Coca Cola Chilli Chicken

cola chicken

I’ve always been fascinated by recipes that use coca cola.  There’s something a little naughty about cooking with a drink my mother wouldn’t let me drink as a child. Maybe it’s also the fact that it’s such an artificial but addictive flavour that makes it seem just a little edgy.  A glass of orange juice may be just as sweet but wouldn’t seem half as wild.

To be honest, I don’t often drink cola and when I do I usually have the diet versions, but for cooking you need the sugar that’s in the real thing.   I  have no idea what it would be like made with Diet Coke but I’m not going to risk spoiling a meal by having a go.  If you do, please tell me.

In essence, this is a Chinese style dish with a sweet and sticky sauce like so many Chinese dishes have.   The only difference is where the sweet and sticky sauce comes from.  The dish doesn’t actually taste of cola but it does give a rich flavour to the sauce. It is sweet, but not too sweet luckily as I’m not a fan of sweet savoury dishes, which makes me question why I wanted to cook with cola in the first place.   It must be that rebellious streak in me.

I’ve read a lot of cola recipes online over the last few years but this was the first one that I read and then went out and bought a can of coke just so I could make it.   I found it on Milk and Honey and not only did it sound fantastic, the pictures were amazing too.  I’ve adapted it a little by adding more vegetables, more coriander and a little less soy sauce so please do have a look at the original recipe too.

Ingredients – Serves 2

300g chicken, cut into thin slices

1 tbsp cornflour

2 tbsp light soy sauce

1 birds eye chilli, sliced

1 thumb-sized knob of ginger, finely diced

2 cloves garlic, sliced

1 can Coca Cola

Large handful of coriander leaves, roughly chopped

Handful of cashew nuts

About 300g vegetables – I used sugar snap peas and baby corn

1 tsp cornflour mixed with 1 tbsp water

How to Make Coca Cola Chilli Chicken

1. Put the chicken, cornflour and soy sauce in a bowl.   Stir well and put in the refrigerator for at least an hour before you make the rest of the dish.

2. Put a little oil in a pan and add the chilli, ginger and garlic.   Fry them for about a minute and then add the chicken.

3. Keep stirring the chicken so it doesn’t stick and when it is beginning to brown, add the cola.  Bring to the boil and then simmer for 10 minutes.

4. While the chicken is simmering.   Heat a dry frying pan and dry fry the cashews.   Keep shaking the pan so they turn over and don’t burn.

5. Add the vegetables and most of the coriander to the pan with the chicken and continue to simmer for about 3 minutes.

6. Add the cornflour and water mixture and stir to thicken the sauce.

7. Serve with rice and top with the cashew nuts and the extra coriander leaf.

As this is my first attempt to cook something using Coca Cola I am linking it to Our Growing Edge, hosted this month by Jules at the Kiwi Diaries.

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Slow Cooker Chinese Chicken Stew with Stir Fried Vegetables

slow cooker chinese chicken (500x318) This slow cooker Chinese chicken dish could be stir fried instead.   I decided to make it in the slow cooker as I wanted all the flavours to have time to develop and to really soak into the chicken to give it lots of taste.    Of course, I could have just marinated the chicken in the sauce ingredients to achieve a similar effect, but I wanted to see what it would be like done this way.

The result is definitely more of a stew than a stir fry, but because the vegetables are just stir fried at the end they keep their crunch and crispness and that’s one of the things I always like about Chinese cooking.  You can see the mange touts are a lovely bright green colour rather than the dull green they would have gone if they had been cooked in the slow cooker, even if they had just been put in near the end.

Ingredients for the Slow Cooker

2 chicken breasts, sliced

1 tbsp soy sauce

1 tbsp rice wine

1 tsp sesame oil

1/2 tsp Chinese five spice

1 chilli pepper, finely sliced

Ingredients for the Stir Fry

250g mushrooms, sliced

Handful of mangetouts

1/2 small onion, sliced

A little oil

How to Make Slow Cooker Chinese Chicken Stew with Stir Fried Vegetables

1. Put the chicken in the slow cooker and mix together all the other ingredients and stir to make sure the chicken is well-coated in the sauce.   Add drop of water so there is enough liquid to just cover the chicken. Cook for 4 hours.

2. Just before you are going to serve the meal begin the stir fry.    Heat some oil and then fry the mushrooms for a minute.   Add the mangetouts.  Cook for another minute then add to the contents of the slow cooker.   Stir to combine and then serve with rice.

I am linking this to the Slow Cooker Challenge, hosted by Janice at Farmersgirl Kitchen. I am also linking to Made with Love Mondays at Javelin Warrior’s Cookin w/luv.

slow cooker challengeMadeWLuvMondays

Chicken Noodle Salad (Ji Shi Liang Mein)

When my husband came home from work and announced he had a present for me, I couldn’t have been happier when he presented me with Ken Hom and Ching-He Huang’s Exploring China: A Culinary Adventure: 100 recipes from our journey, which is the book to accompany the series which is currently on BBC2 on Sunday evenings. I already have books by both these cookbook authors and another one is very welcome. I immediately began looking through to decide what to make first. I’d just done a big supermarket shop so I was looking for something that did not require any ingredients I didn’t have. Luckily I had everything for this salad. Now, I usually eat noodles hot and so I wasn’t quite sure about it. I was secretly tempted to serve it hot anyway, but I resisted. In fact, the good thing about it was that it was a salad so I could prepare it earlier in the day and didn’t have to do everything in the evening. What I loved most was the peanut sauce and even though my husband doesn’t like peanut butter, he also thought it was a great dish.

I made one or two changes to the original recipe. I added spring onions and used a fresh chilli pepper.  I also used fewer noodles but think there were still a few too many. We both had huge portions, which didn’t bother us, but if you have a smaller appetite, then just 100g would be enough for two people.

Ingredients – serves 2

150g egg noodles (would only use 100g next time)
200g chicken
1 carrot
100g cucumber
3 spring onions
1 small red chilli pepper
Handful of coriander (cilantro)
1 tbsp toasted sesame oil

Dressing Ingredients
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp clear rice vinegar
1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tbsp peanut butter
1 tbsp water
Juice of 1/2 lemon

How to Make Chicken Noodle Salad

1. Poach the chicken and leave to cool.
2. Cook the noodles according to instructions on the packet. Drain. Rinse in cold water and then stir in the sesame oil to prevent them from sticking together.
3. Using a mandolin or vegetable peeler, peel the carrot and cucumber into strips. Chop the spring onions, slice the chilli and chop the herbs. Reserve a little of the chopped coriander and put the rest of these ingredients in a bowl with the noodles.
4. Mix all the ingredients for the dressing. Beat with a fork to combine well.
5. Combine the dressing with the noodles. Stir well so the dressing coats everything. Divide between two plates.
6. Shred the chicken with two forks and put it on top of the noodles. Scatter the reserved coriander on the top and serve.

Courgette and Mushroom Stir Fry

I love cooking stir fries and I make them very often but because of that, I don’t usually photograph them and put them on the blog.  However,  I’ve recently started using cornflour more often to thicken the sauces and also rice wine vinegar which gives a slightly pickled flavour and goes really well with the courgettes in this one.  I find that sometimes Chinese stir fries can be a bit salty because of the soy sauce so using a thickener like cornflour and water helps make the sauce go further but also stops it from being too salty.  Because of the strong flavours in the soy sauce it is still very tasty and certainly doesn’t taste at all watered down.

I am linking this to the Veggie/fruit a month event.  This month hosted by Cooks Joy, who is also hosting Kalyani’s Only Vegan event.

Ingredients – Serves 2

1/2 courgette (zucchini), sliced

6-7 medium-sized mushrooms, sliced

1 small onion, sliced

1 chilli pepper, sliced

Small knob ginger, finely diced

1 garlic clove, sliced

1 tsp cornflour dissolved in about 60-80ml water

1-2 tbsp soy sauce

1 tbsp rice wine vinegar

Handful cashew nuts

How to Make Courgette and Mushroom Stir Fry

1. In a dry frying pan toast the cashew nuts until they begin to brown.   Set aside.

2. Heat a little oil in a wok.  Add all the vegetables and stir fry for 2 minutes.   Add the soy sauce, rice wine vinegar and cornflour mixture.  Bring up to the boil and let it bubble for about a minute.

3. Stir in the cashew nuts and serve with rice or noodles.

Homemade Instant Noodle Soup

Soup is the perfect meal for winter, but you wouldn’t catch me eating a pot noodle.    Oh no, I like to make my own soup, and even an instant soup can be quick and easy to make.   The only way in which this is more time-consuming than making up a shop-bought instant soup, is that you have to spend a couple of minutes chopping up vegetables and squeezing a lime, but how long does that take most people? 

I have to be honest, I would never have come across this recipe if it wasn’t for coming across the blog, Jo’s Kitchen and her new event, River Cottage Rocks.   Obviously she’s a big fan of The River Cottage.  Now, although I have a largish collection of recipe books, I don’t actually have any River Cottage ones yet, but I’ve seen a lot of recipes online and watched lots of Mr Fearnley-Whittingstall’s tv shows so I decided to have a look online for inspiration.   

As the theme was ‘everyday easy’, I was looking for easy, quick after-a-busy-day-at-work type recipes and I soon came across about 4 different instant noodles recipes.   The recipe I made is adapted from this one for hot sweet and sour noodles.  I’m not really a fan of sweet and sour.   I like savoury things to taste savoury, so I of course omitted the sweetness, used a different selection of vegetables, more chopped chilli, fresh ginger and added lots of fresh coriander too to add extra flavour.  

Well, perhaps the extra chilli was a mistake – it was very very hot!   But apart from that, it was definitely a success, very tasty, still crunchy vegetables, and the noodles I used, although designed to be boiled for 2.5 minutes were properly rehydrated after 6 minutes standing in the hot soup.  Definitely the way to go for noodle soups from now on.

I would also like to submit this to February’s No Croutons Required, hosted by Jacqueline at Tinned Tomatoes.   The theme this month is fresh herbs.

Ingredients – Serves 2

2 nests of thin dried noodles

1 green chilli, thinly sliced, some seeds removed

4 mushrooms, thinly sliced

6 baby sweetcorn, sliced

Handful of sugar snap peas, sliced

2 spring onions, sliced

Small piece of root ginger, diced

1 tsp vegetable bouillon powder

2 tbsp soy sauce

Juice of 1 lime

2 tbsp chopped coriander

How to Make Homemade Instant Noodles

1. Put a nest of noodles in the bottom of each bowl.   Divide the chopped vegetables between each bowl.  Sprinkle with bouillon powder

2. Pour boiling water over each bowl so all the vegetables are covered.   Leave for 5-6 minutes.

3. Divide the coriander between each bowl.   Squeeze half a lime into each bowl and add a tbsp of soy sauce to each and serve immediately.

Asian Chicken Noodle Soup

It’s been a very dull grey start to the new year.   Every time I look out of the window it seems to be drizzly and damp and it just makes me want to stay inside and hibernate.    After all the excesses of Christmas I also feel like I need something healthy to eat – something savoury and virtually fat-free.   Soup, but not a rich creamy soup, a fresh Asian soup, something like this, brimming with green vegetables, garlic and ginger.   I’m sure if you had a cold this would also be just the thing.

I was surprised when I looked through my blog and discovered that although I have posted three noodle soups in the past, none have involved chicken, although I know I have made plenty of chicken noodle soups.  I probably assumed each time I made it that I had already written about it.    Anyway, apart from liking chicken soup and it being something I do occasionally make, I also had another reason for making chicken noodle soup this month.    I wanted to make something for Tina’s Crazy Cooking Challenge which this month involved making a noodle soup from a recipe found on another blog. The recipe I eventually decided on was from Jenna at Eat Live Run and can be found here.   I’ve adapted some of the quantities and the cooking times but it’s almost the same.  I have used sesame oil before in stir fries but never in a soup and it adds a lovely rich nutty taste.   Overall, it makes a lovely quick, easy and light dinner.

I am also sending this to Deb at Kahakai kitchen for Souper Sundays and to Nazima at Working London Mummy and Laura at How to cook good food.  Nazima and Laura are the hosts of the One Ingredient Cooking Challenge.  This month the theme is poultry.

Ingredients – Serves 2

2 chicken breasts, sliced into strips

1 clove garlic, crushed or finely diced

1 small piece of fresh ginger, finely diced

1 tbsp sesame oil

400ml chicken stock (approx)

1 green chilli pepper, thinly sliced

1 large spring onion (or 2 normal ones)

1 tbsp soy sauce

1 tbsp rice vinegar

1 Pak choi, chopped

2 nests of dried noodles

Chopped fresh coriander (cilantro)

How to make Asian Chicken Noodle Soup

1. Put the sesame oil in a saucepan and add the ginger and garlic.   Cook for a minute, stirring, then add the chicken strips.

2. When the chicken has turned white on all sides, add the hot chicken stock and chilli pepper.   Simmer for about 5 minutes.

3. While the soup is simmering, cook the noodles according to the pack instructions.

4. Add the pak choi and most of the onion and the coriander to the soup.    Simmer for another couple of minutes then add the soy sauce and vinegar.   Taste and add extra vinegar, soy, sesame oil or chilli if necessary.

5. Divide the cooked noodles between two bowls, then add the soup.    Sprinkle the extra spring onions and coriander on top.

To see the soups made by other participants int he Crazy Cooking Challenge, click on the link below:

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Chinese Squid

So, I’m back from Croatia and have discovered lots of ways to eat squid, and not just in a seafood pasta.  The squid I had in pasta was very good but the Croats also seemed quite keen on stuffing small ones with cheese and Dalmatian ham before grilling or barbecuing them.   Nice, but the ones I had were a bit tough and slightly overpowered by the strong cheese and ham.   Anyway, Croatian food aside, this recipe is actually one I made before my holiday but didn’t have time to post.   I’ve called it Chinese squid but I’m not sure if the Chinese really would cook it this way – I never had any squid like this when I was in China.    But, without a better name for it…  It’s really important that the squid is cooked quickly so it’s still tender.   The vegetables should also still be crunchy and  light – but you don’t need to use these vegetables, I just used what I had.   And finally, the lime gives it all a nice zing.

Ingredients – Serves 2

2 squid, chopped into bite sized pieces

1 green pepper, sliced

1/4 white cabbage, sliced into thin strips

3 spring onions, sliced

1 onion, sliced

1 clove of garlic, sliced

1 knob ginger, sliced into sticks

1 chilli pepper, thinly sliced

2 tbsp flour

3 tbsp soy sauce

Juice of 1 lime

How to Make Chinese Squid

1. Make sure everything is prepared before  you start cooking so you can  cook everything quickly.   Heat a dash of flavourless oil in a wok and about 1/2 cm in a saucepan.  If you are serving it with rice, the rice should be almost ready when you begin.

2. Add all the vegetables to the wok.   Keep stirring.    They will only take about three minutes.    Add the soy sauce and the lime juice at the end.

3. Toss the squid in the flour and then add the squid to the saucepan with the oil.   The squid will only take 1-2 minutes.   It will puff up a bit and turn white.   When ready remove it from the pan with a slotted spoon and put on kitchen roll to drain off the excess oil.

4. Serve the squid on top of the vegetables.

Inspired by Masterchef: Steamed Pork Dumplings

I’ve just got back from a long weekend away so this post is very very late.  Everyone will have forgotten all about this episode by the time I get around to posting.  Masterchef has already finished and I still have one more post to do too.    Well, this dish is inspired by  Jackie, the vegetarian with a love of Asian street food.  So why have they got meat in?   Well, for one of her last dishes she made three dumplings – 2 vegetarian ones and one pork one.    The judges liked the vegetarian ones better.   So again, why the pork?   Well,  I have to be completely honest here.   I just couldn’t remember what stuffing had been used for the other dumplings.   Not a great reason I know, but I also felt like using pork.   Again, my logic may  not quite make sense but I am not a huge fan of dumplings.   I think it’s the soft texture and lack of crispiness.   Even so, I would happily make these again.   They were full of flavour and the rice pancakes made them lighter than a doughy dumpling would have been.

Next weekend I will be posting my last Inspired by Masterchef recipe for this series, but I am planning to do the same for future series’.

Ingredients

300g pork

10 rice paper pancakes

1 clove of garlic, crushed

1 knob of ginger, finely diced

1 chilli pepper, finely diced

1/2 tsp coriander

1 tsp mixed peppercorns, crushed

1 tbsp chopped fresh mint

1 tsp soy sauce

1 tbsp plain flour

Dipping Sauce

2 tbsp soy sauce

1 tbsp sesame oil

1/2  spring onion, finely diced

1 Chilli pepper, finely sliced

How to make Steamed Pork Dumplings

1.Mix all the ingredients for the dumplings.   When the mixture is well combined, form it into meatballs.

2. Fill a bowl with warm water.  Put in one of the rice paper pancakes.  When it is soft and pliable take it out.  Use a teatowel to absorb excess water.  Put a meatball in the middle and wrap the pancake around it.

3. Put all the dumplings in a steamer and steam for about 15 minutes.

4. While the dumplings are steaming prepare the dipping sauce.  Mix all the ingredients together.   Taste and then adjust and seasonings if necessary.

Inspired by Masterchef: Chilli and Black Pepper Tofu

This week on Masterchef all the recipes were vegetarian and so who better to have on the show than Yotam Ottolenghi, who is well-known for his modern vegetarian food.  I have to admit that although I had heard a lot about him I hadn’t ever read any of  his books or looked at any of his recipes before this last week.   However, after making this and seeing the show I will definitely be finding out more and trying other dishes by him.  He also came across well on the show, being supportive of the contestants, approachable and just nice, which cannot always be said for John and Greg.  If I was looking for someone to help, teach and encourage me with my cooking, he is exactly the type I would choose.

I chose to make this dish as it contained lots of chilli, onions, garlic and black pepper.   Also, Ottolenghi said that until he tried this dish, he didn’t really like tofu.  As I would also consider myself to not really like tofu, this seemed like a good dish to make as a first-time tofu cook.   And the verdict:   I would agree with Ottolenghi.   Even if you don’t consider yourself to really like tofu, this dish is delicious.   The flavours soak into the tofu so that in the end the soy sauce, chillies, garlic and black pepper are what you are actually tasting and so if you like those, then you will like this.   The original recipe can be found here on the Guardian website but I have adapted and altered the quantities.

Next week’s Inspired by Masterchef recipe will be published on 2 April.

Ingredients

250g Tofu, cut into bite-sized cubes

2-3 tbsp cornflour

4 large red chilli peppers, sliced into thin strips, discard some seeds, depending how spicy you like it

1 white onion, cut into slices

8 spring onions, sliced so approx 3cm long

Knob of ginger, cut into thin sticks

5 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced

1 tbsp light soy sauce

1 tbsp dark soy sauce

1.5 tsp sugar

1 tbsp crushed black peppercorns

50ml water or vegetable stock

How to make Chilli and Black Pepper Tofu

1. Heat about 1/2 cm of oil in a wok.   Dip the cubes of tofu in the cornflour and then put in the wok.   You will probably need to do this in two batches.  Fry for about 5 minutes then turn over and fry for another 5 minutes or until each side is golden and crispy.    Drain on kitchen paper.

2. Pour away most of the oil.  Keep the temperature hot.  Add the garlic, ginger, chilli and onion. Stir fry for about 2 minutes.

3. Add the black pepper, soy sauces and a little water or vegetable stock.   Bring to the boil then add the tofu. Heat through then add the spring onions.   Give a final stir then serve with rice.

Chicken Fried Rice

One of my favourite Chinese cooks is  Ching-He Huang and this recipe is taken from her book Chinese Food Made Easy.  I didn’t stick exactly to the recipe.  I realised I didn’t have any mushrooms and so used a green pepper instead.  I also didn’t have any Shaohsing rice wine or sherry and so used a teaspoon of white wine vinegar and a teaspoon of sugar to balance out the sharpness of the vinegar. I’m not sure what Ching-He would have made of it but it seemed to work.

Ingredients

2tbsp groundnut oil

1tbsp freshly grated root ginger

3 shallots, finely chopped ( I used an ordinary onion)

3 dried Chinese mushrooms, pre-soaked in hot water for 20 mins, drained and finely chopped (I used a green pepper instead)

225g/8oz skinless chicken breast fillets, finely diced

1tbsp Shaohsing rice wine or dry sherry(I used vinegar and sugar)

1tsp five-spice powder

1tbsp dark soy sauce

50g/2oz dry-roasted peanuts

300g/11oz cooked jasmine rice or glutinous rice

3-4tbsp light soy sauce

1-2tbsp toasted sesame oil

Ground white pepper (I used black pepper)

1 spring onion, finely chopped ( I used 2 spring onions)

1 green chilli (in my version but not in Ching-He’s)

How to make Chicken Fried Rice (My version)

1. Heat a wok and add the groundnut oil. Add the ginger, onion, chilli pepper and peppers and cook for about a minute.

2. Add the chicken and cook for a minute or two, then add the rice wine (or alternative) followed by the five-spice powder. As the chicken starts to turn white, add the dark soy sauce.

3. Add the peanuts and then the rice, mix well and stir-fry for 1 min.

4. Season with the light soy sauce, sesame oil and pepper to taste and stir to mix. Finally, stir in the spring onion.