Monday, April 26, 2010

Shoyu Chicken Ramen w' mushrooms.

I believe the word  'Ramin' translates into: Using your imagination.
I could be wrong.
Hehe....but here is what me and my imagination literally cooked up.
Shoyu Chicken from a couple nights before.

A mushroom, parsley and lemon juice salad loosely based on Giada's recipe, made last night.

1 package or your favorite ramen.

Cook you favorite ramen.
Remove the noodles and place in a bowl.
Heat the chicken in the ramen broth.
Put the mushrooms over the noodles.
Once the chicken is heated, place over the mushrooms.
Pour the broth over the chicken and mushrooms.
And, voila!
Instant gourmet ramen!

Shoyu Chicken

If there is one thing that I've learned and live by: is that I will never ever be able to make any dishes the way my mom (or many one else's mom) makes them. But, by that same token, if there is one thing that I learned from my mom about cooking is: "just make 'em taste good, braddah!"
Yeah, my mom talks like that.
And, yes. I do, "make 'em taste good...".
So, with all that said, here is my Shoyu Chicken:

1 dozen chicken thighs w' skin and bones
2 cups brown organic sugar (organic -  being optional)
1 1/2 cup of Aloha Shoyu (soy) Sauce
4 cloves of garlic
3-4 slices of ginger
1 table spoon of pepper corn
2-3 bayleaves

In a big pot. Heat about a table spoon of oil and then brown your chicken.
Don't just throw everything in there. Put as much of the chicken as you can fit in there so you can brown and cook you chicken evenly. Brown both sides and then remove and put into a separate bowl.
Drain oil and repeat process until all your chicken is browned.
Don't worry about the chicken being fully cooked. All you want to do is brown the chicken and the pot and cook off some of the chicken fat. But not all of it.

When all your chicken is browned, put it all back into the pot with the garlic, ginger, peppercorn and bay leaves. Cover it and turn the heat down to medium for about half hour.
This will finish cooking most of your chicken and create a broth at the same time.

After about a half hour, drain the broth and fat into a separate bowl and add the sugar, and shoyu (soy) sauce into the pot.
Don't stir it! Just cover it and leave it alone for about 15-20 minutes.
Bring the heat to a medium-low temperature.

Make a pot of rice.

While you are doing that the broth and chicken fat sitting in the bowl will begin to separate.
Once it's separated, slowly and gently remove the chicken fat from the broth.
This should be a slow process. Take your time.

*note~Shoyu sauce is Japanese soy sauce. 
Hawai'i people love using the Aloha brand shoyu, being that it had a lighter flavor than most of the Japanese shoyu sauces, Chinese soy sauces or any other Asian soy sauce out there.
My favorite shoyu sauce is Kikoman, because of it's richer flavor.
Now you know....

Once you take out all of that chicken fat, put the broth back into the pot.

One of my favorite cooking techniques is making reductions. Which is basically cooking a liquid to the point where most of the H2o is taken out of the sauce. This technique leaves you with a thicker and richer sauce.

So at this point, I remove the cover from the pot and bring the heat up to about medium high and basically watch the sauce boil down. Feel free to carefully turn your chicken over one-by-one to ensure that all the pieces are being cooked evenly in the sauce. You should also use a tea or table spoon, to drizzle the sauce over the top pieces.
This could take about 20 minutes or so.

Make what ever kind of veggies you feel like eating.
For some uncanny reason, when ever I make Shoyu Chicken, I always end up having corn with it. I just happens.

Once you sauce attains a slightly syrupy viscosity, your chicken is done.

This is even better with my famous fried rice:


Green Papya & Pork

OK. I gotta let you know:
I have NO idea what the name of this dish is.
You figure, after years of eating and cooking this dish, I would.
But, no. (I should find out...)
Although, It might be based on a Pinoy(Filipino) dish, something similar that my Nanay(mom) made before....but not exactly.
For now, we'll call it Green Papaya and Pork Stew.
This is one of those recipes that you feed 6-8 people with, or you'll find yourself eating this for about 3 days. Which some of you all can appreciate and agree with me, that soups and stews are so much better the next day or the day after that. Can I get an "Amen!"
All of my ingredient were picked up at Ranch 99. So that makes the shopping part real easy.

1 med-med.large Green Papaya - 11/2 - 2 inch portions. Yes, get rid of the skin and seeds.
2-3 lbs of fatty pork belly - 11/2 - 2 inch portions. Salt and pepper your pork and let it sit for a while.
1 bunch of Chinese long green beans - 2 -3 inch cuts.
2 tomatoes  - sliced thin. These you want disintegrating into nothingness.
1 large onion - sliced thin. These you want disintegrating into nothingness, too.
5 cloves of garlic - peeled whole.
4-5 slices of ginger
2-3 Bay leaves.

*note~ you don't have to follow the recipe to a tee. How much of each item you want to put into the stew is really up to you. But you might want to think about what it is that you want to aim for as far as over all taste goes.
I was focused on the subtle but fragrant sweetness of the The Green Papaya and sweet and saltiness of caramelized pork fat. Doesn't that sound like the bomb-doggity
As Tony would say, "Oh, yeah baby. Come to poppa."

Prep & Rant:
Now, when prepping a stew such of this, you have to really factor in cooking time. Stew of ALL forms cannot be and must not be rushed.
Don't you hate it when you find a recipe that says 4-5 hrs. cooking time. And you're like, "Seriously? Why the hell for?"
I won't leave you in the dark for this one.
When stewing: What you really doing is breaking down the physical structure of the ingredients and turning some of the solid matter into liquid. What you are trying to achieve is a certain flavor, texture and liquid consistency throughout the stew.
This particular stew at the very earliest can be eaten after 2-3 hrs. of cooking.
But again, it is best appreciated the next day (or 2).

So, what I was trying to get at is this: because of the extended cooking time, you should cut everything in larger portions. Or everything will shrink and disintegrate into mush.
Which would be fine, if you were eating through a straw or tube.

Cooking steps:
Heat a huge-ass pot with a couple tablespoons of olive oil (or your favorite cooking oil).
Not too much oil, as you will get a lot when the pork fat melts.
As soon as the oil is really hot, put several pieces  of pork into the pot. Enough to cover most of the surface, but not too much. Bring heat down to medium-high and brown all side. When the pieces are done, remove into a separate bowl and repeat with the remainder of the pork till all of them are done.
Depending on how much pork you actually get, this could take about a half hour.

Now with a pot of just hot oil and pork fat, throw you tomatoes, onions and garlic. Salt and pepper.
Then put your pork over that and cover and turn heat to medium.

Walk away. Have a beer or something. Watch the LA Laker's get their butts kicked by the 8th seed OKC. Have a smoke....something to keep you away from messing with the stew.

After about 20-30 minutes, go and check on your stew.
Has the liquid in the pot built up on it's self? 
If it did. Good going.
If not, then looks like you're going to need to boil some hot water.
*The medium heat should have drawn out the liquids from the tomatoes, onions more from the pork. Some time it needs a little help. By adding in about cup of hot water, this helps to coerce the ingredients to sweat out it liquids. The liquids in the pot at this point should be covering most of the ingredients.

( my best Martin Yan imitation.)
Put in your ginger and bay leaves.
Stir the pot until every thing is turned over.
And then.
Cover the pork with the Chinese long green beans.
Salt and pepper.
And then.
Put the Green Papaya over the green beans.
And then.
Salt and pepper.
And then.
Turn the heat to medium low.
And then.
You cover the pot, and walk away.

Leave it alone for about another half hour.
After about 30 minutes of really slow cooking, you should have a little more liquid in the pot. And your papaya should be starting to look translucent.
Turn the heat down to simmer, and leave the cover just slightly open to release most of the steam. You don't want to build up too much liquid.
*note~ I put in the ginger and bay leaves after the higher heat cooking process, because I don't want those flavors to be so dominant.

Make a pot of rice.

By the time your rice is done. The papaya should be translucent and soft to the touch.
If it's  not. Then it's not ready. Only when the papaya is done is the stew ready to be eaten.
Have some patience and it will be worth it.
I promise.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Quick and Painless...

..and good for you too! ( I think : / )

Fried Rice! 
Who doesn't like fried rice?
Me? I love making fried rice with left-overs from the previous night.
(or the night before that, or the night before get my point.)

Here is  what I threw together for brunch this after noon.

Corn, Peas & Spinach
A couple eggs.

No big deal right?

Take your left over rice, and in the rice pot mix these ingredients in.

Sesame Seed Oil
Shoyu (Soy Sauce)
Garlic Powder
Ginger Powder
Pepper or White Pepper
Salt (optional)

Because I always make fried rice, I didn't measure any of these ingredients and did everything pretty much instinctively.
For the Sesame Seed Oils and Shoyu sauce, I just try to make sure that there is enough to cover all of the rice. And the spices, I just gave a couple pinches of each.

By hand (and even better if you have plastic disposable kitchen gloves) mix your ingredients and break apart all the rice, and make sure the rice is getting evenly covered with your sauces and spices. This should only take a couple minutes.

In your favorite non-stick pan heat up about a couple tbl.spoons of regular cooking oil.

Tangent* In my experience in the kitchen, it is never a good thing to fry food with pure Sesame Seed Oil. Sesame Seed Oil is too thin and heats up too fast, and in my opinion can over dominate the flavor if the dish.

Back to cooking :)
When the oil is hot enough, dump you rice mixture in the pan and just evenly distribute the rice throughout the pan. Once you get a lot of heat activity going on in the pan, turn the heat down to med-high.

At this point, I have reheated my vegetables from the previous night and they are ready to be thrown in the the pan with the rice. Add about a qtr.cup water, turn content over and cover.

Tangent* I try not to stir food while cooking (unless it's soup). To me, stirring items while cooking only abuses the contents and by the time you're done cooking, you end up with mush.

 After about 4-5 minutes, turn you rice and veggies over and then crack a couple eggs into the pan and fold the eggs through the rice and veggies. Turn the heat down to simmer and cover for about 7-10 minutes.

That's it.
Eat and enjoy.