31 May 2012

Try this: Chocolate from Newfoundland & Labrador (also called Chocolateland, Canada's 10th province)

Some of you might know me as being curmudgeonly, sourfaced, and the resident naysayer (I love these terms of endearment).

However, when you get chocolate gifts like these, directly from St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador by the Newfoundland Chocolate Company, one can't help but melt over the adorable hand-drawn depictions of Canadian maritime streetscapes.

I mean, just look at them... wouldn't you want to live in a cute little house like this filled with chocolate? I don't even like chocolate and I would, just so I could pull a Homer.
Newfoundland Chocolate Company chocolate bars
[Newfoundland Chocolate Company chocolate bars: Extra Smooth, Island Almond and Wildberry. I would eat those houses. Oh yeah, I already did.]

And the chocolate was good too. 

(Thanks, Tara!)

08 May 2012

Garlic ginger onion sauce for Chow's (lame-looking) Hainan-style chicken and rice

The best thing in the world is Hainan chicken rice (海南雞飯, sometimes called Hainan oily chicken rice by ignorant translators).

It's not the best thing in the world because of the poached fresh and flavourful chicken with an inverted mound of steamed chicken-infused rice... It is the best thing in the world because of the accompanying dipping sauces.
[Ugly platter of Hainan chicken rice and some overcooked gai-lan (Chinese broccoli); I stepped out to watch Jeopardy! for 2 minutes and that's how they got overcooked. Alex Trebek is a riveting host.]
Hainan chicken rice is often served with just two sauces -- three, if you're lucky! Usually, it's some variant of a chili sauce, some watered down version of nam pla, straight-up pounded ginger, oyster sauce mixed with soy sauce, and/or (my fave) minced garlic with ginger and onion and chilis (if I had children, this one would be the one getting all the Ghostbusters toys it wanted).

Cooking the chicken is a slightly arduous a process; most of the time is spent waiting, but this chicken dish is well-worth the wait.

I won't get into details about cooking the chicken and rice, but if your Canto is good, you can probably figure it out with the help of Hong Kong celebrity master chef, Master Chef Ko (sometimes he's called High Master but it has nothing to do with drugs).

Here's my take on my favourite one...

Garlic, ginger and green onions dipping sauce
2 Tbsp (30 ml) fresh ginger, finely chopped (~1 inch piece) (NOT processed)*
2 Tbsp (30 ml) fresh garlic, finely chopped (NOT minced or pressed)
2 Tbsp (30 ml) green onions (spring onions), finely chopped
1 tsp (5ml) chopped, fresh red chilis (or more if you're a masochist)
1 Tbsp (15 ml) fish sauce (nam pla) or soy sauce if you are a fish-hater
1/2 tsp (2 ml) to 1 tsp (5ml) salt
1/4 cup (75 ml) vegetable oil 

* You don't want to process the ginger or garlic because the juices will dissipate. Best to hand chop them. Or if you have no hands, ask someone who has hands, or a slapchop doodad.
  1. In a medium heat-proof bowl or mason jar, mix the ginger, garlic, onions, fresh chilis together with the salt. 
  2. In a small frying pan or saucepan, heat the vegetable oil until hot but not smoking. When ready, pour the hot oil over the mince mix. It will be hot, so don't get any oil spattered on you. 
  3. Serve with your chicken or eat straight out of the bowl.
I realise that I need Chinese chicken carving lessons from Fat Auntie, so spare me the criticisms. I get hassled enough at home.