Oven Grilled “Sotong” (Squid)

oven grilled "sotong" (squid)

oven grilled “sotong” (squid)

I always enjoyed ika sugatayaki (grilled whole squid) at Japanese Izakaya  – 居酒屋 (though since I do not drink much I seldom visit Izakaya c/w very many other styles of Japanese food which I love).

I was trying to find out how to do this as squid has lots of water & you end up steaming the squid instead of grilling. One way I can see is cutting the whole squid in 1/2 rings, then the water will be drained & the oven will grill & NOT just boil or bake the squid. I found a very nice Izakaya picture here.

I also found a simple way of cutting the 1/2 rings. It is described here in Jamie Oliver’s recipe. You insert a knife flat into a large (250g) squid, then using another knife you cut the squid as if you are cutting it into rings. the knife stop at the surface flat of the inserted knife so you get your 1/2 rings. This way it is also easy to wash & remove the insides of the squid.

oven grilled "sotong" (squid)

oven grilled “sotong” (squid)

I then line a baking tray with aluminium foil, place the dry squid & head (air-dry in fridge OR with kitchen towels) on it, sprinkle ground sea salt & coarse black pepper, & drizzle lime juice, olive oil & 1 teaspoon of light soy sauce. I place the baking tray in a preheated 210degC oven turned to the grill function for 10minutes, remove the squid and spooned out the sauce to a small bowl. I turn the squid over and return to the oven for another 8 minutes. Then I transfer to a serving board, and serve with the sauce as dip (as in the picture above).

c.h.e.f andy

Spicy Vongole Fettucine with White Wine

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spicy vongole fettucine with white wine

I bought “la la” (littleneck clams – see here for interesting write-up about littleneck, topneck clams etc) from Sheng Shiong today. I have never cooked vongole before but since I do pretty ok in the pasta department, I thought I give it a go. Here comes my first vongole! 🙂

There’s only my eldest daughter Su Min at home for dinner, so I cooked just enough vongole fettucine for 2 of us, PLUS trying out a grilled sotong (squid) recipe.

My preferred pasta is spaghetti but since there is an opened yet unfinished packet of fettucine, I used that instead.  I did the usual browning of peeled garlic cloves in olive oil over low fire and soaked in the aroma. I then emptied the olive oil & browned garlic into a bowl. I added some salt & oil to water in a sauce pan and bring it to boil and put a bunch of (say 200g) fettucine in the boiling water for 11 minutes according to the timing instructions. I tested the texture to make sure it is just al dente & transferred the fettucine to a colander & set aside. In the pan still greased with olive oil I added 15g butter & threw in cut chilli padi & cut spring onions (green onions). I transferred the bowl of olive oil with browned garlic back into the pan. I then turned the fire high & put in the clams. Next I added 1.5 cups of white wine & 1 teaspoon sugar, cover the pan & let it reduced for few minutes. The clams opened up when cooked. I added the fettucine, turned off the fire, tossed and added sea salt to taste.

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spicy vongole fettucine with white wine

The shellfish broth, sweetness of the white wine, fragrance of garlic & olive oil, & the spicy kick from the chilli padi all combined very nicely to make this a very tasty dish.

c.h.e.f andy

Ingredients:

  • 200g fettucine (or liguine or spaghetti)
  • 700g littleneck clams
  • 15g butter
  • 3 stalks spring onions chopped
  • 1-2 chilli padi
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 whole bulb of peeled garlic cloves
  • 1.5 cups white wine
  • 1 tsp sugar OR to taste
  • sea salt to taste

Directions:

  • Prepare the pasta – add salt & oil to water in a saucepan & bring to boil. add fettucine and boil according to timing instructions. test to make sure the pasta is just al dente & empty into colander & set aside.
  • Cook the vongole pasta – brown whole bulb of peeled garlic cloves in olive oil in a pan over low heat. empty oil & garlic into a bowl. add butter to the pan & throw in cut spring onions & cut chilli padi. add the clams, turn up the fire, add the white wine & sugar, cover while the clams cook. The clams will open up when cooked. add in the fettucine, turn off the fire, toss & add sea salt to taste. serve.

Skin-on Pan-roasted Brined Duck Breast

pan-roasted brined duck breast with wingstick

pan-roasted brined duck breast with wingstick

My success in brining chicken & the pan-roasted brined chicken breast recipe did much to encourage me. 🙂 Also, one friend. in particular, has been egging me to make duck a l’orange but I was NOT excited over a nice orange sauce but not-so-great duck breast as the main fare!

So I thought I should at least try brining duck since it works so well on chicken. And my, my, did it work well! My daughter Su Lin just loves the duck breast. It is moist, tender and tasty from the brining and the slow cooking.

skin-on pan-roasted brined duck breast

skin-on pan-roasted brined duck breast

First, I brine the duck breast & drumstick in 1 litre water with 3 tablespoon salt, 2 tablespoon sugar and 5 limes (squeezed) for 24 hrs. I then wash thoroughly in slow running water, and place them on a rack & air-dry for 24hrs in the fridge (you can just use a kitchen tower to dry them instead). Before cooking, I take the duck out of the fridge for at east 1/2hr to get it to room temperature. I then place them on a cold non-stick pan & turn on the fire to low, and leave w/o turning for 10 minutes. This will render out the fat & make the skin crispy (as in the 2 pictures above). 🙂 I then turn over the duck, spoon out the fat, and then turn off the fire.

skin-on pan-roasted brined duck drumstick

skin-on pan-roasted brined duck drumstick

I was experimenting with 2 different cooking methods so I kept the duck breast in the oven-proof pan & removed the duck drumstick & put it is a separate baking dish.

  1. For the duck drumstick, I tried the pan-roasted brined chicken recipe & place the duck skin-down on the baking dish and place it in the oven preheated to 250degC for 10minutes. I then remove it from the baking dish, let it rest on a serving board, and then carve & serve. It was very good BUT the slow-cooked duck breast which came after was even better!
  2. For the duck breast, I tried Foodwishes.com chef John’s prime rib method (on the duck instead of prime rib). estimating my duck drumstick to be <400g, I did 4minutes on 250degC, left the duck in the oven w/o opening the oven door, and set the timer to 45minutes. there was no need to rest the duck as it had already been rested for 45minutes, and voila! this was easily 1 of the best duck breast I had, even when c/w good restaurants.

c.h.e.f andy

Ingredients:

  • 2xduck breasts with wingstick (I use a 1.9kg to 2.1kg duck from Shop n Save or Giant Hyspermarket)
  • 1 litre water
  • 5% salt (about 50g)
  • 3% sugar (about 30g)
  • 5 limes (or about 30ml bottled lime juice)

Directions:

  1. Preparing the duck breasts with wingstick – use kitchen scissors to cut chicken in 1/2, then cut around the drumstick into 1/4 (breast with wingstick & drumstick quarters) – use a heavy knife or chopper if required,  then cut away & remove the bones under the breast completely, then cut away the fat, wash & clean.
  2. Brining – add 1 litre water in a large plastic container, mix in about 3 heap tablespoon salt & 2 heap tablespoon sugar & stir to dissolve, then pour in 30ml bottled lime juice or squeeze juice from about 5 limes. Put 2x cleaned duck breasts with wingstick into the container and place container in fridge for 24hours. Remove & wash duck breasts thoroughly in slow running water & place on a rack to air-dry in fridge for 24hrs (can also skip this step & dry with kitchen towels)
  3. Cooking – Remove duck breasts from fridge & leave it at room temperature for at least 1/2hr. Place the duck breasts skin-down in a COLD oven-proof non-stick pan. turn the fire on and to low & fry for 10minutes to render out the fat and get a crispy skin. The oil will sputter a bit, turn to low heat after 1 minute. Preheat oven to 250degC. Place oven-proof pan in oven & let the duck cook for 4minutes. Leave the duck in the oven w/o opening the oven door and set the timer to 45minutes and let the duck slow-cook in the residual heat. Remove duck from oven & serve.

Duck in Orange Sauce

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2 of my friends who joined me a few times for dinner do not take beef, so I was seeking couple stand-in dishes like pan seared hokkaido scallops (which I didn’t do well previously because I had then no notion yet of the simple logic of a very hot non-stick pan & bone dry scallops), and GR (Gordon Ramsay) crispy salmon which I do rather well. And so I googled and found this videojug’s Duck in Orange Sauce recipe.

This recipe is good for making the orange sauce. For better instructions on panfrying the duck, I prefer Gordon Ramsay’s cold pan method to render out the fat & produce a crispy skin.  The recipe worked well enough for my first try as you can see in the above picture. However I do not find the breast tender enough and thought that slow braising in the orange sauce or in the oven may work better.

Well, slow braising didn’t work well enough, and the slow cooking in the oven also did not work too well until I apply/vary the pan-roasted chicken method on brined duck drumstick, and also adapted/tested out Foodwishes.com chef John’s prime rib method on the brined duck breast. Both these latter 2 methods produced very nice duck drumstick & duck breast, with the prime rib method on brined duck breast producing a very tender, moist & tasty duck breast which can be serve as a standalone tapas OR serve as a main course drizzled with the orange sauce. see here.

c.h.e.f andy

Ingredients:

  • 2 duck breasts (the duck size I use is a smallish 1.9kg to 2.1kg for a whole duck)
  • sea salt & coarse black pepper
  • 2 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 150ml fresh orange juice
  • 1 cup wine
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • zest from 1 orange
  • 2 tbsp sugar

Directions;

  1. combine the orange juice, zest, wine & chicken stock in a saucepan. heat & reduce and set aside.
  2. lightly season the duck breast with sea salt & coarse black pepper (now I use the brined duck method which have the duck breasts brined in 1 litre water with 5% salt & 3% sugar for 24hrs, so I do not season before putting to the pan).
  3. place the duck breasts in a cold pan & turn on the fire & to low. allow the fat to be slowly rendered out and leave for 10mins w/o turning to get a crispy skin(watch Gordon Ramsay’s video on how to do this). turn over the duck, spoon out the duck fat and add 2 tablespoon of soy sauce. turn off the fire.
  4. using Foodwishes.com chef John’s prime rib method, I preheat oven to 250degC, then turn over the duck back to skin-down on the oven-proof pan & place it in the oven for 4minutes! leave the duck breast in the oven w/o opening the oven door & turn the timer to 45mins to let the residual heat can slow cook the duck. After 45 minutes remove the duck from the oven, rest & serve standalone as a tapas OR as a main course drizzled with orange sauce. see here.

Nonya Curry Chicken

nonya curry chicken

nonya curry chicken

I just love the nasi padang dishes from Nasi Padang River Valley located at Zion Road. There was a time we even used to lug too many takeaway items for small home gatherings, asked for lots of curry sauce and reused later by adding our own chicken from the supermarket. That was a time when calories & cholesterol did not enter the calculations.

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nonya curry chicken

Anyway I didn’t think I could cook curries or had any interest to, until I came across this nonya curry chicken recipe & decided to just give it a try – WTH right?

Blessed with beginner’s luck, I got it right the first time, and was able to repeat with no difficulty the second try. I still don’t cook this often, but I have done it 2 more times for the 23pax buffet on 26nov2012 & just before that a 10pax sit-down dinner on 5nov2012, and all were great & I just love the lemak & herb taste. I would be quite happy to cook this again when I need. 🙂

First I stir-fry star anise, cinnamon stick & cloves over low heat. I then add in the spice paste (ground garlic, shallots, chilli padi, coriander seeds, cumin, fennel) and stir-fry till fragrant. then in goes the curry leaves and cut chicken pieces and fry them really well. I then add water, cover with lid, and braise over low heat for 40minutes OR until chicken is cooked. After 10mins, I use a pair of tongs to pick out the chicken breasts & place them on top of the thighs, wings, drumsticks and pieces with bones so they won’t be overcooked and remain tender & juicy. 🙂 Finally I add about 100ml coconut for the lemak taste I like & a teaspoon of tumeric to give it the nice golden yellow colour. how pretty! 🙂

nonya curry chicken

nonya curry chicken

nonya curry chicken

nonya curry chicken

I then add sea salt and sugar to taste and serve.

c.h.e.f andy

Ingredients:

  • 1 whole chicken (I use 1.4kg from Giant hypermarket OR Sheng Shiong) – cut off head, neck, feet & cut into 2in pieces
  • 100ml – 150ml thick coconut milk or to taste
  • 2 star anise
  • 1 clove
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 4 tbsp oil
  • 1 tbsp sea salt
  • 1 tbsp sugar

for spice paste (ground – in my case I mince & pound them):

  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 10 shallots
  • 2 chilli padi
  • 10g coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp fennel
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp tumeric powder

Directions:

  1. Prepare the chicken – with a pair of kitchen scissors, cut off the head and feet. cut the body in 1/2 & the cut out the drumstick, thighs & wings along the joints. chopped the breasts & remaining portions into 2 in pieces.
  2. Cook the chicken curry – stir-fry star anise, cinnamon stick & cloves over low heat. add in the spice paste and stir-fry till fragrant. add the curry leaves and cut chicken pieces and fry them really well. add water, cover with lid, and braise over low heat for 40minutes OR until chicken is cooked.
  3. after 10mins, use a pair of tongs to pick out the chicken breasts & rest them above the curry liquid on pieces with bones etc so they won’t be overcooked and remain tender & juicy. add about 100ml coconut for the lemak taste & a teaspoon tumeric powder for the colour. add salt & sugar to taste. serve.

 

Teochew Braised Duck

 

teochew braised duck

teochew braised duck

teochew briased duck

teochew briased duck

Now for some Asian cuisine.

Being Teochew (a dialect group from South China at the eastern side of Guangdong province), I am of course a fan of Teochew braised goose (潮州鲁鹅). Unlike Hong Kong, we don’t get much of goose in Singapore, so we settle for the second best aka braised duck. Like the popular Hainanese chicken rice, though perhaps a distant second, braised duck rice is available in hawker centre & food courts all over Singapore & quite cheaply, so there is not that much motivation really (according to my “worthwhile to do or not” philosophy) to attempt Hainanese chicken rice or teochew braised duck unless I can do this easily and produce something of equal or better standard than most I can get easily & cheaply outside.

Well, I have NOT found it yet for chicken rice, BUT I might just have got it for my braised duck!

Tai Wah chicken marinate (大华鲁鸡汁)

Tai Wah chicken marinate (大华鲁鸡汁)

This really a very simple recipe, as all I am doing is like using Tai Wah chicken marinate (大华鲁鸡汁) I bought for S$2.60 at Giant hypermarket, add an entire bulb of peeled garlic cloves (for 1/2 a duck – you can of course use the whole duck if you like, for me I only do 1/duck as my family cannot finish 1 duck & my group dinners include many other dishes so I also do not want to cook 1 whole duck which I did only on the occasion of the 22pax home buffet on 5.5.2013 and 27pax 11-course home buffet on 7.11.2013), cinnamon sticks, star anise and bay leaves, and braise for 1 hour. voila!

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Teochew braised duck

teochew braised duck

teochew braised duck

Not much of a recipe really, but my cooking philosophy is always driven by taste (& of course texture & colour, presentation – in Chinese we say 色香味OR colour, fragrance & taste) – so I am no stickler to whether to cook something with herbs from scratch like I do for nonya curry chicken OR to use a premix as I do often for my favourite, favourite dish – bakuteh (肉骨茶). So long as my diners and I like it, and it is easy to make & repeatable, I am all for it irrespective whether it is done from scratch or with premix! 🙂

One thing I am clearly NOT good at is deboning the duck, as seen in the picture of the largely mutilated carcase below. 🙂

teochew braised duck deboned

teochew braised duck deboned

c.h.e.f andy

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 duck (about 1.9kg to 2.1kg for whole duck size)
  • 1 cup Tai Wah braised chicken marinate
  • 1.5 – 2 tbsp of sugar
  • 1 whole bulb of peeled garlic cloves
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 star anise
  • 1 bay leaf

Directions:

  1. Prepare the duck –  use kitchen scissors to cut off the neck & the feet. cut through the body in 1/2. use a heavy knife or chopper if required. wash, clean & dry with kitchen towels.
  2. Cooking the duck – rub the 1/2 duck with sugar all over the skin side & the inside. In a large wok, stir fry the peeled garlic cloves to brown over low/medium heat, and add star anise, cinnamon sticks & continue to stir-fry until you can feel the aroma. turn to medium & place the duck skin down and using your hands, push the skin onto the wok surface to brown a little for 5 minutes. turn heat to high & add 1 cup of Tai Wah braising sauce and 3 cups of water enough to cover 80% of the 1/2 duck. bring to boil, cover with glass lid & lower fire to minimum and braise for 1 hr. The braising liquid should continue frothing a little & nearly cover the 1/2duck. use a ladle & base the duck with the braising liquid every 15minutes. remove duck from wok & place on a cutting board to rest. empty the sauce (through a strainer if required) into a bowl. lift off the thick layers of oil. The sauce can of course be used to cook eggs & beancurd.
  3. Serving the duck – I debone the duck & place in a serving dish w/o basing the sauce over. I keep the sauce in a bowl next to the serving dish so the dinners can use the sauce as dip if they prefer.