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Chinese tonight Ok?

It feels like an eternity since I last produced a post on the website. Although events may not have been documented here, I have certainly remained busy preparing dishes, writing new recipes, supporting SW, and of course, sharing with family & friends. I have moved back into old head spaces including scriptwriting, voice over, and video work, together with the established photography, whilst maintaining visibility on the SocNet. Rebuilding a voice over studio in my cutting room to boot. No wonder I have had no time to write!

I wanted to share a recent supper, for it was indeed a ‘crowd pleaser’ and had admiring requests from diners with the infamous “Harry Fisher” line, “That can come again!” The main issue with off the cuff, or off reservation cooking is, remembering ingredients, quantities & methods. Without a recipe you can get lost when recreating, just like not having a map in the days before ‘TOMTOM’, “I’m sure this is the way”.

As I reminisce over the process, I realized the dish did not have a name. Sure when texting I pressed ‘send’ after “Chinese tonight OK xxxx”. Referring to a dish by a region or country though  easy, I find it is as rude as describing a lasagne as Italian, or coq au vin as ‘a French’. I have a vision of a greased back combed waiter, resplendent in starched collar and tails, with a moustache Hercule Poirot would find “magnifique”; looking down on me with abject disdain. 

Alas, I will need to investigate further, remembering the main ingredients and style as to identify the dish. Of course, I could do the tv chef thing, and just call it by said main ingredients and method. I think I have a cunning plan.

Presenting my stir fried chicken in ginger & garlic sauce with almonds, accompanied by a moist golden fried rice with green lentils. I said it needed documenting.

Having diners who are just about out of nappies (“I don’t like textures”) nearing 18 years of immaturity, one needs to be inventive with stalwarts such as onions & garlic, amongst a whole range of other delightful gems.

I began with the food processor, and placed a medium red onion and 3 cloves of garlic in the bowl. I then took a green Chilli pepper (whole) and the bottom 1/4 a red pointed sweet pepper and placed these with the onion genus. I blitzed the assembled adding a dash of balsamic vinegar to help keep the ingredients moving. I warmed my wok over a medium heat, added a spray of oil and the onion pepper base, turned my attention to the next phase.

Preparing the chicken was straight forward. Taking 2 medium chicken breasts, firstly butterflying then cutting into strips lengthwise, before slicing at 90 degrees to create some quite substantial ‘chunks’ of meat. Setting a side, it was time to think about flavours of the sauce kind.

In a mixing bowl I poured lavish quantities of both light and dark Soy sauce, tablespoons of Hoisin, Sweet Chilli and added about an inch of freshly grated ginger. Whence I had combined the sauces I introduced the meat and allowed to sit in the fridge for a couple of moments whilst I prepared the stir vegetables.

Whenever I think stir fry I get the image of leaves and strips. Pak Choi, Chinese leaves, water chestnuts etc., therefore when looking in the larder I was pleased to find a Savoy cabbage, carrots, the remaining red pointed sweet pepper, chestnut mushrooms, baby plum tomatoes, sugar-snap peas & asparagus spears.

I sliced the cabbage thinly and discarding any thick central veins, next I used the peeler to make thin slices of carrot (recycling the centre via Dr Pablo aka Super Pug), deseeded the pepper and sliced into strips equal to that of the cabbage, quartered the mushrooms and sliced the asparagus into 1/2 inch pieces. Sounds really decadent using asparagus in this way. Quite frankly my dears, that is just the way I roll! Phooey! The asparagus was a find in a supermarket who had over ordered an over priced item. I managed to get 4 bunches of organic for the price of 1 factory farmed – BARGAIN!

By now my wok had visibly reached temperature so I tossed the onion mix until it softened. Next I placed the marinated chicken in the wok, and began to cook the meat. When the outside of the meat was no longer pink, I poured over the rest of the sauce and increased the heat until I had a not too violent simmer. After a couple of minutes I added the vegetable medley, stirred and reduced the heat slightly.

Now it was time to prepare the accomplishment, an ‘egg fried rice’ dish. I enjoy rice, and although I find white quite boring, I will eat it, I do though prefer to have something made from it, such as Greek Dolmades, or sushi (which actually means ‘sour rice’ not raw fish!!!). If at an authentic Asian restaurant I will plump for garlic rice or mushroom rice. I cannot abide instant ‘golden’ rice. Utter rubbish in my opinion.

Out of the freezer came handfuls of mixed veg and freshwater prawns. From the cupboard came a sachet of whole grain (microwave) rice, and a carton of cooked green lentils. In my second wok I placed the frozen items and allowed them to heat over a medium glow. I added about 30ml of ginger and balsamic dressing just to give a little liquid. As the ingredients cooked I added the drained lentils and mixed everything together thoroughly. Always keeping an eye, and moving things around. I saw the liquid in the pan but did not panic. It was time for the rice to do its magic. Whole grain rice is gorgeous but lacks aesthetic punch. Time for the cheap alternative to expense saffron, turmeric. A couple of tablespoons and you have that golden rice colour without adding any dodgy chemicals or unpleasant flavours. Everything was coming together – now it was time for the 4 eggs to be beaten & mixed with the rice.

Both pans were gently simmering and it was time for the finishing touch; adding almond shavings to the chicken dish. I adjusted the heat of both hob rings to 1 – the minimum and just let the flavours, colours & textures rest. They had done their work.

There you have it. A filling, moreish stir fried chicken dish with fried rice in an Asian style 🙂

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