Archive for the 'Deng Ming-Dao' Category

One chicken, two ways

March 5, 2010

Does anyone else have fantasies about what they would be like on Masterchef? Including awing the judges and never ever using the phrase ‘one hundred and ten percent’? Well, someone has stolen mine. Aliya, on last night’s programme, made exactly the sort of food I would want to make (chicken in a walnut and pomegranate sauce, flourless chocolate cake with ginger and cardamom), didn’t break a sweat in the professional kitchen, and she’s a nutritionist with an interest in writing a cookbook about healthy eating. And she got through to the quarter-finals. It’s an odd experience for a stranger to incarnate your very specific (and implausibly calm) Masterchef dream personality, let me tell you.

Anway, this has nothing to do with chicken. Actually, this one’s a bit of a misnomer: one chicken one way with many uses would be more accurate, if less snappy.

The disadvantage of poaching a chicken over roasting it is that you don’t get nice crispy skin, but there are several advantages to using this method which I particularly like:  it’s much quicker (at least it is if you have a pan big enough), you don’t need to be as precise about timing as there’s no danger of it drying out, and you get the bonus of the big pot of chicken stock created by the cooking. If you quickly chop some vegetables and throw them in the still-bubbling stock, with some rice or noodles on the side you have dinner made. Of course, the fact that the skin is so unappealing that you don’t want to eat it and thus save yourself from the fattiest part of the bird could also be considered an advantage (although my Scottish roots don’t like having to throw it away).

This is fairly austere food as it is, so you’ll want plenty of extras on the side: soy sauce, chilli sauce, pickled ginger, togarashi, slivers of nori, whatever Oriental accoutrements float your boat. There’s a certain childlike delight to be taken in customising your meal, I think.

One chicken, two ways  Serves 4-6

One whole, free-range chicken, around 2kg
2 slices ginger
1 spring onion, sliced
small handful coriander
salt

To serve:
soy sauce, chilli sauce etc.
thinly sliced/chopped vegetables
rice or noodles

Bring a kettleful of water to the boil and pour into your biggest pan. Put the chicken in the pan with the slices of ginger and a little salt. The water should cover the chicken, but if not don’t worry – you can turn it over halfway through cooking.

With the heat at a gentle simmer, cook the chicken for 30 minutes. Test to see if it’s cooked all the way through, and if it is, take it out and set it aside to rest for 20 minutes. If not, turn over and cook for another 30 minutes or so.

Keep the chicken stock which is now in the pan at a simmer and throw in your vegetables – I used cabbage, mushrooms and a leek. You could also cook your noodles or rice in the stock (do that first), or cook them separately.

Peel the skin from the chicken and carve it, or if you have a sharp enough knife you can just hack through the bones and cut it into pieces. If you’ve taken the chicken off the bones, you can add the bones back into the stock and keep simmering to make a richer broth.  

Serve the chicken scattered with the spring onion and coriander with the vegetables and starch on the side. Let everyone help themselves to sauces at the table.

From Deng Ming-Dao’s ‘Zen: the Art of Modern Eastern Cooking’.

Tomato-miso soup

March 3, 2010

This week’s book is ‘Zen: The Art of Modern Eastern Cooking’ by Deng Ming-Dao (which, now I come to think of it, should probably be under D and not M). It’s divided into three sections: classic flavours, east-west combinations, and tea menus. Most of the things I’ve earmarked to cook are from the first section – the tea menus are ridiculously complex even for me and the  fusion dishes are mostly unappealing (mango and olive pasta anyone?). However, there was one thing that caught my eye as I flicked through which seemed as if it could work, and this is it: a fairly classic tomato soup with onion, garlic, lots of celery, carrot and tomatoes, simmered slowly and gently. The only unusual additions are a nub of ginger and a fair dollop of brown miso paste.

And it does work, I’m pleased to report – the miso gives it a solid depth, but isn’t overwhelming; it contributes a savoury note without being clearly identifiable as a flavour in its own right. This is a good way of perking up a fairly ordinary tinned tomato soup which would be equally at home, I imagine, with a noodle salad or a cheese sandwich.

Tomato-miso soup  Serves 4

1/2 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
half bunch celery (about 5 sticks), finely sliced
1 tbsp ginger, finely chopped
20g butter
60ml mirin
2 x 400g tins tomatoes
375ml veg stock
60g miso paste
pepper

Melt the butter in a large pan and fry the onion, garlic, carrot, celery and ginger for 15 minutes or so over a low heat until soft (don’t let the vegetables brown).

Stir in the mirin. Add the tomatoes and cook for a further 15 minutes.

Add the miso, stirring thoroughly. Pour in the stock and bring to a low simmer, leaving to cook gently for a further 45 minutes.

Blend the soup until smooth. You can garnish with chopped spring onions, ginger and/or creme fraiche, if you like.

Adapted from Deng Ming-Dao’s ‘Zen: The Art of Modern Eastern Cooking’.