23 April 2008

Classic Cookbook Night: The Complete Asian Cookbook (Also, Grilled Chicken Show Down)

Sticking with the mid-1970s retro-ethnic cookbook theme, we turn from Tess Mallos's The Complete Middle Eastern Cookbook to Charmaine Solomon's The Complete Asian Cookbook. Why? Because it has the best grilled chicken recipe in history. (Or at least that's what I thought until my most recent foray into China Moon.)

Two Recipes Enter; One Recipe Leaves!

Kai Yang (Garlic Chicken)
Adapted from Charmaine Solomon, The Complete Asian Cookbook (1976)

  • 1 whole chicken, cut into pieces for grilling
  • 6-8 cloves of garlic
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 2 Tbs. black peppercorns
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 2-3 Tbs. lemon juice
Crush peppercorns in a mortar. Add salt and garlic and grind nearly into a paste, keeping some small chunky bits of garlic. Mix the cilantro and lemon juice into the garlic mixture to form the marinade. Marinate the chicken overnight before grilling. Sure, it seems stupidly simple, but I defy you to find a better grilling recipe for chicken (except maybe this next one).

Grilled Chicken With Orange Zest
Adapted from Barbara Tropp, The China Moon Cookbook (1992)
  • 1 whole chicken, cut into pieces for grilling
  • zest of two oranges
  • 2 Tbs. garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbs. ginger, minced
  • 2-3 scallions, roughly chopped and smashed in a mortar
  • 0.25 cu. tamari
  • 0.25 cu. China Moon five flavor oil
  • 2 Tbs. China Moon Hot Chili Oil
  • 1 tsp. China Moon roasted szechuan pepper salt
See here for links to recipes for making the China Moon ingredients. Mix together the marinade ingredients and marinate the chicken overnight before grilling. Baste the chicken pieces with excess marinade while grilling.

So which recipe wins? They are both so damn good!

Time Machine Curry Paste

We also had fun veganizing some of the curry recipes in the Thailand chapter of the The Complete Asian Cookbook, which required making a curry paste. We opted for a red curry paste to make chili fried rice and also a tofu curry the next night. I had borrowed the book from my mom and was surprised to see how fast time flies. She made this curry for the first time nearly thirty years ago now!

Red Curry Paste
Adapted from Charmaine Solomon, The Complete Asian Cookbook (1976)
  • 7-8 hot dried red chilis
  • 1-1.5 yellow onions
  • 1.5 tsp. black peppercorns, toasted and ground in a mortar
  • 3 tsp. cumin seeds, toasted and ground in a mortar
  • 1.5 tsp. coriander seeds, toasted and ground in a mortar
  • 2 Tbs. cilantro, roughly chopped
  • zest of one lime
  • 1-2 Tbs. lemon grass, shaved through a microplane
  • 1-2 Tbs. galangal root, shaved through a microplane
  • 1 Tbs. garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1-1.5 Tbs. shrimp paste (the paste, not the dried shrimp paste that comes in a block)
  • 2 Tbs. peanut oil
  • 1 tsp. tumeric
  • 2 tsp. paprika
Whiz everything to a paste in a food processor. Hey presto. It gets better as it sits. Also, it's not as concentrated as the curry pastes that come in a can, so you need to use a fair bit more than most recipes call for. The recipe doesn't seem very authentic, but it's nonetheless fairly good.

Things learned: just don't even bother cooking with a low or reduced fat coconut milk. (Also, making your own coconut milk is easy.)

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