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Easter Foodie Thoughts

2011-04-20 14:01:35|Food

As Easter approaches, many chefs turn to traditional lamb dishes, but I can't help getting excited about chicken and eggs, not the chocolate ones - although those are good too!Chicken has always been a favourite of mine as it's so versatile. Chicken breast tends to be so popular, but for me there's something very special about the juicy thigh meat, especially when making Salty Crispy Chicken served with a side of rice or chunky chips and a beer, perfect for an Easter picnic - yum.But for something a little more suitable to enjoy with family and friends around a table, below is some chicken and egg inspiration from my new book, Ching's Fast Food. These are light, healthy and quick recipes offering a little oriental balance if you have overdone it with the Easter eggs! Love,Ching x Ps. To make sure these recipes are extra tasty and better for you - please use chickens who have had a happy life and eggs from a happy hen - and that means at least free range or organic if possible. Thank you Oyster-sauce chicken with ginger and shiitake mushrooms This is one of my own flavour combinations, inspired by southern Chinese dishes from regions such as Canton and Fujian, where the combination of meat and seafood is very common. I hope you like it! Prep time: 10 minutes | Cook in: 9 minutes | Serves: 2 - 4 to shareChicken & Duck2 chicken thighs and 3 drumsticks (500g/1lb 2ozin total), skinned and the meatier parts sliced off but keeping some of the flesh on the bone (or use skinless,boneless chicken thighs)Salt and ground white pepper1 tbsp of potato flour or cornflour1 tbsp of groundnut oil2.5cm (1in) piece of root ginger, peeled and sliced1 tbsp of Shaohsing rice wine or dry sherry5 shiitake mushrooms, sliced2 large spring onions, sliced on the diagonal For the sauce1 tbsp of light soy sauce1 tbsp of oyster sauce1 tbsp of chilli sauce100ml (3½fl oz) cold vegetable stock Place the chicken pieces in a bowl and season with salt and pepper. Add the potato flour or cornflour and mix well to coat the chicken. Pour all the ingredients for the sauce into another bowl and stir together to combine. Heat a wok over a high heat until it starts to smoke and add the groundnut oil. Add the ginger and fry for a few seconds, then add the chicken pieces and stir-fry for 4 minutes, stirring constantly. As the chicken starts to turn opaque, add the rice wine or dry sherry and cook for a further 2 minutes, then add the sauce and bring to the boil. Tip in the shiitake mushrooms and cook for 1 minute, then stir in the spring onions. Remove from the heat and serve immediately. Pak choy with carrot and garlic Pak choy (or ‘bok choy’) is a leafy vegetable much used in Chinese cooking, especially soups and stir-fries. I love both the green- and white-stemmed varieties. Prep time: 5 minutes | Cook in: 4 minutes | Serves: 2 - 4 to share1 tbsp of groundnut oil1 clove of garlic, crushed and finely chopped1 small carrot, thinly sliced on the diagonal200g (7oz) baby pak choy, leaves separated (see the tip below)2 pinches of coarse sea salt Heat a wok over a high heat until it starts to smoke, then add the groundnut oil and the garlic and cook for a few seconds. Add the carrot slices and stir-fry for 2 minutes. Tip in the pak choy leaves and toss. Add a small dash of water and cook for 1 minute. Sprinkle over the sea salt and serve immediately. Ching's tipIf you are using the larger, green-stemmed pak choy, then separate the leaves from the stalks, slice the stalks and stir-fry with the carrot for 2 minutes before adding the leaves and stir-frying for 1 further minute. Egg and asparagus fried riceThe first time I tried to make egg-fried rice, I made the mistake of frying rice that was freshly cooked and really moist. The result was a thick congealed porridge of egg and spring onions - disaster! I was only 11 and so my father ate it anyway. To master fried rice, check that the wok is hot enough and use leftover cooked rice if possible. If using freshly cooked rice, make sure it's al dente rather than too soft. Make sure there is enough oil in the wok too, and try not to stab at the rice but toss it in the wok as it fries.This is my classic egg-fried rice recipe, to which I like to add blanched sliced baby asparagus when in season, although frozen peas would work just as well. Prep time: 5 minutes | Cook in: 8 minutes | Serves: 4 to share100g (3½oz) baby asparagus spears, woody ends snapped offSalt and ground white pepper1 tbsp of groundnut oil2 eggs, lightly beaten350g (12oz) cold leftover cooked jasmine rice or freshly cooked long-grain rice (see the tips below)2 tbsps of light soy sauce1 tbsp of toasted sesame oil1 large spring onion, finely sliced Blanch the asparagus spears in a saucepan of boiling salted water for 3 minutes, then drain and refresh in cold water. Slice the cooked asparagus crossways into 5mm (¼in) pieces and set aside. Heat a wok over a high heat until it starts to smoke and then add the groundnut oil. Add the eggs and stir for 2 minutes to scramble, then tip in the rice and stir well in the wok to break it up. Add the blanched asparagus pieces and toss together well. Season with the soy sauce, toasted sesame oil and salt and pepper to taste. Add the spring onion and mix well, then remove from the heat and serve immediately. Ching's tipsIf cooking rice to use later, make sure the cooked rice is cooled for no longer than 30 minutes at room temperature, then transfer to a bowl or plastic box, cover and keep refrigerated until ready to use. Only reheat/cook rice once after it has been cooked already.If using freshly cooked rice for a fried dish, try a longgrain variety such as basmati. For this dish, use 175g (6oz) of uncooked long-grain rice (well rinsed) and boil in 350ml (12fl oz) of water until all the water is absorbed.This will increase the cooking time by 20 minutes.

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