AFC GRILLED : Chef Sean Connolly

An evening of good food.

Lap Cheong Watermelon Bites

An asian take on watermelon bites!

Baked Fish with Kiwi in Sweet and Sour Sauce

Add a twist to sweet and sour fish!

Semperit Pandan Cookies

Cute cookies for the festive season!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Mango Chicken

This is probably the yummiest dish I've ever made and I say this only because it is hard for me to resist the charm of the mango. Don't you just love 'em? I can understand people avoiding the Durian or Tarap but I'm pretty sure the mango is welcome in most homes!

When cooking with mangoes, I opt for simplicity. The mango provides a natural flavour that is so delicious that I try not to mess it up with too much seasoning. A pinch of salt and pepper is as far as I go.

Here's how I did this.

- 2 chicken leg quarters
- 1 large sweet mango (diced, seeded)
- 3 cloves garlic (chopped)
- ½ tsp meat curry powder
- 1 bunch asparagus (about 20-30 spears)
- 1 tbsp cooking oil
- Salt and pepper

1) Marinate chicken with curry powder, salt and pepper. Bake at 180c for 45 minutes in the oven. Do not throw the chicken juice away.

2) Stir-fry asparagus in cooking oil with a bit of garlic and a pinch of salt. Leave aside.

3) To make the mango sauce - Pour chicken juice into pan. Stir-fry that with the remainder of the garlic. Add the mango. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook until the mango is slightly tender and starts to look like gravy.

4) Finally, assemble cooked asparagus on a plate. Lay the chicken on top and pour the gravy over. Voila!

Baked curried chicken

Assemble on plate - first asparagus, then the chicken, finally the sauce

Diced mango

Chicken juice, garlic and mango - the gravy


Friday, March 15, 2013

Fish Maw Soup

Fish maw, otherwise known as dried swim bladders, is perfect in stews, soups or braised. It is good with wet dishes largely because it easily absorbs flavour from other ingredients it is cooked with. On its own, it is tasteless.

It is said that fish maw is rich in collagen but whether this is scientifically proven is beyond me. The ones I use for cooking are, after all, dried products.

Fish Maw Soup - Garnished with Spring Onion

Fish Maw Soup happens to be a household favourite, a potful easily gulped away in one dinner sitting! I usually cook this with a lot of pepper. It gives this simple dish a lot of punch.

Here's the recipe, if you're keen to try.

- 2 cloves garlic (chopped)
- 70g / a small bowl of spongy fish maw
(Pre-soaked in water an hour or two until spongy. Rinse away as much oil as you can and then, slice into pieces)
- 200g chicken bone parts (I opted for chicken feet and neck)
- A handful of sliced cabbage
- 1.5L water
- Salt and pepper to taste (Optional: a pinch of chicken stock granules)

1) Boil all the ingredients together, until the cabbages are really limp and soft.

2) Season to taste with salt, but be generous with the pepper (optional- a pinch of chicken stock granules). It is fine if you don't want it too peppery, but as we Malaysians say it, "No kick-lah" (No oomph!).

The four ingredients

All in the pot

Peppery Fish Maw Soup - Yummy!


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Hot and Sour Seafood Soup

The wet weather has been prompting cravings for hot soup to alleviate the chilliness I feel.

I have kiam chye boey, that sour spicy "leftovers" stew, on my mind but cooking that would take three hours at least! Surely too long a wait for this poor soul....and so came about the inspiration for a shortcut, using only some of the key ingredients from the traditional kiam chye boey dish and without the long stew.

Here's what came out of the pot at the end of it all - a clear sour and spicy soup with robust flavours that zapped my senses alert. This was so delicious that I had seconds...SECONDS! Just the perfect thing to have in this cold weather. more!
Hot and Sour Seafood Soup

Hot and Sour Seafood Soup

Ingredients :
- 3 pcs asam keping (tamarind peel)
- 2 pcs sour plum (bottled) 
- 6 green bird's eye chili (seeded and halved)
- ½ large carrot (cut into medium cubes)
- 1 large tomato (quartered)
- 1 rib celery (chopped)
- 1 clove garlic (chopped)
- 1.5 L water
- 1 tsp cooking oil
- Fried fish cakes (2 varieties - the kind for soups)
   ~ 1 palm-sized flat square piece (cut into smaller squares)
   ~ 1 rectangular roll, about 3 inches long (sliced)
- 10 baby squids  
- Salt to taste

1) Heat oil in electrical cooker (that's what I'm using). Add garlic and give it a quick stir-fry.

2) Add tomatoes, carrots, bird's eye chili, tamarind peel and sour plums. Mix well.

3) Add water and bring to a boil. 

4) Once it boils, add the ribbed stem parts of the celery into the pot (leave the leafy parts for last).

5) Cook covered until tomatoes and carrots are tender (which was between 30-45 minutes for me because I wanted more flavour in the soup). 

6) Then, add fish cakes and the remainder of the celery. Season with salt and stir well. Lastly, add the squid. You are done when that is cooked.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Turmeric Roast Chicken

Not overthinking things opens opportunities for creativity. Coming up with new recipes is about exploring beyond our comfort zone. Sometimes it turns out extremely well, sometimes it's just so-so but at the end of the day, it still boils down to personal taste.

Perhaps it was the sun that inspired me that day but there was this great desire to roast chicken with a deep yellow colour. The only ingredient I could think of to achieve this goal was "turmeric". Ooo..nothing else? Yellow curry powder, perhaps!

I went with turmeric and so was born my version of Turmeric Roast Chicken ♥ does look good! Tastes just okay being mildly spicy and sweet-saltish like but not quite what I had in "mind". I had imagined a more robust flavour so I guess I'll be playing around with how I season this the next time I attempt this recipe.

Turmeric Roast Chicken with Potatoes and Onions at the sides

For the paste : 1
½ tsp turmeric powder, 2 medium onions and 2 garlic cloves roughly chopped, bit ginger, 2 red chillies (seeded)  - blend all together with just enough water into a medium thick paste.

For the seasoning, this would be up to you because I'm still working on it. I've got salt, sour plum juice mixed into the paste and then, a bit of honey which I brushed on at the end of baking time.

1) Place the chicken, whole, onto a baking tray. Rub some of the paste all over the chicken.

2) Pour the remainder of the paste onto the chicken and bake this in a pre-heated oven at 190C for 1-2hours (depending on the size of the chicken).

The chicken was basted a couple of times in between because I was excited about keeping the colour intact.

I also brushed some honey onto the chicken in the last 5-10 minutes of baking time, keeping close watch to ensure it doesn't burn. I know what honey does! I could not resist doing this because I really wanted a little "sweet" to top it off.

Turmeric Roast Chicken - In progress

Well, that's that. It's back to the drawing board for me. Happy experimenting!


Friday, March 1, 2013

Solo Garlic (Single Clove Garlic)

I went out to get some garlic and I did. I came home with these beauties - Solo Garlic. I knowwWWwW, right? When did garlic ever look so enticing!

It's nothing like the ones we usually buy ... *sniff, sniff* mild, no strong garlicky smell. I would describe the texture as something in between an onion and the regular garlic.

I did some digging around the internet and discovered that Solo Garlic originates from Yunnan, China. Garlic is generally associated with being great for reducing high blood pressure and cholesterol. I assume the same can be said for Solo Garlic. There is a lack of specifics in write-ups on this particular variety of garlic, leaving my curiosity unanswered.

Cook-wise, I have yet to bake this whole although it has been suggested as the ideal way to appreciate this garlic. Instead, I have been including it into stir-fry dishes, usually in finely chopped bits. It tastes just as good so I don't think it compromised the yummy-ness of our food much. 

My personal opinion? It could be a hit with many people because of its milder smell ... plus, it doesn't cost a bomb.

Solo Garlic - About 1½ by 1½ inches in size
Solo Garlic -Inside

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