Friday, December 31, 2010

Sambal Belacan Roast Chicken with Corn

On Christmas day, we dropped by at Auntie Nancy's house for a visit and were treated to a sumptuous spread of teatime delights, namely scones, cookies, quiche and cakes. I am amazed at how she managed to prepare so much delicious food, and on top of that, she also baked some chicken, which we got to "da pao" (ie. takeaway) later. I didn't find out what she put in the chicken, but the kids loved it as they had it for their dinner when we got home. There wasn't any left for the adults, although I managed to taste a little of it as I polished some of the remaining bits of meat off the bone. It was tasty but I just couldn't place what seasoning she used, until much later. I think it was sambal belacan, just a hint of it, which is why it wasn't too spicy for the kids. There was also corn on the cob, lightly covered with specks of chilli flakes. Mmm...yummy.

And so, inspired by the roast chicken that I never really got to eat, I decided to make something similar (based on what I think it was). You can't really go wrong with roast chicken as it is relatively easy to prepare and you don't really need a recipe. Here, I basically prepared some sambal belacan and used that to marinade the chicken and the corn, then baked them in the oven for about an hour. Easy and delicious!

Sambal Belacan Roast Chicken with Corn


2 large chicken thighs
Corn on the cob, cut into pieces

Marinade, combined in a bowl:
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tbsp thick dark soy sauce / kecap manis (optional)
1 tbsp light soy sauce
1/2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
1 tbsp olive oil

Sambal belacan:
4 long red chillies, sliced
2 cloves garlic
1/2 tbsp belacan, toasted in a pan
1-2 tbsp lemon/lime juice, or to taste
1/2 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt, or to taste


  1. Combine the marinade with 1 tbsp (or more if preferred) sambal belacan. Rub all over the chicken and coat well. Roll some of the corn in the sambal belacan. Place in a foil-lined oven proof dish and cover with foil. Leave chicken to marinade for 3-4 hours.
  2. Place the chicken and corn in a preheated oven at 210°C. After half an hour, remove foil top and continue to bake for another half hour or until cooked. Place under hot grill for about 5 minutes until chicken skin is lightly charred. Serve with extra side of sambal.
  3. Sambal belacan: Using a mortar and pestle, pound chillies, garlic and belacan until almost fine. Add the rest of the ingredients, mix and adjust accordingly to taste.

Sambal belacan

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Ginger and Wine Chicken with Thai Basil

It has been a long time since I last updated my blog as I just returned from my 3-week vacation with the family. The abundance of good (and cheap) food in Singapore and Malaysia has kept me busy, and in fact, I can't remember having gone hungry at all during those few weeks. Forget the calories, they always say enjoy yourself and eat as much as you can while you're on holidays. After all, it will be a long time before I have another holiday like that.

Now that we're all back to reality (which I must admit felt a bit strange when I first stepped into the house as it felt like I was in a new and unfamiliar place; even the floor felt different), it's time to get cooking again. We had to restock the refrigerator and pantry with basic supplies, so the first thing that came to mind was to cook some rice with chicken for the children. I came across my cousin Rachel's blog that day and she prepared a "3 Cup Chicken" ("Sam Pui Kai") dish which looked so tantalizing that I decided to cook something similar. I have heard of this dish before, but never tried it, so I don't really know what it should taste like. My version of it is pretty much the same, with a few minor tweaks here and there. I had also prepared a vinegar chilli sauce which was actually meant to be eaten with the chai poh omelette I made as a side dish. The chilli goes very well with the chicken too, and adds a little heat and zing to each bite.


600g chicken thigh fillets, cut into 1 1/2 inch cubes
1 1/2 inch ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 tbsp vegetable oil
2-3 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp thick dark soy sauce
2 tbsp light soy sauce
1/4 cup chinese cooking wine (Shaoxing wine)
1/2 tbsp palm sugar (or substitute with white sugar)
1/4 cup water
Handful of thai basil leaves
1 red chilli, sliced (optional)

1 tbsp fish sauce
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 tbsp sugar
1/2 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tsp cornflour

Vinegar Chilli Sauce (optional):
1 long red chilli, chopped
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1/2 tbsp sugar (or to taste)
Pinch of salt


  1. Combine marinade ingredients (except cornflour) and mix it through with the chicken. Then add cornflour and coat chicken evenly. Leave in the fridge for about an hour.
  2. Heat vegetable oil and sesame oil in a wok, then add ginger, fry until fragrant and then add garlic and fry for about a minute.
  3. Add chicken and sear on high heat until lightly browned, then add dark soy and stir fry for a minute.
  4. Add light soy, wine, palm sugar and water. Stir through and simmer on low-medium heat for about half an hour or until chicken is cooked and sauce is reduced to a slightly thick gravy. Taste and adjust for seasoning if necessary. Stir in the basil leaves and chilli (if used). Remove from heat and transfer to a serving dish. Delicious served with steamed jasmine rice and some vinegar chilli.
  5. To prepare the vinegar chilli, use a mortar and pestle to pound the chilli until fine, then add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Add more sugar/salt if necessary. Transfer to a small bowl and serve with chicken.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Chilli and Cheese Squares with Black Sesame

Thin and crispy savoury cookies with a hint of chilli

Sardine puffs

Deep-fried sardine puffs

Light and crisp pastry pockets filled with sardines, chilli, potatoes and onions

Deep-fried Salty Beet Chips

Looks like bacon? Not! Salty Crispy Beet Chips ...hmm... a Vegetarian Bacon option?