Chicken Yakitori

One of the things I always enjoy in an izakaya with a nice frosty Asahi beer, is Yakitori chicken. It has been demanded that we use the barbecue this year and so we did.

It turns out yakitori is not the hardest thing in the world to cook. put strips of chicken on a skewer, alternating with a couple of centimetres of spring onion. When preparing the sauce, reduce it by half so it’s nice and sticky. The sauce is nothing special, just the usual soy, mirin, sake and sugar combination. Once the chicken is on the grill, keep brushing it with sauce to add to the glaze.

Tare sauce typically looks like:

Don’t sweat the tamari/dark soy sauce thing. Just use Kikkoman lke a normal Asian. Taken from the Great British Chef‘s version of the recipe. And very tasty it was too.

Sweet and sour chicken balls

Sweet and Sour chicken balls

I’m British. I love sweet and sour. Bite me. Last night we had chicken in the fridge, and a small can of pineapple chunks in the cupboard so what better to do but sweet and sour chicken? Actually, sweet and sour pork would have been marginally better, but whatever.

Chicken Balls

Dinner was actually a mashup of two recipes. This one gave lovely, crispy, chicken balls:–takeaway-at-home.aspx

sweet and sour chicken

I was quite surprised at how good they actually where. The combination of self-raising flour, cornflour, garlic powder, salt, pepper, sugar and bicarb made for a really crunchy exterior. Definitely keep the sauce apart from the chicken otherwise it’ll go soggy.

The Sauce

For the sauce, it’s basically a sweeter, more vinegary version of a barbecue sauce. It’s similar in the sense it excites my taste buds just as much, and we go to the great BBC for this one, which was on point:

Hong Kong style

hong kong style

I also learned that Hong Kong style sweet and sour is where the chicken is served in the sauce as more of a stir-fry, rather than having the sauce on the side:

I have fond memories of taking a walk in the evening with my then girlfriend and future first wife, passing the Chinese takeaway, getting a couple of spring rolls and a cup of sweet and sour sauce. Good times.

Taiwanese Sweet and Sour

My new wife doesn’t regard Cantonese as “proper” Chinese, it’s just some regional thing and nowhere near as good as Taiwanese cooking. I beg to differ. I’ve also had sweet and sour in Taiwan and that was REALLY good. Less sweet and LOADS of garlic in the sauce. So maybe I’m agreeing.

This is the legendary Taiwan Duck’s Taiwanese take on it:

Maybe I’m overthinking it, and it’s something I’ll cook only occasionally, but it’s still one of my favourites.

From Asparagus to Jersey Royals! Spring food in England.

English asparagusAutumn is like lady bountiful, great food every where. But for me, spring is the one, when we’re emerging from an impossibly long winter, blinking into nice light evenings, sitting outside the pub or cafe, maybe, and enjoying the coming of the summer. Oh, and the seeds for autumnal bounty are sprouting. For me, the joy of spring was reflected partly in the bounty from this week’s farmers market and partly from the greengrocer:

  • English asparagus. Early in the season, costing maybe £3.50 from the farmers market, later on, £1 from the supermarket for a bunch
  • Jersey Royal potatoes. Those creamy, earthy nuggets slathered in butter
  • Rhubarb. Preferably the slim, forced type, cook to a compote and then put in a crumble

Then, the usual farmer’s market bounty:

  • A chicken!
  • Cavolo Nero, kale, purple sprouting broccoli
  • Carrots
  • 3-seed brown bread like a brick
  • Eggs. Always better than anything you can get from a supermarket
  • Sausages and bacon, the same
  • The butter was disappointing!

So, 2-3 days locavore-ish eating, for not much more than we’d pay in the supermarket. Score!

Do you use a farmer’s market? What do you like to get? Share your thoughts in the comments below!