thing to note is, that you should NOT eat this as soon as it’s cooked. This dish is best left overnight. There is no need to refrigerate the dish as the acidity of the vinegar is a natural bacteria killer! Properly covered and with no contamination, it can store for a few days. Just reheat it over and over again. The more you reheat, the better the dish! The next good thing about making this dish is that if you find that you have finished all the meat, just use the same pot of soup and add more meat! As long as you ensure there is no contamination to the pot, it can last you as long as you want it to. To avoid contamination, the ladle that you use to serve this dish should be clean and dry. At any one time, only use one ladle to serve. Do not add water. Ensure there is no ‘double dipping’ going on. Any cutlery used to scoop food into your mouth should not be reaching into the main pot!

About the hard-boiled eggs, as eggs harden the more they are cooked, it is always advisable to cook what you intend to consume. This will take a bit of pre-planning as the eggs need some time for the soup to penetrate every part of the egg. What I do is that I’ll throw in the hard-boiled eggs a few hours before I intend to eat this dish, so when I actually get to the time I’m going to reheat the dish, the eggs are pretty much ready. What that means, is that if I’m intending to have this dish for lunch, I’ll make hard boiled eggs in the morning and throw it into the pot of vinegar to be soaked for the entire morning. This way the eggs are being braised with the soup, yet still maintain the texture and softness.

If anyone who reads this post ever tries with the recipe, let me know how it goes for you!

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