My favourite comfort foods are fried chicken and congee. Whenever I've had a long day, I always want to settle down to eat some fried chicken. I know fried food isn't healthy so I'm trying to cut back on it. I usually eat it at least once or twice a week when I'm out and about or for dinner. So I’ll try to make more healthy choices when choosing take out food. The need to make healthy choices has become particularly important to me as my dad has had a recent health scare.
Salt and Pepper Fried Chicken (serves about 5 people)
|photo for illustrative purposes source|
-1 kg of chicken wings or you can use any chicken part i.e. drumsticks, thighs etc.
- vegetable oil or any oil you can use for frying
1. I like to cut the chicken wings up so that they are easier to eat but you can keep them whole if you like.
2. Put some water in a large pot, it has to be enough to submerge all the chicken pieces. Wait for it to boil and then add the chicken. I estimate it should take around 30 minutes to cook but it depends on the quantity of the chicken and what kinds of pieces you use.
3. If you are not sure if the chicken is cooked, take one piece out and poke it with a knife. If no blood runs out then it is cooked. If you really want to make sure, cut into the chicken to see. Once all the chicken is cooked, removed from the water and allow to dry.
4. Prepare a tray to put all your chicken pieces on. You’ll also need two bowls, 1 for the egg mixture and the other for the flour.
5. Next you need to batter the chicken. Crack two eggs and add water to it. This is done so the mixture is a bit watery and there is enough to coat the chicken. Crush and mince some garlic into the mixture so that a garlic flavour can be imbued into the chicken. You can also use onion if you have it but if you don’t like onion or garlic you can omit this step.
6. Now you need to prepare the flour. I would say you need about three cups but it depends on your quantity of chicken. You don’t need to sift the flour. Add about 2 tablespoons of salt and put enough pepper according to your taste. Don’t worry about how much salt that is it won’t taste that salty, it will have a subtle taste. Stir altogether.
7. Take one chicken piece at a time and first coat it in flour. Then coat it in the egg mixture and once more in flour. Put that chicken away on a tray. Do this task until you have coated all the chicken. The reason why you are coating the chicken twice is that you get a crunchy yet light texture.
Frying the chicken
If you want to deep fry the chicken, you need to pour a lot of oil into a saucepan. You need enough oil to fully submerge the chicken. The hotplate must be turned to high and you have to wait until the oil is hot enough to fry the food. You can test the heat by putting in a bit of bread into the oil. If the oil bubbles and fries the bread immediately then it’s ready.
Cook the chicken in batches. Do not overload the saucepan because it can overflow. When the chicken is ready place it to dry on a plate lined with paper towel.
You don’t have to fry the chicken for long. You need to cook it until the batter is golden. Remember the chicken is already cooked inside. You can also shallow fry the chicken if you don’t have enough oil but I was told that it’s actually healthier to deep fry rather than shallow fry. It takes less time to deep fry food and thus it does not absorb as much oil as shallow frying. Who knows?
Alternatively bake the chicken
Preheat the oven to about 180. Grease and line a oven tray and place chicken on top. You might have to check on the chicken and turn it over every now and then to ensure that it cooks evenly.
Chicken and Pork Congee (serves about 5)
|Photo for illustrative purpose source|
In contrast, my other comfort food is congee. Congee is an Asian dish that can be described as a rice porridge. Most of south east Asia have their own version of congee and it can be known by different names. My family is from Laos and congee is known as khào piak which literally translates to wet rice.
It’s a peasant dish where you boil rice in a stock and put whatever leftovers in it to accompany it. My family make a stock with lemon grass, ginger and garlic and we sometimes add chicken stock cube or chicken bones if available. We then fry up some pork ground meat or we add leftover chicken. I'm told that it congee is usually a breakfast dish but it can be eaten for any meal. I like to make it when I want a hearty breakfast , when I am sick or if there’s nothing else to eat and I need to feed people.
-a stalk of lemon grass
- about 6 cloves of garlic
-1 kg of ground pork mince
-2 cups of shredded chicken
-10 cups of cooked jasmine rice
Ground pork mince
1. Crush two cloves of garlic and chop finely.
2. Mix pork mince with a tablespoon of barbecue sauce, oyster sauce and salt and pepper to taste.
3. Get a fry pan and put on medium heat on the stove. Once hot, fry the garlic until fragrant. Add the pork and continuously stir the pork until cooked. Set aside for later.
1. Put a large pot of water to boil on a high heat.
2. Crush garlic, ginger and lemon grass into the water.
3. Add a tablespoon of salt and fish sauce into the water. Optional: Add a stock cube.
4. When the water is boiling, add the rice and allow to simmer. Cook for at least thirty minutes. My family like gluggy rice but it’s up to you. Make sure the rice is soften for it to be a true congee. Remove the lemon grass and ginger.
To serve, place the congee into bowls and add the pork and chicken on top. Sprinkle some shallots on top. You can also season the congee with a bit of soy sauce and fish sauce. Finely chop the ginger and serve in congee.