Cooking a 3-Course Meal with S&P Santan!

soup ceera

I was fortunate enough to be cooking a complete meal of three courses organized by S&P Santan in Sungai Buloh. The I <3 S&P Santan Cooking Workshop is helmed by Chef Andri Hadi – a very interesting character indeed!

chef andri hadi

I was teamed up with Ceera Noh and I have to admit I couldn’t ask for a better partner. She has solid, practical skills as a mom and seasoned a lot of our dishes to perfection.

team

I was more focused on plating and I tried very hard not to let her down by doing it professionally.

cutting onions

I dare say that our presentation was best – it wasn’t clownish and kid-like on one side of the spectrum it wasn’t sloppy on the other (did three plates for our main course before I was satisfied).

team awesome

The I <3 S&P Santan Cooking Workshop is actually a contest between all the participants. There were 5-6 teams of two in total. I humbly named us “Team Awesome”. smirk

Appetizer: Spinach Broccoli Coconut Soup

appetizer

The first dish that we cooked. I sliced up the broccoli florets and garlic while Ceera did the vegetable soup stock. We didn’t cook the fresh baby spinach but blended it into the soup later, as the chef did.

ceera hb

I also went up to do the Massimo Wheat Germ garlic bread.

butter garlic bread

It’s really easy, just butter one side with butter and twist it, sealing it in with another dab of butter.

spinach broccoli

I love the ease of the S&P Santan Instant Coconut Cream Powder. It comes in 50 gram packs of Original, Omega 3 and Pandan and we used the first for this. You can dilute it with 1 cup of water for heavy coconut cream or 2 cups of thin coconut cream but for this recipe, we just poured it into the saucepan and seasoned it with salt, pepper and nutmeg. I really liked how versatile and convenient the product was.

cooking with ceera

We worked pretty well as a team and since I proofed myself somewhat adept (at least I didn’t burn down the kitchen) – I plated up. Our spinach broccoli coconut soup is a real French style soup – thick and hearty.

layering soup

I floated a tablespoon of S&P Santan Coconut Milk on top for contrast and flavor.

spinach broccoli soup

It received pretty good reviews from the chef and heartened, we moved on to the next dish.

Entrée: Baked Cajun Chicken Wings

entree

This is something that both of us knew how to do and the chef did a demonstration while asking us to work at the same speed – no problems there.

fritter batter

We shared an oven with another group of two girls and thus we put in our chicken together. There is a great irony somewhere here.

cajun chicken

I carefully arranged my chicken wings so that the tips were facing *outside* on the baking tray. This is done so that the heat of the convection oven won’t burn the meat.

perfect wings

Unfortunately, we didn’t know that the oven hasn’t been pre-heated and when the chef came over to everyone’s station to look at their chicken, ours was the very best in the entire class. It’s browned to perfection!

cooking ceera

We made the Coconut Pandan Cheese Sauce with Blue Key Superfine Flour, S&P Pandan Santan Coconut Cream Powder and 2 tbsp grated cheddar cheese. Both Ceera and I tasted the sauce and it was good – I made sure that sufficient time has passed so that any raw flour has been “cooked out”.

coconut milk cheese

I plated the chicken in a smear of the coconut pandan cheese sauce and stood two chicken wings up, supported by each other.

same oven

…and when it came judging time, it turns out that our chicken was raw. -_-

chef andri

It needed 3 more minutes in the oven due to the lack of pre-heating (we both thought the other team had done it).

judging

Oh well.

cajun chicken wings

Here’s our dish!

Dessert: Cavendish Coconut Fritters

dessert

I learned a very nifty trick during the I Love S&P Santan Cooking Workshop. Banana fritters tastes a lot better if you dip it alternately into batter and desiccated coconut. We used 1 cup of S&P Santan Sejati Desiccated Coconut and 1 cup Blue Key Superfine Flour for the dry coating. The desiccated coconut really comes in handy as it has a longer shelf life and comes in a convenient pack.

bananas

We actually learned from the previous mistake and made sure to make two batches. I sliced up one banana for the first test batch while Ceera did the second batch.

coating fritters

Our Cavendish Coconut Fritters were deep fried for 2 minutes in boiling hot oil before we plated up in front of the judge.

deep fryers

I did the plating and I had planned to do a quenelle of vanilla ice cream to show off my skills.

banana fritters

Unfortunately, the ice cream was way too solid and despite heating two ceramic Chinese soup spoons on the burner, I could barely make a passable quenelle. I’m glad I did it though, no one else did and I saw from the blank looks that not many knew what a quenelle is either (except for the chef, of course).

hot spoon

I also finished with a flair with some toasted desiccated coconut and a smear of caramel and passed it to the judge. We were the first team to finish.

quenelle

Although we didn’t win anything (the winner was a female duo from Weibo) it was fun to cook with someone with a Malay heritage and a practical background as opposed to my more recent and modern interpretation of cuisine. Ceera was the one who seasoned and tasted everything and I felt bad that we didn’t win.

cavendish fritters

Nevertheless, it was a fun morning and afternoon learning about the various uses of S&P Santan products. Coconut oil and milk is a source of healthy HDL cholesterol and has numerous health benefits. This is something that Australians and people from the United States are finding out and they’re using more coconut milk in their cooking. The S&P Santan products are easy to use and cater for health conscious consumers as they do not contain artificial preservatives and flavorings.

fritters

It’s a very trendy ingredient and I have a whole range of S&P Santan products at home now. I’ll share more when I cook soon!

keep calm

Do you have your own recipes using S&P Santan coconut milk? Share your recipes at the S&P Industries Facebook page and win more than RM 1,900 worth of prizes!

spinach soup

Thanks to S&P Santan and Chef Andri Hadi for a great time! A big thank you to FFM Marketing for providing the superb venue – I loved the clean and well-equipped kitchen islands. It’s open for rental too – contact marketing@ffmb.com.my or 03-61457888 for enquiries.

spinach leaves

Props to Denise and Michele for their tireless photography and cheers to my team-mate Ceera Noh for being awesome! :)

Flap Hops: Emu and kangaroo jerky buttermilk pancakes with homemade dark chocolate sauce and wildberry jelly

flap hops kangaroo emu pancakes

I have had this idea knocking (hopping?) in my head for a while. I’ll stop with the bad puns and say that this is a take on flap jacks – instead of the usual pancakes, it’s made using emu and kangaroo meat, thus it’s a flap hop. Geddit? smirk

buttermilk pancakes mix

I bought this gluten-free buttermilk pancake mix during my last trip to Sydney and haven’t used it. I could have made our own pancakes from scratch but since it was a Sunday morning, I thought I’ll just shake this bottle instead. Plus, I wanted to see how gluten-free pancakes made from rice/tapioca flour and potato starch stacks up with the real deal.

buttermilk pancakes kangaroo

You will need:

  • Buttermilk pancake mix
  • Emu jerky
  • Kangaroo jerky
  • Dark chocolate buttons for baking
  • Butter
  • Wildberry jam

buttermilk pancakes emu

I got the wildberry jam (or jelly, as Mel would call it) from an import grocery shop here a while ago – it’s a mixture of strawberries, blueberries and blackberries made by Hank’s Jam (also of Australian origin) and thought it’ll go well as an acidic counter-balance to the dark chocolate sauce.

emu kangaroo jerky

I did a few test batches of the buttermilk pancakes before finally settling on a size I wanted. Just before one side is done I inserted pieces of the emu and kangaroo jerky into the still-bubbling pancake mix.

melting chocolate

My better half also set up a bain-marie for melting the chocolate buttons. Keep in mind that when melting chocolate, the boiling water should never touch the bottom of the receptacle you put the chocolate buttons in. These are high quality dark chocolate buttons meant for baking – you can find them in any bakery provisions store. I also put in a dab of butter.

kangaroo emu jerky

After my buttermilk pancakes have set with the emu and kangaroo jerky inside, I flipped them over to brown the other side and added a smear of dark chocolate sauce on it.

chocolate smear

My dear also cut up some kiwifruits, which I added into the “crater” where I started the chocolate smear from.

emu kangaroo pancake

It was a very delicious breakfast that we made yesterday morning – I would have liked some sunny-side up eggs with it too but the kangaroo and emu jerky added that savory taste and the sweetness of the dark chocolate is balanced by the wildberry jam. :)

I baked my own Poppy Seed Bread with organic Macadamia Butter from scratch!

poppy seed bread

Yup, I went out and did a little shopping at the local baking supplies shop yesterday to make my own Poppy Seed Bread! This recipe requires:

baking supplies

  • High protein flour (250 g)
  • Poppy seeds (28 g)
  • Milk powder (6 g)
  • Salt (4 g)
  • Granulated sugar (12 g)
  • Egg yolk (1 yolk)
  • Vegetable oil (2 tbsp)
  • Water (170 ml)
  • Instant dry yeast (¾ tsp)

even bread

I had this freshly baked and still warm – the thick slices were slathered with organic macadamia butter (it’s just 100% crushed macadamia nuts) and it was so delicious!

taking loaf

(and it just took me 2 hours to bake)

baking water

I did not need to knead or proof the dough coz I had a Panasonic Bread Maker. Haha! I just:

1. Dumped all the ingredients into the loaf shaped bread maker

yeast dispenser

2. Measured out the yeast and poured it into the automatic yeast dispenser

menu

3. Selected “Rapid Bread” and “Medium” crust

perfect bread

4. Sliced the bread

poppy seeds

It was sooo easy that we wanted to make a second batch immediately. However, one minor issue with the bread maker is that it’ll come out with a U50 error code if you try to do that without waiting 1 hour (officially) for it to cool down. However, I managed to achieve that in 20 minutes by putting it under a fan in a 16 degree Celsius room (my living room is air-conditioned).

egg yolk

I have always heard that baking was a very exact science and you cannot mess around with it. Ingredients are supposed to be measured out to the exact gram or milliliter – no more, no less. However, I wanted to make another Nutella loaf since I thought the kids will enjoy eating that. I also forgot to put in the salt (!!!) the second time around.

nutella

My better half told me that the bread will not rise, but the Panasonic Bread Maker prevailed! Even though yeast requires salt and sugar to proof, I used honey in lieu of the sugar in the second loaf and poured in 2 heaped tablespoons of Nutella. It really made the bread fragrant and taste of hazelnut.

knead nutella

Even better, the bread came out fine despite me forgetting the salt (and no, Nutella does not contain sodium) and I didn’t put any vegetable oil in (we used canola for the first batch) since I reckon it’ll have enough hazelnut oil to and I was right!

bake

The poppy seeds are spread so evenly throughout the bread too! It’s unlike other bread makers which can have uneven ingredient distribution. I really like the ambient temperature sensors of the Panasonic Bread Maker for optimal proofing too!

nutella bread

There’s nothing quite like eating freshly baked bread without any preservatives or artificial additives coz you control what you put in. It tasted absolutely fabulous!

It’s just so convenient to have my own Panasonic Bread Maker at home and we look forward to a lot of baking in the future. I love bread! I love eating it, I love baking it, and I love looking at it. You might call that a tad obsessive but I’ve even come up with lots of weird recipes for sandwiches. smirk

Molecular Gastronomy Experiments: Silkie Black Chicken “Soup” Jelly

black chicken jelly

Black chicken soup gellification. Yeah, this is a solid jelly black chicken “soup” I made for my dear! There’s nothing that sounds more appealing than suspending the beautiful black meat of the Silkie chicken in a jelly with wolfberries, dried scallops and other ingredients usually used in cooking this Chinese soup.

hb ling sick

I came across this idea when my better half had a sore throat and didn’t want to eat any solid food. It’s known as a curative food in traditional Chinese medicine.

silkie chicken

I’ll make her Silkie black chicken soup, with a twist! It’ll be *entirely suspended in clear agar* so you can see the distinctive black meat and black bones of the Silkie chicken!

silkie chicken jelly

You will need:

  • 1 whole black chicken
  • Goji berries
  • Dried scallops
  • Chinese dates
  • Agar or gelatin

silkie chicken flesh

I bought one of the small Silkie chickens you can find in wet markets here. This is the famous black chicken (which is entirely black – bones, flesh, organs) that’s commonly sold here for soup although it can be cooked like a regular chicken. I know of other black chicken breeds out there – a USD 2,500 per chicken Ayam Cemani made the headlines last year, but the ones we get are Silkies (which has contrasting white feathers when alive).

silkie black chicken

You need to portion the chicken by cutting it up as you normally would – there’s eight edible portions (2 x drums, thighs, wings, breasts) plus the carcass. I wrote a guide on how to French cut a chicken last time for a poached chicken with beetroot and nectarine dish I made but you can cut this anyway you want since it’s going into a soup.

black bones

Do make a nice cut for the parts you want visible in the jelly though – I used a drum in one and a wing (minus drumette) with a chicken leg in another.

chicken toenails

Silkie black chickens are always sold whole here, and undressed, so remember to take the pieces of cartilage (?) off the feet. I don’t know what they are called, so I call them chicken toenails. smirk

silkie chicken soup jelly

I put a 1 litre pot of water to the boil and added in all the goji berries, Chinese dates, dried scallops etc. You can also add ginger if you like.

silkie chicken soup

Once the water is boiling, I added in the pieces of chicken and set the timer for 30 minutes. That’s all you need for the black chicken soup – it’s ready to drink (and I did take some out so she can have the soup first).

agar gelatin

Next up, comes the fun modernist cooking bit – gellification! I used agar instead of gelatin since I wanted it to set only when it has totally cooled. I used clear agar but you can try out other colors like blue or green to play tricks with your mind while eating – it’s flavorless anyway, but I reckon clear would showcase the beautiful black chicken and bright red goji berries well.

agar

I poured the agar into the black chicken soup and carefully stirred it before portioning it out. It’s important to remember that the dates, scallops, and goji berries will set so you can actually move it around since the viscosity of the liquid has changed slightly.

black chicken soup

I arranged it so that it’ll come out in one square and one round mould.

setting chicken soup agar

…and my dear accidentally drank one of the agar-infused bowls while it was cooling coz I asked her to finish the soup. Haha! Oops! ;)

black chicken agar

No worries, I still had one and here’s how it turned out after putting it in the fridge for 2 hours to set the agar. It can be helpful if you have sore throat since a cold jelly is probably easier to eat than anything else.

jelly black chicken

I thought it was nice but I could have improved on the dish since my dear had cooked porridge so ideally my next version would look like this:

black chicken jelly draft

Yes, I drew it on a napkin.

jelly chicken soup

It’s fun to incorporate easy molecular gastronomy and modernist cooking ideas to even the most traditional dishes to spice it up! :D

Gordon Ramsay’s duck breast with Madeira jus, tomatillo apple cranberry chutney and parsnip purée

gordon ramsay duck breast

This is possibly the best tasting dish I’ve created to date! I found a recipe for Gordon Ramsay’s duck breast and tried to replicate the main components down to the dot (including the parsnip puree) while modifying some aspects (used tomatillo to add some balance to the sweet chutney).

duck breasts spiced

The duck breast is a beautiful piece of meat. I really like cooking with it, and I think this is the best way to savor the cut. I’m not a huge fan of traditional Chinese BBQ duck and never knew duck breast could taste this awesome until I did this. I was so engrossed in cooking that I didn’t notice I got rendered duck fat (yum!) on the camera lens so some of the later photos are a bit smudgy. The recipe is modified from Red Online.

gordon ramsay duck ingredients

You will need:

  • 2 duck breasts
  • Fresh tomatillos
  • Cranberry chutney
  • Parsnips
  • Heavy cream
  • Fresh milk
  • Goat cheese
  • Rosemary
  • Madeira wine

scoring duck breasts

The duck breast needs to be scored for better cooking and I did three (3) quick and light incisions into the skin – barely hitting the meat below.

I did not use *any* butter or olive oil. I just slapped the duck breast skin side down on the pan and kept the heat consistent. You’ll be amazed by how much oil the skin produces!

rendering duck fat

The tasty skin from the duck breast renders into delicious duck fat. You can get an insane amount of the stuff – probably 6-7 tablespoons of duck fat from 2 medium breasts alone! There’s nothing quite like duck fat rendering – it smells positively mouth-watering.

tomatillos

I actually bought the tomatillos to make salsa verde but I thought it’ll be perfect to put an acidic twist, which was supposed to be from the zest and juice of an orange. The original recipe by Gordon Ramsay also calls for port and cranberry jelly which I substituted with Madeira wine and Cranberry Apple Chutney.

BTW, if you think that the tomatillos looks a lot like cape gooseberry (sold as physalis here) that’s coz they come from the same family!

ramsay duck recipe

The duck breasts are really easy to cook – after about 10 minutes on low heat with the skin side down, the fat has mostly rendered – flip them over and lightly brown the other side for a couple of minutes and leave it to rest.

madeira wine deglaze

The Madeira wine is used to deglaze the pan. It’s a cooking term that means “scrape the crap from your pan with a liquid while keeping the heat on and keep the liquid + crap”. smirk

parsnip puree

Meanwhile, I had cut my parsnips into small chunks, steamed them and peeled it to be ready for the food processor – in reverse order. Add some heavy cream and put it on high for a couple of seconds. I also added some fresh milk and then puréed the parsnips some more. You can make the parsnip puree creamier by sieving it though some fine mesh before serving.

apple cranberry chutney

Back to the sauce, I added chopped tomatillos, cranberry and apple chutney and Madeira wine to deglaze the pan. I let this bubble for about 10 minutes to extract the flavor from the tomatillos, tasted it and pronounced it good!

butter chutney

However, I thought it would be *better* with some butter so I put in a generous slice of butter and the Madeira jus was ready to be poured on top of the rested duck!

gordon ramsay duck

I sliced one duck breast for my dear and kept mine whole. I wanted my duck breast to be served on top of the Madeira jus with cranberry apple chutney and tomatillos so I plated my dish with the duck sitting on top of the sauce.

pan fried duck

My dear wanted hers sliced so that’s what I did and spooned the sauce over the duck. I also added some salad and edible flowers in addition to the parsnip purée on the side. I’m told that this is my best dish to date and I quite like it as well!

duck breast sliced

The duck breast tastes deliciously rich and the sweet-acidic Madeira jus complements it perfectly. The parsnip purée is ingenious too since the dish would be way to heavy with potatoes. I’m really keen to cook this again, it’s surprisingly easy and the rendered duck fat can be kept and used for other things (they actually sell duck fat in some gourmet groceries).

How to Make Stuffed Artichokes

stuffed artichoke

Stuffed artichokes are actually quite easy to do once you’ve prepared the artichoke. The cutting of thorns and getting the choke out of the artichoke is the difficult part. Now you just have to stuff and cook it!

Artichokes can be eaten just steamed/boiled with butter and that is a fine way to eat it.

stuffing artichoke

However, I decided to stuff my artichoke for a better dish to present to my dear and this is the stuffing I used:

  • Breadcrumbs (stale from artisan bread – refrigerated)
  • Grated Parmesan cheese
  • Lemon zest
  • Olive oil
  • Pepper
  • Salt
  • Lemon juice

stuffing for artichokes

You want the consistency of the stuffing to be slightly moist, so what I did was to pour the breadcrumbs into a bowl and then mix in the rest of the ingredients, slowly adding olive oil until it’s slightly moist.

breadcrumbs artichoke

If you’re wondering what lemon zest is, it’s the peel of the lemon that’s been grated. I know, I just found out too. smirk

boiling artichokes

Stuff the inside of the artichoke with this prepared stuffing and also get the stuffing into the petals at the side so it’s even.

cooking stuffed artichokes

I also added some whole garlic into the petals coz I heard it undergoes a transformation that makes it delicious (it doesn’t).

basil leaves stock

Next, I prepared water that goes about 1/4 up the height of the artichoke and saturated it with basil leaves from our own herb garden.

cooking stuffed artichoke

I put the stuffed artichoke in the basil filled liquid (make sure it’s *standing up*) and squeezed one (1) whole lemon all around it before throwing in the lemons.

stuffed artichokes

The pot is put on a slow boil with the lid on for about an hour. Mine was a fairly huge artichoke so it took me about 1 hour 15 minutes. You’ll know it’s ready when the petals are tender.

eating artichoke petals

The eating of an artichoke is quite interesting and fun! I had this with my better half and we took turns peeling off the artichoke petals…

gripping artichoke petals

…and dabbing it in butter before squeezing the good stuff out with your teeth.

artichoke petals

This is actually quite a fun way to eat! You have to grip the artichoke petal between your teeth with the fleshy end down (the part you peel from the artichoke) and pull it through your teeth!

eating artichoke

I can see why they put artichokes in the aphrodisiac category! ;)

Guide to cooking an artichoke

preparing artichoke

I had a lot of fun doing this step-by-step guide to cooking and eating an artichoke. It’s an unusual vegetable which a lot of people avoid due to the difficulty in preparing it. It’s actually not that hard, you just need a sharp pair of kitchen scissors and *a lot of lemons*!

removing artichoke spines

The first one is to snip off the spines of the globe artichoke and the latter is to prevent the rapid oxidization (artichokes almost turn immediately brown when you cut into it).

You will need:

  • 2-3 lemons
  • Sharp kitchen scissors
  • Slicing knife
  • A sturdy metal spoon

eating artichokes

The artichoke we got cost RM 24.69. It’s RM 45.90 per kg and I calculate that each petal costs over RM 1! That’s coz the grocery sells the artichoke with a huge stem (which you can’t really eat).

cutting artichoke thorns

The first thing you do is to snip off the sharp spines in the individual petals on the artichoke. Just use your kitchen scissors to cut it off so a flat edge is formed.

artichoke lemons

You will need to squeeze lemon juice (or rather dip the lemon half into the cut petal) as soon as you snip the thorns off. This is to prevent it from turning brown. Get those lemons ready!!! smirk

artichoke stem

Once you have worked over the entire green artichoke and removed all the thorns, it’s time to cut off the stem. You need to get the stem level to the artichoke or about 1 inch from the end, depending on the recipe.

cutting artichoke

I think the stalk on my artichoke was a good 3-4 inches. It makes it look pretty, like a flower, but most people don’t eat the stem.

opening artichoke

Now that everything is done, you need to remove the choke in the artichoke – use a sharp knife to slice 3/4 of an inch off the top of the artichoke. Remember to squeeze lemon juice all over the artichoke when you do this to prevent oxidization.

removing artichoke

The next part is where your study metal spoon comes in…you need to use it to dig into the artichoke so you remove the choke. Think of it as using the spoon to eat a particularly hard frozen iced confectionery. That’s the same motion you should be using. Dig down and remove!

removing choke

Some people can remove it with one dig but I never could. That’s not important, the important thing is to get the entire choke out since that’s totally inedible. It’s the pink/purple interior of the artichoke that comes with fibres that looks like asbestos.

artichoke choke fibers

I’m kidding, I don’t know what asbestos fibers look like but I imagine it’s similar to these! It’s almost feather like to the touch and you have to remove every single bit of the choke.

cleaning artichoke

Make sure your artichoke is clean and free of the choke by a simple visual inspection (you can leave the heart in – that’s edible) and it’s ready to cook! You now have a clean artichoke!

dressed artichoke

I did a stuffed artichoke from this with breadcrumbs and garlic – I’ll put that up soon! :)

Sautéed Jerusalem artichokes with garlic and mushrooms in white wine

jerusalem artichokes

Jerusalem artichokes is a bit of a misnomer. They’re neither artichokes nor do they hail from Israel. I heard the name “Jerusalem” comes from the Italian word for sunflower – girasole. This vegetable belongs to the sunflower family and it’s a small, lumpy, brown-skinned tuber instead of the beautiful green of the true globe artichoke.

Here’s a photo of an artichoke with Jerusalem artichokes side by side. They look very different coz they *are* completely different things. I got both of them while grocery shopping yesterday.

jerusalem artichokes vs artichokes

I found a recipe by Jamie Oliver for Sautéed Jerusalem Artichokes and modified it a bit. I cooked this last night for dinner while my better half came out with the protein dish. You will need:

preparing jerusalem artichokes

  • 200 grams Jerusalem artichokes
  • 100 grams Portobello mushrooms
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 100 ml dry white cooking wine
  • Salt and pepper to taste

peeling jerusalem artichokes

The hardest part about cooking Jerusalem artichokes is the peeling bit. The tubers are tiny and knobbly and it’s really hard to get a grip on the little things to peel away the skin. After that labor intensive process is done (enlisted the help of my dear – she volunteered after listening to the choice French phrases I directed at the tubers smirk) you just need to slice them into chunks.

I sautéed the the Jerusalem artichokes in a pressure frying pan with olive oil and some thinly sliced garlic until golden brown before adding in 50 ml of dry white wine (eye-balled it) and putting the lid back on.

cooking jerusalem artichokes

I waited for 15 minutes and then put the sliced Portobello mushrooms in and adding the remaining 50 ml of white wine. I let it reduce (only takes a while coz the mushrooms absorb the wine) and served it up with some basil from our own herb garden.

We were both pleasantly surprised by the taste – the Jerusalem artichokes are crunchy and sweet! I thought it was just a bit of sales talk (grocery place-card says the tubers can be sweet) but it really is deliciously crisp and sweet! It’s a delicious dish, but Jerusalem artichokes sells for RM 39.90 per kg over here so it’s more expensive than local offerings.

sauteed jerusalem artichokes

I’ll love to eat it again though. I can see a lot of possibilities e.g. puréed, deep fried etc. I’m going to do a stuffed globe artichoke tonight so it’s back-to-back artichokes (except the Jerusalem artichoke is actually a tuber). :D

Poached chicken breast with beetroot and nectarine puree

poached chicken nectarine puree

This is the best dish I’ve cooked to date! The chicken breast is really *poached* i.e. it’s cooked in ambient hot water with no direct heat for 20 minutes. I learned this technique in a MasterClass and it’s an exact replication of that dish.

poach chicken

The protein in this dish comes from the crown of chicken breast without the wishbone, which I cut from a whole chicken.

beetroot food processor

You will need:

  • Two chicken breasts
  • 1 large beetroot
  • 1 nectarine
  • Raw goat milk
  • Nuts
  • Rosemary
  • Garlic scapes

poaching chicken

It’s quite a simple dish but the trick to cooking it is the perfect poaching of the chicken. The way to do it is to season a pot of water with garlic scapes, rosemary and salt and let it boil.

garlic scapes

I used garlic scapes (also known as garlic flower) to flavor the broth coz it tastes milder than garlic. It costs a lot more though at RM 19.90 / kg.

indirect heat cooking

When the water has started boiling, take the pot off the flame/electric hob/heating element and slide in the crown of chicken breast. Set a timer for 20 minutes and put the lid back on. You do not need direct heat to cook this – just the residual heat from the boiled stock.

goat milk puree

Meanwhile, I exchanged the vegetable puree that was in the original dish with a beetroot and nectarine puree. I also used raw goat milk while processing the puree. I felt that the colors look nice, and more importantly, it tasted awesome!

beetroot nectarine puree

The sweetness of the nectarine balances out the beetroot and you get a nice red puree for plating.

poached chicken

The crown of chicken breast should be taken out right at the 20 minute point, skin removed, and sliced into the two breast meat that it contains. I further made three cuts to each chicken breast be faithful to the dish replication.

chicken breast crown

The last step is to grind up some nuts or cereal and scatter it on the top of the plated chicken. It looks beautiful (if I can say so myself) and best of all, it tastes great!

grinder nuts

I’ve never tried indirect heat cooking and got it right at the first try. The beetroot and nectarine puree is smothered over the plate before the chicken breast is plated for the dish to pop (yes, you can roll your eyes right about now smirk) but the sweet puree was so good we ate it in other dishes too, like the king grouper in fish pastry shells.

poached chicken beetroot puree

My dear better half finished her dish and it was good to be able to do a restaurant quality dish from just watching a show. Haha! I’m putting this into Best of sixthseal.com – a category which I put very few of my posts into. :D

Coca-Cola Chicken a.k.a. ho lok kai

coke chicken

I remember Coke Chicken from the early 90’s when my sister watched her TVB drama series. The characters would go to a tai pai tong (an informal hawker stall, totally different from a cha chang teng) and ask for it. It was the first time I’ve heard of chicken being cooked with Coca-Cola and wondered if it actually *tastes like Coke*.

I have not been to Hong Kong at that point so I was intrigued by the sudden explosion in the popularity of Coke Chicken since then. It’s not so popular now (can’t find it in HK) but it’s a very fast and delicious way to make chicken.

ho lok kai

This is my better half’s recipe, it’s what we cooked for dinner last night:

  • 1 can Coca-Cola
  • 2 tablespoons cooking caramel (dark soy sauce)
  • 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 300 grams chicken wings and drumsticks

coke chicken recipe

I wanted the drumsticks but Coke Chicken usually refers to wings, or so the TVB series would lead me to believe.

cooking with coke

There have been claims that this does not work with Diet Coke due to the (loads) of sugar required to *caramelize* the chicken. I’ve also heard that the addition of Coca-Cola is for the bicarbonate of soda, which is an *alkaline solution* that can actually change the fibers in chicken meat. The other camp says that Coke is acidic so it’s ideal as a *marinating agent* to tenderize protein.

coke chicken reduction

I don’t know which of the above it true, or none at all. I have found no research to quantify it, just the same words passed on without references. However, this dish is a quick and delicious meal. You just heat up the Coke while the marinated chicken is fried till golden brown. The chicken is then put into the Coca-Cola until it reduces to a thick sauce.

coca cola chicken

I like the idea of it though and I’ll try it with other beverages (Bundaberg Ginger Beer, Fanta Grape, different lagers and ales etc) and see how it goes! :)

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