Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Chicken and Snake Bean Stir-Fry

For several years, I have had an allergy to monosodium glutamate (MSG), which made eating out at Chinese restaurants difficult. Many restaurants today do not use MSG, many oblige and make you food without MSG, but I still found myself uncomfortable after a Chinese meal at any restaurant that obliged. Having grown up in India eating a lot of Chinese food (my mother grew up in Singapore and brought those flavors to our table), I didn't want to be deprived. Ching-He Huang's book, Ching's Chinese Food In Minutes, changed my (Asian) kitchen life! Incredible, easy, and quick recipes.

I had a few basic recipes down, such as Chicken and Broccoli, Simple Egg Fried Rice, Sweet Corn Chicken Soup. Her book helped me get more diverse with my Chinese cooking.

The other thing that I love about her recipes is that when she says a recipe will take 10 minutes to make, she means it! I managed to stir-fry this dish today while singing to keep my two-year-old son entertained. Served with brown rice, it is a healthy and balanced meal to have.

If you're buying chicken directly from your butcher you can ask him to cut in into thin strips to reduce your prep time even further. also sells chicken sliced into strips.

Ching says, "This is a stir-fry inspired by a lunch I had with 'Ah-e' (Aunty) in Beijing. She cooked a simple but delicious chicken and snake bean stir-fry, and this is my quick version."

Prep time: 5 minutes (plus 20 minutes soaking / marinating)
Cook time: 10 minutes
Serves 2

250 grams / 9 oz skinless chicken breast, cut into strips
1 teaspoon Shaohsing rice wine or dry sherry
1 teaspoon dark soy sauce
1 teaspoon cornflour (cornstarch)
2 tablespoons groundnut oil (peanut oil)
1 garlic clove, crushed and finely chopped
1 dried Chinese mushroom, pre-soaked in hot water for 20 minutes, then drained and sliced
100 grams snake beans (Snake beans can be found in the vegetable section of a good Chinese supermarket, or use some trimmed French beans as a substitute)
50 grams / 2 oz toasted cashew nuts (I used peanuts instead, as a personal preference)
25 ml / 1 fl oz hot chicken stock
1 teaspoon light soy sauce
a dash of toasted sesame oil
1 pinch of ground white pepper

  1. Marinate the chicken in the rice wine or sherry and the dark soy sauce for 10-15 minutes (while the mushroom soaks)
  2. Just before cooking, dust the chicken lightly with cornflour. Heat a wok over a high heat and add the groundnut oil. When the oil starts to smoke, add the garlic and mushroom and stir-fry for a few seconds, then add the chicken and stir-fry for a few minutes until slightly browned.
  3. Add the beans and stir-fry for 2 minutes until tender, then add the nuts.
  4. Add the hot stock and season wtih the light soy sauce, sesame oil and white pepper.
    Serve immediately.
Cook's tip: This was delicious when served immediately. I tried the left overs at night, and it was a bit dry.
To revamp it, add a sauce to it.
In a medium mixing bowl, mix together 1 tablespoon oyster sauce, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 1 teaspoon chili sauce, 1 teaspoon rice vinegar, 1/2 cup chicken broth, 1/2 cup water. Add 1/2 teaspoon cornflour, mix until smooth. In a hot wok bring the sauce to a boil, add left over chicken for a minute or two and remove.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Shaved-Radish Tea Sandwiches with Herb Butter

A cup of perfectly brewed tea (yes brewed, no tea bags), a slice of moist banana bread, a delicious tea sandwich, yummy scones, and you have yourself a great afternoon tea menu. The tea sandwiches I usually make are cucumber, smoked salmon, egg or chicken salad sandwiches. When shared this recipe with radishes, I had to try it! 

The recipe called for baguette bread but I used the wheat sandwich bread I had at home instead. I do think it would be better with the baguette bread instead. 

Since I was serving vegetarians, I avoided the anchovy fillets in the ingredient list below.

Makes 16 servings
Adapted from May 2012

1/2 cup (1 stick) room-temperature salted butter
5 mashed drained anchovy fillets
1 grated small garlic clove
3 tablespoons finely chopped chives
3 tablespoons fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

32 slices of baguette, diagonally cut 1/8-inch thick

12 very thinly sliced radishes
16 green radish leaves

  1. In a small bowl, mix the butter with the next six ingredients. Season with coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  2. Spread herb butter on one side of each of the 32 slices of the baguette.
  3. Top half the slices with 16 green radish leaves and radish slices.
  4. Top with remain bread slices, butter side down.

Cooks' Tip: Drape plastic wrap over the prepared sandwiches until serving. It will keep the bread from drying out. And you get to make the sandwiches ahead and enjoy your tea and party.

Banana Bread with Chocolate Chips and Ginger

Christmas baking season has come to an end, and this banana bread was the finale to baking for the holidays, for when we celebrated our sons second birthday. And who does not love banana bread? Have it with your tea in the evening, or a slice with a smear of butter for breakfast. 

This bread was delicious and moist. I read this recipe on (absolutely love her blog!) and the idea of crystallized ginger in the bread sounded fabulous to me. However, when I mentioned it to the people I was serving this bread to, they all were very skeptic. So below, find my variation of adding the ginger into the bread anyway! 

You can store the banana bread for a up to a week at room temperature or freeze it for 6 months. That is, if you even have any left to freeze! 

1 large loaf that serves 8

Dry ingredients
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon powder
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg powder
2 teaspoons ginger powder
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt 

3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips 

Wet ingredients
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups mashed bananas (approximately 3 large ripe bananas)
1/4 cup yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 tablespoons / 3 oz. / 90 grams unsalted butter

  1. Preheat oven to 350F / 170C
  2. Grease a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan with butter and flour or with baking spray. 
  3. In a small bowl melt the butter in the microwave for 20–30 seconds. Set aside to cool. Set aside.
  4. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. Add the chocolate chips. Set aside.
  5. In a medium bowl, lightly beat the eggs with a fork and add the remaining wet ingredients. Mix well. 
  6. Pour the wet banana mixture into the dry ingredients and gently fold in the batter with a silicon spatula, incorporating all the dry ingredients until it looks like it has come together. Do not over mix the batter, it's okay if it looks lumpy. Over mixing the batter kills the air bubbles in the batter and makes it heavier.
  7. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf tin and bake for 50–60 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean.
  8. Let the banana bread cool in the pan for 5 minutes before transferring to the cooling rack. 
In baking, to "fold" is the term used for gently a light ingredient or mixture with a much heavier mixture, while retaining as much as air as possible, by not bursting the air bubbles.
Method: Carefully cut through the mixture with the edge of the spatula, working in a gentle figure of eight and mixing the bowl as you go.
Scrape around the sides and base of the bowl at intervals to incorporate all of the lighter ingredients into the mixture.