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Tasty and tender Dak (chicken) Bulgogi

Tasty and tender Dak (chicken) Bulgogi


Finger-licking good. What a fabulous discovery this dish has been. Each bite is like a little trip to some exotic and far-away land.

Bulgogi (불고기) is Korean and literally means “fire meat”. It usually consists of  marinated beef that is grilled, sometimes with the addition of green peppers or mushrooms.

The first time I made this recipe, I enjoyed it so much I had to indulge myself and prepare it again the next day. The list of ingredients might seem a bit daunting at first, but the preparation takes no time at all. You just mix a few spoon full of this, a dash of that and then you allow the chicken meat marinade for a while. When you are ready to eat, just cook some rice or make a little noodle salad. Then just toss the meat under the grill for a few quick minutes. Within no time you are wrapping delicate lettuce leaves around juicy pieces of meat. A fabulously exotic and light meal. Added bonus: you get to eat with your fingers.

And for those of you that own a table grill or raclette set: this is a great little dish to spice things up for your next evening of table top cooking.

Ingredients
(hardly apated from the blog ‘Spontaneous Tomato‘)
Serves 3-4

500-700g chicken fillet or thighs (or beef or pork)
3tbsp light or kikkoman soy sauce
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp rice vinegar (at a pinch you could use apple cider vinegar)
1/2 tbsp cooking sake (or if you do not have any you could use mirin, Chinese rice wine or sherry)
optional: a few pinches of chili flakes
optional: pinch of sugar
2-3 cloves garlic
2 tsp fresh ginger
3-5 spring onions
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 head of butter lettuce leaves (this is the soft lettuce not the ice berg)
2 tsp roasted sesame seeds

Recipe

  1. Cut the chicken into wide, flat slices. Place in a zip-lock bag or wide bowl.
  2. Add soy sauce, sesame oil, vinegar and sake to the meat.
  3. If using add chili flakes and sugar.
  4. Mince the garlic, grate the ginger and add.
  5. Reserve one of the spring onions for decoration. Chop the rest and add to the meat.
  6. Combine all the ingredients, cover and refrigerate 30 min (or up to 3 hours).
  7. (Prepare your side dish – some steamed rice, cooked noodles or noodle salad)
  8. Allow the grill in your oven to heat up.
  9. Line a wide baking dish or tray with aluminium foil. Spread out the chicken and pour over the remaining marinade.
  10. Place the chicken under the grill. Stir after about 4 minutes. Usually it takes around 8 min for the chicken to cook. Cooking time can vary a lot and depends on the amount of chicken and type of dish. Note: do not overcook the chicken, it will not brown but stay quite pale.
  11. (Alternatively you can cook the chicken on a non-stick skillet.)
  12. Cut the remaining spring onion into thin rings.
  13. Sprinkle the chicken with the spring onion and sesame seeds. Serve with lettuce leaves and rice or noodles.

Serve with

  • steamed rice or
  • soba noodles or
  • vermicelli noodles mixed with fresh chopped mint and coriander with a splash of sesame oil, lime juice and fish sauce

This post was added to Easy to Cook Meals blog. Please join us in Cunning Ladies’ Friday Party.

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Some of the health benefits of butter lettuce

  • Vitamin A and beta carotenes. Just 100 g of fresh, raw-lettuce provides 247% of daily vitamin A, and 4443 µg of beta-carotene (Carotenes convert to vitamin A in the body; 2 µg of carotene is considered equivalent to 1 IU of vitamin A). These compounds have antioxidant properties. Vitamin A is required for maintaining healthy mucus membranes and skin, and is also essential for vision. Consumption of natural fruits and vegetables rich in flavonoids helps to protect the body from lung and oral cavity cancers.
  • Vitamin K. Which has a potential role in the bone metabolism where it thought to increase bone mass by promoting osteotrophic activity in the bone cells. It also has established role in Alzheimer’s disease patients by limiting neuronal damage in the brain.
  • Folates and vitamin C. Folates require for DNA synthesis and therefore, vital in prevention of the neural tube defects in-utero fetus during pregnancy. Vitamin C is a powerful natural antioxidant; regular consumption of foods rich in vitamin C helps the body develop resistance against infectious agents and scavenge harmful, pro-inflammatory free radicals.
  • Zea-xanthin (1730 µg per 100 g), an important dietary carotenoid in lettuce, is selectively absorbed into the retinal macula lutea, where it thought to provide antioxidant and filter UV rays falling on the retina. Diet rich in xanthin and carotenes is thought to offer some protection against age-related macular disease (ARMD) in the elderly.
  • It also contains good amounts of minerals like iron, calcium, magnesium, and potassium, which are very essential for body metabolism. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps controlling heart rate and blood pressure. Manganese is used by the body as a co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase. Copper is required in the production of red blood cells. Iron is essential for red blood cell formation.
  • It is rich in B-complex group of vitamins like thiamin, vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine), riboflavins.
  • Regular inclusion of lettuce in salads is known to prevent osteoporosis, iron-deficiency anemia and believed to protect from cardiovascular diseases, ARMD, Alzheimer’s disease and cancers.
    (Source: Nutrition and You)
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Cheese...hot cheese....

Cheese…hot cheese….

Halloumi is a cheese that makes the most endearing squeak with every bite. Squeak!

On the practical side:  it is an unripened cheese from Cyprus that can be kept in the fridge for months, as long as the package is unopened. It has a much higher melting point than other cheeses which makes it excellent for grilling or frying. It is quite salty and works wonderfully in salads with deep flavours like lentils and asparagus or fresh fruit like watermelon or strawberries.

With all its saltiness and squeak Halloumi is not an elegant food. This is the fare of casual garden parties and family dinners. At the same time it will turn the simplest quick meal into a little feast.

This recipe is impressively simple; or should I say simply impressive. The original recipe uses preserved lemons but well, as I have never ever made preserved lemons before, I just skipped them.

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 Ingredients

(adapted from Donna Hay’s recipe)
Serves 4

Ingredients (8 skewers): 48 oregano leaves* – 9 oz (250g) halloumi, cut into 24 cubes of 2 cm – 2 chicken breasts cut into 2 cm cubes – 1 tbsp olive oil – 1 tbsp lemon juice – salt and pepper

8 skewers (wood or metal)
2-3 chicken breast
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp lemon juice
oregano leaves (how ever much you like 16,24, 28)
250g (9oz) halloumi
salt and pepper

Recipe

  1. If using wood skewers soak them in water for 15 min.
  2. Cut the chicken breast into 24 cubes.
  3. Combine oil, lemon with chicken cubes. Wrap in cling film and refrigerate for about 30 min.
  4. Cut halloumi into 24 cubes.
  5. Skewer chicken, oregano leaves and halloumi.
  6. Season with salt and pepper.
  7. Heat a (non-stick) pan. And cook the skewers for about 2-3 min each side until the chicken is just cooked through.

 Tips & Variations

  • add pieces of preserved lemon to the marinade
  • add chopped garlic to the marinade
  • instead of using oregano leaves you could sprinkle the finished skewer with chopped mint


Serve with

.

Xin Nian Kuai Le! Happy Lunar New Year and welcome to the Year of the Wooden Horse!

Eggs for prosperity - the state of flourishing, thriving and good fortune

Eggs for prosperity – the state of flourishing, thriving and good fortune

I do not know anything about Chinese astrology, but I read that “Horse energy is free spirited, wild, willful, and independent. Horse has a refined instinct that acts fast, on the spot. (….) The Wood Horse year is a time of fast victories, unexpected adventure, and surprising romance. It is an excellent year for travel, and the more far away and off the beaten path the better. Energy is high and production is rewarded. Decisive action, not procrastination, brings victory. But you have to act fast in a Horse year. If you are not 100% secure about a decision, then don’t do it. Events move so quickly in a Horse year that you don’t want to gallop off in the wrong direction.” (Source: Susan Levitt)

Whilst I was googeling info on the Year of the Horse I (re)discovered that apparently I am a horse, and it is going to be quite a ride for me this year. (Actually the predictions vary from an excellent year, to dramatic ups and downs, to a down-right challenging year 🙂 ).

Whatever it may bring, to ring in this New Year a little Asian dish that I like to prepare ahead for a quick weeknight dinner. Although the recipe looks long, this meal is not a lot of work. The meat does need to marinade so I like to throw it together the day before. After a long days work, I just pop it in the oven and have a feast ready in just over half an hour.

If you are looking for a speedy dinner, just steam a little rice and stir-fry some (oyster) mushrooms with spinach as a side. This chicken is also lovely with vermicelli noodles mixed with a lot of fresh herbs. Or cold soba with mango and spring onion. The variations are endless; just keep in mind that the dish comes without sauce so it is important to serve it with something fresh and crunchy or something juicy.

By the way, I have made this dish with quail eggs (special), with regular eggs (nice) and without any eggs (fabulously fuss-free). Another festive variation is to serve the chicken with some Marbled Tea Eggs. They are not much more work but take a little more time to prepare.

Wishing you peace and good health in the Year of the Horse! (馬年安康)

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Ingredients
(found on the blog ‘Cooking in Sense‘)
Serves 3-4

For the chicken

5 tbsp light soy sauce
3 tbsp sake (or Chinese rice wine or dry sherry)
2 tbsp mirin
1 tbsp sugar
4 garlic cloves
a piece of ginger as large as 2 garlic cloves
1 mild green chilli
8-9 chicken drumsticks (2-3 a person)
spring onion
sesame seeds

Optional: For the eggs
9-12 fresh quail eggs or 3-4 regular eggs
6 garlic cloves
1/2 red chilli
1/2 green chilli
3 tbsp dark soy sauce
2 tbsp mirin
1 tbsp sugar
 

Recipe

To prepare the chicken:

  1. Make a marinade by combine the soy sauce, sake, mirin and sugar in a freezer bag or bowl.
  2. Slice the garlic, ginger and chili into slices and add to the marinade.
  3. You can leave the skin on the chicken, I prefer to remove it (loosen the skin with your fingers. Pull back over the leg. Grab the skin with a piece of kitchen paper to pull it off easily.)
  4. Wash and dry the chicken and add to the marinade. Refrigerate overnight or at least 3 hours.

Optional: To prepare the egg:

  1. Cook the eggs (quail: 4 min, regular: 10 min)
  2. Remove the eggs from the water. Keep the water. Rinse the eggs under cold water and allow to cool until you can peel them.
  3. Add soy sauce, mirin and sugar to the hot water.
  4. Place the peeled eggs into the sauce. Simmer for 15 min.
  5. Halve the garlic cloves and add to the water.
  6. Slice the chili and add.
  7. Simmer another 5 minutes.
  8. The eggs can be served warm or at room temperature. They can be made the day before and stored in the liquid in the fridge.

To finish the dish:

  1. Remove chicken and eggs from the fridge and allow to come to room temperature for 15 min.
  2. Heat the oven to 200C (390F).
  3. Line an oven dish with aluminum foil.
  4. Place the chicken in the oven dish.
  5. Roast for 20 min. Turn and roast another 15-25 min.
  6. Cut the spring onion into thin rings.
  7. Plate the chicken with the eggs (cut regular eggs in half) and sprinkle with spring onion and sesame seeds.

 

Tips & Variations

For a simpler meal leave out the eggs, for a more special dish make some Marbled Tea Eggs the day before


Serve with

  • Stir-fried (oyster) mushrooms with spinach and steamed rice.
  • Cold salad of vermicelli with chopped herbs and red capsicum (bell pepper, DE/ NL: paprika) with a dressing of fish sauce, lime and chili and a sprinkling of cashew.
  • A cold salad of soba noodles with mango and spring onion and a dressing of sesame – and chili oil.
The comfort of home in a bowl of chicken soup

The comfort of home in a bowl of chicken soup

I have to admit something: I do not understand soup. Yes, I enjoy a delicious small drop in an amuse glass, but anything else seems like a waste of an opportunity to eat something ‘proper’ – I want to bite into my food; not drink it.

But here I was cooking soup…and you know how I got there?

Well, despite the fact that I live in a big city, it is more like a village sometimes.
Let me explain:

When I walk through town I might have to dodge hordes of tourists,  but as soon as I get close to home I recognize, and greet, the old lady walking her dog; I catch a glimpse of my neighbour through the window and he waves at me; I chat to the guy next door as she we let ourselves in the house.

I might live in the center of a buzzing city full of distractions, but my little neighbourhood is a quiet, friendly and warm community. We know each other by name and we take care of each other.

So when I go food shopping I sometimes take a list from the elderly lady down-stairs. When I make a special treat, I take some if down stairs for her. But then, when she is ill, she does not like to eat. It becomes unbearable to watch her shrinking even further… so I had to bring out the big guns and resort to my mother’s secret weapon: Chicken Soup.

….and my neighbour got better……

So, although I might not like soup, how could I not share the recipe for this miracle cure for all ailments – a common cold, a nasty flue, a hangover and even the blues.

 

Ingredients
1 organic chicken (preferably a soup chicken, but a regular one will do)
250g of mixed soup vegetables (onion, carrot, leek, celery, parsley)
optional: 1 potato
1 cube of chicken stock
100g crème fraîche
2 tbsp flour
optional: cooked spagetthi or vermicelli
parsley

Recipe

  1. Put the chicken in a large pot, cover with cold water and bring to a simmer.
  2. Chop and add the vegetables (and potato if using).
  3. Cook for about 60 min for a soup chicken or 30 min for regular chicken.
  4. Remove the chicken from the stock and allow the meat to cool enough to handle.
  5. In the meanwhile pour the stock through a sieve into another pot.
  6. Rub the vegetables trough the sieve into the stock.
  7. Add the stock cube.
  8. Add the flour to the crème fraîche and blend.  Then stir in a few tbs of the stock at a time until the crème fraiche is smooth and runny (this is to avoid lumps when you add it to the stock).
  9. Stir the crème fraiche into the stock.
  10. Allow the soup to simmer for about 10-15 min, until there is no taste of flour left.
  11. Optional: cut the spaghetti or vermicelli into small pieces and carefully reheat in the soup.
  12. Pluck the chicken meat off the bone (resist nibbling on it).
  13. Add the meat to the soup.
  14. Chop the parsley and stir most of it into the soup.
  15. Serve with a sprinkling of parsley.
Star of the week: zucchini (supporting roll: chicken)

Star of the week: zucchini (supporting roll: chicken)


A new tradition is born: “Vegetable of the Week”!

The other day, my sister and I decided that we would introduce more vegetables to our own and our family’s diet. Not that we eat unhealthily, but with the weather getting cold and the craving for comfort food  is setting in, it is becoming tempting to see vegetables as colourful decoration on a plate of protein and carb.

So we decided to launch the “Vegetable of the Week”. The idea is that EVERY week we pick a vegetable that we will both prepare AT LEAST ONCE THAT week. Also we will share our recipes with each other so that we can choose to cook the other’s recipe or to prepare a different dish. It’s as simple as that.

This recipe seemed to me to be the perfect kick-off.
You must understand, our pact is not about chewing on more raw carrots, it is about introducing more veg into our regular everyday eating routines. And what better start than a common meat dish that replaces some of the meat with vegetable.

Without further ado……. I present to you …….the first “Vegetable of the Week” (drum roll):
Zucchini (in chicken meatballs)

This recipe ticks all the boxes: it has a fabulously healthy vegetable playing the central role, it is ever so tasty (the zucchini adds amazing moisture to the meatballs), it is quick and easy to prepare and did I already say: it is tasty! A recipe by Ottolenghi (whom I have raved about
before – socca, lentil with celeriac).

You could make this dish using ready-ground chicken mince. But I prefer using boneless chicken thighs and blitzing them in my food processor (chicken breast would also work well, although it has a little less flavour).

There must be an endless amount of side dishes you can serve these tasty little morsels with: some pita bread and a little salad. Add some pulses and fold them into mung bean wraps or go all veggie and prepare some cauli tabouleh and steamed green beans.

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Ingredients
(adapted from Ottolenghi’s ‘Jerusalem’and inspired by the blog ‘The Iron in You’)
About 20-25 meatballs

1 large (or 2 small) zucchini (courgette)
1 medium onion, finely
500g organic boneless chicken thighs (or chicken breast or ground chicken)
2 tbs mint (you cannot skip the mint! J )
2 tbs parsley
2 egg whites (or 1 large egg)
1 tsp salt
½ tsp cayenne pepper
½ tsp pepper
1 tsp turmeric (optional)

Recipe

  1. Preheat oven to 200C (400F).
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. Chop the mint and parsley.
  4. If you have a food processor: use the grating disk to shred your zucchini and onion. Insert the chopping blade. Cut the chicken into chunks and together with the chopped herbs, egg white and seasoning. Blitz just long enough for the mix to come together. Do not overwork.
  5. No food processor: Chop the chicken meat finely. Grate the zucchini and onion finely. Combine with the chopped herbs, egg and seasoning.
  6. Using a spoon drop meatballs onto the baking sheet (the mixture will be rather moist compared to traditional meatballs)
  7. Place in the oven and bake for about 20 minutes. Check them once in a while as you want them cooked, but only just done so they stay moist. (Usually they will flatten out a little instead of staying perfect little balls – but believe me: the flavour will make up for that)


Serve with

Some of the health benefits

  • Depending on the size, one meatball has just 28.5 calories, with almost no fat (0.3 grams), just 1 grams of carbs and an outstanding 5.3 grams of protein.
  • Zucchini is one of the very low calorie veg – 17cal per 100g (nutrition and you)
  • It is a very good source of potassium, an important intra-cellular electrolyte. Potassium is a heart friendly electrolyte and helps bring the reduction in blood pressure and heart rates by countering pressure-effects of sodium.(nutrition and you)
  • A source of magnesium which like vitamin C protects your tissues from harmful free radicals. It supports the function of glycosyltransferases, a family of proteins that promote healthy bone tissue development. Manganese also helps your body produce collagen essential for efficient wound healing. Each cup of chopped zucchini boasts 0.22 milligram of manganese. This provides 12 and 10 percent of the Institute of Medicine’s recommended daily intake for women and men, respectively. (livestrong)
  • High in fiber
  • Beta carotene
  • Potassium
Tender chicken - one pot, no effort

Tender chicken – one pot, no effort

Every year I am surprised that there are so few hour of light there are in a winter’s day. Inevitably I start dreaming of luxuriant sunshine and far away lands

A tropical paradise the Philippines

The Philippines a tropical paradise

I wanted to bring some of those exotic flavours into my cozy, candle-lit winter home. At the same time the cold winter weather is making me crave hearty and rich foods. How to combine these two worlds? Chicken Adobo!

Adobo is  cooking method from the  Philippines that takes me back to my travels through that beautiful country.  This simple chicken stew is full of deep and earthy aromas. Granted it is not sophisticated or refined, but its dark flavours with a hint of sweet and an edge of acidity make for perfect comfort food.

This dish must be the easiest recipe ever. Basically you just throw all the ingredients in a pot and allow it to simmer for at least an hour.  You can make it ahead; the stew actually tastes even better the next day. In my eyes this makes for a just about the perfect weekday dinner.

 

Ingredients
(a found on the blog ‘Chinese Grandma‘)
Serves 2-3
4-6 chicken drumsticks
3 onions, sliced
1-2 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon black pepper, finely ground
3 bay leaves
70 ml (1/3 cup) soy sauce
70 ml (1/3 cup) apple cider vinegar
70ml (1/3) cup water

 Recipe

  1. Remove the skin from the chicken and place it into a large pot. (In the original recipe the skin is left on.)
  2. Slice the onion and add.
  3. Mince the garlic and add.
  4. Add all the remaining ingredients. Sugar, pepper, bay leaf, soy sauce, vinegar and water.
  5. Cover and cook for 30 minutes up to 1 1/2 hours depending on how much time you have. Stir once in a while. The longer it cooks the more tender the chicken becomes.
  6. Towards the end of the cooking time check the thickness of the sauce. If you find it too runny take of the lid and allow the liquid to reduce.

Serve with

  • Rice
  • Vegetables like green beans or pak soi
  • A salad of cucumber, cherry tomatoes and bean sprouts with a oil and apple vinegar dressing.
Earthy, rich winter flavours

Earthy, rich winter flavours


It is cold and rainy outside and I am craving comforting food. But none of my go-to dishes from the last months will do – they are all to light and summery.

So on a whim I bought some duck breast. It has a more distinct and earthy flavour than chicken  at the same time it is just as lean and healthy (that is if you remove the skin).

Next I hunted for a recipe. I found one that combined all that I was looking for: rich and nutty flavours – nutritious and healthy ingredients. The result was an amazingly satisfying and soothing meal.

I will confess I have made this dish three times in as many weeks. The first time it seemed a little complex;  with all those pots and pans. But by the third time I was sitting down to eat in little over half an hour.

Ingredients
(Recipe based on the blog savory simple)
Serves 2

1 large or 2 small duck breast
2 shallot (or small onion)
2 cloves of garlic
1 cup of lentils
2 cups of vegetable or chicken stock (twice the volume of the lentils)
1 sprig of thyme (or a pinch of dried thyme)
200g of frozen kale (you can use fresh kale but I will admit I prefer frozen for this recipe)
60ml water
salt, back pepper
250g (chestnut) mushrooms


Recipe

  1. Bring the duck breast to room temperature (about 30 minutes).
  2. Start by chopping the shallots. Slowly fry them in a small pot until translucent.
  3. Once cooked place half of the shallots in a second small pot.
  4. Rinse the lentils and add to one of the pots.
  5. Add the chicken stock to the lentils.
  6. Throw in one whole clove of garlic.
  7. Add the (sprig of ) thyme. Cover and cook until the lentils are tender. About 20 minutes. (The lentils will stay warm for quite a while so there is no need to try and time everything exactly.)
  8. Take the second pot with shallots and add the kale to it.
  9. Mince one clove of garlic and add to the kale. Cover with a lid and cook until tender. 7-10 minutes. Once cooked you can let it stand until the remaining dishes are ready. You can quickly reheat it if necessary.
  10. Heat a frying pan (no oil!)
  11. Score the skin of the duck from left to right and top to bottom a few times into a diamond pattern.
  12. Season with salt and pepper.
  13. Place the duck breast skin side down into the pan and cook on a medium heat for 6 minutes. Turn and cook for another 4 minutes. Wrap the duck in aluminum foil and allow to rest.
  14. Cut the mushrooms into slices. Wipe the fat from the frying pan. Fry the mushrooms quickly until just tender.
  15. Now taste and season the mushrooms, kale and lentils with salt and pepper.
  16. Optional: remove the skin from the duck (as tasty as it is I remove it as I do not want the additional fat).
  17. Cut the duck breast into slices.
  18. Serve by layering lentils, kale, mushroom and duck on a plate.