Cooking With Kaya (kind of) Episode 2: FRIED CHICKEN!!!

Fried chicken faces in effect.

Time flies.  The older I get, the more that’s true. It’s been over half a year since the last post, which I’ll admit is kind of standard for me (which might explain the fact that this blog has a readership of about 6.3 people).  More hard to believe, it’s been almost a decade since I started this here food blog. In that time – the posts in this blog provide documentation – Shefali and I got married, had a kid, moved from Brooklyn to Oakland, had another kid and well, continue to just live our rather ordinary lives.  One of those markers of ordinary life came couple weeks ago when Kaya started kindergarten. But before her official start,  she and I had an opportunity to hang out – quality time, just father and daughter.  So I thought, what better way to spend time together bonding then making another food video?!  Genius, right?!  Kaya, was maybe a little less enthusiastic.  I mean I’ve been subjecting her to these vids since she was a fat little baby (when we both looked a lot younger).  So, she wasn’t really feeling it, having her own thoughts and all, but I’m her dad and I can still make her do stuff, so that’s cool.  You’ll see in the video.

In any case, I wanted to make something that despite the passage of time has remained a constant in my life: fried chicken. I. Love. Fried. Chicken. It’s got to be up there in my top 5 of all time favorite foods. I will never turn down a piece of fried chicken.  It has been there for me, always. For example, when I was maybe five or six and my mom accidentally chopped the tip of her middle finger off with a cleaver when she was cutting up a roast duck. Now, I actually look back on that episode with fondness  because 1) well, it wasn’t my finger and I was napping when it happened and 2) because while my mom and my dad rushed to the emergency, finger tip packed in a cup of ice so doctors could sew it back on, my aunt and uncle took me and my sister to Kentucky Fried Chicken (before it was rebranded as KFC) where we feasted on salty, greasy goodness. Later when I was a teenager and my parents had a night out, they’d let me eat whatever I wanted and I always got a box of frozen Banquet Fried Chicken (spicy) and I’d polish off about three or four pieces in a sitting.  As an adult, I’ve been fortunate to have my horizons expanded – at least when it comes to fried chicken. From southern style (American) fried chicken to to Japanese karaage chicken, I’ve made room for all of them in my heart and stomach.  I’d say pretty much everybody around the world loves fried chicken and everybody does a version of it. In my  humble opinion, it’s all good. I’m a globalist. I admit it.

I found this vendor in a bus stop in Antigua, Guatemala.

I found this fried chicken in a market in Pai, Northern Thailand. I tried to have at least one piece of fried chicken a day there, often for breakfast.

I’m happy to say that love for chicken that is fried has been passed on to my daughter. Nature? Nurture?  Does the fried chicken come before the fried egg or vice versa? These are deep questions, I know. Welcome to my life. But I digress. One of my favorite versions is Thai style fried chicken. It’s got a lighter skin (rice flour instead of wheat flour) and the meat is often marinated beforehand (basically, brining does the same thing) so that the meat has a lot of flavor as opposed to just the skin or batter (don’t get me wrong, I love that too).  It’s also reminiscent of the fried chicken my dad used to make for us when we were kids and he was getting really into cooking.  He used bread crumbs for his coating though. Anyway this is the version I decided to make with Kaya.

Here’s the Ingredient list (amounts are approximates, as usual).

Marinade Ingredients
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup fish sauce
3-5 cloves of garlic
1 tbsp of ginger
3-4 tbsp of lemongrass
bunch of cilantro
2 1/2 tbsp of sugar

5 lbs of chicken legs (drumsticks and thighs) – you can also use little wings and drumettes)
rice flour to coat chicken pieces
oil to fry

And here’s the all important video for how we do it. Watch, learn and enjoy.

 

FacebookTumblrStumbleUponRedditLinkedInShare

Jason’s Mom’s Jook

Hi all! Long time, no blog (as usual). Alright, let me cut to the chase: jook, aka congee   = Chinese soul food. It doesn’t get any more basic than this: water + rice.  The thick rice porridge provides a blank canvas upon which other ingredients – 1000 year old eggs and salted pork (my personal favorite), fish and lettuce, dried scallops and peanuts, etc- can be applied, so in the end you can have an endless variety of delicious tableaus and landscapes.  For me, it’s comfort food, plain and simple.  I crave it when I’m under the weather, when I’m homesick, and when I just want to eat something I know is going to be absolutely satisfying to my body and soul.  My mom used to make it when I was a kid and I remember the way the whole kitchen would steam up and smell of cooking rice. When I visit my grandmother in Hong Kong, the first meal we have together is at a nearby jook joint.  Quite simply,  jook tastes of home and family.

But because jook is so basic and near and dear to my heart, it never occurred to me to post a recipe of it.  Enter my friend Jason. Thankfully, he filmed his mom making her version of jook and was kind enough to let me post it here.  Not only does her version look delicious but watching the video I was also glad to see the special place the dish occupies in her family. That’s how soul food is: universal but also entirely personal.

Alright, enough from me. Here’s Jason:

Last week, my wonderful mom came over to teach us the steps to making her version of congee.  I grew up calling this Chinese porridge “jook” but have recently learned the new name as it is served every day at my Grandma’s nursing center.

The day of this shoot, we had a surprise visit from her brother, Ben Fong-Torres, and his wife.  This put my mom and her brother at the stove together–a sight I had never seen before.  This must have brought back memories for them as they grew up in the family restaurant together helping their father.

I am proud to present our third cooking video: Mom Makes Congee.  I have been so lucky to grow up with my mother’s version of this dish in my life and hope you find time to make it for a loved one.  Enjoy!

-Jason

FacebookTumblrStumbleUponRedditLinkedInShare

Thai Cooking Made Easy! (Well, as experienced in a touristy cooking class…)

Along with cooking we also learned how to carve these carrots out of flowers.  Can you tell which one is Shefali's and which one is mine? (hint: mine looks like it was carved using a knife and not teeth)

Along with cooking we also learned how to carve these carrots out of flowers. Can you tell which one is Shefali’s and which one is mine? (hint: mine looks like it was carved using a knife and not my teeth)

I’m sure if you saw the previous post about pad thai, you’re aware of how highly I regard Thai food, both for its preparation and its dynamic flavors. Also, I’m a fan of employing badly shot vacation video from almost two years ago to give the few lucky readers of this blog an opportunity to savor more Thai food and watch Shefali and I stumble through the preparation of some basic Thai dishes.  You see, the summer before last, before Kaya and her voracious appetite made themselves known – actually, I think Shef was in the early stages of pregnancy with K (aka “The Eater”) – we were fortunate to find ourselves in Chiang Mai, Thailand, recuperating from our trip to India.  Believe me, Northern Thailand is the place to go for relaxing and eating.  As full fledged tourists, we enrolled in a one day cooking class at the Siam Rice Thai Cookery School. Now, I fancy myself as somewhat knowledgeable about food and the way its prepared – Asian food in particular. Oh, I don’t know, maybe because I’m ASIAN? Sheeit! So I didn’t know how much I’d really get out of this class. Well, feed me some humble pie, because I got a whole lot of spicy goodness out of it. It was great!  The recipes were obviously dumbed down for farang students, but what really came through (bubbled up to the surface as it were) was the importance of using the freshest ingredients and cooking things quickly and with the intensity of high eat to seal in flavors. I don’t want to toot my own horn, but some of dishes I cooked in this class, I’d consider among the best Thai food I’ve eaten.  So without further ado, please enjoy these two videos which chronicle both our trip to the market and our cooking class. Please enjoy!

Part 1

Part 2

FacebookTumblrStumbleUponRedditLinkedInShare

C’s Hot Wings!

My attempt at plating. Anyway, you get the idea. Wings and drumettes with sauce.

Alright, I meant to put this up before the Super Bowl, but I got waylaid by Chinese New Year’s festivities (stay tuned for a future posting).  So football season is now officially over.  But really, who needs to watch grown men running around in skin tight pants, head butting each other in order to enjoy spicy and delicious chicken wings?  I, for one, do not.  And neither should you.  It’s always the right time for hot wings.

Here’s the recipe (as usual, quantities are suggested):

Ingredients:
8 oz chipotle peppers in adobo (or from 1/2 cup to 3/4 – depending on how spicy you want it)
2 – 3 tsp to of fish sauce
1-2 tsp of vinegar
1 tbsp of ginger
1-2 tsp of garlic
2-3 tbsp of plain yogurt
2 1/2 lbs of chicken wings

Here’s how you do it:

FacebookTumblrStumbleUponRedditLinkedInShare

Shefali’s Palak Paneer

And now in contrast to the previous post, we bring you something completely vegetarian AND delicious (yes, such things do exist): palak paneer – aka saag paneer. In English it translates to spinach cheese which doesn’t quite do it justice because it’s such a rich and sumptuous, complex dish that when you’re eating it, you can’t believe that it’s just well, basically spinach with some chunks of tofu textured cheese. And as prepared by my beautiful wife Shefali, you’ll see how easy it is to cook. Click on the picture below for the full recipe and video.

Shef slaving over a hot stove

FacebookTumblrStumbleUponRedditLinkedInShare