Chicken Poblano

One of my colleagues recently told me about something he was watching someone next to him eat at one of his go to Mexican restaurants. As you may be aware, my go to at any Mexican restaurant is tacos or a torta, hands down. But what he was describing was intriguing to say the least. Chicken smothered in cheese and loaded with thinly sliced onions and poblano peppers. What was I supposed to do when I could not shake that thought off my mind? You got it, I went to this place (Casa de Alberto), ordered this dish and was so blown away that I had to recreate it, and I nailed it. This dish is not only way too easy to make, but my wife actually sent me a text as she has been eating the leftovers, that it is one of her new favorites. It’s not only about the cheese, or simplicity, but the combination of all of the ingredients.

Chicken Poblano Recipe
Chicken Poblano Recipe

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs chicken tenders (or chicken breasts, pounded)
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 tbsp cracked black pepper
  • 5 medium sized poblano peppers, seeds removed, thinly sliced
  • 3 cups Chihuahua cheese
  • 2 whole yellow onions, thinly sliced
  • Mexican rice, cooked
  • 1 can refried beans, cooked
  • corn tortillas, warmed, optional
  • 2 tbsp canola oil

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

Heating a large skillet on medium to high heat. Add in one tablespoon of the canola oil and swirl that around. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Add the chicken to the skillet and cook for a few minutes on each side.

To another skillet, add the remaining canola oil on medium heat. Add in the onions and poblano peppers and cook just until slightly tender. You still want a bit of a crunch to them. Remove from the heat and top them to the top of the chicken.

Add the cheese, covering the chicken and peppers and place into the oven.

Chicken Poblano Ingredients
Chicken Poblano Ingredients

Cook for about 15 minutes or until the cheese is completely melted.

Remove the skillet from the oven (make sure you have your oven mitt), and get ready to plate.

Using a spatula or large spoon, dig out some chicken, peppers and onions, and serve with the cooked refried beans, rice, and tortillas.

This dish is a stunner. That cheese alone will rock your world, but all together, this is one fantastic dish. Hope you enjoy!

Chinese Walnut Shrimp

We recently got back from a trip from the gulf. It was a trip that was long overdue. We had lots of rest and relaxation, as well as lots of great seafood. The food down there was something I could never get sick of, especially the shrimp. Since we have been back home for a couple of weeks, that shrimp was still on my mind. So as I normally do, I began purging items from our freezer and noticed a big bag of whole shrimp. I was stoked to say the least and knew exactly what I was going to make with them. Chinese walnut shrimp!

I can’t say this would be a dish that I would order at a Chinese restaurant but one I know that my wife loves and has talked about in the past. It was time for me to step up and impress my wife with this simple, and really tasting Chinese walnut shrimp. The kicker is the sauce, and trust me you will love it.

Chinese Walnut Shrimp Recipe
Chinese Walnut Shrimp Recipe

Let’s get started.

Ingredients for the walnuts:

  • 2 cups roughly chopped walnuts
  • 3 cups canola oil
  • 4 tbsp water
  • 4 tbsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Ingredients for the shrimp:

  • 3 tbsp sweetened condensed milk
  • splash of rice vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1/4 cup Japanese mayonnaise or your favorite
  • 1 cup of fine corn meal or cornstarch
  • 1 lb medium shrimp, peeled and cleaned
  • 1 head of broccoli, cut into florets
  • cooked jasmine rice

The oil that will be used to crisp up the walnuts will be reused for the shrimp, so don’t discard it.

You will want to start by heating your oil on medium heat.  As the oil heats, go ahead and make a simple syrup. Heat another small pot on medium heat and add the water and sugar.  Bring that to a simmer, then remove it from the heat. The oil should be heated now.

Add the walnuts to the oil and cook them for a few minutes. Just be careful as you do not want to burn them. After a few minutes, remove the walnuts with a slotted spoon and place on a paper lined plate to remove any excess oil and season with salt.

Once the walnuts are strained, add them to the simple syrup and and give that a good stir, coating all of the walnuts. Add them to a parchment paper lined tray, and try to keep them from sticking together. Set aside.

Chinese Walnut Shrimp Ingredients
Chinese Walnut Shrimp Ingredients

Next, make your sauce. Add the mayonnaise, vinegar, condensed milk, honey, and salt to a mixing bowl, and stir well. Set aside on the counter.

Now to the shrimp. Reheat the oil to about 350 degrees. During this time, add the shrimp to the cornmeal (or cornstarch), and toss them around to make sure they are full coated. Once the oil is heated, take a few shrimp, enough to not crowd the pan of oil, and shake off any excess cornmeal, and gently drop them into the oil. Cook the shrimp for only a few minutes as you want crispy, succulent shrimp.

Place the cooked shrimp in a mixing bowl, season with a bit of salt, and repeat this process until all shrimp are cooked.

Cook your broccoli in boiling water for about two minutes, then blanch them in cold water.  Strain and set aside.

Add the sauce to the bowl of shrimp and gently stir, coating all of the shrimp in that delicious sauce.

Now time to plate.

I like to add cooked rice to a bowl, pack it in, then flip the bowl over onto a large serving plate. Pour the shrimp over the rice, then garnish around the rice and shrimp the broccoli. Pour over the candied walnuts, and now you are in business!

My wife, who did not know I was making this dish was floored and fell in love with it. Real deal is what I think I heard her say, but regardless this had me sold. And that shrimp… oh yeah that shrimp was something to write about. I hope you enjoy!

Laotian Khao Poon

Hands down one of my favorite soups is probably Khao Poon. It is a Norther Thai or Lao soup that is not only super easy to make, but it makes a bunch and screams comfort. It is not a spicy soup, however you can make this as spicy as you want, not only with the broth, but accompanying it with Thai chili peppers. I wanted to make this one for my wife this past weekend because it reminded me when I was laid up with cancer over the summer and my friend Matt stopped by with a batch of Khao Poon that his wife had made. Not only talk about a great friend, but a really comforting bowl of soup during a not so comforting time.

Now my wife is hooked on this awesome soup as well. It’s an easy sell, trust me.

Khao Poon Recipe
Khao Poon Recipe

The cool thing about making this batch is when I was shopping for some ingredients at a local grocery store, is the owner had asked me what I was cooking. I said ‘Khao Poon’, and he was a bit startled and said ‘You know how to make that?’. He asked me about what ingredients I was using and suggested a couple of different things, one being banana blossom. I was intrigued to say the least as it is something I have never used before. So while walking out of the Asian grocery store, I was on my way to making a great batch of Khao Poon.

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 3 whole chicken breasts, skin on, bone in
  • water to cover
  • 2 stalks lemongrass, slightly smashed, optional
  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • 1/2 cup of shallots, minced
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tbsp fresh galangal, skin removed, thinly sliced
  • 4 oz can red curry paste
  • 4 oz can sweet Thai Noodle paste
  • 14 oz can of coconut milk
  • 1 cup of banana blossom, very thinly sliced, optional
  • 4 tbsp fish sauce
  • 3 cups bamboo shoots, roughly chopped
  • 1 whole lime
  • Thai chilies, optional
  • Shredded green cabbage
  • 1 cup bean sprouts, per serving
  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro
  • Khao Poon rice noodles, cooked al dente

Start by adding your chicken to a stock pot and cover entirely with cold water. Bring this to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium. Skim off any scum that floats to the top and discard. Continue cooking for about 45 minutes. This will not only be the chicken that we let cool, shred, and pound a bit, but what is left will be the stock that we use for our soup. Win, win.

Once the chicken is cooked, remove it from the stock, and let it completely cool. Once cooled, remove and discard the skin, and then start shredding the chicken. Once the chicken is shredded, take about half of it and add it to your mortar. Take your pestle and begin pounding the chicken. A few good moments of pounding is all you should need.

Ok, now onto the next step.

Heat a large skillet on medium-high heat. Add in the oil and let it come to temperature. Next toss in the shallots, garlic, and thinly sliced galangal. Let this cook for a minute or so, then add in both of the curry pastes. Give this a good stir, and don’t be alarmed if this stuff starts popping at you.

Cook the paste, stirring along the way, for about 2-3 minutes, then add in all of the chicken. Give this another good stir, incorporating all of the paste into the chicken. Next add in the coconut milk. Give another good stir, and then pour all of this into the chicken stock. Stir well, bring the stock back onto medium heat, and let it come to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat by half, and then add in the banana blossom, bamboo shoots, and fish sauce. Give another good stir and cook for about 45 minutes.

Khao Poon Ingredients
Khao Poon Ingredients

During this time, make your noodles. Cook them for about 8 minutes, then strain them and rinse them in cold water. Once the water is strained, and the noodles are cooled, take a handful and wind them up into bundles. Repeat until all noodles are in nice bundles.

Have your cabbage, limes, chilies, and herbs ready. Raise the heat on the soup and bring back to a boil. Take a couple of bundles of noodles, or just one, and place in the bottom of a large soup bowl.

Add some bean sprouts, and cabbage, and give a good squeeze of lime. Ladle in a generous amount of khao poon, and top with come bird eye chili. Get your spoon and chop sticks ready! Face down, grab some noodles, slurp, and repeat. It’s all about texture (and flavor) in this bite. You get the crunch of the cabbage and sprouts, the tenderness of the chicken, and my gosh that coconut curry flavor! If you are looking for a flavor bomb, and a comforting soup year round, then this is the one. Hope you enjoy!

Tawainese Fried Chicken Recipe

There are not many ideal times to cook and blog during my work week, primarily because by the time I am done with preparing and cooking for the family, it is dark and the photos are just not that great. I usually get over that fairly quickly and accept that is just how it goes down during the work week. This is one of those photos that are not at all very good, but let me tell you the flavor of this Tawainese fried chicken was pretty amazing. It was one of those quiet times at the table where everyone had their mouths to the fork or just crushing a sandwich loaded with this Tawainese chicken. This is fairly simple to make, and it one that can take on a marinade overnight, or simply for a hour, and then a bit of frying and boom! You have dinner.

Tawainese Fried Chicken Recipe
Tawainese Fried Chicken Recipe

Ingredients for the Marinade:

  • 15-20 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1 thumb sized piece of ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 2 lbs boneless chicken thighs, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup of Shaoxing rice wine

Ingredients for the sauce:

  • 1/3 cup of soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup dark sesame oil
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp corn starch

Remaining Ingredients:

  • 2-3 cups of canola oil
  • 1 1/2 cups of corn starch
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves
  • 2 shallots, sliced
  • 1/4 cup white pepper

Start by blending the garlic, ginger, soy sauce and wine. Blend until smooth. Add this to a sealable plastic bag or bowl, and toss in the chicken. Give it a good massage and this marinade at least one hour, but preferably longer.

When the chicken is done marinading, strain the marinade and get rid of rid. To another bowl, mix the flour and cornstarch. Add in the chicken pieces and get them nicely coated.  Let that sit for a bit while he heat up the oil.

Get the oil in a fry pot and bring this up to about 375 degrees.

Tawainese Fried Chicken Ingredients
Tawainese Fried Chicken Ingredients

Once the oil comes to temperature, add in bits of chicken being careful not to overcrowd, and depending on how big or small you cut these, they are only going to take a few minutes. Cook them until nice, golden and crispy, then remove with a spider or slotted spoon and onto a paper towel lined plate. Season immediately with some of the white pepper, as well as some salt.

Repeat until the chicken is done cooking.

The last step before digging in is to make sure your basil is dry because you are going to fry it. For those who never have taken this step, it can be somewhat overwhelming because it will splatter and look like it might overflow, but only for a couple of seconds. Remove the basil after the sizzling has stopped and remove them with a slotted spoon.

Mix the sauce, then add this to a large skillet on medium heat. Stir to let the sauce thicken, then add in the chicken and lightly coat with the sauce.

Now it is time to plate. Add the chicken to a bowl or plate (sauce and all), shower with the shallots and top with the fried basil leaves.

Dig in and enjoy!