Friday, June 11, 2010

Cracked Soy Sauce Eggs

After making the Soy Sauce Chicken from my previous post - it would be an absolute sin to toss out the syrupy goodness left over. *Note: "Left over"...meaning only if you haven't already dumped the sauce over white rice and gobbled it up the next morning for breakfast...or for a midnight snack because you couldn't sleep thinking about it. That said, what do you do with this luxuriously silky sauce? You could mix a couple tablespoons of the stuff when making fried rice or toss into a broth to serve with noodles. As easy and delicious as those options sound, I recommend another option, using more goodies from Godfrey Family Farms: Eggs!

Similar to traditional Chinese tea eggs, the process involves using hard boiled eggs, lightly cracking the shell, submerging them into the sauce and allowing them to simmer for at least one hour and up to about 3 hours. Some people might automatically discount the thought of cooking an egg for so long, because eggs are indeed best consumed fresh with a just firmed white and slightly runny yolk (at least that's my opinion)...HOWEVER the result of this recipe is a savory soy sauce infused egg, that is both beautiful to look at and delightfully tasty. So - this recipe might actually be better applied to an older egg rather than a farm fresh one, but I really couldn't resist using the little freckled eggies when I made this.

Left over sauce from Soy Sauce Chicken recipe - should be about 1/2 - 3/4 Cups
4 - 6 eggs, hard boiled

With the back of a spoon, hit the egg shells so they're slightly cracked, but still in tact. Put the sauce and eggs In a medium pot and add enough water to just barely cover the eggs. Bring the sauce to a boil, then reduce to low for a soft simmer, keeping the lid on. Cook for 1-3 hours - add water as needed. When cooled, peel off the egg shells and enjoy!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Soy Sauce Chicken

Last Saturday, I went to pick up 2 farm fresh chickens and a dozen eggies (my term for ‘special’ eggs, that come straight from a local farm or my friends’ backyards) from a big white van in front of a Home Depot by my house. Totally random, right?..I know….but it was exhilarating! The thought of a farmer coming into your neighborhood to drop off chickens that he raised himself gets me SO excited! As I walked up to the big white van, there was an odd smell of, well….chickens and livestockyness. I’ll be honest and not ashamed to admit….I kind of appreciated the funk. I’m pretty sure that very few others would share the same sentiment about chicken funk, but it made me feel like this was the real deal. It was Brian Godfrey of Godfrey Family Farms who I met at the big white van, and he brought me the real deal – and that is what it was.

I ordered 2 chickens knowing that one would be given to my parents. My dad always said that he missed the good chicken flavor of ‘real’ chicken from his days in Hong Kong. I wasn’t sure if I knew what ‘real’ chicken tasted like – so I figured pastured finished chickens that walk around and eat grass and worms like they’re made to do, instead of hormones and who knows what would do the trick. I told my mom she needed to cook this Godfrey Family chicken and that my dad would be the judge of ‘real’ chickenness. My mom ended up making White Cut Chicken, which is, in my opinion, probably the most unadulterated way of enjoying fresh chicken, Cantonese style. It’s the whole chicken, poached in water with some ginger, garlic and salt, chopped into large pieces and served over white rice with a ginger scallion sauce. How simple, yet so incredibly divine! The verdict: Dad was happy. He and mom both got some ‘real’ chicken goodness.

As always, mom inspired me. I, too, wanted to make something super traditionally Asian to enjoy my chicken, so Soy Sauce Chicken is what first came to mind. The traditional way of making this recipe is to poach the chicken whole in soy sauce, but I wanted to save the carcass to make something else, so I butchered the chicken into 8 pieces: 2 thighs, 2 drumsticks, 2 wings, 2 breasts, and saved the carcass for future chicken goodness. The cut chicken pieces also help spread the chicken in a pan, so less soy sauce is needed to cover the chicken. Soy Sauce Chicken served over white rice with a side of braised bok choy and a drizzle of the chicken soy sauce – ummm….YES PLEASE! Cantonese soul food at its best!

1 Cup Soy Sauce
1/3 Cup Rice Wine
1 stick of Chinese Brown Sugar*, can substitute using ~3/4 to 1 cup of brown sugar
1 cinnamon stick, whole
1 star anise, whole
2 inch piece of ginger, sliced thick and pounded
8 Pieces of chicken (any combination of thighs, drumsticks, wings, breasts)

Combine all the ingredients together, except the chicken, in a deep pan and cook over medium high heat. When all of the sugar has dissolved and the sauce is simmering, place the chicken, skin side down into the pan, trying to fit it all in one layer. Cover and cook for 3-4 minutes. Flip the chicken so that the soy sauce can color and flavor the other side of the chicken and continue to cook for another 3-4 minutes. Keep flipping and cooking 3 to 4 more times until the chicken is fully cooked and glazed with a deep brown color. The sauce should be the consistency of maple syrup. Serve the chicken hot over rice with a generous drizzle of the soy sauce.

*Chinese brown sugar, sometimes labeled “Brown Candy” can be purchased at most Asian markets. They come in stick form and if chopped into little pieces, can pretty much be eaten as candy. I used to sneak little pieces of it when my mom used it to make sugar filled mochi dumplings for Chinese New Year.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Grilled Vegetable & Israeli Cous Cous Confetti

I love summer! Not only does the season produce my favorite fruits and vegetables, but it means longer days and warm evenings - conditions that practically begs for grilling. As you might know, I'm not much of a fan of big slabs of meat, but I can grill produce all day long. From portabellos to zucchini to peaches, the grill seasons everyday vegetables with summer goodness.

How this recipe came about was a through a random act of desparation. I needed a side to pair with some pork shoulder that was about to be thrown on the grill. It had been marinating in red wine, garlic and rosemary. I didn't want rice or pasta, but I wanted something quick and I was too lazy to go to the grocery store. After digging through my pantry, I found a little purple box of Israeli cous cous. SCORE! From there, I had some vegetables on hand - zucchini, red onion, and roma tomatoes - MORE SCORE! Tossing everything together with a bit of fresh sweet basil - oh heaven. To complete the meal, I made some cold tzatziki (a future blog post) to accompany the grilled pork and the whole mish mash of goodness blended perfectly together. It was like a middle eastern thanksgiving on a warm summer sunday night.

1 1/3 Cup Israeli Cous Cous
1 1/3 Cup Chicken broth, bring to a boil
1 Tbs Olive Oil
3 small zucchini, sliced lengthwise about 1/4 - 1/2 inch thick
1 red onion, cut into 8 wedges, leaving the root end holding each wedge together*
2 roma tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise
Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper to taste
1/4 Cup Sweet Basil - chiffonade

Start by cooking the cous cous. Heat olive oil in a pot, and toast the cous cous until lightly golden brown - about 5 minutes. Add the chicken broth (careful! - it will be SUPER bubbly and steamy), turn the heat down to medium - low, cover and cook until all the liquid has absorbed, about 10 - 12 minutes.

In the meantime heat the grill on high and prep the vegetables. Place the tomatoes cut side up, zucchini and red onion on a sheet pan. Drizzle olive oil over the vegetables and sprinkle salt and pepper. Once the grill put the vegetables on the grill. The zucchini will take about 2-3 minutes on each side. I like the onions a bit more caramelized, so i left them on for longer. The tomatoes should be put on the grill cut side down and grilled briefly for until there are grill marks

Once the vegetables are grilled and are cool enough to handle, roughly chop them up and add to the cooked cous cous with the basil. Salt and pepper to taste and drizzle with a bit more olive oil if desired.

*I like my red onions mostly cooked and a bit caramlized, so I cut the onion into eighths. You can cut into quarters if you like a bit of bite from the raw onion.