After blogging about food from home yesterday, I was literally drooling and homesick for a taste from the past. As it was already 19h on a Sunday evening, I didn’t have hours to prepare something complex. Also, apart from “salad stuff”, which is pretty useless in Singaporean cooking, I only had 2 whole chicken legs and spring onions in my fridge! I flipped through my new cookbooks anyway and came upon the perfect recipe for my meager supplies.
The recipe comes from the cook book “Uncle Anthony’s Hokkien recipes”. Sorry I haven’t re-typed it out but I rather be spending my time cooking than copying out recipes, but I will tell you how I modified it!
-As I didn’t have any fresh chillis, I just used 1 tablespoon (tbsp) of my home made chilli made from garlic, ginger, fresh chillis, lime juice and (homemade) chicken stock!
-As I didn’t have Chinese rice wine, I used 1/2 tbsp of Japanese rice vinegar and 2 tbsp Chinese plum wine. But I think if you have Sherry, that will do too.
-I love sesame oil so I added 1 tbsp instead!
-And although they tell you to reduce the liquid to a gravy like consistency, Don’t! The sauce is really good with the rice and I regretted not having more in the end.
The end result, after only 15 minutes of cooking, was a delicious pot of chicken “stew” that reminded me of home.
So now that the essential part of my post is done, I can go on to telling you more about the cultural background behind dish and you can decide if you want to read it or if you just want to cook it right away! I often look for a recipe just before I want to cook it and I get quite annoyed when I have to stroll through 2 pages of info on the dish, no matter how interesting it may be, just to get to the recipe, so I promise I will never do that here!
As I mentioned earlier, this recipe comes from the cook book “Uncle Anthony’s Hokkien recipes”. So what is “Hokkien”? In Singapore, the Chinese are grouped according to our dialect groups and Hokkien is one of them. According to Wikipedia, it is a Chinese dialect group that originated from Southern Fujian in China, and is still spoken widely in South East Asia, South Eastern China, Taiwan and overseas Chinese. For me, it used to be one of the main Chinese dialects spoken in the streets of Singapore, now replaced by Mandarin.
Each dialect group has its own special dishes and some of the most popular Hokkien dishes are:
Hokkien MeeEgg noodles in a seafood sauce (which is a VERY simplified way of describing the dish!)
Bak Kut TehPork Ribs simmered in a 5-spice soup and garlic
Poh PiahFresh wheat flour skins filled mainly with stewed white turnip, peanuts and shrimp
and the most elaborate of all
Buddha Jumps Over The Wallwhich can consist of over 30 ingredients and takes 2 days to prepare! It is so named because the dish is reputated to be extremely good that it would entice the vegetarian Monks to jump over the monastery walls to eat this dish, which contains smoked ham among other delicacies like abalone, scallops, sea cucumber and ginseng! I can safely say I will not be making this dish
ever very soon.
Hokkien cooking puts its emphasis on retaining the natural flavour of the main ingredients instead of masking them and often uses a fermented fish sauce in their dishes, which is quite unusual for me, as I only ever used fish sauce in Thai or Vietnamese cooking. Their main cooking methods are braising, stewing steaming and boiling. Perfect for now, as Winter Is Coming… (Yes. I am a Game of Thrones fan…)
Hope you enjoyed reading this and if you try the recipe yourself, let me know if you liked it too!