Comforting Chicken and Shittake Mushroom Stew

I’ve often fantasized about making this Comforting Chicken and Shittake Mushroom Stew whenever I craved for a simple meal with lots of gravy . Finally I cooked this dish in an attempt to make the a nice meal for W last week when he was ill with a bad cold.

The stew turned out to be right up our taste alley. It was even better the next day for lunch – loved the mushrooms. A little on the oily side (I wasn’t as thorough in trimming the chicken fat as I could have been), but very satisfying with Thai white rice.

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I’ve approximated the measurements here but I’m afraid my recipe is not tried and tested at all. Still, wanted to share.

Comforting Chicken and Shittake Mushroom Stew // Served two ways here

Ingredients:
400 grams chicken thighs, in bite-sized pieces
6-8 x dried Shittake mushrooms, soaked in warm water so that they are reconstituted and soft (remove stalks)
2x cloves garlic, minced finely
a small section of ginger (I use about 4 cm squared), finely sliced into little matchsticks
vegetable oil, 1 tablespoon
salt

for the sauce:
light soy sauce, 1.5 tablespoons
dark soy sauce, 1.5 tablespoons
oyster sauce, 1 tablespoon
rice wine/Shaoxing wine/sherry, 0.5 tablespoon
water, one-third cup
ground white pepper, a few dashes

Method:
0. Soak Shittake mushrooms in warm water. This is done preferably a few hours before cooking but if in a rush, use boiling water and half an hour should do it. Slice each mushroom into 4 wedge pieces.
1. Chop chicken thighs into bite-sized pieces, removing excess skin and fat. Marinate with salt.
2. Heat wok on low-medium heat. Add oil.
3. When oil is hot, stir-fry garlic and ginger until fragrant.
4. Add chicken to wok, stir-fry.
5. When chicken is slightly browned on outside (not completely cooked inside though), add mushrooms.
6. Mix mushrooms and chicken.
7. Mix ingredients for the sauce in bowl. Add to wok.
8. Cover wok with lid. Once mixture has come to a boil, turn heat down to low so that it is just simmering.
9. Let simmer on low heat for at least half an hour.
10. Make sure that there is enough liquid to just barely cover the protein. Add water 1 tablespoon at a time if necessary.
11. Taste stew and add salt to taste.
12. You’re done!

When making this last week, I added a few large Romaine lettuce leaves to the wok to steam them for 2 minutes before switching off the heat. I then ladled the stew on top of the lettuce. It was an easy way of getting some green in our meal without having to prepare a side.

In my college days, I used to make a version of this with small chunks of potato – also yummy but the starch in the potato would make the sauce very thick. I refer this version for its relative simplicity.

Enjoy!

Sole with Light Parsley Dressing and Spaghetti

pan fried sole with light white sauce and spaghetti

not the most refined of plates but who’s judging?

This dish was an experiment: I’ve never cooked sole before, nor have I ever made a dressing with parsley. But it was so much fun to cook!

I picked up sole in the first place because recently I’ve been trying to find alternatives to foods that I normally pick up on the weekly grocery run. Lemon Sole for some reason is cheap here compared to sea bass, plaice, cod. I’m not quite sure why though. It’s surprising because sole seems to me to be a more delicate fish compared with cod, which in this country is often battered and deep fried for fish n’ chips. I like the chips but don’t understand battered cod — why would you do that to a nice piece of white fish?

Well I wanted to do sole justice, so I paired it with a light white parsley dressing (I thought a full-on sauce would overpower the fish), and spaghetti tossed in olive oil, parsley and garlic. The flavours blended well. I think the star was the parsley – it’s a herb with personality, but  not too overbearing and it goes well with sole and spaghetti. I then made a dressing using milk and butter for the base and had fun with it, improvising by adding a bit of Dijon mustard and minced yellow onion to give it extra kick.

 

Sole with Light Parsley Dressing and Spaghetti

Ingredients, for 2 portions
2x lemon sole fillet (approx 250 grams)
spaghetti, 150 grams
parsley, 10 stalks, chopped finely
garlic, 2 cloves, minced
1/2 small yellow onion, minced
milk, 1/4 cup
butter, 3 tablespoons
Dijon mustard, 1/2 teaspoon
olive oil
sea salt and black pepper to taste

Method
1. Bring dried spaghetti to boil in pot of salted water.
2. Crack a little bit of sea salt and black pepper on both sides of the fish. Set aside.
3. Heat pan on medium heat. Wait for pan to heat up, then add olive oil to hot pan.
4. Pan fry sole fillets, pressing down gently on the fish to make sure each side cooks evenly. Add one tablespoon of butter to the pan as the fish is cooking. It should take no more than 2 minutes on each side. You might have to turn down the heat to low-medium at this point to avoid burning the butter.
5. Remove cooked fish from pan. Turn down heat to low-medium heat if you haven’t already. Check on your spaghetti.
6. For the dressing: in a little olive oil, fry the yellow onion, two minutes. Tip in the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter to pan and milk, mix, then add chopped parsley and mustard. Cook for another minute, then pour this mixture into a small bowl.
7. Your spaghetti would most likely have been done during step 6. Drain away the hot water. Then in the previous fish pan, turn up the heat. Sautee the garlic with some olive oil, and when the garlic’s edges are turning golden, tip in pasta. Toss in some parsley, sea salt.
8. Once pasta is mixed well with the other ingredients, plate up with the fish and dressing. Garnish with extra parsley.

This was one of the more involved dinners of last week, but as I said, really fun to make because everything cooks very quickly so I never got bored and wandered off to do something else. It’s incredibly satisfying when cooking becomes more than just the means of getting to an end (dinner!), when you enjoy preparing the food as much as you do eating it, no?

Mayonnaise and Turkey, an unlikely combination

Happy December, everyone!

It’s really starting to feeling like the holiday season here in Oxford. Festive fairy lights draped everywhere, crazy shoppers taking over the city centre, and suddenly everyone’s wearing Santa hats and drinking gingerbread lattes. Have to say that I do like the festivities, as commercialised as it has become.

And because I have spent a little more than usual on early Christmas dinners and parties already, one of the areas I’ve been trying to cut back on in a desperate attempt to save up for the holidays is grocery. Bulk buying meats, vegetables and carbs (2.5 kg of potatoes, anyone?); skipping out on little luxuries like juice and ice cream; choosing meats and seafood carefully so as to get the ones on offer, etc – it actually has meant I’ve tried new, cheaper alternatives to the stuff I usually get as a result.

Hence this post on turkey – I usually don’t cook turkey because it’s hard to cook well without over-drying the meat , but the breast fillets were half the price of chicken, so why not. Turkey meat is slightly drier than chicken, but I wanted to pan fry it, so after chopping the breast fillets into smaller pieces, I marinated it in mayonnaise and a little lemon juice to give the  meat more moisture. Then before going into the pan, the meat was rolled in a little corn and plain flour to give it a ‘fried’ texture.

In hindsight, I should’ve left the fillet as it is because I think by chopping up the meat, I created too much surface area for it to dry out. Oh well, it still tasted pretty good :).

I then garnished the turkey with parsley for a fresh herb-y fragrance and flavour. Dill would probably work too if parsley isn’t your thing – it’s one of those herbs that seems to really divide people. Kind of like cinnamon.

So here it is, Pan Fried Turkey with Mayonnaise – and some pretty parsley leaves ;).

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looks like fried chicken, ey?

and up a little closer…

Pan Fried Turkey with Mayonnaise

Ingredients, for 4 portions
turkey breast fillets, either chopped into bite-sized pieces if you want more of a popcorn effect, or left as breast fillets if you want to serve it more as a main dish
mayonnaise, 1/2 cup
lemon juice, 1/2 tablespoon
salt
black pepper
1/4 cup corn flour and 1/4 cup plain flour, mixed onto a plate
several stalks of parsley (or dill if you’re averse to parsley), leafy bits for garnish*
butter, 2 tablespooons
vegetable oil, for frying, 2 tablespoons
*I thought about marinating the meat in the herbs but it would mean you’d have to pick out all the leaves before pan frying the meat – the herbs would just burn in the pan. Served separately is the safer option?

Method
1. Marinate turkey in mayonnaise, lemon juice, salt and black pepper. Set aside for at least half an hour. I don’t believe in having to marinate things in the fridge if the raw meat isn’t going to be kept out for that long, so I usually just leave the marinating meat in the coldest, driest part of the kitchen.
2. Potter around, preferably with music ;)! Prepare the other components to your meal.
3. Heat pan on medium-high heat with at least 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil.
4. Flour marinated turkey in your corn+plain flour mixture. Then pan fry the meat in the hot pan in batches.
5. Halfway through the cooking process, turn down heat to medium. Add butter to the pan.
6. When both sides of the turkey is cooked to a nice golden brown, and the meat is firm to touch (turkey cooks quite quickly compared to chicken), remove from pan. Garnish with parsley.

If you do give this recipe a go, please let me know how it goes with the turkey – as good as chicken, or does it remain the understudy, only coming out in times of relative austerity? I’m convinced that it can be just as good, but I think I didn’t quite do it justice this time around!