Category Archives: Hawaii

Chicken with Gochujang Sauce, Korean Rice Cakes (Tteok) and Celery

This wonderful one-pot meal is a perfect example of how my Asian food experiments evolve throughout months or years: first, they typically become spicier, more garlicky (if it suits them); then they get adjusted to my lazy nature, becoming easier and eliminating side-dishes, requiring even less dish washing… This one started with the Hawaiian Shoyu Chicken, to which I added gochujang and lots of garlic, then one day I threw in some celery (avoiding the necessity of a side dish) and, finally, I ha the idea to complete it with the cylindrical tteok rice cakes creating a delicious easy one-pot meal.

Tteok (떡) is a Korean word weirdly translated as “rice cake”. Contrary to what most Asian cuisine neophytes think (“rice cakes” exist in some other cuisines too), rice cakes are savoury and I would rather compare them to gnocchi. Of the two most famous kinds – coin-shaped flat ones and cylindrical ones – I prefer the latter, much chewier and thicker, and actually find them highly addictive. The flat ones are cooked in a mild typical New Year soup (tteoguk), while the cylindrical ones are most often simmered in a sweet & fiery sticky sauce (tteokboki). Cylindrical tteok can be found in two sizes and my favourite are the smaller ones (probably because I eat less of them…) and you see them at the above photograph. Whether big or small, I find my favourite tteok extremely versatile: I stir-fry them and add to different soups and sauces, not only Korean (they work perfectly with the remains of Indian or Thai curry…).  If you find them refrigerated, they freeze very well (I usually freeze individual portions) and if you buy them frozen, don’ thaw them; once at home, quickly divide them at home into portions and have fun experimenting!

If you don’t have rice cakes, you might want to try Shoyu Chicken in Gochujang (with or without celery):

Shoyu Chicken with Gochujang

TIPS: This dish is easily reheated or defrosted, but if you are sure you’ll want to keep it for later use, it’s better to cook it without rice cakes which are less chewy when reheated and without celery, which becomes too soft (for me). Remove the sauce’s and chicken’s amount for later use and add the celery and rice cakes only to the same-day portion.

If you don’t like having bones in your bowl or plate, remove them before serving, but don’t use boned chicken legs. Bones add lots of wonderful flavours.

If you like soft chicken skin, leave it. I always use skinned chicken legs when simmering because I hate soft skin (I love it crisp from the oven though!).

Preparation: about 2 hours

Ingredients (serves 2):

2 small chicken legs (cut into two pieces), without skin or two big thighs

100 ml (about 3 fl oz) low-sodium Japanese soy sauce (or 70 ml of “normal” soy sauce)

300 ml (about 10 fl oz) water

60 ml (about 2 fl oz) agave syrup or honey

2 tablespoons rice vinegar (or any other vinegar)

2 heaped tablespoons gochujang (Korean chilli paste)

4 big garlic cloves chopped or sliced

toasted white sesame seeds, chopped green onions

2-4 celery stalks, cut into bite-sized pieces (“threads” removed)

250-300 g rice cakes (fresh or defrosted)

(1-2 tablespoons sesame oil)

Bring all the sauce ingredients to a boil (apart from the four last ones : sesame seeds, rice cakes celery and oil).

Lower the heat, put the chicken into the sauce, cover (add more water if needed) and let it simmer for at least one hour until the meat falls apart from the bones (if the chicken has actually walked, i.e. free range or organic) it might take two hours.

Add the rice cakes and let them simmer until they become thicker (it takes usually about 15 minutes).  Add the celery and let it simmer until the celery is soft enough. I like it crunchy, so I add it ten minutes before the end, but you can add together with rice cakes (it will cook 20 minutes and will be soft).

Finish cooking it uncovered until the sauce thickens.

Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds, green onions and with sesame oil.

 

Shoyu Chicken with Gochujang (Chicken Simmered in Soy Sauce and Gochujang)

shoyu_goch_chickIf you ask me what I have been eating most often for the last three years, Shoyu Chicken would certainly be among the top ten. The frequency with which I prepare it is not only due to its irresistible taste and texture, but also – and maybe most of all – to its extremely low difficulty. Actually, I cannot recall any other equally effortless warm dish. Even though, after dozens of times, the original recipe is still my favourite in my house, I have obviously twisted it more than once. This gochujang (Korean chilli paste) version has also become a staple and is always welcome whenever the chilli addict in me requires an urgent dose of spicy food.

This recipe is based on the original Shoyu Chicken, a Hawaiian recipe found on a wonderful, inspiring blog Humble Bean, which is unfortunately no longer continued. “Shoyu” means “soy sauce “in Japanese and even though this dish comes from Hawaii it does have a Japanese influence of course. Since the first time I prepared it I have cut down on the soy sauce amounts (and always use the low-sodium version), but otherwise I still prepare it the same way and never get tired of it.

If you cannot find gochujang or don’t feel like having a spicy meal, try this mild version:

Shoyu Chicken

Shoyu Chicken

TIPS: If you like soft chicken skin, leave the skin on, but for me the result was much too fatty, so I did it only once and have always skinned the legs since then (it’s really very easy and takes maximum five minutes for two legs).

Try to use chicken pieces with bones, which add lots of flavour.

I strongly advise using low-sodium soy sauce. You will have less salt in the final dish, but more of the wonderful soy sauce taste.

Do not skip the vinegar. The dish will not be sour, but the vinegar adds a certain je-ne-sais-quoi you will like. (You can use any vinegar you have, unless it’s something like raspberry vinegar, etc. of course).

It’s obviously delicious served with kimchi.

Preparation: about 1 hour – 1h30

Ingredients (serves 2 – 4 people depending on the size of the legs):

2 chicken legs (cut into two pieces) with or without skin

100 ml (about 3 fl oz) low-sodium Japanese soy sauce (or 70 ml of “normal” soy sauce)

300 ml (about 10 fl oz) water

60 ml (about 2 fl oz) agave syrup or honey

2 tablespoons rice vinegar (or any other vinegar)

2 heaped tablespoons gochujang (Korean chilli paste)

2 big garlic cloves chopped or sliced

toasted sesame seeds

(1-2 tablespoons sesame oil)

Bring all the sauce ingredients to a boil (apart from the sesame seeds and oil).

Lower the heat, put the chicken into the sauce, cover (add more water if needed) and let it simmer for at least one hour until the meat falls apart from the bones.

Finish cooking it uncovered until the sauce thickens.

Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds and with sesame oil.

Serve with rice (and kimchi, if you have it).

 

 

 

 

Cabbage and Ramen Noodle Salad

ramensaladpj

This is, without any doubts, the star of this winter’s salads. I saw it several months ago on Azusa’s blog (Humble Bean) and wouldn’t stop thinking about it. How could I forget a recipe which had dried uncooked noodles among its ingredients? I simply waited for this time of the year when cabbage is one of the rare seasonal salad vegetables. Even though the salad looked beautiful, I must admit that the intriguing use of noodles was what tempted me most of all to prepare it. In fact I didn’t expect even half as good result and certainly not such a wonderful, complex side dish. The crunchy mixture of dry noodles, peanuts and sesame seeds is of course the focal point here. Once browned in butter, it proved an amazing topping and a perfect company for the sweet and sour salad dressing. I can very well see it sprinkled on many other dishes too. (Maybe I’m wrong, but I suppose the Japanese would call it “furikake”.) I made this salad for the first time yesterday, I have had it once more today and am already looking forward to serving it tomorrow. I think it will be my staple this winter just like Azusa’s Tomato and Shiso Salad was for the last two summers.

This recipe comes from a Hawaiian cookery book and accidentally it would go perfectly well with Shoyu Chicken, the only other Hawaiian dish I prepare (also found at Humble Bean). It would be an original alternative to coleslaw or any salad served with roast meat or birds during holidays. The guests’ amazement is guaranteed!

I have slightly modified the recipe mainly using peanuts instead of almonds, adding salt to the crunchy mixture (I still don’t know why I did it but it was a good decision) and scaling it down to a dish for two. Visit Humble Bean to see the original recipe.

TIP: The best way to crush both peanuts and noodles is to put them in a resistant bag (such as ziplock) and crush them with the bottom of a bowl for example.

I have made a bigger amount of the crunchy mixture (it has to be kept open, otherwise it will lose its crunchiness) and the following day the salad took me only 5 minutes to prepare. The mixture cannot be kept for a long period though (it might get rancid).

Preparation: 20 minutes

Ingredients (serves two):

150 g (about 2 cups) shredded white cabbage or a mixture or white and red cabbage

Crunchy mixture:

4 flat tablespoons crushed ramen noodles (Chinese-style “curly” wheat noodles)

2 flat tablespoons sesame seeds

3 flat tablespoons crushed peanuts (the original recipe calls for almonds)

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon butter

Dressing:

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 tablespoon sugar (I have used agave syrup)

3 tablespoons chopped green onion (I had chives, so I have used them instead)

Heat the butter in a pan and, at low heat, brown the mixture of noodles, peanuts and sesame seeds, constantly stirring. When the noodles become golden, put the pan aside and combine the mixture with the salt.

Combine the dressing ingredients. Combine it with the shredded cabbage.

Sprinkle the salad with crunchy mixture and green onion or chives.

Give the salad a stir just before serving it.

 

 

 

Shoyu Chicken, or Chicken Simmered in Soy Sauce

shoyuchickenp

Before spotting it on the Humble Bean blog, I have never heard of “shoyu chicken” and would have never guessed it was a Hawaiian dish, since “shoyu” is a Japanese word meaning “soy sauce”. Its presence reflects  the influence of the Japanese cuisine in Hawaii, where apparently immigrants from different ethnic groups have left a rich, fusion culinary heritage.

Last week, when I realised Shoyu Chicken was one of the best dishes I have ever had, I started to google for some more information and found myriads of different versions bearing the same name, but only one recurring ingredient, namely the soy sauce. The recipe from Humble Bean is made with very few ingredients (among which tomato is a very surprising one), doesn’t require any particular attention and cooks literally on its own, so the fabulous, original result is even more impressive.

Hardly a couple of days after my first experience with Shoyu Chicken I saw an incredibly similar “nonya” dish on Mr. Three-Cookies blogs (Three Cookies and Easily Good Eats), called Tau Eu Kay. Thanks to Mr. Three-Cookies I have learnt “nonya” combines “Chinese and Malay cooking, as well as influences from other cuisines such as Thai”. This coincidence made me wonder if nonya and Hawaiian, both fusion cuisines, have more similar dishes. I hope to explore both in the future!

Going back to my – slightly modified – recipe, I made it first with the skin on, but even though my chicken is always free-range and runs a lot (I hope), the sauce was too fat for my taste, so my second Shoyu Chicken was made without skin. The result was perfect, the meat wasn’t dry, so this is the way I intend to prepare it the future. There are always some leftovers of the delicious sauce, which I use the following day on rice, fried vegetables or noodles.

This dish has a historical importance. It is the first time in my life I prefer dark chicken meat from breasts (I have tested both and encourage all the chicken breast fans to try both). Another interesting point is that this is the first Asian dish I know which goes better with red wine (a sturdy one is a better choice here).

It is perfect with Tomato and Shiso Salad I have found on the same blog and the Japanese Onion Salad from Hiroyuki’s Blog on Japanese Cooking.

Preparation: 1 hour – 1h30

Ingredients (serves 2-4 people depending on the size of the legs):

2 chicken thighs (preferably cut in two pieces) with or without skin

100 ml (about 3 fl oz) low-sodium Japanese soy sauce (or 70 ml of “normal” soy sauce)

300 ml (about 10 fl oz) water

60 ml (about 2 fl oz) agave syrup or honey

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

1 heaped teaspoon powdered mustard (Japanese or English)

125 ml (1/2 cup) canned tomatoes (I have put 3 tablespoons tomato paste+125 ml water)

Bring all the sauce ingredients to boil.

Lower the heat, put the chicken into the sauce and let it simmer for at least one hour until the meat falls apart from the bones.

Finish cooking uncovered until the sauce thickens.

Serve with rice.