Lo Mai Gai (Sticky Chicken Rice)

The sticky rice parcels are always my favourite dish when I go and eat Dim Sum.

Technically these should be wrapped in lotus leaves, but I have been betrayed by every single Asian market I visited in the city. Parchment paper works fine, but you lose some of the aromas.

The packets, once cooked, can be cooled down and frozen. Then grabbed from the freezer and thrown back into the steamer for a week-night meal with zero brain power involved.

Yields 6 packets, could be stretched easily to 8.

Ingredients

4 cups sweet rice (glutinous rice)
2-3 Chinese sausages halved then sliced thinly
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
Vegetable oil
For the Chicken :
3 skinless boneless chicken thighs
1 tea spoon corn starch
2 tea spoon oyster sauce
1/2 tea spoon Mirin
2 tea spoon dark soy sauce
1/2 tea spoon fresh ground pepper
2 pinches of salt

Rice seasoning :
1 tea spoon mirin
2 tea spoon toasted sesame oil
2 tea spoon oyster sauce
2 tea spoon dark soy sauce
couple of pinches of dried mushrooms
2 shallots, chopped

ingredients

***

1. Cover the rice with water and allow to soak a minimum of 4 hours, preferable overnight.
soak

2. Combine the ingredients for the chicken marinade in a bowl.
marinade

3. Remove any gristle from the chicken thighs and cut into thin strips.
chicken1

4. Toss with the marinade, cover and put in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.
marinade2

5. In a small bowl, combine the liquid ingredients for the rice seasoning.
sauce

6. In a different bowl, put the dried mushrooms.
mushrooms

7. And cover with hot water. Allow to soak for 15 minutes
mushrooms2

8. Drain and chop the mushrooms.
mushrooms3

9. Drain the rice. Take your time and remove as much water as possible.
drain

10. Add the seasoning mix and stir to coat the rice.
season

11. Throw in the shallots and mushrooms.
combine

12. Stir to distribute.
combine2

13. In a skillet, warm the oil and add the garlic.
stuffing1

14. Add the chicken with its marinade and cook, stirring all the while, until some caramelization starts.
stuffing2

15. Add the Chinese sausages.
stuffing3

16. As soon as the chicken is barely cooked through, remove from heat and transfer to a bowl.
stuffing4

17. Get ready to assemble! Scoop 1/2 a cup of the rice in the middle of a parchment paper sheet, closer to the bottom.
assemble1

18. Spoon some of the chicken and sausage mixture over the rice.
assemble2

19. Scoop another 1/2 cup of rice on top.
assemble3

20. Fold the bottom over the rice, then both sides in snugly (fold the edges of the right and left sides if the paper is too wide). Stand the packet straight and shake the rice to the bottom to make sure everything is compact. Fold the top part over (folding the edges if too long). Secure with kitchen twine. Repeat as needed until you run out of rice and/or stuffing.
fold

21. Put the packets in the basket of a steamer for 90 minutes. If you have bamboo steamers, go ahead and use those. Check on the water every 30 minutes to make sure it doesn’t dry out.
steamer

22. Once the time is up the rice should have plumped up nicely.
steamed

23. Cut open to reveal the delicious content. Because I stuff them on their sides one part of the packet ends up having more sauce/caramelization. If using stacked bamboo steamers, this would not be an issue.
open

24. The rice should pull away to reveal the stuffing.
open+stuffing

25. Any portions you don’t plan to eat right away can be put on a cooling rack and chilled.
cooling-tray

26. Then wrapped in plastic wrap and put into a freezer bag for future eating.
freeze

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Shawarma style chicken wraps

There are a lot of “do ahead” steps, but they don’t all need to be done at the same time.

Notes for next time :

  • Cook the chicken on a grill to let the fat drip away
  • Roast the garlic for the yogurt sauce.

Ingredients :
8 chicken thighs
Pita bread

For the marinade
3 table soup olive oil
1 tea spoon cumin
1 tea spoon paprika
1 tea spoon turmeric
1 tea spoon salt
4 garlic cloves, minced
Zest and juice of a lemon
Zest and juice of an orange
Black pepper, to taste

For the garnish
1 red onion
1/2 cup greek yogurt
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 table spoon olive oil
1 tomato, diced
Bread and butter pickles
Iceberg lettuce
ingredients

***

1. Combine the yogurt, garlic and olive oil for the garnish, Set aside and allow to mellow overnight.
garlic-sauce

2. Thinly slice the onion, cover with cold water. Cover and put in the fridge overnight.
onions

3. Combine the marinade’s spices and grind them to a rough powder.
spices

4. In a large bowl, combine all of the marinade ingredients.
marinade1

5. And stir to dissolve the spices.
marinade2

6. Remove the skin and bones from the chicken. Cut each thigh in half. Put in the marinade and stir to coat. Cover and marinade overnight.
chicken

7. Pre-heat the oven to 350F. Cook the chicken on both sides to get some color.
color

8. Finish in the oven until cooked through.
cooked

9. Open the pita bread. Slather with some yogurt sauce. Add the chicken, tomato, lettuce, onions, and pickles to taste. Roll and enjoy.
assemble

 

Seven vegetable couscous

Well, my version of the traditional Moroccan dish anyway. Tasty and makes a lot of food.

Ingredients:
4 bone-in chicken thighs
1 medium onion, chopped
3 tea spoon couscous spices, ground
1 table spoon butter
6 cups water
2 medium onions, quartered
2 small eggplant, sliced in coins
5 carrots, cut in chunks
3 turnip, cut in chunks
3 zucchini, cut in eights
4 medium tomatoes, cut in sixths
1/2 cauliflower, in florets
1/2 lb mergez
1/2 tea spoon ras el hanout
2 cups chickpeas (optional)
ingredients

***

1. Grind the spices.
spices

2. In a large pot, combine the chopped onion, the chicken thighs and the spices.
chicken

3. Add the butter and water. Cover and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and poach for 30 minutes.
water

4. Add the quartered onions, carrots and turnips. Simmer for 20 minutes.
veggies1

5. Add the sliced eggplant. Simmer for 5 minutes or so.
veggies2

6. Add the remaining vegetables and cook for 5 more minutes. At this point you can add the chickpeas, if using.
veggies3

7. You want the vegetables cooked but not mushy (except the eggplant, which will likely fall apart).
veggiescooked

8. Pan grill the mergez.
mergez

9. Serve over couscous, draining extra liquid.
serve

Arroz con Pollo

Well, not a traditional version., but close enough. A nice warm and filling casserole of spicy chicken and savory rice. Reheats beautifully for lunches and has enough depth of flavor that you don’t get bored eating it after a few days.

Ingredients:
1 table spoon apple cider vinegar
2 tea spoon red pepper flakes
2 large cloves of garlic
1 tea spoon salt
1/2 tea spoon pepper
6 chicken thighs (bone in, skin on if you want)
1 onion
2 bell peppers
4 cups chicken stock (1 liter)
generous pinch of saffron threads
1 pint diced tomatoes
1 dried yunnan pepper
1/2 tea spoon cumin
2 bay leaves
2 cups rice
ingredients

***

1. Combine the apple cider vinegar, pepper flakes, minced garlic cloves, salt and pepper.
marinade

2. Put the chicken in a large ziploc bag.
chicken1

3. Pour the marinade over the chicken and massage to coat the meat. Put in the fridge for 1 hour minimum, up to overnight.
chicken2

4. When you’re ready to cook the chicken, chop the onion and bell peppers.
veggies

5. Pour the chicken stock in a large pot and bring to just under a boil.
broth

6. Warm the oil in a large enamel cast iron pot (Dutch oven or French faitout). Retrieve the marinated chicken and add to pot in a single layer over medium to medium-high heat. Allow to cook for a few minutes, just to get some color.
Don’t breathe in the fumes… vinegar and red pepper flames are hard on sinuses.
meat1

7. Flip and color the other side then set aside.
meat2

8. Your broth should be warm by now. Add the saffron, then turn the heat to low and allow to steep.
broth2

9. Drain excess fat from the pot (especially if you cooked your chicken with the skin on).
Add the vegetables to the pot. use the moisture from the onions to scrape up any tasty stuck bits. Cook on medium heat for 2-3 minutes or until softened and the onions start turning translucent.
veggies2

10. Add the tomatoes.
tomato

11. Once the tomatoes are bubbling, add the ground cumin.
cumin

12. Add the rice.
rice

13. Stir the rice until it has absorbed the pan juices, about 3-5 minutes. Return the chicken to the pot.
rice2

14. Add the saffron broth, bay leaves and crumble in the yunnan pepper.
liquid

15. Bring to a boil. Then lower the heat to a low simmer and cover.
liquid2

16. Cover and cook for 20-25 minutes. Then turn the heat off and allow to stand for 10 minutes.
cooked

17. Portion out and enjoy!
portion

Chicken apricot tajine

A simple dish. I can see myself tinkering with it. I’ll write my notes as such in the steps. Not overly spicy but still flavorful and satisfying.

Ingredients
8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
2 onions, diced
2 tomatoes, diced
1 cup chicken broth
20 dried apricots
juice of 1 lemon
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon turmeric
2-3″ of fresh ginger, grated
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 pinch saffron
50g sliced almonds
salt and pepper
olive oil
ingredients

***

1. Pre-heat the oven to 325F.

In a stainless steel skillet, heat the oil. Add the chicken to sear on both sides.
sear chicken

2. Transfer to a tajine pot (or, if you don’t have one, a large enamel cast iron dutch oven, like I did). Add salt and pepper.
transfer chicken

3. In the skillet, add the onions and spices (except the saffron). Cook for a few minutes until the onions are starting to soften and the spices become fragrant, Scrape up as much of the stuck chicken bits as you can.
onions

4. Transfer the onions to the tajine pot. I added the ginger here because I had forgotten it, but for better results add it with the rest of the spices.
transfer onions

5. In the skillet, add the chicken stock, lemon juice, saffron and tomatoes. Bring to a boil and scrape up anything left at the bottom of the pan.
liquids

6. Pour over the chicken. Spread the onions a bit to make sure all the meat is covered. Cover the pot and put in the oven for 40 minutes.
transfer liquids

7. Add the dried apricots and return to the oven for 20 minutes.

* I would probably cut the apricot up a bit and add them a touch sooner to they become a bit softer and impart their flavor to the broth.
apricot

8. Remove from the oven and allow to stand for a few minutes. In the meantime, lightly toast the almond slices.
cooked

9. Serve with couscous and sprinkle the almonds on top.
serve

Chickpea and spinach salad with marinated chicken

Simple, low effort and tasty. The left overs make good lunch, this is great of week-night cooking.

Ingredients
2 cans of chickpeas
1 pack of boneless, skinless chicken thigh 
1 small jar roasted peppers, in oil not brine
3 capers, quartered
Baby spinach (a good handful per plate)
Olive oil
4 lemons
salt & pepper
Dijon mustard
3 cloves of garlic
Fresh basil, to taste
ingredients

***

1. Combine together the juice of 3 lemons, a good amount of olive oil (1/4 to 1/3 of a cup), the garlic, pressed of finely minced, a bit of salt and plenty of black pepper.
marinade

2. Put the chicken in a large freezer bag and pour in the marinade. Massage a bit to make sure everything is coated, then allow to marinate for an hour or so.
chicken-in-marinade

3. The marinade will make the chicken look paler. This is normal. Get the chicken cooking, and discard the marinade.
marinated-chicken

4. Drain and rinse the chickpeas.
chickpeas

5. Remove the roasted peppers from the jar and drain the excess oil. Cut into strips and add to the chickpeas.
add-peppers

6. Add the capers. They add a salty/briny/crunchy element. Skip them if you don’t like them or don’t have any on hand. Olives would probably work instead.
add-capers

7. In a small jar, combine the juice of the remaining lemon, some olive oil and about a tea spoon of Dijon mustard. Add black pepper. Shake until emulsified.
dressing

8. Add the chicken to the chickpeas. Drizzle with the dressing and mix everything together.
mix

9. Serve over a good handful of spinach. Add cut or thorn basil on top. 
plate

Chicken Yassa

A simple and cheap recipe, of Senegalese origins. Very tasty, but very lemony. For best results you’ll want to grill the meat, but my grill is (still) under 3 feet of snow…

Ingredients
3 chicken tights with back attached (or a generous package of boneless, skinless chicken tights)
3-4 lemons (have a few spares if your lemons aren’t giving much juice)
3-4 onions
4 garlic cloves
Black pepper and salt
Olive oil
2 bay leaves.
ingredients

***

1. Juice the lemon. You want to end up with roughly 2/3 cup of lemon juice, or a bit over.
juice

2. Slice the onions. You don’t want them too thin.
onions

3. In a vessel large enough to contain the chicken (I used a pyrex baking dish), spread half the onions and half of the lemon juice.
DSCF3207

4. Nestle the chicken on top of the onions. I removed the skin but you can leave it on if you will grill the chicken.
add-chicken

5. Add the remaining onions and lemon juice. Press the garlic (or mince finely) and add to the dish. Throw in the bay leaves and cover generously with pepper and a good pinch of salt.
pile-on

6. Drizzle generously with olive oil and mix, ensuring the chicken is well coated.
Cover with cling wrap and allow to marinate in the fridge for 2-3 hours.
mix

7. Once marinated, sear the chicken then transfer to a 400F oven.
sear

8. Pour all the marinade and onions into the skillet used to brown the meat (or a skillet, if grilling). Make sure to loosen up any and all stuck tasty bit at the bottom (you want to deglaze with the marinade).
pour

9. Bring to a boil for a couple of minute then drop to medium heat and cook the onions down until soft, sweet and almost melting.
cook-down

10. Spoon the onion and lemon sauce over the chicken when ready to eat.
Serve with white rice and the vegetable of your choice.
plate2