Spicy Szechuan shredded chicken

After cooking a roast dinner the other day I had a lot of leftover chicken that was calling out to be finished up and this is where this simple but spicy Szechuan shredded chicken comes in. Szechuan pepper is a wonderful ingredient that is well worth using if are not familiar with it and have not cooked with it. It brings a warmth along with citrus notes that really lift a dish. I also served this with homemade spring rolls and salt and pepper prawns for a midweek feast.

As I say I used leftover roasted chicken for this however you can roast chicken thighs or legs in advance if you don’t have any spare; avoid breast meat if you can as it tends to dry out quickly. I have purposefully left the chicken quantities more vague than usual- I often struggle to eat much meat in a meal however when it came to this I couldn’t help but have seconds…and thirds… Just remember that leftover beef would also work a treat! Cashews are also a welcome addition if you like too.

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Ingredients- serves 2-3
Roasted chicken thighs or legs- 1-2 per person depending on appetite
1 tbsp cornflour
Red and yellow bell pepper- chopped
Handful of unsalted cashews
2 tbsp vegetable or groundnut oil
2 garlic cloves- crushed
1 inch piece of fresh ginger- grated
1 tsp Chinese chilli oil
3 tbsp dark soy sauce
3 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 1/2 tbsp runny honey
2 tbsp water with 1 tsp cornflour mixed in

1. Start by heating the oil in a wok to medium. Shred the chicken into pieces and toss in the cornflour. Begin to fry off in the oil and stir from time to time. You want chicken which is golden and starting to crisp up in places. When just crisping up, add in the chopped pepper and cashews; stir well.

2. In the meantime, combine all the remaining ingredients in a bowl. Choose a small pan and simmer the sauce until thickening and glossy. Tip into the chicken and toss to coat. Serve immediately with rice or noodles.

Spicy Szechuan shredded chicken- love your leftovers with this super speedy midweek meal!

 

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Chicken yakitori bites

Chicken yakitori is a well known Japanese dish which lends itself to enjoying with an ice cold beer in hand. It is usually cooked on skewers and grilled but I have chosen to break with tradition and cook the chunks of chicken separately on a griddle for extra caramelisation. Most recipes ask you to strain your sauce of ginger and garlic goodness however I found that you don’t need to do this as, if you are careful, the sauce won’t burn and you’re still left with a hit of those fantastic flavours.

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Ingredients- serves 2
250g boneless chicken thigh- cut into bite sized pieces
50ml soy sauce
30ml mirin
25ml sake
1 tbsp caster sugar
2cm piece of ginger- grated
1 garlic clove- crushed
1 tsp cornflour mixed with 1/2 tbsp water

1. Kick off by adding the soy sauce, mirin and sake together before adding in the sugar, ginger and garlic. Heat over a low heat and bring it to a simmer. Cook until the sugar has dissolved and the ginger and garlic are softening. Add the cornflour mixture and cook further until the sauce is thickened and glossy.

2. Take the sauce from the heat and allow to cool. As I say, I don’t strain the sauce as I like the ginger and garlic but you can sieve it at this stage if you like. When the sauce is cool, coat the chicken chunks with the majority of the sauce but reserve a small amount for later. Place the chicken in a covered bowl and refrigerate for at least an hour.

3. When you are ready to get cooking, warm a griddle pan to medium and cook the chunks of chicken until cooked through. This should take around 8-10 minutes depending on how large your chunks are. Halfway through cooking brush the remaining sauce over the chicken. The result should be tender and caramelised chicken. Serve with rice if you like and eat immediately. A flourish of toasted sesame seeds or crunchy shredded spring onion is also delicious.

Caramelised yakitori bites- crack open a beer and enjoy!

 

Sticky Szechuan pepper prawns

Now this is a must cook dish! Szechuan pepper prawns are sweet, sticky and spicy which in my mind is the perfect combination for these juicy beauties. Szechuan pepper can be bought in Chinese supermarkets or online from http://www.souschef.co.uk (I challenge you to have a look on this site and only buy what you were originally looking for!). The pepper gives a tingle and I toast my peppercorns before using to bring out the flavour. I also used kicap manis in this recipe which is an Indonesian soy sauce that adds a savoury hit which balances the sweetness of the honey. What are you waiting for? Read on!

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Ingredients- serves 2
200g raw peeled king prawns
1 tbsp runny honey
1 tbsp kicap manis
1 tsp Szechuan peppercorns
1 garlic clove- crushed

1. Start off by toasting the peppercorns- simply take a small pan and heat the peppercorns over a medium/ high heat for a couple of minutes. Don’t give them too long otherwise they will burn and turn bitter so keep an eye on them. When they’re ready, grab a pestle and mortar and roughly grind them. You’re after a coarse grind rather than dust!

2. For the marinade mix the honey, kicap manis, pepper and garlic and pop the prawns in. Cover and leave in the fridge for aroud 30 minutes. When you are ready to cook, take a small frying pan and add the excess marinade. Cook for a couple of minutes over a medium heat until it starts to thicken and turn lovely and glossy. Add in the prawns and toss to coat in the sticky sauce. The prawns should need around 3-4 minutes depending on their size. And that’s all there is to it! I served the prawns with a simple vegetable and noodle stir fry.

Sweet, sticky and spicy Szechuan pepper prawns- a tingly taste of heaven! I mean, just look at them…

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Spicy Chinese XO prawns

Chinese XO sauce is made using a blend of dried shrimp, scallop and pork as well as a host of spicy additions. I was bought a jar of it and it kept looking at me saying ‘use me, use me’ in the cupboard so use it I did. XO packs a punch so keep the rest of the ingredients simple as I have in this recipe.

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Ingredients- serves 2
200g raw king prawns- peeled and deveined
1 small red bell pepper and 1 small green bell pepper- cut into chunks
1 garlic clove- finely sliced
2 cm piece of fresh ginger- finely sliced
1/2 red chilli- finely sliced (optional)
1 tbsp dark soy
1 tsp rice wine
1- 1 1/2 tsp XO sauce

1. Start off by making sure all the ingredients are prepped as once you get going this is super quick. Mix the rice wine, soy and XO sauce in a small dish and set aside.

2. Heat a glug of groundnut or vegetable oil over a medium/ high heat in a wok. Throw in the ginger, chilli and garlic and fry off for a minute or so being careful that the garlic does not start to burn. Pop in XO sauce mixture and cook for a further minute before adding the peppers for a further minute. Make sure the peppers are well coated in the sauce and then in go the prawns. Cook until the prawns are cooked through and a gorgeous blush pink. Serve in warmed bowls with rice and get munching! You can also stir through some shredded spring onion at the end if you like which is also delicious.

Spicy XO prawns- why stop there? Try it with chicken, pork or even tofu!

Speedy togarashi salmon

What on earth is togarashi I hear you cry? It’s a Japanese combination of spices which is warming with a citrus note so it is perfect with salmon and chicken. This recipe allows the togarashi to speak for itself so keep it simple, there’s no point using such a great ingredient if you can’t taste it! I bought the mix at http://www.souschef.co.uk so give it a go and keep in the cupboard for a quick dinner fix.

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Ingredients- serves 2
2 boneless salmon fillets
1 tbsp dark soy
1 tbsp mirin
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp togarashi

1. Start off by lining a baking try with foil and drizzling a small amount of vegetable oil over it to prevent the salmon from sticking. Nobody wants salmon that’s been wrenched off the tray! Combine the soy, mirin and honey in a small bowl and marinade the salmon for between 20- 30 minutes.

2. When you are ready to cook the salmon, simply remove the fillets from the bowl and place on the tray. Sprinkle over the togarashi before popping in the oven on a 180c/ 160 fan heat for 15-18 minutes until the salmon is cooked through.

Serve with noodles or rice and a side dish of your choice. Asian greens that have been lightly stir fried and finished with a little sesame oil are delicious here.

Togarashi salmon- quick, easy and a great introduction to a new combination of flavours!