Sabaw Itim

When my brothers and I were kids, we called this dish “Sabaw Itim”, literally Black Soup.  To our very young minds, we called it as we saw it – soup because it was so liquid-y and black because it was so dark in color.

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It’s actually chicken braised in soy sauce with mushrooms and boiled eggs.

It was a real favorite and we had it at least once a month!  In those days, the dish was so much more soupier (after all we all wanted the soup/sauce on our rice!) and the chicken pieces were various cuts from 1 whole chicken.  These days, chicken is available by specific parts, and boneless, no less!  My favorite part?  boneless, skinless chicken thigh!

The recipe:

about 600 to 700 grams of boneless chicken thighs (about 8 to 10 pieces)

Marinade:

2 to 3 tablespoons oyster sauce
1/2 bulb garlic, smashed
a small thumb of ginger, sliced into matchsticks
2 to 3 pieces large bay leaves, crumbled
1 tablespoon mixed peppercorns
1/4 cup light soy sauce
dash of shao xing wine
1/2 tablespoon sesame oil

150 grams small fresh shitake, about 15 to 18 small pieces
(or 60 grams dried shitake, about 15 to 18 small pieces)
4 to 6 pieces boiled eggs

1/2 to 1 cup water (or mushroom soaking liquid, chicken stock)

Mix marinade ingredients together; set aside for a while.

Clean the chicken pieces and slice each piece into 2 or 3 pieces, depending on the size desired (remember that meat shrinks upon cooking so adjust accordingly).

Pour marinade over chicken and let stand for about 30 minutes.

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Meanwhile, if using dried mushrooms, soak in warm water until softened; drain but keep the soaking liquid.  Cut the stems off the mushrooms (fresh or dried ones). Rinse lightly to remove dirt and grime, if there is any.

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When we were younger, this dish was cooked on the stove-top in a clay pot; it was soupier too. The way I make this dish now is with the magic cooker and with a lot less liquid.

The traditional way:

Smash some more garlic and saute them over low fire until lightly browned and deliciously fragrant! Then dump the chicken pieces and all marinade into the pot. Throw the rehydrated mushrooms in too (IF using fresh mushrooms, add them after 15 minutes of simmering.) Add enough liquid to barely cover the chicken pieces; mix to combine everything. Cook on medium or medium low and simmer until done, about 30 minutes or so, depending on the size of chicken pieces (smaller pieces cook faster). Top up with more liquid if the sauce is reduced too much OR if a soupier dish is desired. About 5 minutes before putting off the stove fire, add the boiled eggs. Adjust seasonings to desired taste. Off fire, add a few more drops of sesame oil. Top with chopped leeks. Serve while hot!

The magic cooker way:

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Just dump the chicken pieces and marinade into the inner pot. Throw in mushrooms and boiled eggs, too. Add 1/2 cup of liquid; mix gently to combine everything (and not mutilate the eggs). Adjust seasonings. Cook on medium or medium low and simmer for 10 minutes (start counting when liquid starts bubbling). Place inner pot inside the outer chamber of the magic cooker. Leave for 30 to 45 minutes. Just before serving, add a few more drops of sesame oil. Top with chopped leeks. Serve while hot!

DISH VARIATIONS – Use firm tofu instead of mushrooms, or use a variety of fresh mushrooms – shitake, button, Korean king oyster, straw, etc.

Or, use pork cubes or ribs instead of chicken.

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PERSONAL NOTES –

The soaking liquid of the dried mushrooms is very flavorful, but some find it too strong, in which case use only 1/4 of the soaking liquid and 1/4 cup or more of water or stock. Or omit the soaking liquid altogether.

If using dried mushrooms and their soaking liquid, the sauce of the dish will have a stronger, more pronounced flavor. If using fresh mushrooms, the dish has a more subtle, delicate flavor. It’s delicious either way. Using different kinds of fresh mushrooms gives more dimension to the dish.

The original recipe (from my mom’s files) has 1/2 tablespoon sugar as an ingredient in the marinade but I’ve always skipped it. Also, dark (and salty) soy sauce was traditionally used but I’m happy with my light soya sauce (and hubby is ok with it as well) which is less salty and does not impart a dark brown (almost black) color.

 

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Cashew Chicken

A dear friend gave me some cashews.  Now, I could sit and eat the whole bag but my body would not appreciate it so hello Cashew Chicken!!!

I didn’t follow a recipe from a book for this dish.  Instead I tried to recall how my mother made it a lo-o–ong time ago.

As I remembered it, it started with boneless, skinless chicken cubes which were marinated with a bit of light soy and cornstarch.  The sliced ginger was sauteed in the wok, after which the chicken was dumped in to be stir fried.  (I added some leftover baby corn whilie I was at it.)  When the chicken is just about done, in goes the cashews for a bit more stir-frying.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Then IT IS DONE!!!  After garnishing with sliced chives or leeks, it was good and ready to eat!

Yummyyyyy!

Japanese-style Chicken Curry

Curry is no stranger to our table, but we usually have the Thai kind, and our usual local variety… but this time I wanted to try Japanese-style – a thick, sweet-ish curry.

I decided to follow the recipe for the curry base here, from scratch with only 5 ingredients!!!

1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 tablespoon garam masala
1 tablespoon sugar
pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)

First make a roux – melt the butter then add the flour.  Stir and cook over low heat until the roux is browned.  add the other ingredients.  Set aside while the curry dish is cooked.

400 grams boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into serving pieces (cleaned and patted dry)
4 ginger slices
2 cloves garlic
1 small onion, sliced
2 potatoes, cubed
3 to 4 cups chicken stock
1/3 cup curry roux
2 tablespoons sweetened applesauce
salt and pepper to taste
1 small red bell pepper, cubed

Saute the ginger, garlic and onions until soft.  Add the chicken and stir fry a couple of minutes.  Add the cubed potatoes. Add about 1 cup of the chicken stock; set the heat on low.

Add about a cup of chicken stock to the curry roux, to loosen it a bit and then put it into the pot. Stir to dissolve and mix everything; add remaining stock and applesauce. Let simmer until the chicken and vegetables are cooked through. Add the cubed bell peppers last (to keep them crunchy) Season with salt and pepper.

Serve hot over rice!!!

 

Chicken Chilindron

Aside from cookbooks, I also collect cooking magazines… but real books and magazines are bulky!  So sometime ago, I began subscribing to electronic versions…

It is in one of these electronic subscriptions that I saw this recipe by Jamie Oliver… I largely followed the recipe except for skipping the olives, using chicken drumsticks, substituting a couple of ingredients, as well as halving the recipe –

about 700g chicken drumsticks, cleaned, rinsed, pat dry
sea salt and pepper

2 pieces Italian garlic sausages, sliced

1 onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, sliced
8 medium tomatoes, skins removed, sliced into halves or quarters
1 small can sliced pimientos, drained
splash of rice wine
200 ml chicken stock
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
a pinch of saffron, steeped in a little hot water
zest from half a lemon
2 anchovy fillets

Season the chicken legs with salt and pepper and brown in hot oil for a few minutes.  Remove and transfer to a plate.

In the same, stir fry the sausage slices until cooked.  Remove and transfer to the same plate as the chicken.

In the same pan, on low-medium heat, sauté the onion and garlic, until fragrant and soft, taking care not to let them get burned.  Splash the pan with a bit of rice wine to deglaze then add the tomatoes and squish them (!), as well as the sliced pimientos (left them whole largely since they were not big pieces anyway).  Add the chicken stock and rosemary.

When the pan starts simmering/boiling, put back the chicken and sausages.  Cook on low-medium, uncovered, for about an hour, or until sauce is thickened.

After 30 to 40 minutes, add saffron and steeping liquid. Add the lemon zest and anchovies. Season with salt, if necessary (I added a large pinch of sea salt).

Serve hot, with rice!!!!

This stew is so delicious!  According to Jamie Oliver, this stew comes from Aragon in northeastern Spain, and it works with lamb, too.  But lamb is uncommon where I’m from but I think I will try it with pork!!!

Steamed Chicken

The problem with my mom’s recipes is that they need decoding!

My mom writes her recipes in weird ways.  Most of the time, there are no instructions; instead there are groups of ingredients with a brief sentence at the end.

Like her recipe for steamed chicken… there are 3 groups of ingredients and a short sentence at the end – Steam for 10 minutes.

Hmmmmm….

Someone else would (probably) throw this recipe out the window but it’s a good thing that I know my mom (pretty) well and can speak her “language”…  As she explains to me, it is deliberate on her part so that her recipes remain her secret.  (As I mentioned before, she rarely shares her recipes!)  So, given her preference, I will not (well, I can not) share her recipe.  I can, however, share mine (even if it is based on hers, it is NOT the same…)

750 grams boneless chicken thighs, skin on, rinsed and dried with paper towels

Slice the chicken thighs into serving pieces (if the thighs are large, cut into 4). Mix together slices of ginger, 1 tablespoon EACH of sesame oil, oyster sauce, and light soya sauce, 2 tablespoons cornstarch, and 1 teaspoon rice wine.  Marinate the chicken pieces in this mixture for about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile start boiling water in the steamer.

Prepare:

5 stalks of leeks, sliced at a diagonal, separate the white and green parts
ginger, slice into thick matchsticks
about 12 slices of lotus root, parboiled then drained
about 80 grams fresh black fungus (tenga ng daga), sliced into strips
re-hydrated banana blossoms, thick hard end/s removed

In a round Pyrex dish (a deep pie plate works), scatter the white parts of the leeks. Arrange the lotus root at the base of the pan.  Scatter the black fungus on top, then the banana blossoms.  Arrange the chicken thighs, skin side up, and stick the ginger pieces in between the chicken thighs.

When the water in the steamer boils, put the plate in.  Steam for 10 to 15 minutes (depending on the size of the chicken pieces); start counting minutes when the water reboils.

Before serving, garnish the top with the green part of the leeks.

Note – the dish has a delicate and mild taste, should you wish for a stronger flavor, adjust the seasonings as desired, or add slat and pepper, according to personal taste.

Easy Chicken ‘n Rice

This recipe is easy because it is basically a dump-the-ingredients-into-the-pot recipe.  The secret to this dish is a rice cooker!  A rice cooker is a staple in Asian kitchens, and while I’ve seen high-tech ones (with goodness-knows how many settings), for me, nothing beats the simple standard!

First thing to do – make the Ginger Dipping Sauce!

Grate some fresh ginger to measure about 2 tablespoons. Squeeze ginger juice out of the grated ginger in a bowl (keep the ginger juice!!!) Mix the grated ginger with 1 teaspoon minced spring onions, green part only, 1 tablespoon sesame oil, 1 tablespoon canola oil, and a pinch of salt. Let the mixture sit in the fridge until the dish is ready.

Next, rinse 700 grams of boneless chicken thighs and pat dry.  Slice the chicken into bite size pieces, then marinate, for 30 minutes, in a mix of:

1 tablespoon oyster sauce

1 tablespoon light soya sauce
1 tablespoon dark soya sauce
the reserved ginger juice from the grated ginger earlier
1/2 tablespoon sesame oil
1/2 tablespoon shao xing wine
1/2 tablespoon cornstarch

Meanwhile, prepare the following:

1 piece Chinese sausage, sliced thinly (but I omitted this)
about 6 large pieces dried mushrooms, rehydrated and sliced into strips
(reserve 1 tablespoon of the mushroom soaking liquid)

1-1/2 cups white rice grains, rinsed clear (I use Dinorado, not laon variety)

1 thumb-sized piece of ginger, sliced into matchsticks
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon mushroom soaking liquid
1 tablespoon dark soya sauce
3 cups chicken stock, more or less, depending on the type of rice used

Place the rice grains into the rice cooker (I don’t remember the capacity of our rice cooker but it is definitely not a big one. This recipe fills it to the brim). Place all other ingredients in it (do not include the chicken pieces). Stir lightly, cover, then turn the rice cooker on. Cook until the mixture is bubbly and rice grains are puffed but not yet done.

Using tongs, place the marinated chicken on the rice (do not pour in the marinade). Cover and cook further. If the rice cooker goes on “keep warm” check if the rice is done (move chicken slightly to expose rice and get a small teaspoonful to check). If the rice is done, leave on “keep warm” 5 more minutes then turn off. If the rice is still undercooked, press the “cook” button after 5 to 10 minutes to cook further.

When the rice is done, garnish with sliced spring onions and serve with ginger dipping sauce.

NOTE #1 – the chicken pieces should not be too big or it will not cook fully.
NOTE #2 – the dish can be served as faux “Claypot Chicken Rice”. When the rice is done, mix the rice and chicken together before serving.

Enjoy!

I served this to “the boys” and it was gone in an instant!!!

Braised Chicken Thighs & Eggs

This recipe is a winner! I know because the extremely picky kid ate everything on her plate!

The recipe –

about 8 thin slices of ginger, cut into thin matchsticks
5 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
about half or whole tablespoon of whole black peppercorns

8 pieces chicken thighs

12 pieces dried shitake mushroom, rehydrated, reserve soaking liquid
100 grams cooked chestnuts, optional
boiled eggs, optional

4 tablespoons light soy sauce
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1/2 tablespoon sesame oil
2 pieces star anise
2 pieces whole cloves
1 piece cinnamon stick
1 to 2 pieces dried chili

Rinse the chicken thighs and remove the fatty membranes. Pat dry.

Sauté half the garlic, ginger and peppercorns. Add the chicken skin side down. Cook (don’t stir) chicken about 2 to 3 minutes.

Add the mushrooms on top of the chicken, and all the seasonings. Add enough water to just cover the chicken. When the sauce starts to simmer, turn the chicken over and lightly mix. Leave to simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is done (don’t overcook). If the liquid evaporates too much, add some hot water. To add more flavor, use the mushroom liquid, by tablespoons.

Don’t forget the chestnust and eggs, if using – add them in the last 5 minutes of cooking. Make sure that the eggs get enough color from the sauce.

Serve immediately and enjoy.

Roast Chicken over Scalloped Potatoes

My little electric oven is such a treasure!  While my gas-fired baby oven is my ultimate favorite (after all I have been baking with it for more than 3 decades – so now you know how old I must be!), my little electric is really more convenient since there’s usually just 4 or 5 of us.  It is just a bit larger than a toaster oven (but yes, it is a fully functioning oven, with rotisserie too!). The largest sized pan that can fit in it is a 9-inch square and even that is a bit pushing it.

Still, it is absolutely perfect for half a batch of cake, 6 cupcakes, a regular brownie or a dozen cookies or so. And for meals? It is just right! A whole chicken with the rotisserie function (but no, a turkey or a super jumbo chicken won’t fit) or half a chicken in a baking pan.

Take this roast chicken meal… quick and easy, and best of all, tasty!

6 pieces chicken legs, cleaned and patted dry
salt and pepper, to taste

5 to 6 medium potatoes, peeled and sliced very thinly
1/2 cup shredded mixed cheese (mozzarella, cheddar, parmesan mix)
butter
1/4 cup 35% whipping cream
3/4 cup milk
salt and pepper, to taste

Make slits on the chicken legs.  Rub the chicken legs with salt and pepper (I like using sea salt), place some between the skin and meat as well.  Set aside.  Preheat oven to 375F.

Butter a baking dish (mine is about 6 by 8 inches.  Arrange half the sliced potatoes in the pan, sprinkle the shredded cheese all over.  Top with the remaining half of potatoes.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Pour the cream and milk over the potatoes.

Arrange the chicken legs over the potatoes.  Bake for about 45 minutes or until the chicken is done, at 165/170F internal temperature.  Let rest for about 10 minutes before serving.

 

 

Adobong Manok at Atay

Chicken and Liver Adobo

My family prefers the pork variety of adobo to the chicken variety. But hubby and B’s lola like liver; and liver cooked adobo-style is especially tasty for them. So, since the other family members do not particularly care for liver, I mix in chicken so that everyone can eat! Win-win, right?

My recipe for Chicken and Liver Adobo is a bit different from our favorite pork adobo, although the basics are similar – adobo is adobo after all.

500 grams boneless, skinless chicken thighs
300 grams chicken liver (remove any other attached organs)
5 to 6 cloves garlic, smashed
1 tablespoon whole peppercorns
1/4 cup dark soy sauce
1 to 2 tablespoons sukang puti
1/2 cup chicken stock or plain water, or more as needed
Bay leaf

First thing to do is to mix the adobo sauce together – soy sauce, vinegar and half of the smashed garlic. Let it sit for a minutes while the chicken and liver are being cleaned. I remove the white fatty, slimy thingies from the chicken and slice each piece in half to form chunky pieces. Clean the liver as well and remove any slime, and other non-liver parts.

Marinate the liver in about 2 tablespoons of the adobo sauce, and the chicken in the remainder of the sauce. Do not marinate together in the same bowl.

Meanwhile, heat some canola oil in a pan. Flash fry the liver but do not cook all the way through. Remove from the pan and set aside. Add oil in the pan, if needed. Sauté the garlic until fragrant. Add the peppercorns. Add the chicken pieces (don’t pour in the marinade yet). Stir fry a couple of minutes, until the surface of the chicken is lightly browned. Pour in the rest of the marinade and the chicken stock; add the bay leaf as well. Simmer about 20 minutes or until the chicken is cooked just about through.

Pour in the liver and simmer several seconds more or until the liver is just cooked. It is crucial not to over-cook the liver.

This is the saucy, soupy kind of adobo. For the other kind – the oily kind, take the chicken (and liver if desired) out of the sauce/soup and sauté for a few minutes in hot oil, adding adobo sauce if necessary. And that’s it!

Now, I have beed asked a few times why I flash fry the liver first and add it again later. Honestly I don’t know the reason. All I know is, that has been the way it has been done in the family. I will admit, however, that at one time I was feeling lazy and skipped the flash frying of the liver and just dumped it toward the end of the cooking. It just was not the same… so even if I was feeing lazy, I didn’t skip the flash frying… instead I would skip the pre-marinating part! 🙂

Braised Chicken with Chestnuts and Mushrooms

Once in a while I cook for my mom and when I do, I always try to make the dish no-salt-added.  Why?  Because she developed hypertension early (in her late 30s I think) and since then she has tried to reduce her salt intake.  So her taste buds (and ours, too because she cooked reduced salt for everyone!) favors the blander side of food.

When I cook of course I use soy sauce and other condiments to flavor the dish, but if the dish is for my mom, I would never add table salt or sea salt, or fish sauce.  Of course it goes without saying, we don’t use MSG.

It is not easy to please my mom, but somewhere along the way, I stopped trying.  I just send over the dish and if she has no complaints, then it’s good news to me!

Braised Chicken with Chestnuts and Mushrooms, no salt added.

400 grams boneless, skinless chicken wings
12 pieces dried shitake mushroom, rehydrated, reserve soaking liquid
100 grams cooked chestnuts
4 tablespoons light soy sauce
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1/2 tablespoon sesame oil
about 8 thin slices of ginger, cut into thin matchsticks
5 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
1 medium onion, sliced thinly
2 pieces star anise
1 piece cinnamon stick
1 to 2 pieces dried chili
3 stalks leeks, sliced diagonally, white and green parts separated
boiled eggs, optional

Rinse the chicken thighs and remove the fatty membranes.  Slice each into 2 or 3 chunks.  Marinate for at least 30 minutes in the mixture of soy sauce, oyster sauce, sesame oil, 2 tablespoons of mushroom soaking liquid, half the ginger, half the garlic, star anise, and cinnamon stick.

Saute the remaining garlic and ginger, onion, dried chili, and white part of the leeks.  Add the chicken and marinade.   Add the mushrooms and chestnuts.  Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.  If the mixture seems too dry, add reserved mushroom liquid by tablespoons.  Simmer for about 15 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through.  Add the boiled eggs in the last 3 to 5 minutes, if using.  Thicken with cornstarch slurry.  Garnish with the green part of the leeks.  Serve immediately.

The secret to the dish is the very flavorful mushroom soaking liquid!