A southern meal

Recently I’ve been trying to eat a bit healthier and exercise more after realising the flab around my waist was getting flabbier. Unfortunately, I have never been one to watch what I eat or go to the gym. In fact, a long time ago I had a cramp whilst sitting watching TV… and since I didn’t exercise and didn’t really know what a cramp was, I thought some artery had burst in my leg….lol

However, I think what’s even harder than trying to exercise regularly is having to eat healthy. That is a real challenge and one which I have already given up. Seriously, who can resist all the deliciousness out there. Just recently I’ve seen a couple of posts from some of my favourite food bloggers on fried chicken and all sorts of yummy southern style dishes. I couldn’t resist but try making some at home.

Since I have never really attempted southern style cuisine before I stuck to some of the basics. Fried chicken and buttermilk biscuits mmmm.

Fried chicken

I don’t really have a recipe or know any secrets to making crunchy shattering batter so for my chicken I just marinated it in buttermilk, dipped it in an egg wash and coated it with seasoned flour. With around 500 grams of chicken I used around 1 cup of plain flour, 0.5 tbsp paprika, 0.5 tbsp garlic powder, dried oregano, ground pepper, salt and a dash of chilli powder. Next time I think I’ll get chicken pieces with the skin on  and might use a wet batter as I found mine lacked crunchiness.

Buttermilk biscuits

Whilst I at least know what fried chicken should taste like, I’ve never even tried buttermilk biscuits before. Recipes online called for plain flour but since I ran out.. self raising had to do. With a food processor it was a cinch to make. I just pulsed 1 cup of flour with 3 tbsp of butter than pulsed through half a cup of buttermilk. The batter is supposed to be extremely wet which makes handling a bit annoying but after folding it a couple of times on a well floured bench I was able to cut out around 6 biscuits. The good thing about these biscuits are they cook quick so after 12 min in 200 degrees oven they were ready. Tasting it, I think they most resemble a scone but also have a texture like shortbread. Together with some milk gravy and coleslaw this made for an unhealthily awesome meal. Just look at all that brown..you know it’s good

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Shandong style chicken

I’ve always thought deboning meat was a finnicky and complicated procedure best left to professionals. However, since learning how to debone a chicken thigh from youtube, I’ve felt empowered…. Seriously, when I laid out that thigh meat with no bones attached I felt like I had performed magic. So naturally, I turned to the whole chicken as my next deboning project. Thankfully, these days you can learn just about anything from youtube and deboning chicken is made easier with videos like this.

Deboned chicken is perfect for a dish like shandong chicken which speeds up the frying time and prevents greasy fingers :P. I’ve had different variations of Shandong chicken in restaurants with some serving the chicken crispy while others steamed the chicken post frying. However, vinegar is the one element which should be present in all recipes. For my recipe, most of the flavour comes from the seasoned batter and the punchy vinegar dressing.

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I ran out of spring onions from the garden for the garnish so the picture looks kind of plain, but I promise it tastes better than it looks.

Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 whole chicken boned (I kept the thigh bone in place). Chop into large pieces.
  • 3 tbsp self raising flour
  • 3 tsp spicy bake mix seasons. It looks like this. If you don’t have it don’t worry
  • 3 tsp five spice powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 tsp ground white pepper
  • 1 tsp ginger ground
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 3-4 tbsp oil
  • Water
  • Oil for frying
  • Green onion sliced roughly
  • 1 red chilli sliced roughly

Vinegar sauce

  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • half cup chicken stock
  • 1 tbsp black vinegar from asian grocery
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • Salt

Steps

  1. Mix together the flour, seasons, five spice, salt, white pepper, ginger ground and sugar.
  2. Add in oil tablespoon by tablespoon until a very thick paste forms
  3. Slowly add in 1 tablespoon of water at a time, mixing it in until the mixture resembles something like a thin pancake batter.
  4. Heat oil in pan/wok at around 2 cm height on medium-high heat.
  5. Pat dry the chicken and coat in batter.
  6. Slowly place chicken into hot oil. Fry in batches
  7. Fry on one side for 4-5 minutes and flip and fry other side for 4-5 minutes. Time of frying depends on cut of chicken. Thigh takes longer than breast.
  8. Drain and place on paper towel. Keep warm in oven
  9. To make sauce, heat a pot with brown sugar until it starts turning into caramel
  10. Add in chicken stock.
  11. Add in soy and vinegar and taste.
  12. Season with salt, taste and pour out into serving bowl.
  13. With a little oil from the frying, quickly fry off green onion and chilli pieces for ~1min. Take out and reserve.
  14. Serve chicken and garnish with green onion and chilli. Spoon as much vinegar dressing onto chicken as preferred.
  15. Enjoy!

Note: You can use the chicken carcass to make a stock and using the fried chicken oil, you can boil some chicken flavoured rice.

Prawn again

I had some prawns left over from last night and couldn’t really think of what to make.. but then I decided to experiment and came up with this sweet chilli prawn dish. This was quite an easy recipe as I had most of the ingredients already in my pantry. To add an extra layer of texture, I battered and fried the prawns first before coating it in the tangy sweet chilli sauce mmm.. the texture is actually not unlike that of buffalo wings 😀

Those square things are pieces of fried tofu. They are really good in soaking up all the sweet chilli sauce. I actually didn’t want to add any cucumber pieces, but my mum had some left over and didn’t want to waste it so she scattered them everywhere. However, they do add a bit of crunch and ‘greenness’ to the dish

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So here’s the recipe

Ingredients

For frying the prawns

  • 12 prawns deshelled and slit slightly down the back
  • 2-3 tbsp self raising flour
  • 1-2 tbsp oil (i used olive)
  • 1-2 tbsp water
  • pinch pepper
  • 1-1.5 tbsp cornflour
  • 4 tbsp of oil

Sauce

  • Minced 1 tbsp of garlic and 0.5 tbsp of ginger
  • 1-2 tbsp sweet chilli sauce, I used the amoy brand
  • 3/4 tbsp of tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup water or chicken stock
  • pinch of salt
  • pepper
  • 1 green onion chopped up
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1-2 tsp soy sauce
  • 2 tsp oyster sauce
  • 1 tsp corn flour
  • 1tbsp water

Steps

  1. Mix self raising flour with 1-2 tbsp of oil until it is paste-like. Then add in the 1-2 tbsp of water until you get a light batter that is not too viscous but also not too watery.. hmm almost like pancake batter
  2. Add in a pinch of pepper then the prawns mixing them so they all get an even coating.
  3. Add the 1-1.5 tbsp of cornflour and mix lightly. Just make sure there’s no clumps
  4. Heat oil in a pan on medium heat and then add in the prawns. Even though the prawns aren’t deep fried, shallow frying them will suffice to provide a satisfying crispy layer. Turn the prawns regularly until the batter is crisp and the prawns are pinkish white. It took me around 1-2 minutes. Do not overcook!!! take them out once they’re done
  5. If there’s too much oil in the pan, pour some out, we only want around 2 tbsp left
  6. Add in the garlic and ginger to the pan (on medium heat)
  7. Fry for a bit, but don’t burn it
  8. Add in chicken stock and let it come to a boil
  9. Add in sweet chilli sauce, tomato, soy and oyster sauce. Mix them around
  10. Let it come to a gentle simmer/boil again.
  11. Taste and add in salt, sugar, pepper if needed
  12. Mix cornflour with water and pour into sauce whilst mixing
  13. Once it is thickened, add prawns back into sauce and add in green onions as well.
  14. Make sure the prawns are coated in the sauce
  15. Serve and enjoy!

Note: if you want to add tofu pieces, add them whilst making the sauce