Archive for October, 2009

Stir-Fried Black Pepper Chicken

My fridge is going empty with meats and fresh veggies so this mean that dinner is limited to the stuff I have at hand which is chicken and onion. I didn’t want to do my grocery shopping just yet because it’s Halloween weekend and I know I’ll be out of town visiting my family in Stockton. I might just grocery shop in Stockton before I get back, will see about that. So with just these ingredients along with some sauce and spices I went ahead a whip up some tasty Cha Mon Marich Kmao ឆារម៉ាន់ម្រេចខ្មៅ (Black Pepper Chicken) or you can even call it Caramelized Chicken.

I tried to plan ahead when possible so that I can pull the meat out to defrost and marinade to the full extent which was what I did with these chicken pieces. This is a very quick and easy dish to put together. I had to wait for my rice cooker to switch to warm before I began cooking. It doesn’t take long to cook so you don’t want the stir-fried to be waiting on the rice. It should be vice versa.


Stir-Fried Black Pepper Chicken
(Cha Mon Marich Kmao) ឆារម៉ាន់ម្រេចខ្មៅ

1 lb chicken thigh, skinless & boneless, cut into bite size pieces
1 large onion, cut into wedges
1 tablespoon whole black peppercorn
cilantro sprigs for garnish

Marinade for chicken
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine (Chinese cooking wine)
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon dark soy sauce (sweet)
½ teaspoon tapioca flour (or corn flour)

Combine ingredients for marinade and add to chicken pieces. Marinade for at least 30 minutes.

Use a mortar & pestle and lightly pound the whole black peppercorn. It should be coarse.

In a hot pan add the marinated chicken pieces. Spread them out evenly and allow to caramelized for about 3 minutes before moving it around. Cook until chicken pieces are cooked. The sauce will start to thickens.

Toss in coarse peppercorns and stir to coat with chicken pieces. Add onion wedges and stir it around so it picks up all the yummy sauces on the pan. Continue to cook until the onions are soft but not mushy. You still want a little bit of crunch on them.

Dish out when ready. Garnish with cilantro sprigs and serve with hot steamy rice. ENJOY!

Stir-Fried Pickled Mustard Greens with Roasted Pork Belly

As mentioned in my previous Chinese Roasted Pork Belly with Crackling post I anticipated left-overs for another (one of my experimental) dish. While enjoying the roasted pork belly out of the oven with hot steamy rice my mind was already brainstorming another dish. That evening I also made Sichuan popular Fish Soup with Pickled Mustard Greens (which I will share in the future once I get the perfect balance) so as I looked to dishes on table it crossed my mind. How about joining some of the ingredients from the two dishes? I finally locate the Sichuan peppercorns at my local Asian supermarket. I am so addicted to that spicy, numbing, tingling taste right now and so very eager to put it to the test in my Cha Jruk Spey Sach Jrook Kwai ឆារជ្រក់ស្ពៃសាច់ជ្រូកខ្វៃ​ (Stir-Fried Pickled Mustard Greens with Roasted Pork). 😛

Since the pickled mustard greens and roasted pork belly are loaded with flavors already it was important to try to balance them out and join them by not having to add additional salt. Spicy was the flavor that I used to bring these two together. I was pleased with the outcome. I believe my use of the Sichuan peppercorn was spot on in this stir-fried dish.

2-3 cups sliced pickled mustard greens
sliced Chinese crackling roasted pork belly
½ tablespoon Sichuan peppercorn, crushed
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon full roasted chili
julienne red jalapeños for garnish

In a hot pan reheat the sliced pork belly by laying them down evenly. This will not only reheat the meat but add a little crunch and make it crispy again. Flip it once then remove and set aside. Use the fat that was left behind and add minced garlic, roasted chili and Sichuan peppercorn. Fry until fragrant. You might want to turn on the fan at this point. You will be able to tell when your nose starts to tickle and you feel like sneezing.

Add pickled mustard greens and stir to coat with the rest of the other ingredients. Cook another 2 minute before adding back the roasted pork belly. Sprinkle 2 teaspoons of sugar and then stir again to combine.

To serve, dish it out and garnish with some julienne red jalapeños. Serve with steamed rice.

Chinese Roasted Pork Belly with Crackling

This was my very first time making this Chinese Style Roasted Pork Belly with Crackling known in Khmer as Sach Jrook Kwai សាច់ជ្រូកខ្វៃ. I spent a bit of time studying the steps, variations and recipes available online and then finally adapt it to my liking. Finding the ingredients and making it was not hard at all but I was really anxious and nervous about the outcome. Will it turn out good or will it be a nightmare? While making I thought to myself, if the results are positive then this is what I plan to contribute for the upcoming Thanksgiving Holiday feast. :)

As you can see from the picture it was a major S-U-C-C-E-S-S (IMHO – In my humble opinion)! 😀 The pork was juicy, nice and tender inside while the skin above was so crispy and crunchy. It was scrumptious! I wonder, why do they charge so much at the Chinese deli when it so easy to make? Maybe to cover the cost of electricity bill? LOL I don’t think I will ever purchase roasted pork at the deli again.

You might be concern about the fat content in this meat. I was too, however as good as it was I did not devour the entire 2½ lbs of meat alone nor during one sitting. A couple of slices is good enough for me along with steamed rice. The left over will be used to make other dishes like stir-fry, noodle soups, or lettuce wraps. The key in moderation right? 😛 I say this but sometime it’s so tempting. LOL

2½ lbs pork belly (or pork belly side)
½ tablespoon sea salt (coarse salt)
1 tablespoon rice vinegar

1 tablespoon table salt
½ tablespoon sugar
2 pieces red bean curd
½ teaspoon Chinese five spice powder
1 teaspoon chopped garlic

Clean pork belly and pat dry with a kitchen or paper towel.

Score the bottom (meaty) side with a sharp knife and make an X about ½ inch apart. This is so that the marinade gets through and in between the meat. It also helps the pork belly from curling when it is roasting.

Make the marinade and rub it on the bottom (meaty side) making sure to get in between the slits that was previous scored.

Flip it to the other side and rub the skin (part only) with sea salt. Allow to marinade (uncover) for at least 1 hour but best overnight. The air in the fridge will help keep the skin dry.

Bring meat to room temperature prior to roasting. Preheat your oven to 400-450F. Set the pork on a rack/roast pan and roast with the skin side up. Make sure you have a drip pan to catch the fat when it drips. Cook for about 20-25 minutes.

Remove meat from the oven carefully. Use a paper towel to blot off any visible oil that rise to the top of the skin. Then use a fork or sharp rod to prick the skin. The more holes you make the better. This will help release the fat making it dry and crispy with crackling.

Use a brush and apply rice vinegar to the skin. Return it back to the oven and continue to cook on broil setting (the top heat) for another 20 minutes or so. The skin will start to make these crackling noise and then it will turn black (charred). This is a sign that the pork has released it’s fat and there little liquid left inside.

Turn the oven off and remove your pork belly carefully. If it’s too hot to handle you can allow it to rest in the oven for awhile (while the heat is turned off) until it is safe to remove with gloves.

Allow the meat to rest for about 15 minutes. Then with a steak knife scrape off the blacken part. You should have a delicious roasted pork belly that is juicy on the inside and nice and crispy on the outside.

There’s so many things you can do with this roasted pork belly. Serve it with steamed rice, make fried rice, noodle soup, or add it to stir fry dishes. Enjoy!

Cambodian Fried Rice Noodles

Awhile ago one of my blog reader, Kevin, put in a request for Kuy Teav Cha គុយទាវឆារខ្មែរ(Cambodian Fried Rice Noodles) recipe. He wanted to see the difference and similarities between the Cambodian version and the Thai version. After I replied to his question my childhood memories came through.

When I was in grade school I lived in a very large Cambodian community called Park Village (known to Cambodian people as Oak Park) in Stockton, CA. The complex consist of about 300+ Khmer refugee families. It was like a mini Cambodia. Many people use their 2-bedroom apartment to sell groceries, candies, home made goods, cigars and alcohol. I remember one lady who used to make Kuy Teav Cha for sale. She put them into a zip lock size bag. It only cost $1 at that time. The bag cames with fried noodles, shredded eggs, peanuts and a little small container of fish sauce. She was my favorite Kuy Teav Cha vendor. I enjoyed going to her house on weekends to buy them. It’s been long since I’ve made this dish and with a few pointers from my Mother during my last visit I decided to do tackle it again.

I think it’s a cross between the infamous Thai version of fried noodles known as “Pad Thai” and the Vietnamese cold rice noodle mixed with fresh and pickled vegetables topped with some sort of meat and fish sauce known as “bun thit”. Cambodian fried rice noodles is much easier to make than Pad Thai or Bun Thit. It requires very few ingredients. What makes a delicious Cambodian fried noodle and the most important ingredient is the fish sauce dressing. It is what binds everything together and completes the dish.

1 lb dried rice noodle stick (small size) pre-soak in warm water for 30 minutes until soften
4 large (jumbo) eggs, beaten
5 tablespoon sweet soy sauce
2 tablespoons roasted peanuts, chopped or crushed
fish sauce dressing (see recipe)
assorted fresh herbs such as mint leaves, Asian mint (coriander), and basil

Heat a non-stick pan until hot then lower to med-high heat. Use cooking spray if your pan tend to stick. Ladle about 1/3 cup of beaten eggs and pan fry the eggs forming a pancake like-shape. Use a spatula to flip and cook the other size. Since they are thin it should not take long to fry them. Once they are cook remove to a plate and set aside. Repeat the same process until all the beaten eggs are gone.

Cut the stacked fried eggs in half. Then fold the bottom half up and thinly slice them leaving you with shredded fried eggs. Set aside.

Next, drain the soak rice noodle sticks and add 5 tablespoons sweet soy sauce. Use either your hands or chopsticks to toss and coat the rice sticks.

Now it’s time to fry the noodles. Heat (again) a non-stick pan and add noodles to your liking. You can also add cooking spray to prevent the noodles from sticking to the pan. Use chopsticks to toss them so that they cook evenly. The noodles can still be sticky. Do not be alarm. Just sprinkle some water to soften and separate them. This step also goes by fairly quickly so do not step away!

Once your noodles are fried transfer it to a serving dish. Add shredded fried eggs, sprinkle some chopped peanuts and add the fish sauce dressing. The amount of these toppings will vary depending on your liking. I personally like lots of eggs and peanuts on mine. :) Throw in your favorite fresh herbs and combine everything together. It is now ready to eat. Adjust to taste. You will notice that after adding the fish sauce dressing the noodles have loosen up a bit making it a bit easier to toss and combine.

Clay Pot Chicken Rice

I haven’t been in the kitchen much lately because I was busy with my mini home makeover. That project has not completed yet and will take some time. While working on the project I settle with quick fix meal like rice with fried eggs, my Mother’s homemade salty fish and her Cambodian sausage. Yesterday after making my Pickled Mustard Green Soup I was anxious to try something new. Browsed online and (again) saw all these eye catching, mouth-watering images of clay pot rice being cooked with so many variations. The Chinese does it one way, the Malaysian does it another and then there’s the Vietnamese and Thai style although I have not encounter the Cambodian version. It was a bit overwhelming. LOL I like them all. 😀 Instead of going with one particular recipe I’ve decided to go with the concept: cook rice, cook topping, combine the two and continue to cook in clay pot in an oven. Sound simple enough right? Don’t get discourage with the lengthy ingredients because most are marinade that can be prepared well in advance (I did it the night before).

Because I am not proficient in cooking rice on a stove top I rely on my rice cooker to do the job. I then transfer it to my clay pot (that I hand carried all the way from Cambodia during my one and only visit back in summer 2006). Some clay pot doesn’t require pre-soaking but mine (as pictured) is a traditional one that do require pre-soaking for about 15 minutes to prevent it from cracking when it goes into the oven at high heat.

OMG! I just wanted to share with you how much I enjoyed the flavor of my​ Bai Mon Chhnang Dey បាយម៉ាន់ឆ្នាំងដី (Clay Pot Chicken Rice). It’s was so delicious! The best part was the bai kdang បាយក្តាំង (crispy rice) at the bottom of the pot (you can achieve this on a stove-top too, just put cook it on med-low heat and remove promptly otherwise you will be left with burnt rice instead).

Clay Pot Chicken Rice
(Bai Mon Chhnang Dey) បាយម៉ាន់ឆ្នាំងដី

2 cups rice (uncooked)
5 dried shitake mushrooms, soaked in warm/hot water til soften then sliced
1 Chinese sausage, sliced diagonally
2 cloves garlic, minced and fried
½ teaspoon chicken broth powder mix
1 teaspoon sesame oil (optional)
2 skinless chicken thighs (about ½ lb), cut into bite size pieces
1 green onion, julienne for garnish

Marinade for chicken
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine (Chinese cooking wine)
2 tablespoons fish sauce
½ tablespoon dark soy sauce (sweet)
½ teaspoon tapioca flour (or corn flour)

Marinade the chicken pieces for at least 30 minutes or overnight.

Pre-soak your clay pot in cold water for about 15 minutes prior to use to prevent it from cracking when it goes into the hot oven. The heat will warm the clay pot gradually releasing the steam to further cook the inside.

Preheat your oven to about 400 degrees F.

Cook your rice as you would normally do in a rice cooker and add chicken broth powder mix along with fried garlic. Alternatively, you can use chicken stock instead of water.

While the rice is cooking heat a pan and cook the marinaded chicken pieces. It was start of liquid-y but thickens up to an almost dry consistency. When chicken pieces are cooked add slice shitake mushrooms and stir to combine. Turn off the heat.

Assuming you are using a rice cooker, the light switch should now change to the warm setting. Wipe your clay pot dry with a kitchen towel and grease the bottom with some sesame oil. This step is optional but I wanted that nice crispy rice on the bottom without having it actually stick to the bottom.

Transfer the rice from the rice cooker to the clay pot. Arrange slice Chinese sausage evenly on top. Then add the stir-fry chicken pieces with mushrooms. Put the lid on and bake it in the oven for about 15 minutes or so.

Serve garnish with some julienne green onions and for color I also added some red jalapeños.

Radish|Daikon Soup

I notice that I have not been eating my greens as I am suppose to lately. Bad bad me, I know. I guess I’m just very picky on the types of vegetables and what dishes it goes into.

Growing up I never like radish aka daikon. I didn’t like the smell nor the taste. Turned away when my Mother make soups out of it. Pick it off when she use them to make pickle things. However, as you might have notice, I really like it in my pickled carrots and daikon. Maybe it’s an acquire taste and smell? Or perhaps my taste buds changed over time. Nevertheless, I made an attempt to make and eat my radish soup (Sngor Chai Thao) ស្ងោរឆែថាវ. I never thought I would say this but “I <3 radish soup”. It very light and refreshing and it makes me feel healthy and I sip the tasty broth.

The longer you simmer, the tender the meat gets. The radish also becomes nice and soft but not mushy (only if you prefer it that way) . If you don’t have time to make the stock, you can use small cut of meat and add stock cube (pork or chicken) to help flavor the broth. It’s a very easy soup to put together. The soup can be enjoyed as is or with steamed rice with a full meal.

1.5 lbs pork neck bones with meat attached
6 cups of water
3 cloves of garlic
½ onion, peeled and cut in half again
½ lb radish/daikon, cut into bite size pieces
1.5 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons fish sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
cilantro & chili for garnishing

Wash meat thoroughly and drain well. This next step is optional but I usually take the time to pre-boil the meat to remove those gunk and residue from the bone giving me a nice clear and delicious broth. Bring a big pot of water to boil and add the meat. Boil for about 5-10 minutes and then discard the liquid and rinse the meat again.

Rinse your pot to remove any residue on the sides and add 6 cups of water. Wait til it boils and then return the meat. Allow it to come to a blasting boil and then cover and simmer low for 1-2 hours. The longer you simmer, the tender the meat gets. Also I find that the broth is much more tasty as all the juices and flavors are extracted from bones. You can prepare this stock in advance and refrigerate it. Reheat when it’s time to prepare the soup. If there’s any visible fat you want to remove it would a lot easier to do so resulting in a nutritious and healthier soup.

Prepare the soup by adding cut radish to the stock when it boils. Allow radish to cook until soft to your liking. If you are not in a hurry you can cover and simmer it for about 30 minutes but check every now and then making sure it doesn’t get too soft or break apart. Once you are satisfy with the texture of the cooked radish, go ahead and add the sugar, soy sauce and fish sauce.

To serve, ladle to a bowl and garnish with some chopped cilantro and chili. You can also serve it directly on top of steamed rice for a delicious one bowl rice soup.

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