Sunday, 30 September 2012

Chicken Katsu Curry

I first came across chicken katsu when I went to Yo! Sushi for the first time earlier this year. And, as a big fan of all things curry, I had to make it. 

The mirin rice wine gives it a sweet flavour, whilst the birds-eye chilli brings a kick that certainly warms you up in this cold weather. It's easy enough to adjust the heat to your own tastes, though, just by altering the amount of chillies you use. 

Serves 4

50g butter
1 onion, finely diced
1 birds-eye chilli, deseeded and chopped
1tsp cumin seeds
1tsp coriander seeds
1tsp fennel seeds
1tsp fenugreek
2 cardamon pods
150ml chicken stock
2tbsp dark soy sauce
3tbsp mirin rice wine
1 1/2tbsp plain flour mixed with 3tbsp water
4 chicken thighs, boned and skinless
50g plain flour
2 eggs, beaten
75g dried breadcrumbs
2tbsp vegetable oil
Rice to serve

Gently melt the butter in a pan and sweat the onions for a few minutes. Add the chilli, spices, stock, soy sauce and mirin wine and bring to a simmer. Add the flour and water paste and allow to cook for a few more minutes, thickening up. Once done, take it off the heat whilst you sort out the chicken. 

Place the flour, eggs and breadcrumbs on a plate each. For each chicken thigh, dust in flour, then coat in eggs and cover with breadcrumbs. Then heat the oil in a frying pan and cook the chicken for about 10 minutes. Keep a careful eye on them so that they don't burn but are thoroughly cooked. You could start the cooking process this way then finish them in an oven. 

To serve, reheat the sauce and slice the chicken into strips. Serve the strips on top of cooked rice and then coat in the rich sauce. 

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Sistema Food Container Set

I'm starting to really like Groupon. And I'm not just saying that because this post is sponsored by them. There are some great deals on there. This set of Sistema food containers came from For those of you that don't know (and I was one of them up until a few weeks ago) this is how Groupon works: find an offer that you like, buy the voucher, then use the voucher to redeem the offer from the retailer. This process was very easy with because they have a "Redeem you Groupon" link on their homepage.

I waited 10 days for the containers to be delivered, which I thought was a few days more than perhaps it should've been. But because they'd already told me the timescale I was ok with it. When the delivery driver called at my flat there was no one in, so he rang me and we arranged for it to be delivered when it suited me (which was the same day).

The set includes salad, soup, breakfast, chill it and shaker to go containers. So far, the salad and soup containers have been my favourites.

First, the soup container - which I have yet to actually use with soup. Macaroni cheese and sweet and sour pork (post coming soon) have been my foods of choice so far. The container is microwavable and has a little vent on top. I can see this being a major part of work lunches as the weather gets colder. The only thing it's missing is a little spoon, but then I guess it's meant to be for soup and you can just drink it.

Next the salad container. Again, I've not actually used this for leafy salads yet, but who needs that when you can have chicken noodles! There's a little container for a dressing, so the food doesn't get soggy, and a little knife and fork that double as salad tossers.

I've found the shaker is perfect for the early train rides to work. I've been using it for banana milkshakes (literally just banana and milk blended together), giving me a healthy start to the day. I thought the little flap on top might be prone to leakage, but so far it's been very secure and not dripped at all.

The chill-it lunchbox is superb for picnics or if you don't have a fridge at work. It'll keep your food cold for a few hours.

And, finally, the breakfast container is handy if you're a bit short of time in the morning. It has two separate compartments to keep your yoghurt and cereal apart (unfortunately milk leaks a little).

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Chicken and Pesto Risotto

Risottos are a great way of using up any bits and bobs you've got hanging around in the fridge. It's also a very satisfying dish to make because it takes a little bit of care and patience, but the results are well worth it. A creamy, comforting meal and it only takes 20 minutes.

The creaminess in a risotto comes from taking the time to look after it. Frequently stirring it breaks down the rice grains, releasing the starch; giving it that oozy texture.

You can take the basics of this risotto and add any flavour you want - I used some leftover roast chicken and some pesto I tend to always have in the fridge. A splash of white wine would also have made a great addition.

Makes 1 large portion or 2 smaller portions

500ml chicken stock
2tbsp olive oil
2 handfuls of risotto rice
1 chicken breast, cooked and roughly chopped
3tbsp Parmesan cheese, finely grated
Salt and pepper
1tbsp pesto
Extra virgin olive oil, to serve

First, heat the chicken stock - this will speed up the cooking time. Then, in a large bottomed pan, heat up the oil and add the rice. Allow the rice to cook in the oil for a couple of minutes, starting the process of breaking down the rice grains to release the starch.

Ladle in the the stock a bit at a time, stirring as often as you can - ideally not leaving the stove. When most of the stock has been absorbed, add more stock and keep repeating this process. When it's been cooking for about 15 minutes, start tasting to make sure it doesn't get over cooked. The rice grains should hold a little bit of a bite at the end, al dente, so you may not need all the stock.

A few minutes before you think it's ready, add the chicken, Parmesan and season generously. Serve immediately with a spoonful of pesto and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

Friday, 7 September 2012

Sweet Chilli Chicken Noodles

After watching the BBC series Exploring China: A Culinary Adventure, with Ken Hom and Ching-He Huang (or, as Billy calls, "that dad and the girl"), I was inspired to do a bit of Chinese cooking myself. Well, I say "Chinese" but I'm in no way claiming this to be a traditional Chinese recipe. It's just something I thought would work well.

Not all Chinese cookery involves strange long list of ingredients. This recipe certainly doesn't, and can be cooked in 5 minutes flat.