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The BloggerAid Cookbook

Szechuan Prawns (shrimps)

Pierre loves prawns. He would eat them in whichever way or sauce they are cooked in: spicy, baked, in soup, buttered, steamed, with or without sauce, grilled, deep fried, etc. So we get to cook prawns pretty often, and one of my favorite recipe is this Chinese dish. It's so simple, easy and fool proof - it was a success the first time I cooked it.

Szechuan Prawns
Ingredients
  • 250 to 300 g raw tiger prawns (shrimps)
  • ½ egg white (lightly beaten)
  • 1 tsp cornflour (cornstarch) paste (see notes below for preparation)
  • 600 ml or 2½ cups vegetable oil
  • Fresh coriander (cilantro) leaves, to garnish
  • a pinch of salt

Sauce:

  • 1 tsp ginger root (chopped finely)
  • 2 spring onions (chopped finely)
  • 1 garlic clove (chopped finely)
  • 3-4 small dried red chillies (seeded and chopped)
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tsp Chinese rice wine (Shaoxing wine) or dry sherry
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée (paste)
  • 1 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 2-3 tbsp Chinese stock or water
  • a few drops of sesame oil
Directions
  1. Peel the raw prawns, then mix them with salt, egg white and cornflour (cornstarch) paste until well coated.
  2. Heat the oil in a preheated wok until it is smoking, then deep-fry the prawns in hot oil for 1 minute. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain them on paper towels.
  3. Pour off the oil, leaving only a bit in the wok. Add in all the ingredients for the sauce, bring to the boil and stir until smooth and well blended.
  4. Add the prawns to the sauce, stirring to blend. Garnish with coriander leaves and serve it with rice.
Szechuan prawns ingredients
Conclusions

This dish never fails me. It is always as delicious as the first time I made it. Not only does it taste great, it's also very aromatic. Pierre, Patrick (my father-in-law) and his uncle love this dish very much and so do my friends. They always ask me when I'm cooking this dish again so that they can come over for dinner.;-)

For preparation of this dish, I use long dried chillies (I think it is called cayenne pepper/finger chili/ginnie pepper) instead and I use only 3, yet Pierre felt it was a bit spicy for him. So if you or your guests are not used to spiciness, reduce it to 2 or even 1. When making the sauce, I usually double the quantity specified because Pierre loves to spread the spicy gravy over his rice. I also lump all the ingredients for the sauce in a small bowl and mix them up before adding them to the wok: it saves time. Sometimes I even prepare the sauce ahead of time and leave it in the refrigerator till I want to cook the meal.

As for cooking the prawns, sometimes I skip step 1 & 2 and just stir-fry my raw prawns with a bit of oil first before adding the sauce in.

Notes

To prepare cornflour paste, mix 1 part cornflour with about 1.5 parts of cold water. Stir until smooth. This paste can be used to thicken sauces.

If raw prawns are not available, then use cooked prawns but omit step 1 & 2 and add the cooked prawns directly before the sauce at step 3.

Take care when handling dried chillies, as chili juice stings; avoid touching your eyes and always wash your hands thoroughly afterwards. Discard the seeds as these are the hottest part.

Chinese Szechuan Prawns
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Gochujang Bulgoki - Korean Spicy Pork

Gochujang Bulgoki is Korean Spicy Pork or in Korean, Spicy Bulgoki.

This very simple yet very delicious and flavourful plat was introduced to me by my Korean friend, Jung Sol-yi whom I met in 2002 at SUEFLE, Nantes University. I remember back then, how we often had to use gestures and pictures to express ourselves when our limited French and dictionary failed us. Or how all of us (Yumi, Zhang Ying and I) squeezed into Sol-yi's tiny one-bedroom student apartment for lunch. How she cooked for us our 1st Korean meal just outside her bedroom door at the corridor using a portable stove she borrowed from her next door neighbour.:-D How each of us took turns to introduce our country food - Yumi cooked Japanese while Ying cooked Szechuan food and I cooked Chicken curry and stir-fried noodles. It was the most beautiful 2 semesters we had together and when our long lasting friendship was formed. Whenever I made this dish, it always brings back those sweet memories of my friends whom I miss so much.

Gochujang Bulgoki
Ingredients
  • 1 kg pork - cut into thin slices
  • 1 carrots (medium size) - cut into thin strips like match sticks
  • 1 white onion (big) - sliced
  • 4 to 5 garlic - minced
  • 2 to 3 tbsp Korean soya sauce
  • 4 tbsp Gochujang (Korean chilli paste) - less if you are not used to spiciness
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1½ tsp sugar

Sol-yi's Special Sauce (Optional)

  • ½ tsp fermented soya bean paste
  • 1 to 2 tbsp Gochujang

Mix both together till well blended.

Directions
  1. In a big bowl, put all the above ingredients together and mix it well.
  2. Let it marinate in the refrigerator for at least 5 hours. If you don't have time the next day, you can prepare this the night before, it tastes even better.
  3. Stir-fry the marinated pork mixture in a non-stick pan without any oil until the meat is cooked. Add a little bit of hot water to the mixture if needed.
  4. Taste to see if it is spicy enough for you. If not, add a bit more of Gochujang.

How to eat it Korean style?

  1. First, put a piece of lettuce on your palm.
  2. Put a tablespoon of round/Japanese rice on the lettuce, then top it with the Spicy Pork. For an extra kick, you can put a bit of the special sauce on top of the rice before putting the spicy pork.
  3. Bundle up the lettuce and enjoy. It's quite a mouthful.
Gochujang Bulgoki ingredientsGochujang Bulgoki marinate
The Verdict

mmm... it tasted still as good like the time I made it together with Sol-yi. Pierre likes it too. His only critic is that I made it a bit too spicy for him. Hehehe... I was happily adding spoonful after spoonful of Gochujang to the pork mixture before I remembered that Pierre can't take as spicy as me. Oops! Too late. Well, the poor guy still happily finished his spicy Bulgoki and even had a second helping.;-)

This dish can be eaten with plain ordinary steam rice or with round/Japanese rice. Pierre prefers his with plain Basmati rice while I prefer to eat mine the Korean way.

Note

Gochujan (Korean chilli paste) is quite spicy so remember to go easy with it when adding it to your marinated mixture. It is better to put less in the marinate if you aren't sure how spicy it would be when cooked. You can always add more in during cooking stage if it is not spicy enough for you.

And also it might be better to test taste it (dab your finger on the marinated mixture) to check if it is salty enough before adding a 3rd spoonful of soya sauce, as it will make it taste saltier.

Regarding Korean soya sauce, for those who don't have it, you can replace it with Chinese light soya sauce. In this case, you have to add less because Chinese soya sauce tends to be saltier. I have made this dish before using Chinese light soya sauce and it still tastes as good.

Gochujang BulgogiGochujang Bulgoki
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Balti Butter Chicken

I haven't been cooking much after I got pregnant - the hectic schedule of university studies and being a new mummy left me too tired at the end of the day to even cook ... so Pierre has been the kitchen chef for the past 2 years. I promised him that once my exams are over, I will take over the wok and cook whatever he desires and fancy. So here we are.:-)

Yesterday we had some guests over for dinner and I asked Pierre what he would like for dinner ... Being an Indian food lover, he immediately took out the Indian cook book that I got him 2 Christmas ago and picked out this :

Balti Butter Chicken

(taken from Indian - Shehzad Husain & Rafi Fernandez)

Serves : 4 - 6

Ingredients
  • 150 ml or 2/3 cups Natural (plain) yogurt
  • 50 g or ½ cups Ground almonds
  • 1½ tsp Chilli powder
  • ¼ tsp Crushed bay leaves (Laurier)
  • ¼ tsp Ground cloves
  • ¼ tsp Ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp Garam masala
  • 4 Green cardamom pods
  • 1 tsp Ginger pulp
  • 1 tsp Garlic pulp
  • 400 g or 2 cups Canned tomatoes
  • 1¼ tsp salt
  • 1 kg or 6½ cups Chicken, skinned, bonned & cubed
  • 75 g or 6 tbsp Butter
  • 1 tbsp Corn oil
  • 2 medium Onions - sliced
  • 2 tbsp Fresh coriander - chopped (cilantro)
  • 4 tbsp Single (light) cream
  • Coriander sprigs
Directions
  1. Put the yogurt, ground almonds, all the dry spices, ginger, garlic, tomatoes and salt into a bowl and mix them together.
  2. Put the chicken into a large bowl, pour the yogurt mixture over it and mix.
  3. Melt together the butter and oil in a medium karachi or wok.
  4. Add the onions and fry for about 3 minutes.
  5. Add chicken mixture and stir-fry for 7-10 minutes.
  6. Stir in about half of the coriander (cilantro) and mix well.
  7. Add the cream and stir in well.
  8. Bring to boil and then remove from heat.
  9. Serve garnished with the remaining chopped coriander (cilantro).
Balti Butter Chicken spicesBalti Butter Chicken onionsBalti Butter Chicken
The Verdict

Surprisingly, it turned out rather delicious. It has an interesting mix of creamy aromatic spice flavour with a tint of piquant for the kick. The coriander enhance gently the flavour. My guests loved it as well, judging by the second - and third - helping till the pot was empty. Pierre likes it very much, noting that it leaves a tint of spiciness at the end of each mouthful without the lingering burning sensation of a spicy curry.

Initially I had my doubts over the final result because of my slight adaptation of the recipe - I used fresh tomatoes and bay leaves. And I blended the yogurt mixture by mistake instead of mixing it because the recipe stated "blend together thoroughly".

Note

For an even richer and creamier flavour, substitute natural (plain) yogurt with Greek-style yogurt.

Balti Butter Chicken saffron rice
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