Sunday, September 26, 2010
Instant dinner for unexpected guests...
It was a pleasant surprise to see inter-state friends whom we haven't seen for awhile at the door, after answering the door bell. Since it was near dinner time, we insisted that they stayed for dinner with us. When dinner was served, they expressed surprise at the short time I needed to whip up a dinner while still able to have a couple of beers with them during the preparation. Of course, the revelation that I often use some commercial flavouring should come as no surprise when time is a factor. It is an open secret that chefs have been adding commercially made ingredients to perk up their food ever since monosodium glutamate (MSG), bouillon cubes and chicken powder were invented. If you use them judiciously, your family and dinner guests need never know. The trick is to use them austerely and your diners do not get a MSG hangover. Or else they'll drinking be jugs of water after the meal or worst still nursing a headache not from the wine but from the end result of consuming the MSG laden food.
Be on guard, especially with ingredients such as canned stock and bouillon cubes, they taste pretty awful on their own if used straight from the carton to make a consomme. But they can be acceptable only if they are heavily diluted and mixed with other ingredients.
As for last night dinner, I used a popular commercially prepared Tom Yum paste for this chicken dish. I added the fresh kaffir lime leaves and lemon grass to the paste and if I hadn't told anyone that the store available tom yum paste was in there, my dinner guests would never have guessed. It was well disguised by the other fresh ingredients that I had added to this distinctive Thai dish.
Fried Chicken with Tom Yum Paste Recipe:
1kg. chicken pieces.
4 tbs instant tom yum paste
1 onion thinly sliced
1 pc. lemon grass bruised and cut into 50mm length
3 pcs. kaffir lime leaves bruised.
2 tbs. oil
1 cup water.
Heat oil in a wok and add onion. Cooked onion until soft and add chicken pieces. Brown chicken and add tom yum paste together with lemon grass and kaffir lime leaves. Stir fry the chicken with paste until fragrant. Add water and cook until the chicken is cooked.