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Posts Tagged ‘Singapore’

Last night we ate one of our favourite Malaysian dishes for tea at the Vicarage. I love to cook this reminder of our 51/2 years in South-East Asia. And to provide ginger warmth in a chilly kitchen. It’s easy, delicious and only uses a single dish (tho’ you might want to use a wok for some greens on the side aswell). It’s expandable for lots of people and is not too foreign for most visitors. Anyone who occasionally eats takeaway Chinese will love this.

Claypot chicken rice and bok choi

Ingredients

  • Chicken pieces (preferably skinned dark meat on the bone, chopped into bite size pieces by your local Indian butcher – but otherwise skinned thigh pieces are probably easiest or thigh fillets if you have bone-haters dining) – 1 to 2 thigh or drumstick pieces per person
  • Rice (we love Thai fragrant jasmine, but any will do) – about 120ml per adult and 60ml per child (dry measure)
  • Big chunk of fresh ginger (2-3″ here)
  • Soy sauces, light and dark (1-2 tbspns of each)
  • Oyster sauce (1-2 tbspns)
  • Sugar (1 tbspn)
  • Oil – sesame (1 tbpn if you have it) and vegetable (2 tbspns)
  • Extra treat for authenticity – pickled green chillis (chopped) on the side, marinaded in soy sauce

Ready to serve

You need about an hour from preparation to serving for this dish. But there’s time to supervise piano practice and maybe do some laundry in that hour. Or even drink a cup of tea. Or blog a recipe. You don’t need a clay pot to cook it either – I use a casserole dish. Mine has a glass lid which makes it easier to tell if stuff is cooked, but a cast iron casserole or a good sized saucepan would be fine. It’s rather easier with a non-stick pan because of the crunchy ricey bits (see below).

First pop the rice on. I have a rice cooker which has a cup sized at 160ml. For three adults and three fairly hungry children I used 4 cups. I cheated and used the rice cooker to measure the water to the right level, but the Malaysian way, which works just fine, is to put water in so that your forefinger, laid flat on the top of the (pre-rinsed) rice, is covered by the water. Put the cover on the pan and cook the rice until all the water is absorbed. This should take about 15 minutes.

Whilst the rice is cooking prepare the chicken and let it marinate in its sauce. You can quickly drizzle on the soy sauces, the oyster sauce, the sesame oil and add the sugar before mixing the pieces about to ensure that the marinade is coated over the chicken. Then you want to get the ginger’s juice without the pulp. The best way to do this is to first peel your piece of ginger and then grate or blend it. Pop the chewed up ginger pieces in a sieve and press down with a spoon to get the ginger juice out over your chicken portions. I used my chopper attachment from my stick blender to whizz the ginger first and a small plastic sieve.

Once all the water is absorbed into the rice, pop the chicken pieces and the marinade on top, together with the vegetable oil. Cover the pot again and leave it to cook on a low heat for 20 minutes. Don’t open the lid, as this will prevent the chicken from cooking thoroughly, as it steams on top of the rice.

After 20 minutes, open the lid and get a spoon and mix the chicken into the rice. You should find that some of the rice at the bottom of the pan has gone all crispy. Mmmm. Replace the lid and cook for a further 15 minutes on a low heat. Whilst this is going on, you might want to cook some veg.  It was Bok choi (with garlic, soy sauce and a little sugar) for us last night.

At the end of the 15 minutes, mix the rice and chicken up again to extract some more lovely crunchy ricey bits and serve with the veg and a side of chopped pickled green chillis in soy sauce for added zing. Warming, filling and family friendly.

Pickled chillis - ingredients and finished condiment

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The Vicarage Cat

We have a cat. Or rather a cat has us. She is small, very pale tabby with a mutant tail and she mews loudly. A lot. Especially in the mornings. She joined us when we lived in Singapore and spent her very earliest days living in a Singapore drain before she adopted a friend of a friend and then landed up with us.

So she’s a well travelled beast, but these days she hunts vermin in the Vicarage garden (of which more at a later date) and hunts for the warmest place to recline in the Vicarage. As you know, the latter is a bit of a challenge. In summer you might find her scanning the children on their way to school from the vantage point of our gatepost. Or she might be lying on the carpet in my bedroom, soaking up the sunshine from the south facing windows.

In winter however she cuddles up to the fire, or sits upon the lap of the poor (rather cat allergic) Vicar’s Apprentice. Sometimes we find her lurking in the bathroom, but only when the underfloor heating is on. She is a good indicator of where the temperature is bearable. For that reason, to date I have never once seen her in the Vicar’s study.

Grumpy Grandpa has written a few poems on the subject of cats. This one is a good summary of VC’s attitude to life:

A  hamster has his little wheel, a gerbil can be fun,
A guinea pig is cuddly, though you have to clean his run,
A dog’s a good companion, and will make you smile and laugh.
But a dog will have a master, a cat, she just has staff.

There’s a dead mouse in the corner, and lots of tiny hairs.
A hairball on the carpet, and some feathers on the stairs.
She won’t do what you tell her, she smells a little too,
A kitten makes you love her, then she takes charge of you.

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Soon after we were married, the Curate and I spent some time living in South East Asia. A few months ago we enjoyed seeing friends from both Malaysia and Singapore.

Malaysian map

When Lawstudent came to visit us, we were excitedly reminiscing about our time in Kuala Lumpur, where we’d known him as he was growing up. We showed him a few of the books we’d bought and read when we were there. Our favourite was ‘Generation’ by Amir Muhammad, Kam Raslan and Sheryll Stothard (only available second-hand now, see this review for more details).

Lawstudent read the book whilst he was staying here, and was delighted and surprised by the witty insight into Malaysian life that he encountered on its pages.

‘I didn’t know that Malaysians could write this well’ he commented. ‘In fact, at home, my friends and I had a phrase for things that were a bit shoddy or hopeless. We’d say it was

local.

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I love the strong, sweet and spiced Indian drink known as masala chai – spiced tea. Usually I go round to my friend Starstudent’s. She makes great masala chai. I normally visit her and have two mugfuls of the delicious drink. I always visit in the morning.

Delicious but not for insomniacs

Delicious but not for insomniacs

You make masala chai by boiling your water in a pan with the teabags and some spices – cardamom, cinnamon and others according to your family tradition eg fennel, ginger, cloves. You boil it for a good while and then add a good helping of milk, sugar to taste and boil for a little longer. Then you strain and serve.

When we visited our friends the Kanns last night I drank two mugfuls, just as usual. Very tasty. But also very high in caffeine (because the teabags are so well boiled I guess).

So I was watching the ceiling at 2.30am. Grrr.

What was really annoying was that I’d done this before. When we lived in Singapore, the church we attended was a Tamil congregation and they served masala chai after the evening service. I had to limit myself to a single cup and couldn’t drink the coffee at all, or I couldn’t sleep. Wish I’d remembered that before I tanked myself up on the caffeine last night.

I wonder how it tastes made with de-caff teabags?

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