Saturday, June 18, 2011

A plate of celebration (continued): Spiced braised chicken

After the spiced rice, here I`m back again, this time with spiced braised. I`ve mentioned before that the original recipe for this dish came from my beloved husband. Even now, I still can`t believe it. He cooked. I knew he used to cook for himself before we met and got married. But him cooking in my kitchen for me when I wasn`t around was RARE! To be honest, I was a bit of freaked out when the picture of how messed up my kitchen must have been came across my mind. But I chose to concentrate more on enjoying the dish he made and I`m glad I did! It was undoubtedly one of the most amazing things he`s ever done for me.

Alright, I need to move on to the cooking-related talk.
So I`m going to start with the garlic...story. I`m sorry..I`m just full of stories these days.
I just got this garlic crusher like a week ago, which I was so excited to use, but it turned out that the garlic wouldn`t come out from the crusher`s holes. Or even when some did come out, the amount was unbelievably tiny. I almost thought that this stuff was no use at all, or me being not powerful enough, but I figured that peeling off the skin after the garlic has been crushed was so much easier. I used to dislike peeling off garlic (other than washing the dishes), but it`s a whole different story with the crusher in my hand.Why not just crush it on the counter with the knife? I (and my clumsy hand) can`t. The counter can`t. It just can`t. Really.
Now, done preparing your garlic?

Here is a new item in my kitchen. Thai`s tamarind. So happy to finally get it! This chicken dish is not supposed to be sour, but a small amount of tamarind will be great to give just a hint of sweet tang.
Place some amount of tamarind in a heat-proof cup and pour in some hot water. Leave it a little while, then stir and press with the back of a spoon to get the juice out.

Now let`s work on the spice. With a bit of oil, saute garlic, onion, ginger, and bruised lemon grass on a heated pan.

When the fragrance is coming out, throw in the chicken and stir a bit.

Pour in hot water and stir again a bit. Cold water (not fridge cold, though) is okay too, which I usually used, but using hot water from the electric kettle saves me a lot of time in cooking.
How much water? Not too much, just pour until the chicken is two third soaked.

In the middle of stirring, I felt like I need to add star anise to the soup. So I did it. What a lovely spice.

Now add the tamarind juice you`ve prepared earlier. If you`re new with tamarind, go easy. Just add half or one third of the juice and leave some when you need it later to adjust the taste. My taste buds are probably getting numb already that I always need a strong flavor from this kind of dishes. So I dumped in the whole tamarind. The flesh, the seed, the juice, everything.

And...I added turmeric powder too because I want some yellowness. 

At the beginning, you only need to stir once in a while because the soup still has much liquid in it. But the water will gradually evaporate and thicken up, you need to keep an eye on it and stir it more often so you don`t end up scorching the chicken.
When it has thickened up already, adjust the taste to your liking with salt, brown sugar, pepper, and if you need to, the tamarind juice.

Keep stirring and let it dry up until you can see the side of the pan.

In my husband`s recipe, the chicken needs to be fried after drying up all the liquid. But it was quite late for our dinner time, so I just served this spiced chicken right away.
His fried version was absolutely wonderful and I`d definitely (shallow-)fry this chicken next time I make it. But, if you are in a hurry or not big on fried food, no worry at all because this unfried version will make you sing!

Alright, one more recipe to go to complete the sequels!

Star anise
Lemon grass
Tamarind (juice)
Brown sugar


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