When not slaving away with only Twitter and mad dog for company, I occasionally have a 'life.' This usually entails cooking for friends, trying far too many wines, and the occasional entire day out. I will post my ramblings, recipes and recommendations here on the 'Gourmet on the Go' blog. Hope you find something of interest!
As we head deeper into September, the autumn chill has lead me to think about warming food. So, for lunch, I’ve replaced salads with a big bowl of steaming soup. I thought I’d try my hand at the Chinese restaurant classic of chicken and sweetcorn soup, being as the sweetcorn season is at its height and spring onions are coming to an end.
Forget the sweet gloopy version of this soup you may have tried in the past, which is usually laden with sugar and corn flour, this healthy simple recipe delivers an impact on flavour and is perfect for a cold day.
Chicken and Sweetcorn Soup Recipe
Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 30 mins
Total time: 40 mins
2 chicken thighs (skinned)
2 cloves garlic, roughly sliced
1 inch knob of ginger, sliced into thick rounds
5 spring onions
Small bunch of coriander
1.5 litre chicken stock (or water)
1 heaped tbsp cornflour
2 ears of corn, kernels removed (or a can of sweetcorn, drained.)
2 eggs, beaten
2 tbsp soy sauce
tsp ground white pepper
Sesame oil to garnish
Add your stock, chicken, ginger, garlic, coriander and soy sauce to a large pan. Take three of the spring onions, bash with the flat of a knife to loosen, roughly chop and add to the pan. Bring up to a boil, remove any scum that comes to the top using a ladle, cover and gently simmer for 20 minutes.
While the soup base is simmering, pulse the sweetcorn in a processor until roughly chopped. Finely slice the two remaining spring onions. Mix the cornflour with a couple of tablespoons of the simmering stock or water.
After 20 minutes, remove your chicken with a slotted spoon, set aside and leave to cool a little. Then, using two forks shred the meat from the chicken and discard the bones.
Strain off your stock, and discard the herbs and vegetables – they have imparted their flavour. Put the strained stock back in the pan on a gentle heat.
Add the sweetcorn to the pan and bring up to a boil. Remove any scum that comes to the surface with a ladle. Add your cornflour mix and stir. Stir in the shredded chicken and white pepper.
Slowly stream in the beaten egg, stirring continuously.
Serve garnished with the sliced spring onion and a few splashes of sesame oil.
Congee is the ultimate comfort food; warming, silky, filling and satisfying. The secret to a good congee is a flavoursome stock, so it is worth preparing your stock from fresh to truly appreciate this simple dish. It is best to use meat on the bone to pack your stock with flavour, whether it be pork ribs (fabulous served with preserved egg) or as in this case, chicken.
Although traditionally a breakfast dish, Congee makes for a delicious meal anytime of the day. I particularly enjoy it for Sunday brunch, or when feeling ill; especially good when hung-over!
This recipe is as reminiscent of the delicious congee a friend used to cook up for us all when I lived in Hong Kong, with a few minor tweaks along the way. Give it a go.
Prep Time – 15minutes Cook Time – 2 hours Serves – 4 to 6
Chicken Congee 200grams Jasmine Rice
2 chicken legs
2 litres of water
4 spring onions
4 cloves of garlic
1 knob of Ginger
Small bunch of coriander
1 tbsp of groundnut oil
Garnish 2 tbsp groundnut oil
1tbsp Sesame Oil
4 spring onions
1 inch long knob of Ginger
1 1/2 tbsp light soy sauce
A few unsalted peanuts or cashews (about 20grams)
½ tsp white pepper
½ tsp sugar
First rinse your rice and then add to a pan and cover with cold water. Leave to soak for 1 to 2 hours (this will improve the texture of your congee).
Whilst the rice is soaking, joint your chicken legs into drumsticks and thighs by cutting through at the joint with a heavy knife. You can leave them whole if you prefer.
Roughly chop the spring onions. Peel and roughly chop the garlic and ginger.
Add a tablespoon of oil to a large heavy based pan, lightly brown your chicken pieces on both sides, remove and set aside.
Add the chopped garlic, spring onion and garlic to the same pan and stir for just a minute in the oil left over from the chicken. Then, return the chicken to the pan and pour in the 2litres of cold water. Add the coriander. Bring to a gentle boil, reduce the heat to low, place a lid on the pan and simmer gently for 1 hour.
After 1 hour, remove the stock liquid from the heat and transfer the chicken pieces onto a plate to cool. Once cool to the touch, remove the meat from the chicken legs, discarding the skin and bones. Shred the meat into small pieces and set aside.
Strain your stock liquid through a mesh sieve into a bowl and then pour back into the large pan. Drain and rinse the soaked rice and add to the pan with the stock. Bring to a gentle boil and then reduce to a low heat. Gently simmer for 45mins to an hour, stirring occasionally to ensure the rice does not stick to the bottom of the pan.
The rice will begin to mash up and disintegrate forming a glossy porridge like texture. When you are happy with the consistency (some people like their congee very thick, others thinner) add the chicken and a good pinch of sea salt to the dish, stir and taste, add more salt as required.Your congee is done.
Finely chop the spring onions, peel and finely chop the ginger (grate if you prefer) and place in a serving bowl
Heat up the groundnut and sesame oil in a pan or a heavy duty metal ladle until smoking. Pour the hot oil over the chopped onions & ginger and leave them to sizzle.
Add the rest of the garnish ingredients – soy, sugar, white pepper, nuts – and mix thoroughly.
Serve a small helping on top of a bowl of congee, or separately so that everyone can help themselves.
The Marmarati (you must have heard of them- http://marmarati.org/ ) have opened up membership applications to become one of the esteemed elect group of taste testers for their prestigious and most coveted XO Marmite pots of eternal bliss. All you need do to apply is express, creatively, your love for Marmite. But wait! Put down your pens, crayons, glitter and glue, for applications are now closed… I know, it is heart breaking yet true.
Still, you can vote for the many ‘efforts’ on the site, or even better, cast your eyes upon my unrequited poem of Love for the deep, dark, delicious one – Which Was Written Too Blinking Late To Enter!
An Ode to Marmite
Oh dark luscious tempter, how wanton you make me, with your silky shine, and bite of Unami.
How I wish I could keep you all to myself, hoarding your goodness from every shelf.
Oh Marmite to you, I will always be true, a loyal servant of pleasure, my whole life through.
Just don’t change, all right! Coz I luv ya Marmite! Yeah. X
Yes, it should have been me. Yet, dry your tears as Marmite XO will be available for all us plebs from March of this year – hurrah! In the mean time, Essex Gourmet recommends that you try Chinese XO sauce, ooh, it is exceptionally good! Buy the real stuff from Parksons Cash & Carry in Southend.