Posts Tagged ‘cucumbers’

Sesame Garlic Cucumbers with Green Onion Vermicelli Recipe

When I was 19 or so, my parents went on a trip to China and I went with them. In my fuzzy memory, it happened very quickly: one day my mom asked me if I wanted to go to Asia, and then next we were on a plane headed to Shanghai and Beijing.

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Chicken & Egg

good eats on a rainy day

It’s hard not to love a dish made up of rice, chicken and eggs. Growing up I ate a lot of bowls of rice topped with chicken or eggs, but never really together, until I had oyako-don. Oyako-don means parent and child, which is fitting if you think about how you’re eating a hen and it’s egg. Traditional oyako-don is a delicious saucy mess of chicken and onions stewed in dashi, mirin and soy sauce. Lightly beaten eggs are added to the mix until barely cooked and the whole thing is put on top of a steaming bowl of rice. The saucy eggs mixed into white rice is divine.

chicken & egg

Chang’s Chicken and Egg was inspired by oyako-don, but is nothing like traditional oyako-dons you find in most Japanese restaurants. The chicken is cold-smoked for understated smokiness, onions are eliminated, and eggs are slow-poached.

de-boning chicken drumsticks

Compared to regular oyako-dons, Momofuku’s chicken and egg is a long process. Again, like many of his recipes, when you have everything prepared in advance, cooking time is not long, but the preparation is what kills you.

chicken in salt-sugar brine

The recipe calls for boneless legs but I substituted drumsticks, just because my local grocery store didn’t have whole legs at the time. I deboned the drumsticks, which I actually like doing. My mom taught me how to debone chicken when I was pretty young. I wanted to have a Japanese themed birthday party with homemade teriyaki chicken and of course she didn’t want to spend the extra money on deboned chicken. Deboning 10+ pounds of chicken gave me a lot of practice so now I’m pretty fast at it.

chicken and bacon in pork fat

After deboning, the chicken is cold-smoked, or if you don’t have a kettle grill (who does?) you can confit the chicken legs in pork fat with bacon in a 180˚F oven.

chicken in pork fat after its chilled completely

After 50 minutes in oven, the chicken is removed and completely cooled until the fat becomes solid again. I always wonder though, if pork fat solidifies so easily, what happens when we eat it? Does it solidify in our veins?! Sometimes, curiosity is not a good thing. Anyway, once your chicken is completely cool you can leave it in the fridge for up to a week.

chicken after being confited in pork fat

When you’re ready to eat and you’ve had the foresight to have your chicken and slow-poached eggs waiting for you in the fridge, the dish is really easy to put together. Start off by making some rice. I don’t know about yours, but my rice cooker takes about 45 minutes to cook rice. On top of that I recently bought a bag of koshihikari rice which needed to soak in water for 30 minutes before cooking.

koshihikari rice

Needless to say, even with my planning ahead, we still had a long wait ahead of us. While the rice cooker was doing it’s thing I made some quick-pickled cucumbers. Then I pan-fried the chicken skin side down in a cast-iron skillet using another cast-iron skillet to weigh it down.

pan-fried chicken being weighed down by another cast-iron skillet

When the rice was cooked, the eggs warmed under hot tap water, the chicken pan-fried, the green onions sliced and the cucumbers quick-pickled it was easy to toss everything into a bowl. And what a bowl it was! Perfect eats on a rainy day. Smoky, crisp-skinned chicken, crunchy cucumbers, poached egg broken into sticky short grain rice all came together into a glorious mess of flavours. This is comfort food at its best: simple, satisfying, warm-your-soul deliciousness.

chicken, quick-pickled cucumbers, rice, slow-poached egg, green onions

oh-so-juicy chicken

chicken & egg

Quick Salt Pickled Cucumbers

kirby cucumbers

The name of the recipe says it all: cucumbers are quickly pickled in salt and sugar. There’s more sugar than salt in the pickles, but I don’t think “Quick Sugar Pickles” is as tantalizing. These pickles really are quick. Slice up some kirby cucumbers, toss in a 3:1 mix of sugar to salt, wait twenty minutes, eat!

slicing cucumbers

Cucumbers are fresh, crisp and delicious unadorned, but quick pickling them turns them into addictive little coins of goodness! The salty-sweet combination cannot be beat. Mike used to eat cucumbers with sugar when he was little and I always thought the idea was kind of disgusting, but now I know what he’s talking about. Sugar and cucumbers rock!

cucumbers with sugar and salt

Make these cucumbers for the pork buns, the chicken & egg oyako-don, or just for a quick snack.

Momofuku Pork Buns

pork buns

If Momofuku is famous for one item it’s the steamed pork buns. There’s been a lot of hype about the pork buns, even if they were an “eleventh-hour addition” to the menu. Chang himself admits that the buns are “a take on pretty common Asian food formula: steamed bread + tasty meat = good eating.” It’s true too, there are hundreds of versions of steamed buns and meats, but I have never had one as satisfying as the one I had that first time I visited Momofuku in 2007.

roasted pork belly, buns, quick-pickled cucumbers, hoisin, green onions

Maybe it was because I was really hungry, or maybe it was my giddiness at staying another night in NYC, but that first Momofuku pork bun was so perfect. The combination of sweet hoisin, green onions, roasted pork belly, and crunchy pickled cucumbers wrapped up in the perfect blank slate for flavour, the steamed bun, was handheld satisfaction.

gratuitous pork belly shot

The buns are ridiculously addictive, simple and satisfying. The recipe in the book isn’t really a recipe at all, more a how-to-assemble, as long as you have all of your ingredients ready. You need steamed buns, hoisin sauce, quick-pickled cucumbers, roasted pork belly, green onions and sriracha on the side.

hand-held satisfaction

Flip open your buns, spread some hoisin on both sides, cucumbers go on the bottom half, the top half gets a sprinkling of green onions then slices of roast pork belly are nestled in the middle. Fold up the goodness and eat!

pork buns for two

Damn you pork buns, I want to eat hundreds of you and fall into a food coma.

close up of pork buns