In case you couldn’t tell, I have a bit of a craving for chillies at the moment. Dragon chicken is an Indo-Chinese dish that definitely delivers on this front and consists of battered chicken stir fried in a spicy chilli sauce. The sauce has a lot of flavour from the garlic, ginger and soy sauce while the dried red chillies deliver a fiery kick. You can adjust the amount of chillies and chilli paste based on your taste. If you like a milder dish, you will want to use significantly less but then you won’t really be making dragon chicken.
This is quite a dry dish. The sauce should be just enough to coat the chicken so if you want more then, by all means, double the sauce ingredients. The chilli paste can be bought readymade but is easily made by soaking dried red chillies in hot water and then grinding to a paste. They give the dish an amazing kick. If you are not a spice fan then this recipe is probably not for you. If however, you can’t get enough of it, read on.
500g Boneless Chicken Breast (cut into thin strips)
Coriander leaves or Spring Onion for garnishing (finely chopped)
Oil for Deep frying
2 tsp Dark Soy Sauce
1 Tbsp Red Chilli Paste (ground dry red chilli)
1 Egg White
¼ – ½ cup Plain Flour
¼ cup Cornflour
Ginger Garlic Paste – 1 tbsp
Salt to taste
1 tsp ground white pepper
2 Tbsp Oil
3 Dry Red Chillies
4 Tbsp Cashews, broken into small pieces
1 large Onion, sliced thinly
1 Bell Pepper, sliced thinly
1 Tbsp Ginger Garlic Paste
1 Tbsp Red Chilli Paste (ground up dry red chilli)
1 Tbsp Dark Soy sauce
2 Tbsp Tomato Ketchup
Salt to taste
1 tsp Sugar
Take chicken in a bowl and add all the marination ingredients. Mix well and let it marinate for 15 minutes. Now heat some oil for deep-frying. When the oil is hot drop the chicken in oil and fry till golden. Drain and set aside.
Now heat oil in a frying pan. Add in dry red chilli and cashews and fry till the cashew turn golden brown.
Now add in onions and bell peppers and toss well in the oil.
Add in ginger garlic paste and sauté for a min.
Now add in red chilli paste, soy sauce, tomato ketchup, salt, sugar and mix well.
Cook this for a couple of mins till the water evaporates and sauce thickens.
Now add in the fried chicken and toss well in the sauce. Add in chopped coriander or spring onion and mix well.
Gochugang is a deep red fermented chilli paste that has a nice deep dark flavour (not too much heat, with a little bit of sweetness). It is pretty readily available in Asian grocers and most large supermarkets now.
The sauce is rich and spicy with a hum of garlic and fresh ginger while the drizzle of honey helps to balance the heat and the black sesame seeds and/or peanuts add a nice nutty flavour and crunch. The crispy batter, succulent chicken and deep flavour of the sauce will have you disgracing yourself as you destroy the lot but don’t worry, you won’t be the only one.
If, like Marilyn Monroe and I, you like it hot then add a little gochugaru (Korean chilli powder) to the sauce for extra lip-smacking goodness.
For the spicy Korean bbq sauce:
¼ cup gochugang (Korean Chilli Paste)
5 garlic cloves, grated
2 tablespoons ginger, peeled and grated
1 spring onion, thinly sliced
2 ½ tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon light brown sugar
1 teaspoon honey or barley malt
1 teaspoon sesame oil
For the chicken nuggets:
3 chicken breasts cut into 1 ½ inch pieces
1 cup rice flour
1 tablespoon cornflour
1 ¼ cup cold water
salt and pepper to taste
vegetable oil for frying
1. Preheat oil to 180°C.
2. For the spicy Korean bbq sauce, place all ingredients into a milk pan and whisk together over a gentle heat for a few minutes to dissolve the sugar and infuse the garlic and ginger. Set aside.
3. Sift together the flour and cornflour into a mixing bowl. Whisk in water until fully incorporated and no lumps remain.
4. Dip each nugget piece into the batter and shake to remove any excess. Carefully drop each battered nugget into the hot oil and fry for 5 to 6 minutes (this will have to be done in batches).
5. Drain onto paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Once all nuggets have been fried, place nuggets back into the fryer and fry a second time (double fry) for 5 to 7 minutes or until light golden brown and crispy. Lightly season with salt and pepper.
6. Pour some of the Korean bbq sauce into a heatproof bowl and thin out with a few drops of water. Add the nuggets and toss together in the sauce to coat them. Transfer them onto a serving plate with a slotted spoon and garnish with black sesame seeds or crushed peanuts and a drizzle of honey or more Korean bbq sauce.
For the uninitiated, cacciatore (pronounced catch-chee-ah-tor-ay) refers to a “hunter-style” method of cooking in which the meat, vegetables and herbs slowly simmer in a single pot. This recipe stays true to the Northern Italian tradition of using white wine, but adds passata, because, well, why not? Buon appetito!
500g skinless, boneless chicken thighs
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp minced fresh rosemary (from about 2 sprigs)
3-4 tbsp olive oil
250g chestnut mushrooms, stems removed, cut into 1-inch pieces
4oz smoked pancetta, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 large onions, roughly chopped
250ml dry white wine
1 chicken stock cube
Chopped flat-leaf parsley, for garnish
In a small bowl, combine garlic, salt, black pepper, rosemary, and 2 tbsp of the oil; stir to make a paste; rub evenly over chicken pieces. Cover and chill for 2 hours.
Heat remaining oil in a heavy cast iron pot over high heat. Working in batches, cook chicken pieces in a single layer, turning to brown all sides. Transfer chicken to a plate.
Add mushrooms, pancetta and onions to the pot. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are golden brown and pancetta is rendered, about 8 minutes.
Add the wine and stir to loosen browned bits from the bottom of pot. Add the stock cube and passata and bring to a boil. Return chicken pieces to pot, reduce heat to medium heat, partially cover, and cook for 10 minutes. Then uncover pot, reduce heat to medium, and cook 15-20 minutes more (depending on the size of the chicken pieces. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.
Tahchin is a Persian baked rice dish layered with buttery soft chicken and a gorgreous golden covering of saffron infused, spice scented rice. The long bake in the oven produces beautifully steamed fluffy rice with a crispy casing (Tahdig) that you will be fighting over.
Don’t be put off by the multiple steps. It is a really simple dish to create and the result is truly worth it.
FOR THE CHICKEN:
500g skinless, boneless chicken thighs
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 medium onion, peeled and cut into chunks
1 ½ cups cold water
FOR THE RICE:
1 ½ cups uncooked basmati rice (I substituted ½ cup with Jasmine rice for added aroma)
3 TBSP plain low-fat yoghurt
1 large egg
Small pinch of saffron strands infused in a little hot water
1 TBSP vegetable oil
2 TBSP butter
1 tsp Persian Rice Spice (see recipe below)
To cook the chicken: Add the skinless chicken pieces to a stockpot with a good lid that will not allow too much moisture loss. Add salt, pepper, the cut onion and 1 ½ cups water. Bring it to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium low and cook for about 15-20 minutes, or until the chicken falls apart with a fork.
Remove the chicken from the stockpot and set aside to cool.
If there is more than 1 cup of broth in the stockpot, bring it to a boil and let it boil for 3-5 minutes, or until it is reduced to 1 cup. Turn off the heat, smash the cooked onions with a fork, pour the reduced broth into a medium bowl and set aside.
When the chicken is cool enough to handle, shred into large chunks. Mix the meat with broth until it is well coated. Chill the meat and broth mixture in the refrigerator for at least 30-40 minutes, or until the broth solidifies. This step may be done up to 3-4 hours in advance.
To make the rice: A lot of recipes require you to wash the rice several times but I just place it straight into boiling salted water, stir to separate the grains and par-cook for about 5-7 minutes. Check one of the grains; it should be soft around the edges while still firm (not crunchy) in the centre. Drain and set aside.
To make the Tahchin: Preheat oven to 200C.
In a medium bowl whisk together 1 egg, yoghurt, 1 tsp Persian Rice Spice and the saffron. Stir in ½ of the par cooked rice and mix until all the rice is coated. Set aside
Add the oil and butter to a medium glass baking dish. Place the dish in the preheated oven 3-5 minutes, or until all the butter melts and starts sizzling. Watch very closely so the oil does not get too hot and smoky then transfer the baking dish to a heat proof surface. Swirl the butter all around the base and sides of the dish.
First layer:Add the rice and yoghurt mixture to the baking dish and spread evenly to cover the bottom of the dish. Sprinkle the rice layer with 1 tsp Persian Rice Spice.
Second layer:Stir the chilled chicken and broth well and arrange evenly on top to cover all of the rice layer.
Final layer:Add the rest of the rice on top of the chicken, press gently with the palm of your hand. Sprinkle with 1 tsp Persian Rice Spice.
Cover the baking dish with a sheet of heavy duty aluminium foil and seal the sides by pressing the aluminium foil to the dish. Use a sharp knife to cut one slit on each corner and then a few in the centre of the dish.
Bake on the lowest rack of the preheated oven for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until the lowest portion of the sides of Tahchin are golden brown. Do not overbake; the bottom will bake darker than the sides. If the lower sides are not golden brown, return the Tahchin back to the oven and bake for another 7-10 minutes, or until it is golden brown.
Remove the baking dish from the oven, remove the aluminium foil. Run a knife along the sides of the baking dish to release the Tahchin. Place a large shallow baking sheet on top of the dish. Use oven gloves and hold both baking sheet and the glass dish and invert the Tahchin. Let the Tahchin sit on the counter for 10 minutes.
Use a serrated knife to cut the Tahchin into 4 equal pieces and serve with Sabzi Khordan (fresh herbs), Torshi Sir (pickled garlic), cooling yoghurt and/or Salad Shirazi.
The Persian rice spiceis a blend of 5 spices with the main ingredient being the dried rose petal powder. You may find dried rose petals “gole sorkh” in most Middle Eastern supermarkets. It is the dried blossoms of a special species of wild rose that grows in Iran and is used for culinary purpose. However if you have a hard time finding it, no worries, the spice blend still tastes wonderful without this ingredient. I have cooked rice with a spice blend combining cinnamon, cumin, nutmeg and cardamom and it turns out really delicious and fragrant.
4 TBSP ground cinnamon
2 TBSP cumin seeds
1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1 tsp cardamom seeds
6 TBSP powdered rose petals (optional) (I didn’t include these)
Toast the cumin and cardamom seeds in a dry frying pan over a medium heat until fragrant. Blend in a pestle and mortar until well ground. Add the cinnamon, nutmeg and rose petals if using. Mix all the spices well. Place in a small airtight jar.
I recently went to a Japanese restaurant in London with my best mate and haven’t been able to stop eating Japanese food since. This is a recipe for a Japanese crispy fried chicken with a sauce made from a curry roux. This is an incredibly easy dish and an incredibly satisfying one with silky sauce to accompany crispy, juicy chicken.
The recipe serves 3 as I was raving about it so much that a couple of mates wanted in on the action too but the quantities are easily adjustable.
3 Chicken breasts, skinless & boneless
50g Plain Flour
100g Panko Breadcrumbs
1/2 Onion, finely chopped
3 chunks of curry roux (I used S&B Golden Curry Sauce Mix)
Sunflower Oil for frying
Salt & Pepper
Cooked Jasmine Rice and chopped chives to serve
Butterfly the chicken breasts, cover with a sheet of cling film and flatten them out using a rolling pin until they’re about 1cm thick. Season both sides of each breast with salt then coat all over in the flour.
Beat the egg in a shallow dish and tip the breadcrumbs into another. Dip each piece of chicken in the egg then coat in breadcrumbs. Leave to one side whilst you make a start on the Katsu Curry sauce.
Add a tsp sunflower oil to a small pan and sweat the chopped onion until cooked through.
When the onions are cooked, add in the curry roux and a little bit of the hot water. Stir to dissolve the roux then gradually add the rest of the water and cook over a medium heat until the sauce has thickened.
Meanwhile, heat some sunflower oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat. (Just short of enough to coat the base). Be a little patient with this, if you put your chicken in and the oil isn’t hot enough, the panko crumbs will likely go soggy.
Carefully add the prepared chicken into the pan and fry for about 5-7 minutes on each side or until golden and crispy. Remove from the pan onto a plate lined with some paper towels.
Now all your components are ready, it’s time to serve. Plate up some cooked rice, slice up the chicken and place on top. Then pour over as much of the katsu curry sauce as you like! You could even sprinkle over some chopped chives.
Normally, I’d be dead set against ready grated cheese but it tastes incredible in this recipe and delivers a super savoury umami hit along with the crunch of the panko and the succulence of the chicken for a super tasty meal.
2 chicken breasts
50g plain flour
75g panko breadcrumbs
75g ready-grated parmesan
½ tsp each smoked paprika, dried rosemary
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
a knob of butter
Butterfly the chicken breasts by cutting them open to spread them out without cutting all the way through. Cover with some cling film and gently bash them with a rolling pin to tenderise and flatten each breast. You should be left with two large ‘sheets’ of thin chicken about 1cm in width.
Take 3 shallow bowls. Place the flour in one and season. Place the beaten egg in the second. Place the panko, parmesan, smoked paprika and rosemary in the third bowl. Season the breadcrumb mix well.
Take each chicken breast and coat with the flour, then the egg and finally the cheesy panko. Press the panko mix gently so it sticks well to the eggy chicken.
In a large frying pan over a medium heat, add the oil and butter. When the butter has melted, add the chicken breasts and fry for a few minutes until the bottom is crisp and golden and you just start to see the sides of the chicken turning white.
Turn the chicken over to make the other side crispy and golden and ensure the chicken is cooked through. By now, the kitchen should smell of amazing cheesy goodness.
Remove from the pan and slice up each piece to serve. I have served mine with rosemary roast potatoes and a rocket salad.
Taking the time to make your own enchilada sauce is so so worth it in this dish. If you’re going to the effort, why not double or triple it so you have some to refrigerate or freeze for another amazing mealtime? I don’t think authentic enchilada sauce actually has any tomato in it. It gets it’s beautiful redness from the amount of chilli powder so make sure you use the mild variety even if you like your spice. The sauce is unadulterated by refined sugars and additives that you’ll find in leading brand jars and instead, tastes fresh, vibrant and incredible smothered on top of chicken, beany, cheesy goodness. Try it, try it, try it!
Red Enchilada Sauce
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
2 Tbsp. plain flour
1 Tbsp. mild chilli powder
Freshly ground black pepper
3 garlic cloves, grated
2 cups chicken stock
Heat oil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Add flour and whisk together over the heat for one minute. Stir in the remaining ingredients bar the stock. Then gradually add in the stock, whisking constantly to remove lumps. Reduce heat and simmer 10-15 minutes until thickened to your liking.
Use immediately or refrigerate in an air-tight container for up to two weeks.
Chicken & Bean Enchiladas
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 small white onion, peeled and diced
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, butterflied
salt and pepper
Jalapeno chilli slices, drained
1 can black beans or mixed bean salad (your preference)
6 small flour tortillas
Cheddar cheese, grated
1 batch red enchilada sauce (see recipe)
chopped fresh coriander, to garnish
As easy as 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7!
Preheat oven to 180C. Prepare your enchilada sauce, if making homemade.
In large frying pan, heat oil over medium-high heat. Cook the butterflied chicken through, turning once, for 8-10 minutes. Remove and allow to cool slightly. Shred into chunky strips then set aside.
Add onion to the same pan and sauté for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the shredded chicken back to the pan and season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and add to a large mixing bowl with the drained bean salad. Add a couple of spoonfuls of the enchilada sauce to the bowl and stir everything well to combine.
To assemble the enchiladas, set up an assembly line including: tortillas, enchilada sauce, bean and chicken mixture and cheese.
Microwave the tortillas for a few seconds so they become maliable and don’t crack when you come to rolling them up.
Lay out the tortillas and spread two tablespoons of sauce over the surface of each. Divide the bean and chicken mix between the wraps and spoon in a line down the middle of each tortilla. Roll up each tortilla and place in a lightly greased baking dish. Spread the remaining enchilada sauce on top of the tortillas and sprinkle on the grated cheddar cheese so there is a nice generous layer. Add pickled jalapenos with the cheese for an extra tasty kick.
Bake uncovered for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and serve immediately, garnished with chopped fresh coriander if desired.
This dish is great served with guacamole and salsa!