Saturday, June 22, 2013

Korean Fried Chicken with Hot Dipping Sauce

There's been a lot of deep-fried wings going on in my house lately. I've been experimenting with different recipes to come up with the ultimate crispiest chicken wings and the best Korean chilli dipping sauce, and so far, nobody's been complaining. I finally got it down to using a batter made with self-raising flour, rice flour and glutinous rice flour to achieve a light and crisp layer on the wings. The double-frying simply maximises the crunch factor (and I think it prolongs the crispiness too). One of our favourite places for Korean Fried Chicken is Stra Pocha in Strathfield, where you can ask for their special chilli sauce for dipping the wings in. We love the sauce, and I'm happy that my version of it comes quite close - sweet and spicy with a lot of heat from the red peppers.
Let me tempt you with some photos....

Isn't the sauce looking lovely? You can bet those wings are crispy too!

I prefer to serve the chilli sauce on the side, rather than toss the chicken into the sauce as they are sometimes served. That way, the wings stay crisp and crunchy, and it's less messy too if you're eating with your  hands (that's the only way to eat chicken wings!).

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Börek or Burek (with spinach and cheese)

So, I'm not an expert on Burek, nor do I know enough about its cultural background and history to be able to give an accurate account of how it originated. I'm thinking Wikipedia should be fairly reliable, and therefore I quote a few sections from it which provide some insight into this delicious filled pastry.

"Börek (also burek and other variants) is a family of baked or fried filled pastries made of a thin flaky dough known as phyllo (or yufka). It can be filled with cheese, minced meat, or vegetables. Most probably invented in what is now Modern Turkey, in the Anatolian Provinces of the Ottoman Empire in its early era, to become a popular element of Ottoman cuisine.

Börek is also very popular in the cuisines of the former Ottoman Empire, especially in North Africa and throughout the Balkans. The Northern Slavic cuisines, historically developed by people living in close contact with the Turkic peoples of Asia and Europe, also feature derivatives of the börek. Börek is also part of Mizrahi and Sephardic Jewish traditions. They have been enthusiastically adopted by the Ottoman Jewish communities, and have been described, along with boyos de pan and bulemas, as forming "the trio of preeminent Ottoman Jewish pastries".

Börek has its origins in the Turkish cuisine (cf. Baklava) and is one of its most significant and, in fact, ancient elements of the Turkish cuisine, having been developed by the Turks of Central Asia before their westward migration to Anatolia.

Börek in Turkish language refers to any dish made with yufka. The name comes from the Turkic root bur- 'to twist', (similar to Serbian word savijača (from savijati - to twist) which also describes a layered dough dish)."

Alright! Now that we've gotten our history lesson out of the way, it's time to make some Burek. Whenever I discover a new favourite food, my first instinct is to look for the recipe and attempt it at home. I love a good challenge. Some may think it's strange, but I used to look forward to exams when I was in school. It bore different consequences of course, but was a challenge nonetheless.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Singapore Fried Carrot Cake (Chai Tau Kuih)

This is the crispy pancake version of Singapore fried carrot cake, though there's some debate over whether it should be called radish cake instead since it uses radish, and not carrot. But then again, sometimes it does not contain radish, so should it be just called rice cake? The radish (or daikon - I think they are similar) gives it a subtle sweetness and flavour. I do like the radish cake to be soft, so the proportion of water to rice flour I've used is about 2:1. After it's fried, the carrot cake will be crispy on the outside, soft and smooth inside. This is a popular dish in Singapore and Malaysia, and is usually eaten for breakfast, lunch, dinner or supper. Look out for it when you're visiting a hawker centre there!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Chocolate Frozen Yogurt

My kids love ice-cream, and so when my three-year-old whizzed past (as quickly as I tried to push the trolley) the freezer section of the supermarket last weekend, his "ice-cream-and-lolly-and-all-things-sweet-sensitive-eyes caught sight of the tubs of ice-cream on display, as he instantly called out "Mummy! Ice-cream! Can we buy ice-cream?". I already had my pre-crafted response ready in times like these, and I said "Mummy will make you some ice-cream at home. Do you like chocolate ice-cream?", and quickly proceeded towards the checkout. I wasn't about to buy a 2-litre tub of rainbow ice-cream, firstly because there's no space in the freezer, and secondly, frozen yogurt is a much healthier alternative and it's a breeze to make too, if you have an ice-cream maker at home.