Spicy Sticky Chicken For Chilly Nights (a tongue twister recipe)

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It has been unusually cold in Sydney. But I  should really try to keep it all in perspective because only three years ago ‘cold’ for me was about five months long and much of it buried under lots of snow. I think you girls might have had it even colder in your cities  last week than us in Sydney- at least Aussie winters stay green and camellias just keep flowering like crazy!

Dad and I have been so pleased that we’ve seen you both quite regularly this year.  Tonight you are here in transit, about to embark on your study trip to New York. Exciting times ahead.  This morning CBiscuit headed back to her city to her job- you girls coming and going, I do love the revolving door with not too many long weeks between each visit.

Your aunty the Salsa Queen was in town recently for conferences….and dancing. We had the pleasure of sharing a meal with her.  I must put this recipe up as she thinks it will be one that her household will enjoy. I think it will work well for yours too. Easy, spicy and sweet and quick to make.Perhaps you can cook it one night for you new housemates in the East Village. We’ll miss you dearest Izzy, but have the BEST time!

Sticky Chicken

  • 1.5 kg chicken thigh fillets, cut into bite size pieces
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1/2 cup corn flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 large purple onion, sliced
  • 1/2 cup tomato sauce
  • 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons sambal olek
  • 2 teaspoons dry mustard
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 1 heaped tablespoon brown sugar
  1. Place the chicken pieces in a plastic shopping bag and add the corn flour, paprika,  pepper and salt. Tie the bag up and shake well until the chicken is evenly coated.
  2. Mix all the other ingredients together in a bowl except the onion and oil.
  3. Heat the oil in a large fry pan, and brown the chicken pieces in batches. Set aside.
  4. When all the chicken pieces are browned, add a little more oil to the pan, and stir in the onions. Cook until melted and soft.
  5. Add the browned chicken, and the sauce, and stir well.
  6. Cover with a lid, turn the heat down, and simmer for a further twenty minutes, until the sauce is thick and coats the chicken well.
  7. Serve with rice and some stir fried vegetables.

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Spicy Chinese Chicken Quick Fix

How I tore a tendon in my hip I still don’t really know, but boy, it has been a challenge. Coming up to seven months and not much relief was really enough.  When an eminent Professor of orthopaedics at St. Vincent’s hospital here in Sydney suggested PRP injections, I was curious,  He had skirted the dreaded word ‘operation’, so I was gratefully anxious to hear more about this alternative.

Thursday was a funny old day.  I was anxious about the procedure on Friday.  Also, we were waiting to hear news from the West Coast, which meant a huge deal to someone dear. C was in the throes of an important test.  And I had just had more health info which I really could have done without.

I got home late int the evening, anxious and pretty wound up.  I walked into the house, and called. News from the West Coast was excellent-fabulous! Time to cook dinner.

I pulled out the free range chicken tenderloin and knew already what to make with them.  Charmaine Solomon’s cook book was  on the kitchen counter, turned to the ‘China’ section. Comfort food for the end of a stressful day. Dried red chillies, spring onions, lots of ginger and garlic. Mmmm. Here’s my slightly adapted version:

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  • 500g chicken tenderloin
  • 4 tablespoons corn flour or rice flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon five spice powder
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock or water
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons Chinese wine or dry sherry
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons corn flour
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1/2 cup oil for frying
  • 3 to 4 dried red chillies
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 4 fresh spring onions, chopped in 5 cm lengths

Method:

  1. Mix chicken pieces with five spice powder, salt and pepper, and toss in the 4 tablespoons of corn flour. Set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, mix together the stock, vinegar, sherry/wine, sesame oil and soy.
  3. In a hot wok or large saucepan, fry batches of the chicken till golden, and set aide to drain on kitchen paper.
  4. Add a little more oil to the pan once the chicken is all cooked, and toss in the garlic and ginger till it is fragrant and golden.
  5. Add the chillies. the spring onion and the chicken, and stir well.
  6. Add the stock or water, and the 2 teaspoons of corn flour.
  7. Stir well, the sauce will begin to thicken.
  8. Continue stirring, and add the mixture of sauces. Bring to the boil, reduce heat and give it another thorough stir before taking it off the heat.
  9. Serve hot with steamed rice and a green vegetable……. delicious!

I’ve been so lucky to be cared for by MB and Little C, good friends (picking me up from hospital) and bringing care packages of yummy food.

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This week-end, my sore leg is getting better quickly, helped by distractions like another visit from little Lulu dog- how cute can a Kelpie puppy be?

I know if you were here, you’d make me a batch of some of your now famous cookies, Miss B.  Meanwhile, thanks for all your kind messages. xoxo

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Five Minute Chicken

Haha! I’m sorry I HAVE to call it this silly name because we ate it so quickly! Apart from being delicious, I think we were just so tired and hungry, the meal was gone in a flash! You know how we always take a bit of time over dinner: exchanging news, a glass of wine, lots of chit chat. This super fast meal was uncharacteristic, and we all laughed!

So, Isabel: its really is terribly straightforward, you could make this meal with your eyes closed.  I rummaged around in the fridge and came up with golden beets, some shallots, a few carrots and potatoes. Tossed them in oil, and put them in  a hot oven.

While they were roasting away happily, I marinated the chicken for ten minutes, popped them onto a rack, and put them in the oven too.

Fifteen mnitues later, it was all ready. I lay baby rocket on a platter. the roasted veggies went on top with a squeeze of lemon and a splash of olive oil. The vegetables would have roasted for thirty minutes. It was a good accompaniment to the chicken, but of course you could eat the chicken with some rice, or wrapped up in a roti .

Here’s the chicken recipe for you to try:

Five Minute Chicken

  • 6 to 8 pieces skinless and boneless chicken thighs
  • 1 cup low fat yogurt
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
Method:
  1. With the sharp point of a knife, prick the chicken pieces all over.
  2. Mix all the ingredients together well and leave to stand for ten minutes. 
  3. Place chicken pieces on a grilling rack and the rack on a  baking tray lined with foil.
  4. Bake for ten minutes in a hot oven.
  5. Turn over with tongs and bake on the other side for another five to ten minutes.
Served hot or cold, the’ll go quickly ( maybe even in five minutes) !

Scaling the heights of Chicken Everest

Not long after we were married, Dad  and I traveled to Vientianne to visit Claudia and Geoff. Geoff was working on an FAO ( Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations) project. Claudia was busy as well, working with womens’ co-ops, trying to help in whatever creative way possible to get that poor little war ravaged country back on its feet again.

 We arrived at their charming blue and white bungalow in the late evening. Geoff and Claudia were heading out to an event.  After showing us around the house, Claudia, famous amongst her friends and admirers for being an amazing cook, gave us some quick instructions about our dinner which was in the oven.

 We were ravenous after our flight. The aromas wafting through the house were just insanely good. ‘Chicken Everest’, Claudia called over her shoulder as they dashed out. What was this Chicken Everest?

 We were soon to find out: one of the most delicious chicken dishes I have ever eaten, a perfect combination of fresh and dry herbs, made piquant with soy, mango powder and lemon juice.

 To this day, it is one of my most favourite things to prepare for guests. This recipe, published in Charmaine Solomon’s Asian cook book bible: The Complete Asian Cookbook is what Claudia had cooked for us all those years ago in Laos.

It is the book that introduced me to proper weights and measurements for the delicious food of Southeast Asia I pined for when I left home to attend high school in Australia. To this day, it is my trusty kitchen companion, even as more beautiful recipe books join it on the shelf from all over the world.

Chicken Everest is an interesting dish: it is not Indian or Malay, Thai or Chinese. Somehow a combination of ingredients commonly used amongst all these cultures makes this unique dish quite special.

As you well know, Izzy, I serve Chicken Everest  in so many ways: with white rice, or with a rissoni salad. Wrapped in a piece of nan bread with lettuce, onion, mint leaves and a drizzle of yoghurt, it makes a fantastic lunch.  It keeps well, for about three days in the fridge but don’t try to freeze it.

Charmaine Solomon’s Chicken Everest – my simplified version

  •  3 lbs chicken pieces
  • In a food processor, blend the following ingredients together:
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 teaspoons fresh ginger
  • 1 ½ tablespoons curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika powder or chilli powder
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon amchur or mango powder, or 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • about 6 to 8 curry leaves
  • 2 teaspoons light soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 2 tablespoons  ground rice
  • a little warm water (1/4 cup)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped spring onion
  • 2 tablespoons fresh coriander (cilantro)

 Method:

  1. When all the ingredients are nicely ground into a paste, rub it well into the chicken pieces and set aside for at least three hours. Best to cover tightly and leave overnight.
  2. Set the oven to 350 degrees and roast chicken pieces on a rack set in a shallow tray. Bake for 30 minutes
  3. Turn the chicken pieces over and bake for another 15 to 20 minutes.
  4. Also delicious when grilled on the bar-b-que.