17 October 2010

Asian Persuasion

Hands down, next to all the fantastic people I've met through life and travel, meeting their cuisine is the next best part.  Over the past year, I shared a kitchen with 2 Japanese, 2 Cubans, 1 Chinese, 1 Greek and 1 Ukrainian - their cooking styles will stay with me for years to come.  I like to take bits and pieces of different recipes that I like and put them in one dish as I did tonight.  This dish was practically done in a hobo style, that is, I just took random things I had and threw it together - but some of the greatest meals started that way, no?

One of my all time favourite dishes is chicken adobo, a Filipino dish that was cooked for me while I was living in Australia.  I wasn't going to go all out on the adobo, but I still had those drumsticks from before.  I really have a thing for vinegar for some reason, but that's one of the most familiar flavours/smells of this dish.  So I whipped out my white vinegar, and soy sauce, turned a frying pan on high heat with some vegetable oil and threw in the drumsticks.  A bit of salt and pepper, naturally, for taste.  When the drumsticks were nearly done I poured out the excess oil and covered them in the vinegar and put it back on the heat.  But wait, I need rice! 

Here are a few cool tips learned from my former kitchen mates: Put extra cooked rice in the freezer, and when you need it later, use it.  More importantly, if you're making a dish that requires fried rice old rice is better than freshly cooked rice!  So, when I ordered a Chinese takeout earlier last week and I didn't finish my white rice, I popped that in the freezer.  Zapped that in the microwave today for about 2 minutes and then added it to my vinegar chicken fry-up situation.  Now I've got fried rice, which I added about 2 or 3 tablespoons of soy sauce in the pan to get those fried rice characteristics.

One thing that the English grocery stores do well is help with pre-selected, single-serving veggies.  I feel a bit bad buying a bag of mixed vegetables when I could just as easily buy each of the ingredients and mix it together myself, for probably cheaper (if you think in bulk).  But in reality, a lot of people do house/flat shares here - I don't have all the space in the world in my fridge.  So I picked up a bag of what was considered "Mushroom stir-fry vegetables" including cabbage, carrots, mung beans, red onions and mushrooms and threw that in to the pan as well.  

Semi-chicken adobo, fried rice and mushroom stir-fry vegetables in the pan and sizzling away.  To me, no dish is complete without garlic.  Literally, I could eat a whole clove, I love garlic that much.  I didn't this time, I finely chopped some garlic and sat it to the side.  One root that has grown on me is ginger, which one of my housemates used a lot for her dishes.  To be honest, ginger practically made this dish, and almost gave it a Thai taste with the tangy-ness from the vinegar. I chopped it, zested it, diced it - there was a lot of 'it' in there.  Also I had some spring onions left over from many many dishes ago (I made a mexican layered chili dip - which unfortunately I haven't documented on here as of yet) and I chopped those and added it to the mix. 

Last but not least - an egg.  In my opinion any asian dish is made awesome-er when an egg is involved. I made an open spot on the pan, cracked an egg there, and scrambled it in the same spot before stirring it into the other ingredients.

At the end I threw in a quick dash of this "Chinese 5 spice" BS that I've never heard of before.  My current housemates had some in the drawer, but I have a bit of a hate for store-bought and packaged spices that are a mix of spices that you can put together yourself. Italian seasoning, Emeril's Essence, even All-spice, I have all those things lying around anyhow, I'm not gonna buy a specific container that you so conveniently mixed for me! Argh!  Anyhow, this 5 spice really overpowers with the anise, so I didn't want much of it - but if you like liquorice scents, add more.

So there we go, left over rice, left over onions, some drumsticks, garlic, ginger, and pre-packaged stir-fry veggies.  Quick cook, cost about a fiver, and delicious.

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