Saturday, 23 February 2013

Recipe: Cheat's Peking Duck, Prawn Wontons, Sticky & Spicy Chicken Wings

I totally missed Chinese New Year, only realising on the day and not being able to face the Asian supermarket which would invariably have been full of manic people, on a desperate hunt for oyster sauce or what have you. I ate a pie instead.

This Sunday however I was fully prepared to cook up some sort of pan-asian probably not very traditional Chinese feast. I never really had much Chinese food as a child or even as a teenager, it not being a particular favourite of my parents and take aways being a very, very infrequent occurrence so making up sharing platters of all this sticky, spicy flavoursome food seems very fitting to a celebration in my mind. 

After spending the weekend boozing, I was craving all the best and filthiest dishes from a Chinese takeaway, the greasy, smeary sauce covered snacks, side dishes and crispy dippy deep fried bits. After looking through one of the cook books I turn to regularly Bill's Everyday Asian, which is a really useful (and pretty) collection of recipes that are easy enough to throw together given you've got a couple of asian staples in your cupboards, and having a look what was in the freezer (duck legs, prawns) the menu was prawn and ginger wontons, sticky & spicy chicken wings, and a cobbled together cheat's peking duck and pancakes. 

Folding up wontons is a bit like origami but edible, so therefore much better. They look super impressive, and very pretty when all lined up ready to fry but after watching an information YouTube tutorial they were no trouble, which is a good job because the other half certainly didn't seem keen to lend a hand. Aside from a few pleats and folds, the rest of the meal wasn't a great deal of work, just some things in the oven and the occasional sauce here and there, then suddenly a whole lot more food than I'd imagined. 

After nailing 24 wontons, most of the chicken wings got left for when I got in ravenous the next day. Sadly, they were far too messy to eat at work. 

Prawn, Ginger and Coriander Wontons
Adapted from Bill's Everyday Asian
Makes around 24

1 packet of wonton wrappers
150g raw prawns
2cm ginger
3 spring onions
large handful of coriander
2 pak choi leaves
1 tbsp oyster sauce

1. Finely chop the prawns, coriander, ginger, spring onions and pak choi and combine with the oyster sauce.

2. Take a wonton wrapper and place on a flat surface, add a small amount (less than a teaspoon full) of the prawn mixture to the centre of the wrapper. Wet the edges and fold over into a triangle, seal well, then fold the bottom side of the triangle over, and bring the edges together in front. This video explains it a lot better.

3. Shallow fry the wonton parcels in a couple of cm of light oil for around 4 minutes or until they are crispy and golden. You can also steam or boil them if you've feeling healthier.

Soy & Sesame dipping sauce

4 tbsp soy sauce
4 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tsp sesame oil
1 red chilli, finely sliced
1 spring onion, finely sliced

1. Add the ingredients to a dish and serve with the prawn wontons.

(Very) Sticky & Spicy Chicken Wings

1kg chicken wings

4 tbsp light soy sauce
4 tbsp mirin
2 tbsp rice vinegar
2 birds eye chillies
1 clove garlic
100g sugar

1. Heat the oven to around 180-200ºc, place the chicken wings on trays and lightly coat with salt. Cook for around 35 minutes until they start to brown.

2. In a frying pan, heat a small amount of oil and add the finely diced garlic and chilli. Fry until golden, then add the remaining ingredients and stir until the sugar has disolved and the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.

3. After 35-40 minutes take out the chicken wings and coat well with 3/4 of the marinade and return to the oven for 10 minutes.

4. Take the chicken wings out and baste with the remaining marinade and cook for a further 5 minutes so they are really sticky.

(Don't leave the baking trays/spoons for a few days until you clean them because the sugary marinade will be rock hard and you'll be throwing them in the bin)

Cheat's Peking Duck

Cheat's Peking Duck

2 Duck legs
2 star anise
2 tsp chinese five spice
1 cm ginger, finely diced

1. Preheat your oven to 180ºc, make sure the skin of the duck legs is completely dry and rub the duck legs all over with five spice, ginger, plenty of salt and push a star anise under the skin.

2. Put in the oven and leave for around 45 minutes. Turn the oven up to 220ºc and cook for a further 15 minutes to make sure the skin is properly crispy.

3. Shred the meat off the bones, and serve with chinese pancakes, hosin sauce, sliced cucumber and spring onions.

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Recipe: Spicy Beans n Eggs

Following on from my meatless month there is one recipe I've enjoyed making again and again, so simple it is a spicy little take on the British classic of baked beans and eggs. I wouldn't say that fried eggs are my favourite way to cook them, I much prefer a good poached or boiled egg (the perfect boiled egg is 4 minutes in boiling water *with the lid on the pan* then after the tops been taken off a pinch of salt, black pepper and a tiny dash of truffle oil).

But fried eggs are the best match for these fiery beans, giving it a needed greasiness and there are few things better than cutting into a soft, yielding yolk. This is fast becoming one of my go to meals, especially as I'm increasingly cooking for one and there's only so much beans on toast I should eat.

Spicy Beans n Eggs 

Serves 1, with left over beans (great for lunch the next day)

1 can kidney beans
1 can black eye beans
1 onion
1 clove of garlic
1/2 red pepper
couple of splashes of tabasco
2 tsp chilli powder
pinch of chilli flakes
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
pinch of oregano
pinch of instant coffee
squirt of tomato ketchup
1/2 can of chopped tomatoes
pinch of smoked sea salt
black pepper
2 free range eggs

1. Fry off the onion, pepper and chilli flakes until glossy, add the garlic and continue to fry for 2 minutes.
2. Add the various spices and continue to fry until they begin to release their flavour.
3. Add the beans, chopped tomatoes, oregano, coffee, salt, pepper, ketchup and tabasco and a splash of water and leave to bubble away on a low heat for at least half an hour and the sauce has thickened.
4. Fry the eggs and plate on top of the beans.

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Put A Egg On It Magazine

I think Put A Egg On It might be one of my new favourite magazines. The other half gets all sorts of underground punk and black metal fanzines produced by people in their bedrooms all over the world, and Put A Egg On It reminds me of them, except less angry.

I've also been putting eggs on lots of things recently, beans, tomatoes, spinach, so I'm taking it at as a sign.

I like most of the things I appreciate in life, Put A Egg On It is fun, and funny. Made out of New York, it has lovely little stories, and tales of food from half forgotten memories and recipes that tell me something about a world I'm yet to experience from a culture I'll hopefully one day know well. It represents a life full of food and experiences I really want one day soon but that's a story for another day.

The latest issue of Put A Egg On It, #6, features a picture diary of one man's pursuit to record all the cans of sardines that he eats, messy kitchens the world over, a guy called Roy's reminiscence of Porkie's pork rinds (I imagine similar to our own scampi fries, a personal favourite of mine) and a compendium of incredible they-don't-make-them-like-that-over-here epic sandwiches.

Sandwiches, although invented by that old English earl, are just not given the respect they deserve in the UK. A sandwich is not a vessel for flaccid ham and sweaty cheese, a sandwich should not be resigned to cardboard packets in supermarket fridges, it should be celebrated in all it's diverse, carefully compiled wonder. The sandwich is the mixtape of the food world, you need a solid start and end but what you put in between tells each man's own story.

Although we have to draw boundaries somewhere and whoever created lasagna sandwiches is a twisted freak.

I'm particularly keen to try the Milanesa in Put A Egg On It, a sandwich involving steak, panko breadcrumbs and chipotle aioli and unlike my other favourite American food magazine Lucky Peach I can actually source ingredients for most of these recipes. There's cute drawings and tips dotted about full of puns. And I love a good pun, I am so terrible at making them myself it's a skill in other people I greatly admire. That and people who know actually understand how the internet works.

I'm not sure where you can pick up a copy over here, but like everything you can order Put A Egg On It online from their website.

(Also whilst googling their website I found a blog which hasn't been updated in years but has photos of someone putting eggs on all their food. Isn't the internet great?)

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Eggs, Beans and Aubergines: A Meatless Month

January was a meatless month for me.

Well, not quite. I ate fish and had meat in restaurants. But cooking at home was a meatless month. This was partly for health reasons, partly economic but mostly because I fancied trying something different. It wasn't a big hassle, or even a big deal, it felt just as natural and was good to think creatively about what I was eating. I started writing a long article about meat and the sustainability of its production and my interest in the possibilities that artificial meat provide, but for now that's something I need to do more research into, and I don't want to scare off all my blog traffic just yet.

Here's a snapshot of the sorts of things I've been eating over the last month, and plan to carry on eating very regularly. Meat will always be my number one love, but it's good to remember there's a lot more out there to enjoy. I love steak, but I'm also really scared of gout.

Beans and eggs, albeit spicy mexican beans in a huevos rancheros style. I also made plenty of shakshuka, a traditional Turkish dish with eggs baked into a rich tomato sauce but unfortunately don't have any pictures. 

These aubergines are one of my favourite things to make recently and come from a recipe in Jerusalem, the cook book I've turned to again and again after being sent it for review a couple of months ago. These aubergines are cut in half and roasted, then scored and topped with green chillies, lemon juice, crumbed feta and spicy crispy onions. We served with a fattoush and homemade hummus. 

Thai green curry is the best of both worlds; light and fresh but wonderfully warming and full of comfort. I'll have to post the recipe for this paste (if I can remember it) as it was the best we've made for a while. I can remember years ago, before the other half and I were together he made us this absolutely incredible thai green curry out of a bomb site of a kitchen, so it's a dish with fond memories. 

Baked eggs, what's taken me so long to find you? Another Ottolenghi winner this, with a chilli butter and garlic yoghurt. I served it with a salad thrown together of what I had in the fridge - roasted fennel, orange pepper and cherry tomatoes, crunchy green beans, lemon juice and mozzarella. 

And this colourful little number was one of my favourite things i've made recently. Roasted butternut squash (anything with butternut squash has to be good because they are such unbelievable hard work), red peppers and onions coated in ground coriander, salt and pepper with a tahini and lemon juice dressing and toasted pine nuts. 

So I ate less meat, spent less money and didn't just live on pasta and sauce and replace all meat with cheese for a month. Please share any flavourful, meat free recipes, I'm going to get back to my 3000 word meat essay...