Korean Fried Chicken

Before coming to New York, I have never had Korean fried chicken. My coworkers introduced me to Boka and after eating their combo wings and drumsticks 2-3 times every week, we migrated to Monomono and then it just stopped because we got sick of it.

When I came back from Hong Kong last month, the following day at Whole Foods, they had a chicken drumstick sale, 30-something drumsticks for $6!! So I bought two packs and finished one pack two weekends ago during my dinner party. I still have one more pack and although I love my signature fried chicken, I don’t want to make it again so soon. However, I have been craving Korean fried chicken and I’ve always wanted to know HOW they made their chicken so crispy!

… The secret is that they fry it TWICE. DUH! I could have figured that out! You fry French fries twice! Why wouldn’t you do that for chicken?!?!? So I spent yesterday reducing my would-have-been marinating liquid into a glaze-ish-sauce and brining the chicken. I found that the Korean fried chicken in the restaurants were bland under the crispy crust.

I wasn’t sure if this was going to work because it can’t be THAT easy? And you know what, it was THAT easy!!!!

DSCN1844b

[100% organic]

For the Brine

  • 8 cups water
  • 1 cup salt

Bring the solution up to a boil and cool to room temperature.

For the Chicken

  • 20-30 chicken drumsticks
  • 1 cup AP flour
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 TBS cornstarch
  • Fryer oil

Brine the chicken for at least 2 hours, no more than 4 hours in the refrigerator. Drain chicken and place on paper towels.

Whisk flour, water, and cornstarch together and make a slurry. Add a little more water if mixture is paste-like. Coat chicken in slurry and fry in oil 350°F for 8 minutes. Remove from fryer and wait for oil to reach 350°F again. Fry for the second time for another 8 minutes. Drain on a wire rack or on paper towels.

Brush glaze/sauce on chicken or season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

Pistachio Pudding with Raspberry Granita & Mint Crème Chantilly

For the 4-course dinner party, I wanted to sample all the techniques that I’ve learned from school, interning, and work so I decided to make this dessert to cap off for the night. It’s also a great party gathering type of dessert, I think.

Makes just enough for 15 martini glasses.

[100% organic]

For the Pistachio Paste

  • 3 cups pistachios, without shell
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 TBS water

Place the pistachios in a food processor and pulse until the pistachios are in small pieces. Add the sugar and water, blend until relatively smooth.

For the Pudding

  • Pistachio paste, from above
  • 6 cups non-fat milk
  • 6 yolks
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 6 TBS cornstarch
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3 tsp vanilla extract
  • 6 TBS butter, softened

Spoon the pistachio paste into a saucepan and add the milk. Whisk over medium heat until simmering.

Whisk together the sugar, yolks, cornstarch and a pinch of salt until smooth. Temper the egg mixture with the hot milk mixture and continue to whisk. Return the milk-egg mixture back into the saucepan over medium heat. Cook for 1 minute, whisking constantly.

Remove from heat and stir in the room temperature butter and vanilla extract, until butter is melted. Spoon into martini glasses, wrap with plastic over the individual puddings, and refrigerate overnight.

For the Granita

  • 12 cups raspberries, fresh or frozen
  • 3 cups water
  • 1.5 cups sugar
  • 2 TBS lemon juice

Make syrup in a small saucepan over medium heat: combine water and sugar. Bring to a boil and carefully stir until sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat and cool over an ice bath.

Blend raspberries in a blender until smooth. Then mix with the cooled sugared water and lemon juice. Pour raspberry mixture into a shallow pan and place in the freezer for 1 hour. Remove and scrape the crystallized raspberry purée from the sides of the pan and return to the freezer. Repeat this process every 45 minutes, until completely frozen or for about 4 hours.

Serve by fluffing the flakes with a fork.

For the Crème Chantilly

  • 3 cups heavy cream
  • 3 TBS mint extract
  • 3 TBS powdered sugar

Whip the cream with the mint extract and powdered sugar until stiff peaks form. Set aside in the fridge until ready to use.

For the Finish

  • Pistachios
  • Fresh raspberries
  • Mint sprigs

TO ASSEMBLE

Remove plastic wrap from martini glasses, flake granita with a fork and spoon a generous helping over pudding, top with piping of chantilly, and garnish with pistachios, fresh raspberries, and mint sprigs.

*Inspired by Le Cirque.

Mini Fruit Bites with Lemon Crème Chantilly, Strawberry Compote & Consommé

Like I wrote in the previous posts, I’m still obsessed with making finger food. I have leftover dumpling wrappers in my freezer and I’m trying to find a good way to use them. A couple of years ago, I made something similar but with mango, avocado, and tomato. I find them to be so cute.

I wish I could find/buy microbasil because the addition of a little green thingy would complete this dish.

[100% organic]

For the Fruit Bites

  • Dumpling/wonton wrappers
  • Strawberries
  • Blueberries
  • Butter @ room temperature

Preheat oven to 425ºF. Spray a mini muffin tray and place one dumpling wrapper in every space. Using a brush, butter each wrapper. Place muffin tray into oven and cook for 8-10 minutes. Take crispy dumpling wrappers out of the muffin tray and set on a cooling rack.

For the Lemon Crème Chantilly

  • ½ lemon, juiced & zested
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • Powdered sugar, as needed

Whip cream until stiff peaks and add 1-2 TBS powdered sugar, or to your liking. I don’t like overly sweet things. Add in the lemon juice and zest and fold well. Place in a pastry bag with a small star tip and set aside in the fridge until ready to use.

For the Strawberry Compote & Consommé

  • 2 cups strawberry trimmings
  • 1 cup lemon juice
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp cornstarch

In a saucepan, add whatever overripe strawberries and strawberry scraps/trimmings that you have, and all the other ingredients. Toss and bring to a boil and turn heat down to a simmer. Simmer for 10 minutes and turn off heat. Wrap it tightly with plastic wrap and place it in a warm area and let it infuse for as long as possible, 4 hours ideally.

Strain the liquid and place inside a clean saucepan, set aside the solids. Bring strawberry liquid to a small boil and whisk in cornstarch that has been mixed with a little water. Bring back to a boil and turn off heat. Place both liquid and compote in the fridge.

TO ASSEMBLE

For one serving: place 5 blueberry halves as the base and pipe a rosette of whipped cream in the center. Place the dumpling cup on top and pipe more whipped cream in it and decorate with strawberry compote, sliced strawberries, and sliced blueberries. Drizzle the strawberry sauce around the base at the end.

For party presentation: pipe a tiny amount of the whipped cream on the plate so that dumpling cups don’t move. Pipe more whipped cream in it and decorate with strawberry compote, sliced strawberries, and sliced blueberries. Serve with strawberry sauce.

*I made this for my birthday get-together.

Shiso wrapped Hamachi with Coconut Paste, Lotus Root, Toasted Nori & Yuzu-Sake Sauce

The first day of level 6, May 17, it was my night being at the entremetier station again. Level 5 gave us the freedom to design a vegetarian entrée, and in level 6, we have to come up with a canapé/amuse bouche for service, part of the first of a 5-course dinner. To maximize product usage and cut down on waste, canapés/amuse bouche are made with scraps, trimmings, and leftovers in the kitchen.

We were given three meats: pulled duck leg, pulled chicken leg, and marinated hamachi. No was else jumped at the task so I was more than happy that I got to do it on the first day. Being aware of the previous class and how much time they got, I was only given a limited time to plan, prep, make, and plate all the canapés: 40 minutes. That’s not a lot of time but at the end, I pulled it off, along with some assistance towards the end. I just grabbed whatever I could get my hands on.

Originally, my idea was to wrap the hamachi with the shiso leaf along with a 1-inch stripe of coconut milk paste and one line of julienned Thai chili peppers, served with the yuzu-sake sauce and garnished with a julienned red bell pepper. However, when I made my three testing spoons, the chef instructors didn’t like how it was “spicy”. It tasted good they said but to start off a heavy multi-course dinner with something so “spicy” doesn’t do well for the stomach. The production chef told me that for any other event, such as a pool party or somewhere serving cocktails, the spiciness would have been perfect. Personally, I didn’t think the peppers were that spicy but that’s because I eat spicier foods.

So here’s the final product from school:

Shiso wrapped Hamachi with Coconut Paste & Yuzu-Sake Sauce, Julienned Red Bell Pepper

I didn’t bring my camera that night so I don’t really like the photos that I took at school with my iPhone. I decided to redo it with the stuff I had at home. I didn’t have any bell peppers lying around but I had lotus root (for the crunch texture) and toasted nori sheets. At home, I have just ponzu by itself but if you don’t have an array of Asian ingredients in your pantry, you can just buy ponzu sauce which is the yellowy yuzu mixed with soy sauce.

[100% organic, farmed yellowtail hamachi]

For the Marinade

  • 3 oz. hamachi fillet
  • 1-inch ginger, grated
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • ¼ cup ponzu
  • ¼ sake
  • 1 lime, juiced

Mix all ingredients and marinade for 20-30 minutes at room temperature.

For the Sauce

  • 2 TBS soy sauce
  • ¼ cup ponzu
  • ¼ sake
  • ¼ lime wedge, juiced

Mix and set aside.

For the Finish

  • Half a 13.5 oz. can coconut milk
  • Equal mixture of 2 TBS cornstarch and water
  • 2-3 TBS powdered sugar
  • Shiso leaves, stem removed
  • 1 red Thai chili pepper, julienned
  • 1-inch small lotus root
  • Toasted nori strips

In a small pot, bring the coconut milk to a simmer and whisk in powdered sugar. Depending on how sweet you like your coconut milk, add the full 3 TBS of powdered sugar. Once the coconut milk is to your desired sweetness, slowly add in the cornstarch mixture and continue whisking to remove lumps in the coconut paste. It is not necessary to use all the cornstarch mixture, just until it comes together and is less fluid-like. Immediately place in an ice bath to cool down.

For the lotus root, peel and then slice thinly with a mandolin. Make sure to place shaved lotus root in a bowl with water and a splash of vinegar. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook the lotus root for a couple of minutes. Drain and cool in an ice bath, drain again. Cut each lotus root slice in half so that it fits into the Chinese spoon.

TO ASSEMBLE

Drain fish from marinade and cut into ½-inch strips.

The wrapping is like making sushi: place the shiso leaf with the presentation side down, landscape oriented. Brush/spoon with coconut paste along the center (on the stem). Line with one hamachi strip and 1-2 julienned chili peppers. Roll from bottom to top edge and using a very sharp knife, slice off ugly ends and then in half.

Place halved lotus root slice onto spoon, place hamachi shiso sushi on top. Spoon ½-1 tsp of the sauce and garnish with toasted nori strips.

Potted Chocolate Puddings

Every night in pâtissier, we have to come up with a recipe for the special and a recipe for the petite fours. Tonight, I made potted chocolate pudding glasses and a mixed berry crumble for one of the petite fours. The presentation for the pudding was very pretty and it caught everyone’s attention.

I knew that we had extra dark chocolate cookies from last class so I could use those for the “soil”. This recipe made 10 of these glasses.

  • ½  cup sugar
  • 6 TBS cornstarch
  • 4 TBS unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 2½ cups heavy cream
  • 2½ cups milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 12 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 4 TBS butter, cut into small cubes
  • 27 dark chocolate cookies
  • Mint springs, for garnish

In a saucepan, combine the heavy cream, milk, and vanilla extract. Bring the mixture to a simmer. Whisk the sugar, cornstarch, cocoa powder, and salt together. When milk/cream mixture is simmering, pour dried ingredients into saucepan and whisk vigorously until mixture is thickened. Turn heat to low and cook for 5 minutes, to get rid of raw flour taste, while stirring constantly. Gently whisk in butter and chocolate pieces. Mix until combined well.

Ladle mixture into serving glasses. Process cookies until they look like “soil”. Sprinkle processed cookies over pudding and refrigerate.

For service: garnish with a nice mint sprig.

*Adapted from Handle the Heat.

Spicy Diced Chicken

This post was going to be 辣子鸡丁, a very traditional Sichuan dish, but since I don’t have a wok, it didn’t really work. This dish is supposed to be smokier and spicier but the flat pan didn’t allow me to get it right. However, this was still very tasty so I’m calling it spicy diced chicken.

[100% organic]

For the Marinade

  • 2 TBS dark soy sauce
  • 2 TBS Shaoxing/Chinese rice wine
  • 2 tsp Chinese black vinegar
  • 1 tsp sesame oil

Marinate the chicken for at least 15 minutes at room temperature, no more than 30 minutes.

For the Sauce

  • 2 TBS chili garlic sauce
  • 1 TBS soy sauce
  • 2 TBS water

Mix together the ingredients for the sauce and then set aside.

For the Chicken

  • 1 lb chicken breast, diced into cubes
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2-inch ginger, minced
  • 3 scallions, thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup corn starch, sifted
  • 2 TBS whole Sichuan peppercorns
  • 10 dried red chili peppers
  • Canola oil, as needed
  • Salt, as needed
  • Freshly ground black pepper, as needed
  • Freshly ground Sichuan peppercorn, as needed

In a ziplock bag, sift the corn starch in and add a generous amount of salt, ground black pepper, and ground Sichuan peppercorn. Strain the chicken from the marinade. Add the chicken to the ziplock bag and shake vigorously and toss around to make sure that all sides of the diced chicken are coated with cornstarch.

Heat 1 cup of oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. When the oil starts to smoke, work in batches and fry the chicken until golden brown on all sides. Transfer to a cooling rack when fried.

In a pan over medium-low heat, add 2 TBS canola oil. Add the dried chili peppers and the whole Sichuan peppercorns; let them fry until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes. Then turn heat to medium-high heat, add in the scallions, garlic, and ginger until fragrant. Stir in the sauce and simmer until slightly thickened. Add the fried chicken, toss to combine, and remove from heat. Serve immediately with rice!

Sichuan Water Boiled Fish

水煮鱼

I did a lot of research on this dish because it is my *FAVORITE* from Sichuan. The ending photo results from the online recipes that I could find… were… well… really shitty. They basically sucked… and they didn’t look right at all.

In the restaurant, this dish is served in a type of basin and there are piles and piles of red chillies in them and a thick layer of oil. I was having a dilemma with this; should I make this as authentic as I can by using a thick layer of oil or should I adapt to how I like it? I chose the latter. It’s less wasteful on the ingredients.

I asked around my Chinese/Sichuanese friends and former colleagues, and the Sichuan restaurants in Shenzhen, and I finally think I’ve got a pretty good recipe. The fish used is typically a river fish but I think you can use any white-flesh fish. At Whole Foods yesterday, there was a sale on hake fillets so I used that. Hake is similar to cod and haddock. Flounder works great too.

*I used potato starch because it’s my new favorite ingredient but corn starch will suffice.

[100% organic, wild fish]

For the Marinade

  • 1 TBS ground ginger
  • 2 tsp white pepper powder
  • 1 TBS potato starch/corn starch
  • 2 egg whites

Whisk together the marinading ingredients and then marinate fish slices for 15 minutes.

For the Fish

  • 1 lb flounder fillets, sliced thinly and roughly to 2-inch x 2-inch squares
  • ½ cup Sichuan whole peppercorns
  • 2 TBS ground Sichuan peppercorns
  • ½ cup Sichuan whole dried chili peppers, halved
  • 2 TBS dried chili flakes
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 stalks of celery, julienned
  • 1 bundle fensi (glass/cellophane/Chinese vermicelli/bean thread noodles)
  • 2 TBS Sichuan garlic bean sauce
  • 2 TBS canola oil
  • 2 TBS chili oil
  • Salt
  • Cilantro leaves, garnish

Boil fensi noodles in salted water and strain then place in cold water, to stop from expanding.

In a wok or pan, roast (without oil) the whole dried chilies and whole Sichuan peppercorns over high heat for 30 seconds and set aside in a bowl. Smash some of the peppercorns to release flavor for later.

Back in the wok/pan, on medium-low heat, add the 2 TBS of chili and canola oil. Sauté the garlic until aromatic and then add in the roasted chilies and peppercorns, along with the ground peppercorns and chili flakes. Turn heat to medium-high and add the garlic bean sauce. Pour in enough cold water to the wok/pan in order to poach the fish. Season generously with salt. When mixture comes up to a boil, bring it down to a simmer and carefully place marinated fish into poaching liquid. Keeping the simmers at a low steady pace, cook fish for 6-8 minutes.

In a large serving bowl, arrange the fensi noodles at the bottom, then place celery on top. Pour the fish and mixture over everything, garnish it with cilantro leaves and serve with rice!