Curry Chicken

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It’s been rainy and cool these days and I really enjoy the beautiful weather these two months have brought us.  It’s such a welcome change since it’s hot and humid all throughout the year in Singapore.  We are having 25 degrees celcius now against the usual 34 degrees celcius.   The dog has been making use of the nice cool weather for naps and cozying on the sofa.  Usually, she’d prefer to lay on the floor because of our warm weather.  Let’s appreciate this now because it will be back to the heat in February.

I cooked curry chicken for dinner because it is one of our favourite dishes, plus it is a nice dish to eat in this cool weather.  I always have a packet of curry powder in my pantry because we can’t live without curry chicken.  I cook it once in two weeks.  It’s delicious and we seldom have leftovers for this dish.  When cooking curry chicken, be sure to buy curry powder for cooking meats because there is a different type of curry powder for cooking curry fish.  I have both in my pantry.  We also love curry fish.

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There are many curry chicken recipes.  Some recipes require blending spices from scratch to make rempah, a Malay word for spice paste.  The typical ingredients for making rempah are red chillies, shallots, lemongrass, tumeric, candlenuts, blue ginger and shrimp paste.  The Nyonya-style (aka Peranakan) curries are prepared with rempah.  Other recipes require curry powder which is available in packets at supermarkets and is not as time intensive as making rempah.  I have cooked Nyonya-style curry several times but today’s recipe is one that is made with curry powder because I happen to have all the ingredients on hand.  This turned out so delicious it was finished in one sitting.

When cooking curry, it is a must to have curry leaves because it gives the curry its distinct flavour.  Besides being natural flavouring agents,  curry leaves have a lot of health properties.  They contain antioxidant properties and is able to help control diarrhoea, indigestion, diabetes, peptic ulcers and an unhealthy cholesterol balance.  To prep the curry leaves to cook curry, wash and pat them dry and set aside.

 

Curry leaves

 

Curry Chicken

Ingredients:

3 chicken thighs, chopped into smaller pieces

1 potato*

3 tablespoons cooking oil

10 shallots

4 cloves garlic

1 stick cinnamon

6 tablespoons curry powder

1 cup coconut milk

2 cups water

1 stalk curry leaves

salt to taste

* Do not use russet potatoes as they tend to soften and break up. Wash, peel and quarter potato.  Soak them in a little salt water to prevent them from browning.  Set aside for use later. 

Directions:

  1. Blend shallots and garlic in a blender.
  2. Heat up a pot with 3 tablespoons cooking oil.  Pour in blended ingredients and curry leaves and cook over low heat for 10 minutes.
  3. Add in water, slowly add in chicken and potato and cook for about 10 minutes.
  4. Add curry powder and cinnamon.  Pour in coconut milk.  Add salt to taste.  Cook for another 10 minutes and it is ready.

 

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Serve with either one of these: steamed rice, briyani rice, naan, roti prata or bread

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Bak Kwa Buns

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Bak Kwa buns are really delicious.  There aren’t many bakeries that sell this kind of bun.  However it is very common to find its counterpart, pork floss bun sold in almost every bakery here in Singapore.  Bak Kwa, also known as rougan in Mandarin is Chinese salty-sweet dried meat similar to jerky.  Often times the meat is grilled over charcoal to give it a smoky flavour, then blended with a combination of spices, soy sauce and sugar. It can be used as an ingredient in other dishes or enjoyed on its own.

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In the old times, Bak Kwa was an expensive, luxury food and families only splurged on it during Chinese New Year when they wanted to welcome prosperity for the coming New Year and offer lavish gifts for friends and family.

While it is no longer as expensive as it once was, it is still a traditional Chinese New Year food and welcomed gift for friends or relatives.

Bak Kwa is available throughout the year nowadays and people can enjoy it anytime, not just during Chinese New Year.  I received a packet of Bak Kwa as a gift recently and I decided to use Bak Kwa as a filling for my bread buns today.

I used the water roux  or tangzhong method in making the bread buns.  Water roux makes bread extra soft, tender and fluffy.  Water roux locks in the liquid throughout the entire process of mixing and baking.  This results in breads that stay soft and fresh for longer.  Water roux is basically a mixture of water and bread flour.  To make it, you have to mix 1 part bread flour to 5 parts water (1:5 ratio)  over 65 deg celcius.  At 65°C, the gluten in the bread flour and water mixture would absorb the moisture and become leavened. Thus, when the water roux or tangzhong is added into other ingredients of a bread dough, it will be heightened and produce fluffier bread.  The detailed description on how to make water roux is included in the recipe below.  Here is the water roux I made.

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Bak Kwa Buns 

Ingredients (makes 12 buns):

For water roux:

20g bread flour

100ml water

For bread buns:

195g bread flour

90g cake flour

12g milk powder

30g caster sugar

6g salt

6g instant yeast

1 egg, lightly beaten

65g water

75g water roux

45g unsalted butter

a small portion of beaten egg for egg wash

For filling:

2 slices Bak Kwa, cut into small pieces or diced

Directions:

  1. To make water roux, place 20g bread flour in a saucepan.  Add 100ml water, mix with a hand whisk till smooth, making sure there are no lumps of flour.  Cook over medium to low heat, stirring constantly with the hand whisk to prevent it from burning.  Within 1 to 2 minutes, the mixture will start to thicken, stop when you see traces in the mixture for every stir you make with the hand whisk.  Immediately transfer the water roux into a bowl and cover it with a cling wrap, making sure the cling wrap sticks onto the surface of the mixture.  This is to prevent a film from forming on the surface.  Leave to cool completely before using it.
  2. To make the bread dough, place bread flour, cake flour, milk powder, sugar, salt, yeast, egg, water and water roux (use 75g) in the mixing bowl of a stand mixer. Let the mixer knead the dough on high speed until the ingredients come together to form a dough, this takes about 8 to 10 minutes.  Add the butter and continue to knead for another 15 to 20 minutes until the dough becomes smooth and elastic.  Upon adding the butter, the dough will become wet again, add some flour if it remains wet after 10 minutes of kneading. (You can make the dough with a bread machine, follow the instructions of your bread machine for the steps in adding ingredients)
  3. Place dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover with cling wrap and let it proof for about one hour or till it doubles in size.
  4. Remove the dough from the bowl to a lightly floured work surface and knead the dough to expel the gas in the dough.  Divide the dough into 12 equal portions each weighing 45g.  Roll each dough into smooth rounds, cover with cling wrap and let them rest for 10 minutes.
  5. On a lightly floured surface, flatten each dough into a round disc.  Press out any trapped air as you flatten the dough.   Wrap each dough with diced Bak Kwa.  Pinch and seal the seam tightly.
  6. Place seam side down on a baking tray lined with parchment paper.  Cover with cling wrap and proof for a second time for about one hour or till they double in size.
  7. Brush the top of each bun with egg wash.
  8. Bake in pre-heated oven at 180 deg celcius for 12 – 15 minutes.  Remove from oven and transfer to wire rack to cool.  Once cooled completely, store the buns in a airtight container.

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These are so good.  My daughter ate four in a day 🙂

Enjoy!

bread bun recipe credit: happyhomebaking.blogspot.com

The humble macaroni soup

I wasn’t sure if I should post my humble lunch today.  It’s too plain and simple and it may not appeal to anyone, that was my entire thought process.  In the end, yes, I decided to because it is a quick fix meal for those overwhelming days or the days when someone is sick and needs warm and comforting soup.  My apologies if this entire post sounds boring.

So this was what I had for lunch – chicken macaroni soup.  It’s not something to rave about, but my daughter likes this simple dish and we have it quite regularly.  It’s not on my husband’s list of likes so most times I cook this for lunch when it’s just me and my girl at home.

The main ingredients for this dish are macaroni, chicken bones and chicken breast.  I boil the chicken bones and chicken breast to get a nice, clear broth.  You can also use packed chicken or vegetable broth if you prefer. My sides are baby bok choy and fish cake and I finish by garnishing with sliced red chillis and parsley.   I think my bowl had so much vegetables you can hardly tell if there’s macaroni.  Sorry, I love my veggies more.  There’s definitely macaroni under all the greens.

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Chicken Macaroni Soup

(serves 2)

Ingredients:

Half a chicken breast/ One chicken thigh (you can adjust the quantity to your preference)

1 litre water

2 chicken bones

4 stalks baby bok choy

2 pieces fish cake (optional)

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon sesame oil

100g macaroni

1 red chilli, sliced

a few leaves of parsley

Note:  You can also use boxed chicken or vegetable broth.  Cook the broth as per the given instructions and add chicken breast to the broth to cook.  If the broth already has salt added, you can omit the salt.

Directions:

  1. In a large pot, boil 1 litre of water.  When it comes to a rolling boil, add in chicken bones and chicken breast and boil over medium for 15 minutes.  Remove the scum on the surface so that the soup will be clear.
  2. Remove the chicken bones and chicken breast from the pot.  Let the chicken cool before shredding.
  3. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt to soup, then add 1 teaspoon sesame oil for flavour.
  4. Pan fry fish cake and cut into strips when cooled.
  5. In another pot, boil water to cook macaroni.
  6. When the water comes to a rolling boil, add macaroni and let it cook for 8 minutes.
  7. Transfer macaroni into two bowls when it has cooked.
  8. Blanch baby bok choy in scalding water for one minute.
  9. Arrange baby bok choy, shredded chicken and fish cake on top of macaroni and ladle soup over.
  10. Garnish with parsley and sliced chillis.

Enjoy a comforting meal 

 

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