Saturday, February 21, 2015

General Tso's Chicken

Keeping on the Chinese theme, here is another new dish that I had to try.  It's a very popular dish in Chinese restaurants in America, which of course made me very curious.
Doing some research (once again thank goodness for Google) this simple chicken dish became more intriguing as it seems that this dish named in honour of a Qing dynasty general from Hunan, General Tso Tsung-tang, or Zuo Zongtang, has no known connection to him.  The food has been associated with his name  even though] the dish is found neither in Changsha, the capital of Hunan, nor in Xiangyin, the home of General Tso.  And even more interestingly - apparently descendants of General Tso who still live in Xiangyin, when interviewed, say that they have never heard of such a dish. 
Further reading there are many versions of where this dish originated but I am guessing it was in the early '70s in New York rather than in the 1800s when General Tso lived.  Obviously linking this dish with a famous man adds to the intrigue when ordering meals outside of ones culture!!

This dish itself, was very much like one of our all time favourites, Nice Chicken, although I didn't find it as spicy.  Using the dried chillies added a different texture, and a direct heat upon eating but I would keep the seeds in next time to increase the heat.
Anyhow this is our take on the dish that I found on Rasa Malaysia, fast becoming one of my favourite food sites.

General Tso's Chicken
(recipe adapted from Rasa Malaysia)
Serves: 6
ProPoints per Serve: 12
600 grams skinless chicken breast fillets, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 tablespoon rice wine
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons Chinese rice vinegar
5 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
2 teaspoon Hoisin sauce
1/2 cup water
5 tablespoons sugar
3/4 cup cornflour
3/4 cup canola oil
3 tablespoons ginger, finely crushed
2 cloves garlic, finely crushed
8 - 10 dried red chillies, rinsed and deseeded
4 spring onions, cut into 2 cms lengths

In a bowl marinate the chicken with 1 tablespoon of rice wine and salt for 15 minutes.
In a jug place rice vinegar, soy sauces, hoisin sauce, water, sugar and 2 tablespoons of cornflour.  Mix well and set aside.

Coat the chicken generously with the remaining cornflour. Add oil, reserving 1 tablespoon, to a wok or frying pan. When oil is hot cook the chicken, in batches, until they turn light brown. Remove from oil and drain on a plate lined with paper towels.

Heat up a wok with 1 1/2 tablespoons oil. Add the minced ginger, garlic, and dried chilies into the wok, stir-fry until the chilies are fragrant. Pour the sauce into the wok. When the sauce boils and thickens, add the chicken, stirring to ensure all is well combined. Add the spring onion and stir 1 - 2 minutes. 
Place on a serving platter or dish and serve immediately.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Sweet and Sour Pork

This would have to be my children's "always order" dish at any Chinese restaurant.  They love the crunchy batter on the pork pieces smothered in the famous sweet and sour sauce that everyone is familiar with.

Some Sweet and Sour sauces can be too sweet or too sour which obviously spoils the meal for the consumer but not this one.  This homemade sauce does nothing short of elevate the delicate tender pork to a point where tastebuds explode at the moment of the first mouthful.

Melt in the mouth pork, crunchy vegetables, sweet pineapple enveloped in lip smacking sauce I think I would be allowed to cook this every night if my family had their way.......

Sweet and Sour Pork
(Recipe adapted from
Serves: 6
ProPoints per Serve: 16

2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon rice wine
2 tablespoons cornflour
500 grams pork tenderloin, diced
3 tablespoons tomato ketchup
2 teaspoon plum sauce
1/4 teaspoon Chinese rice vinegar
1 teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce
2 teaspoon oyster sauce
2 teaspoon sugar
4 tablespoons water
3 tablespoons plain flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 small pinch of salt
1 egg
1 cup water
1 cup canola oil
4 clove garlic, crushed
1 green capsicum, diced
1 red capsicum, diced
4 spring onions, cut into 2cms lengths
425 gram can sliced pineapple, drained and cut into small pieces

In a large bowl combine soy sauce, rice wine and 2 teaspoons of cornflour.  Mix well.  Add pork and marinate for 15-20 minutes.

Meanwhile make the sweet and sour sauce by combining the ketchup, plum sauce, rice vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, oyster sauce, cornflour, sugar and 4 tablespoons water.  Mix well and set aside.

Sift the flour, the remaining cornflour, baking soda and salt in a large bowl.  Then add in the egg, water, and 2 teaspoons of canola oil to form a thick batter.

Transfer the pork pieces into the batter and make sure they are well coated. In a deep skillet, add in the cooking oil enough for deep-frying. Once the oil is hot, deep fry the pork pieces, in batches, until they turn golden brown. Drain on a plate lined with paper towel.

Heat up a wok and add remaining oil. Add in the garlic and stir fry until light brown, then follow by the capsicum and pineapple pieces. Stir fry for 3 - 4 minutes and then add in the sweet and sour sauce. As soon as the sauce thickens, transfer the pork into the wok and stir well with the sauce. Add the spring onions, tossing through well and then place on a serving platter or dish.
Serve accompanied with steamed rice, if desired.

(Click here for a printable version of this recipe)

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Spiced Mekong Delta Prawns

Valentine's Day has come around again, it's actually the 23rd one we have shared together.  While there is still lots of love between us we don't necessarily go all out with the publicity hype that has turned a day of romance into a money making opportunity that is obsessed over by millions.  So as we have done every year we gave each other some simple cards with beautiful words written inside them and had a special feast..... well they do say a way to a man's heart is through his stomach.

I decided that we would have a spicy prawn entrée followed by some Crispy Asian Pork Belly for main.  Alex was having a sleep over so it was good to have spicy and pork as she is not a fan of either.  Oliver is getting better with spice but doesn't like prawns.  But their taste buds are still changing and discovering so it won't be long before they realise what they are missing out on.

The Spiced Mekong Delta Prawns was a recipe I stumbled across.  I found the recipe on the SBS website and as you can imagine, the recipe instantly drew me to putting it on the menu straight away.  The Mekong Delta region in south-western  Vietnam and it is Vietnam's most important fishing region more importantly it is well known for its prawn farming.  This recipe uses fresh prawns marinated in a mixture of sauces and spices and then quickly cooked for delicious meal.
The flavours were amazing, intriguing our tastebuds with every mouthful.  Spicy but delicate, a little sweet and a little sour.  Very interesting combinations of spices which produced a dish that was fragrant and had just the right amount of heat.  As an entrée I just served on a bed of lettuce leaves but served with steamed rice this dish would also be a perfect main meal.


Spiced Mekong Delta Prawns
(Recipe adapted from SBS)
Serves: 4
ProPoints Per Serve: 6
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons oyster sauce
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
1 tablespoon dry sherry
freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
500 grams large prawns, peeled, deveined, tails removed
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
2 teaspoons minced garlic
6 spring onion (scallion), cut into 2 cm lengths
1 tablespoon water
lettuce leaves, to serve
1 long red chilli, finely sliced

In a mixing bowl, combine fish sauce, sugar, oyster sauce, cinnamon powder, cumin powder, sherry, black pepper and curry powder. Add the prawns, cover and marinate in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Pour oil in a large wok or frying pan on high heat. Fry the garlic and red onion until fragrant and stir fry prawns for 2 - 3 minutes until changed colour and cooked through.

Add the spring onion and water and toss for a further 1 minute.

Place lettuce on to a serving plate, transfer prawns to the plate and garnish with sliced red chilli.

(Click here for a printable version of this recipe)

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Vegetarian Noodles

To my delight the House Of Murray is still a very busy place at the moment and YES there has been lots of food consumed.  Needless to say I have a backlog of recipes to share with you.  So my mission is to of course share these with you as well as the food that we are eating now.

This dish is one of my all time favourites either served by themselves as a sneaky comfort food or served with some barbecued meat or fish.  These noodles however have a flavour that tantalises the taste buds and there is normally none left for leftovers the next day.

A simple meal to prepare and cook but one that everyone enjoys.

Vegetarian Noodles

Serves: 4
ProPoints per serve: 5

440 grams hokkien noodles
1 tablespoon sweet chilli sauce
1 tablespoon kecap manis
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1/4 cup water
2 teaspoons oil
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 cm peice of ginger, grated
1 onion, sliced
1 carrot, julienned
1 red capsicum julienned
200 grams button mushrooms, sliced
2 baby bok choy, roughly chopped
100 grams bean sprouts
1/4 cup fresh coriander, chopped

Fill a large bowl with hot water and soak noodles as per packet directions. Drain and set aside.

In a small jug mix together sweet chilli sauce, kecap manis, soy sauce and water.

Heat oil in a large wok or frying pan over high heat. Add garlic, ginger, onion and carrots tossing until onion starts to soften - add a little water if vegetables start to burn. Add capsicum and mushrooms. Stir fry for 3 - 4 minutes.

Add combined sauce and stir through. Add noodles and bok choy tossing to combine.

Stir through bean sprouts and corinader. Serve immediately.

(click here for a printable version of this recipe)