Category Archives: main dish

Slow Cooker Thai Peanut Chicken

One of the best kitchen investments I have ever made is the slow cooker that I bought this year. Allow me for a moment to sing its praises… For a mere $11, a lovely 4-quart slow cooker was shipped to my door (a slick deal indeed!) Since that day, I have been salivating over all the delicious things I can make effortlessly in a slow cooker, all without turning on a stove or stepping outside my dorm room. It is the best appliance ever for a busy student like me, as well as for anyone out there who would love to have hot, homemade food without spending time cooking. You rarely have to check on the dish either, since slow cookers keep the liquids from evaporating, so food does not dry up and burn. The longer you cook meat in a slow cooker, the more tender it gets, until eventually it just falls right off the bone. In fact, I always have to prevent myself from constantly opening the lid to check up on the wonderful stuff stewing in my slow cooker, since opening it releases heat and slows down the cooking process. But… when my slow cooker sits in the same dorm room that I live in… it is impossible not to gravitate towards the delicious smells that fill my room! Also, since slow cookers are, by definition, cookers that cook slowly with low heat, I often like to take advantage of the nighttime, to cook in my slow cooker while I am sleeping! (Genius, if I do say so myself). With so many recipes calling for a cook time of 6-8 hours, it is ridiculously easy to throw the ingredients into the slow cooker before bed, and wake up to a pot of food that I can eat for lunch and dinner that day, all without spending time cooking over a stove. Yes, I am absolutely in love with my slow cooker.

slow cooker thai peanut chicken

In fact, my love for my slow cooker grew ever more when I discovered the blog “A Year of Slow Cooking“, by Stephanie O’Dea. She challenged herself to cook with a slow cooker for 365 days, and the recipes that she blogged about propelled her overnight into a slow cooker superstar. She now has two slow cooker recipe books published, and is essentially an internet celebrity. These recipes opened my eyes to just how much I could do with a slow cooker, and offered me tons of mouth-watering ideas as I was getting acquainted with my slow cooker. One of the first recipes I made with my slow cooker was this Thai peanut chicken that I adapted from Stephanie. My chicken was falling off the bone, and melt-in-your-mouth. The peanut sauce was balanced between the creamy taste of peanut butter and the savory flavor of soy sauce and hoisin sauce, and was awesome with rice. I am definitely addicted to the sauce! Such a yummy, hearty chicken dish that required so little effort… now that’s what I’m talkin’ about :)

slow cooker thai peanut chicken



Slow Cooker Thai Peanut Chicken (makes 4-6 servings, uses a 4-quart slow cooker)

Recipe adapted from A Year of Slow Cooking

Ingredients:

  • 4-6 chicken thighs (may also use drumsticks, or mix and match!)
  • 1 bell pepper (red or green), sliced
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 2  medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp curry powder
  • 3 tbsp hoisin sauce
  • (optional) freshly chopped scallions for garnish

Directions:

1. Stir together lime juice, peanut butter, soy sauce, chicken broth, hoisin sauce, and curry powder. The peanut butter doesn’t have to be completely well-dissolved, but do your best. Set sauce aside. Prepare vegetables.

prepared ingredients and sauce

2. Place sliced garlic at bottom of 4-quart slow cooker. Place chicken thighs on top, spreading them out to cover the bottom of the cooker. Add potatoes next, and finally the peppers and the onions. Pour prepared sauce into slow cooker.

slow cooker loaded up and ready to cook

3. Cover and cook on low for 4 hours, then increase heat to high for 2 hours. (Or you may cook on low for 6-8 hours, or on high for 4 hours). Stir contents once or twice after initial 4 hours, but refrain from opening lid to check on the dish!

don't open the lid!

4. Adjust sauce for taste at the end as needed. If you would like a thicker sauce (which I always like), you may remove the chicken and boil the sauce on high with the lid off, or add a cornstarch slurry and allow to boil on high with the lid on until thickened. Serve over rice, top with freshly chopped scallions and enjoy! Mmmm!

a second batch that I made with red peppers

slow cooker thai peanut chicken

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Chicken Tikka Masala for the Beginner

When I want to indulge, the creamy curries and smoldering spiciness of Indian food never fail to satisfy me. But making it for yourself at home, now that’s a whole different story. I never seem to have the right ingredients, and the recipes always seem more complicated than I want to deal with. Well, I’m making it my goal to start making my own Indian food, because it really shouldn’t be that daunting to make something I love so much. So I started with one of my all-time Indian food favorites – chicken tikka masala. Okay before I get any farther, can I please just say that one of my biggest pet peeves in the food realm is hearing people call it chicken “tikki” masala. That is not the name of this dish!!! This isn’t a tropical bar on a Pacific Island… okay, now that’s out of my system, we can carry on lol.

Anyway, chicken tikka masala (or any kind of tikka masala) is what I consider a combination of all things I like about Indian food. Somewhat spicy, with a savory tartness and a creaminess that complements any protein you add to it and rounds out the main dish with a satisfying bloom of flavor on your tongue. It is the perfect accompaniment to a plate of delicious saffron-laced basmati rice. Now, I know, tikka masala isn’t traditional Indian food any more than one could consider General Tso’s chicken traditional Chinese food. Somewhere along the way I heard that tikka masala was invented in England where a chef threw together a dish using tomato paste and spices and cream, in order to please a Western customer who came in desiring something different from what was offered on the Indian restaurant menu. Whatever, I still love it! The problem with making tikka masala in the comfort of your own home is that most true-to-the-flavor recipes require quite a bit of prep work, often including many spices and ingredients that are not common in households, and also tacking on some long overnight marinating business. So I went in search of a simple but still (mostly) faithfully tasty recipe that I could make for an easy dinner, especially having not made any Indian food by myself before. The only tricky ingredient here is the garam masala powder, which you should be able to find at any decent sized supermarket along with the other spice bottles, but please don’t skimp on it because it is the key ingredient in this dish and the taste will be very different without it!

Chicken tikka masala

Chicken tikka masala


Chicken Tikka Masala for the Beginner (serves 4)

Adapted from Serious Eats

Ingredients:

  • 4 boneless chicken thighs, cut into ½-inch cubes
  • 2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • ½ cup scallions, finely chopped
  • ½ lime
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp Madras curry powder
  • 2 tsp garam masala powder
  • 1 cup plain yogurt plus 1 tsp flour
  • 2 tsp tomato paste

Directions:

1. Combine the ginger, garlic, scallions, 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil, the juice of half a lime, a tablespoon of yogurt, salt, and pepper. Stir, add chicken to bowl, and set aside to marinate (may let sit for 1-2 hours if time permits).

2. While the meat is marinating, heat the remaining oil in a heavy, large skillet over low heat. Add the onion, cook gently for 10-15 minutes until falling apart and caramelized (be patient!)

3. Add the garam masala and stir well to combine. Cook for an additional 2-3 minutes to combine the flavors. Season with a good pinch of salt, then scrape into a bowl and reserve.

4. Increase the heat to medium-high and add the chicken pieces. Cook, turning occasionally, until chicken is still barely pink.

5. Return the onion mixture to the skillet, and add the flour then yogurt. Stir in the tomato paste, Madras curry powder and simmer for 5 minutes.

6. Check for seasoning, adding sugar, salt or lime juice as needed. Serve over white rice.

(P.S. If you want your tikka masala to be more red like the restaurant version, you should use chili powder per the original recipe. I had to make some substitutions here because I didn’t have any chili powder on hand at the time. Also, feel free to substitute for your choice of protein to suit your needs – tofu, paneer, and fish are popular choices.)

Tony and I at the comedy club

Tony and I at the comedy club

Mmm so hearty and flavorful. I made this dish with my boyfriend on a night before we had to leave for a comedy show, so we were somewhat pressed for time and I was impressed with how easily everything came together and how delicious and satisfying it was. We paired it with a side of mixed vegetables (carrots, onions, and cabbage) cooked in a Madras curry sauce, which was a nice mild flavor to switch to when I wanted a break from the spicy flavor of the tikka masala (although don’t worry, I am pretty wimpy when it comes to spiciness, and this dish definitely qualifies as “mild”… add more spices as desired!) The spices just warm you up from the inside out, perfect for this chilly weather in the middle of November. Keep an eye out for the next Indian recipe to come, a mouth-watering and rich-tasting cashew chicken curry with cilantro pesto!


Easy Chinese style red braised pork belly and ribs (红烧肉)

I promised more Chinese food posts from a dinner I made with my boyfriend earlier this year, so here is part II. Is there anything more heavenly than a bowl of steaming hot rice with a dish of Chinese style red braised pork belly to go with it? No, don’t even think about it, the the answer is no. Red braised pork belly is one of those Chinese comfort food treats that I look forward to every time I visit my parents, because they’re the only ones that can make it so perfect (my dad is a pro at this one). Tender pork belly and ribs with the meat falling off, bathed in a luscious soy-based sauce that is just the right combination of savory and sweet (the signature of a Shanghainese dish done right)… just the thought of it is making me dizzy. My dad’s version is even more uber because he adds kao fu (烤麸), which is “steamed wheat gluten”, aka juicy cubes of spongy vegetarian protein that absorb all the wonderful sauce cooking in the pot with the pork belly. Trying to describe kao fu with words feels so wrong, because it tastes amazing but sounds terrible in English. Just trust me on the kao fu.

Anyway, that’s not the point today, because today I’m writing about a super simple version of red braised pork belly that I can make easily away from home, and it still tastes great (I’d say it’s 8/10 if 10 is the traditional version). Whereas the traditional version can get complicated with things like rock sugar, star anise, five-spice, and maltose, this recipe uses easy-to-obtain ingredients, which is especially nice for students or people with small pantries. The secret ingredient? Coke. Yep, the soda. A few years ago, I described to you that my mom made a similar red-braised chicken dish in her pressure cooker called Cola chicken, which uses a can of coke and soy sauce. The same concept is adapted here to make quick and easy red braised pork belly, because the phosphoric acid in coke is a great meat tenderizer, and the sweetness blends perfectly with the soy sauce to create that mix of sweet and savory necessary for a red braise. The process involves first blanching your meat in boiling water to seal the surface and remove some of the bloody impurities. Then you simply saute the meat in a pot, add your liquids, and simmer away! I recommend letting the meat simmer for as long as possible before you eat it, so that it has time to achieve the absolutely falling-apart texture, but if you’re in a pinch, about an hour or so will get you to an acceptable texture. As always with Chinese recipes, play with the recipe until you find something that works for you! And for those of you uneasy about eating the fatty pork belly… in Asian culture the women believe that the pork skin with its high collagen content is great for your skin. Or just… tell yourself that it’s okay to indulge every once in a while ;)

 

Easy red braised pork belly


Easy Chinese Style Red Braised Pork Belly and Ribs (serves 4)

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb pork belly and ribs (ask your butcher at the store to cut it up for you into chunks)
  • 1 large carrot, cut into bite-sized chunks
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 slices ginger
  • 2 stalks of scallions chopped into 1″ segments
  • 1/2 cup Coke (use classic if possible)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp rice wine
  • Pepper

Directions:

1. Bring a medium-sized pot of water to boil. Blanch the meat for 2 minutes in the water, then drain and set aside.

2. In a skillet, heat some cooking oil on medium-high and saute the ginger, garlic, and scallions for a few minutes. Toss in the blanched pork belly and rib chunks, and sear until lightly browned.

3. Transfer to a medium saucepot, add in the coke, water, dark and light soy sauces, rice wine, and a few dashes of pepper. Make sure the pot allows the liquid to cover most of the meat. Cover the pot, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer.

4. Simmer for 1 and a half hours, adding the carrots when there is 30 minutes remaining. Stir occasionally to make sure nothing sticks and that the liquid does not boil dry. The sauce should start to reduce nicely. You may optionally stir in a cornstarch slurry (mix together 1 tbsp cornstarch with a few tbsp cold water, and slowly stir into your boiling sauce), watching until your sauce becomes the desired thickness. I left my sauce as is, not quite so thick.

5. Serve with a side of sauteed Shanghai bok choy and fluffy white rice. Did I mention this was heaven?

Easy red braised pork belly

Previously, I wrote about the honey soy sauce glazed chicken wings which was also part of this Chinese dinner. Look for parts III and IV (a Chinese vegetable dish and soup) coming in the future!

P.S. You may have noticed that the look of My Edible Memories has changed a little! I switched to a new theme today that I thought was a more appropriate feel for a food blog. Let me know what you think!


Honey Soy Sauce Glazed Chicken Wings

There is no better comfort food for me than homecooked Chinese food. Period. I grew up in a family that ate a fusion of Cantonese and Shanghainese cuisine – two very different styles of Chinese food that together offered just the right amount of variety in my home. The sweet and savory red-braised style of cooking popular in Shanghainese cuisine is easily balanced by the light and fresh food Canton is so well-known for. It’s been a while since I’ve posted about Chinese food, so to help ease the current stress of having to study for my national medical licensing exam coming up in 2 weeks, it’s time to share with you one of my favorites.

Growing up, one of my mom’s most-anticipated dishes in the house was sweet and sour chicken wings, which we fondly call “tang cu ji chi bang” (糖醋鸡翅膀). I always knew when she was making it, because the smell of the vinegar, soy, and sugar would permeate the house and make me sooo hungry. I can tell you for certain that on any given day, I could have eaten an entire meal with just rice and those chicken wings, oh my god, that’s comfort food right there. This post isn’t about my mom’s recipe, because I have yet to make it myself. I’m planning to get the recipe from my grandfather (my dad’s father) when I go back to China this winter – he is the master of this dish, hands down. Why specify that it’s my dad father? Well the funny thing is, my mom did not know how to cook at all when she married my dad. That was more of a rarity back then, but incidentally my dad happened to be a great cook. Perfect pairing right? Well over time, my dad taught my mom everything she knows about Chinese cooking, and when I was growing up she did all the cooking in the house. So of course, the real roots of the recipe lies with my dad’s father, my grandfather. Eventually, I’ll get to share that recipe with you :)

Now to get to the actual point of this post! My boyfriend and I were having a night of cooking together during one of my recent visits to California, and we decided to go for a Chinese food theme, making family-style comfort food. Of course, chicken wings were at the top of my list! We didn’t have vinegar, so I decided instead to make a red-braised (hong shao) style of chicken wings (红烧鸡翅膀) with some shortcuts, since I didn’t have all the traditional ingredients for a red braise on hand either. This recipe uses only the wingette itself and not the drumettes or wingtips as I find those distracting to eat. Did you know that the part of a chicken wing that has the 2 parallel bones is called a wingette?  I didn’t until just recently haha. Anyway, the ingredient list is simple, the preparation is straightforward, and the result is a plate of savory, tender chicken wings that you can really just eat with a bowl of rice and feel satisfied with…

Honey soy sauce glazed chicken wings



Honey Soy Sauce Glazed Chicken Wings (serves 4-8)

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs. chicken wings (wingettes only) – approx 24 pieces
  • 1 medium onion, sliced into strips
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp light soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 1 tsp rice wine
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • several good dashes of black pepper
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • vegetable oil as needed for pan-frying

Directions:

1. Mix together the light and dark soy sauce, the oyster sauce, rice wine, cornstarch, and black pepper in a large bowl, stirring to dissolve the cornstarch. Rinse off your wings and add them to the marinade, giving them a good toss to coat everything. Let wings marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes, mixing occasionally.

2. Saute sliced onions and garlic in a pan over medium heat with 1/2 tbsp of vegetable oil, until they are soft. Remove from pan and set aside.

3. When wings are done marinating, add enough oil to just barely cover the bottom of your skillet and allow to heat up. Gently lay out enough chicken wings to cover the skillet (I was able to fit about 8-10 each time), and be careful because they will inevitably cause the oil to splatter while they pan-fry. Flip them after a few minutes, and pan-fry the other side, until both sides are nicely golden. Set the batch aside and continue to pan-fry the rest of your wings.

4. When all the wings have been pan-fried, add them all back into the skillet along with the onions and garlic. Pour in any leftover marinade that you might have. Cover pan and allow to cook for an additional 10 minutes, until the juices run clear when you pierce the wing meat.

5. Turn down the heat and drizzle honey on top of the wings, tossing well to coat evenly. Taste and adjust sweetness as necessary. Serve with rice and enjoy!

Honey soy sauce glazed chicken wings

The other recipes we made from that night will be forthcoming in future posts… but as a teaser, they include a soup, a pork belly dish, and a vegetable dish :)


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