Thursday, March 12, 2009

Making Sticky Rice (Yo Fan) (油飯)

Feeding myself presents its problems, as making large batches of food is much easier than single portions. I have a few go-to meals that I can stand eating for lunch every day; one of them is sticky rice. Sticky rice, (or 油飯, literally oily rice, yo fan) is a Taiwanese specialty mostly associated with Tainan (台南). The ingredients are simple:

Sticky rice (糯米)
mini shrimp (蝦米)
mushrooms (香姑)
soy sauce (醬油)
sesame oil (麻油)
meat, any type, cut into little pieces
peanuts, soaked in water first
The two secret ingredients that are a must-have are fried onion and white pepper, pictured here.
The process is very similar to making a risotto. Once you cook the meat and add in all the ingredients that had been soaking (shrimp, mushrooms, peanuts), add soy sauce to taste and cook on low heat for a long time.
Here's what mine looked like. I was running low on mini shrimp, so it's not very colorful. The consistency should be sticky but not soggy like glue. It should have a bit of Q to it (chewiness).

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A Poultry Valentine's Day

I realize it has been a month since Valentine's Day, but I am really quite proud of the entire chicken that I baked. I am not one who enjoys the sappiness of Valentine's, but I rather enjoy challenging myself with food (whether it is preparing it or attempting to eat roast chicken for an entire week). I have to give credit to Gudbjorg, because she and Kyle were the ones who inspired me to try baking my own chicken after a glorious dinner at their house in January.

As they teach you in home ec, always prepare vegetables before you prepare raw meats. Here, I chopped carrots, potatoes (red skin and russet), and celery. You can choose any combination to form your bed of vegetables.
It's an octopus! No, it's just half of an onion shoved under the skin of the chicken. Our old transcriptionist gave me this tip in reference to shoving 2 halves of an onion under the skin of a Thanksgiving turkey. It makes the meat more moist and naturally flavorful (and gives the bird some boobs).
Gingerly detach the skin of the chicken without perforating it, starting from the rear end, to make the pocket for your onion half. Side note: my mom made me that apron for Christmas! It is made out of waterproof upholstery fabric so it feels great but protects me from chicken juice and dishwater splashes! Also, note the Franziskaner in the background. No good cooking is done without a beverage near by.
I always have a grocery bag around for easy disposal of any rinds, skins, and in this case, chicken neck and internal organs. Creepy. I definitely would not choose to eat chicken internal organs.
I think I used 2 sticks of butter and a ton of different herbs and spices. I don't quite remember what all I used, but I think there was salt, sage, and a lot of basil.
Drizzle your butter and herbs over the chicken. I have yet to figure out how the meat on the inside gets its flavoring (I did make some cuts under the skin and try to baste the butter inside, but it didn't seem like it made a difference).
I wish I had taken a picture of the chicken when it came out of the oven. The herbs and butter formed a delicious golden crispy shell out of the skin. I know chicken skin is not healthy, but it was SO good. In the process of baking, the chicken juice and butter will cook the vegetables underneath. It took close to an hour of baking, but you should check the doneness of your chicken with a meat thermometer or make a cut in the deeper part of the thigh.
I ate roast chicken for a week. I don't want to eat any more chicken for at least a few more months.