MOTHER'S DAY | FERMENTED BEAN PASTE GINGER CHICKEN (TAUCHO, GINGER CHICKEN)

Mother's Day is just a few days away and the inevitable question pops up every year.

"What should I do for my mum this year?"

Before going wild with ideas or witnessing a dip in my bank account, I curled up on the same spot of my couch in my usual oversized tee and recalled my mum's love language the night before. 

Out of all the love languages, the most dominant language for her is Acts of Service. Yes, that's it! "Actions speak louder than words" means a lot to her, especially for a homemaker who is swamped by daily responsibilities as a caregiver to my poh poh (granny) whilst running errands to keep the home functioning smoothly no matter rain or shine. This tough lady needs a break for a day. Hence, doing something like taking over the her role to cook a meal for the family will simply express my appreciation and love to her on Mother's Day. 

I grew up assisting her in our narrow, long kitchen that can accommodate only three people in between the stove and kitchen counter. Four is definitely a crowd. Many times, the unfortunate fourth member would be chased out for being a hindrance, hahaha. Mummy Chow and I would stand back to back, where I learnt the different techniques of handling poultry and vegetables, and passed her the specific ingredients she asked for while she was cooking behind me. After years of cooking sessions, I am now independent to prepare a decent meal and master the flavours in some of her signature dishes! Hoorayyyyy~~~

As positive as I am feeling today, I wanted to surprise and prove to Mummy Chow that her girl is competent to cook and gain her shifu's acknowledgement. Earlier, I've prepared her favourite fermented bean (tau cho) paste ginger chicken. She once told me that steaming is one of the recognised cooking methods to taste the tenderness and juiciness of this white meat. Shhh....you're in luck today! In my experience as a young, serious and curious home cook, 17 minutes is the golden figure to guarantee the succulence of the steam chicken. Of course, watching over the heat is another point to note (which I'll be sharing below).

What makes this fermented bean paste ginger chicken a highly requested dish in the Chow's family dinner menu is the sauce. The sauce oozes effortlessly from the paste made up from this particular fermented bean paste (鲜枣豆酱王), hand pounded old ginger, sesame oil and oyster sauce. Despite a wee bit oily, my goodness, it goes addictively well with cooked rice and mee sua. Therefore, please cook another half a cup of rice on top of your usual consumption:D

Another key to note is the choice of ginger. Old ginger has a deep yellow appearance with a sharper, and more woody taste which is suitable for a rich, flavourful and spicy sauce. On the other hand, young ginger carries a lighter yellow tone, with a tinge of sharpness in taste, preferably for brewing tea, or making pickled ginger in my opinion. I've experimented both types of ginger for this dish, the taste of young ginger was weaken by the fermented bean paste, losing its presence and intended purpose for it. But the pungent old counterpart stood strong in its taste and marries the other strongly flavoured ingredients.

So if everyone is a fan of ginger, go for the former!

Lastly, I am elated to announce my first collaboration with Sadia for this recipe. Watch this space for more recipes in the upcoming months! 

Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 whole chicken 
  • 5 Chinese dried mushrooms 
  • 1 tbsp goji berries
  • 100g old ginger 
  • 1 tbsp fermented bean paste (tau cho)
  • 1 tbsp shaoxing wine
  • 3 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp oyster sauce
  • 3 tbsp salt
  • 1 cup cooked brown rice
  • ½ spring onion (cut into thin strips), optional

Preparation for the chicken

  • It is best to plan your meal a day ahead! Place the frozen chicken in a container at the bottom shelf of the refrigerator, away from other foods to avoid cross contamination. 
  • The container collects the thawed liquid which has to be poured away before cooking. Thawing the chicken in room temperature can allow bacteria to grow. 
  • Fill a small pot with 3 cups of water and let it boil. Meanwhile, chop the chicken into individual parts with a cleaver. Cut off excess fat at the lower parts of the chicken. 
  • Rub all the chicken parts with salt thoroughly and add them into the boiling water for 2 minutes. This is to wash away blood spots of the chicken. Scoop chicken parts in a bowl. 

Preparation for other ingredients

  • Wash the goji berries 
  • Soak the dried mushrooms in a bowl of water for 5-10 minutes. Pour away water, and slice mushrooms into thin strips.
  • Peel the skin of the old ginger and chop it into small chunks. Smash ginger chucks with the pestle till the they are flatten and juice surfaces. Caution: Keep your eyes away from the mortar while pounding as the ginger juice may splash and hurt your eyes. 

Directions

  • Pour 2 tbsp sesame oil over chicken parts and toss them till they are evenly coated. Arrange them neatly on to a steaming plate.
  • Mix pounded ginger, fermented bean paste, shaoxing wine, oyster sauce and the remaining sesame oil together. Spread the paste over the chicken parts.
  • Add mushroom strips and goji berries on top of the chicken pieces. Steam them over medium heat for 12 minutes. Then lower the heat slightly for another 5 minutes. Use a fork or a chopstick to check whether the chicken parts are cooked and tender. If it pierces through the meat easily, turn off the heat. 
  • Sprinkle spring onions over the chicken parts. Serve it with rice and drizzle plenty of sauce over to savour!

Enjoy! Xx

-Ally

 

 

HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY | ROASTED PORK BELLY PIZZA

Roasted pork belly (烧肉) is the ultimate temptation mama chow can never resist. When she heard the crunch of the belly skin while chewing onto the tender belly meat for the first time, she was determined to learn the recipe. Within a few days, she figured out the simplest way to roast it using common condiments in every Asian's kitchen. With her cleaver in hand, she chopped the overnight seasoned, sizzling roasted pork belly along with that sexy crack, crack, crack...we knew she succeeded😁

From that day onward, mama chow always served her roasted pork belly during prayers in all smiles, made batches of seasoned pork belly for my grandma, and shared her recipes to her sisters. Having to share what she loves is a total joy to her. So on this Mother's Day, I'm inspired to learn how to roast that sinful pork belly and serve it as a pizza to celebrate this special occasion. Pizzas are the perfect social food that bonds family over the weekends when everyone has a bit more time. A glass of white wine to pair with pizzas will be an ideal setting for everyone to relax at home and pick up where we left off. However, a pizza dough take hours to set right? What I did was to replace pizza dough with wraps! If you are a thin crust fan like me, you're in good hands😉 

Ingredients (serves 6)

  • 12 Mission 6-grain/ original wraps
  • 2kg Pork belly
  • ½ bunch Chinese baby spinach leaves
  • 250g cream cheese
  • 2 onions
  • 1 small zucchini
  • 250g Mozzarella
  • 3 stalks cilantro aka chinese parsley
  • 1 bulb garlic
  • 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • 1½ tablespoons curry powder
  • 1½ tablespoons sesame oil
  • White pepper
  • Tomato paste (for a red base, optional)

Kitchen Equipment

  • 2 chopping board (for meat and vegetables separately)
  • Cleaver (for slicing pork belly)
  • Vegetable knife
  • Small pot
  • Convection oven
  • 3 skewers
  • Pizza cutter
  • 2 pair of plastic gloves
  • Frying pan
  • Tongs

Preparation

Pork belly

  • Fill up half of the small pot with water, turn on medium-high heat and bring to boil. Gently put in pork belly for 2-3 minutes to kill active bacteria.
  • Scoop up pork belly onto a big bowl and wash it with running water. Set aside and let it cool.
  • Chop garlic into chunks.
  • Put on plastic gloves, slice pork belly into half. Rub garlic, oyster sauce, sesame oil, pepper and curry powder all over pork belly. Make sure every inch of pork belly is evenly coated.
  • *Refrigerate overnight in the middle compartment for the pork skin to dry out. This ensures the sexy crackling to be perfect when you roast it next day. Alternatively, refrigerate it for at least 30 minutes.

Toppings

  • Combine cream cheese spinach leaves together, mix well till it forms a nice paste texture. Refrigerate it.                                                                                                                        
  • Cut onions into half and slice them in thin strips. Peel zucchini in thin strips. Dispose its core and skin. 
  • Chop cilantro into chunks.

Cooking

  • Bring out pork belly and let it sit for 20 minutes, to bring it to room temperature before cooking. Meanwhile, preheat oven at convection setting for 10 minutes at 250 degree Celsius.  
  • Pan fry pork belly on a frying pan over medium heat. Use a pair of tongs to hold and sear each side of the pork belly for 1-2 minutes until it turns sizzling light brown.
  • Turn off heat and set them on the baking tray. Use skewers to pierce and join 2 slabs of the pork belly, make sure it stands on the baking tray.  
  • Insert baking tray on the middle rack in the oven and roast it for 20 mins for the first round. After 20 minutes, check the skin and sides of the pork belly, and insert back into the oven on the top rack to roast it for another 10-12 minutes. 
  • Bring out pork belly and let it cool for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, spread 2 tablespoons of the cream cheese and spinach paste over each wrap. Add zucchini and onion. 
  • Put on plastic gloves and dice roast pork belly. Add diced roasted pork belly on the wraps followed by a generous amount of Mozzarella. Put wraps back into the oven on the middle rack for 5-8 minutes.
  • Use a pizza cut and cut wraps into quarters. Sprinkle chopped cilantro and serve.    

The significant role Mozzarella plays in merging endless toppings of different gourmet ingredients together, turns every pizza to be undeniably presentable and salivating. Everyone kept asking for more! Alternatively on lazy days, pick up roasted pork belly on your way home and have this delicious pizza ready in minutes!

So give our local must-have delights a twist, instead of having rice to pair with roasted duck or char siew, indulge them in a wrap. 

Here's one of my favourite Chef Adam Liaw's "Quick and Easy" recipe.

Roast duck, cucumber and onion wraps (serves 4)

Ingredients

  • 1 cucumber, cut into batons
  • 4 large spring onions, finely shredded
  • 4 Mission Original Wraps
  • ½ cup of Hoisin sauce
  • ½ Cantonese roast duck

Cooking

  • Slice the duck into pieces and remove any bones.
  • Heat the Mission Original wraps according to the packet instructions.
  • Spread a little Hoisin sauce over each wrap and arrange duck, cucumber and spring onion on top.
  • Wrap and serve. 

Happy Mother's Day to all supermums, for being independent, strong, fearless, selfless, fighters from then and now. Mama chow, thank you for being you and I'm extremely blessed to be your daughter.💐😘

Lots of love. Xx