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Recipe Category: Issue 196
This one-pot meal is one of my favourite dishes when the weather turns cold. Traditionally, chicken, lap cheong sausage and shiitake mushrooms are the usual suspects for flavouring the rice, but I’ve also had this with goose-liver sausage, frogs’ legs and salted fish. The best claypot rice I’ve eaten was at the very old-school Kwan Kee in the Western District of Hong Kong Island. This recipe is Cantonese in origin, but there are several versions of this popular dish. Should you use a Chinese claypot, a good trick is to drizzle 1⁄2 tablespoon of oil around the side of the pot after the rice is just cooked so it forms a firmer crust.
This salad is bright, crunchy, substantial and packed full of flavour. The dressing can be made well in advance, however dress the salad right before serving to retain its crunch. You can find fried shallots at some supermarkets or at your local Asian supermarket. I use a medium-firm organic tofu from Tonzu.
This is an Okayama-style okonomiyaki with oysters cooked into the top. I used a tub of Pacific oysters, but if you like you could try it with smoked oysters or marinated mussels. It is best to make the pickle a day or two before if you can.
I’ve long been a fan of pastéis de nata, the Portuguese custard tart with crisp pastry and sweet eggy filling, ever since I discovered Lisboa Patisserie on London’s Golborne Road. There is nothing better to have with a strong espresso. It’s pastry that has travelled the world courtesy of Portuguese colonisation or sailing routes, as popular in Hong Kong, Indonesia and Taiwan as it is in Portugal. It does vary though, sometimes the pastry is short crust rather than puff pastry, sometimes the egg has the dark caramelised exterior from the hot oven, at other times it is glossy and plain. I’ve used a bought butter puff pastry here, and have found that it is difficult to get that scorched top in my oven when using muffin tins, however they are still delectable without it, especially when the custard is infused with lemongrass. These are best eaten on the day they are made either warm or cold. However all the components can be prepared the day ahead.
Laksa is a dish that has variations throughout southeast Asia from Indonesia through to Thailand. Chicken is often added to the mix, as are fresh prawns; asparagus isn’t traditional but I like to add it when in season. Make large batches of both the sambal and the laksa paste then refrigerate or freeze. If you can’t find candlenuts use macadamias or a few Brazil nuts.
Fritters such as these are a great way to use up any leftover quinoa. They have a dense texture but the rich nuttiness of the grain comes through. I have made these gluten free, but use plain flour or rice flour if you prefer.
The essential ingredients for CKT are pretty simple but the success lies in the mixture of the sauce, the chilli paste, the freshness of the flat rice noodles and other key ingredients and, most importantly, the control of heat of the wok during frying. The secret in good char koay teow lies in the timing, and the way the heat of the wok and style of frying is controlled. A very hot wok will produce a plate of fragrant and smoky noodles, but have the heat too high and not properly controlled and you’ll have burnt ingredients and broken, clumpy noodles. We use lard as it is smooth, resistant to higher heat and definitely more aromatic when frying! The amount of chilli and sauce can be added according to liking although too much sauce will result in soggy noodles. If you prefer a saltier taste, then add in more salt in the sauce but keep the liquid ingredients constant.
We import our own sauces as we know the origin and hence the integrity of the sauce. We find that the sauces made in Malaysia are definitely superior in taste with no mechanical aftertaste.
This quantity makes four serves but it’s best to fry one portion at a time to preserve the heat of the wok. So, once you have made the chilli paste and the sauce, divide all the ingredients into four portions before cooking.
TEE CHIEW PHIE