Monday, September 26, 2011

Grilled Chicken Breast with Cilantro Butter

Now that I have more free time, it makes a great opportunity to eat better.
At the store this week, boneless skinless chicken breast was on sale for $1.99 per pound!  Too good to be true.

Of course, one of the best ways to enjoy chicken breast is grilled, but I always get so wary that I would overcook the breast and make it dry like cardboard  (since poultry always needs to be cooked completely).  Then I thought "I know how to avoid that! I will use a food thermometer so I know exactly when to take the meat off the heat".

When I got home, I sprinkled salt and pepper on the chicken breast, and grilled the chicken breast on the grill pan.  (I really did not want to drag the backyard gas grill out from the garage).

I grilled the chicken on each side for 5 minutes then stuck in the meat thermometer.
The outcome?
The meat thermometer arrow did not move!

Apparently, the last time Jeff used the meat thermometer (which was actaully the 1st time we used it), Jeff dropped it, leaving a crack in the glass on the thermometer display.
I thought "a crack on the display. no biggie. it should still work"
But no, the entire thing was broken.

So I had to do it the old fashioned way -- make a cut into the chicken breast to see if the meat was still raw.  (I hate doing this method, because I feel like too the juices are lost when the meat is poked while it's still cooking).

Apparently, 5 minutes on each side was too little, as the meat was still raw, so I had to cook the meat for an additional 8-10 minutes.

The meat did not come out too bad; it was still moist with some juices (phew), but I made sure to get a meat thermometer next time I'm at the store.

Right before the meat comes off the grill, you need to make the Cilantro Butter!
For the cilantro butter, I combined 1/4 stick of butter (not margarine), 1 tsp of minced garlic, 1 tbp of freshly minced cilantro, and some salt and pepper.

As the grilled chicken comes off the grill, place a small pat of the cilantro butter on the chicken breast, and let the butter melt all over.  mmm.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Slow-Cooker Pulled Pork

The last time I made pulled pork in the slow cooker, I remember it being very difficult because I avoided using bottled bbq sauce, and instead, tried to add in all the flavors myself using all sorts of herbs and spices that I can no longer remember.  All I can remember is, the entire process was so difficult!

This time, I decided to try slow cooker pulled pork again, but using bottled bbq sauce.
Not only did it come out tastier, but it was also more moist and just so much easier than my previous attempt at pulled pork.  Moving forward, I will only do this following method:

1 bone-in pork shoulder, skin and excess fat removed
1 onion, chopped
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 bottle barbecue sauce
2 tablespoons mustard
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon soy sauce
Salt and pepper

Scatter onion over bottom of slow cooker and place the whole chunk of pork on top. Add broth, cover and cook on low until very tender, about 8 hours.
When the 8 hours is up, remove the meat and onions into a seperate bowl, and discard the bone.  Discard the liquid in the slow cooker.
Get 2 forks, and pull the pork apart into shreds, discarding any fat you find.
Return the pulled pork to slow cooker and stir in barbecue sauce, mustard, honey and soy sauce. Season with salt and pepper. Cook for 1 hour on low.

Sorry for no pictures!
The day I made this dish, I made it for a pot luck lunch at Jeff's company, and I had to cook the pork during the middle of the night, pull the pork at 8am in the morning, and let it cook for the last hour while I ran off to a doctor's appointment.
After rushing back from the doctor's appointment, I hastily poured the pulled pork into a glass tupperware and sent it off to work with Jeff.
It felt like the longest morning ever!
So that was why there was no time for a picture.  =)

Jeff reported back saying that a lot of people enjoyed the pulled pork.  horray. 

Home made char siu pork > bottled marinade char siu pork

If you remember from a few posts ago, I wrote about marinating pork chops in bottled marinade.
That dish came out OK, but not very close to the REAL char siu pork that you get from the cantonese reastaurant.

I finally took the time to make my own char siu marinade and took my sweet time basting the pork in the oven over and over.  All that time really paid off.
My  char siu pork was so flavorful, so moist, and the best part is: it tasted like the real thing for the fraction of the price!!!

The only change I would make the next time I make this, is to do a better job removing the fat off the pork chops.
I usually just buy whatever pork is on sale at the store, and remove the fat myself, which is fine and all, but I should have done a more thorough job.  The fat really put a damper on my experience. 

Your ingredients:
Pork- remove the bone, remove the fat. Buy about 2.5 or 3 pounds.
Hoisin sauce - 3/4 cup
Soy sauce - 1/2cup
Rice wine - 1/2cup.  I don't have any so I used xiao xing cooking wine.  good enough.
Honey - 1/3 cup
Sugar - 1 tablespoon
Minced ginger-1 tablespoon 


Slice pork butt into strips. Mix together all the ingredients in a gallon ziploc bag and place the pork strips into the ziploc bag. Let it marinate overnight (the longer, the better). 
The next day, heat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Place a rack on top of a lined baking sheet and pour water onto your baking sheet.  The water keeps the meat moist and the baking sheet will catch all the drippings.
Place the strips of pork on the rack, then roast the pork for 10 minutes.  Reduce heat to 325 degrees Farhenheit  and roast for another 40 minutes, turning and basting 3-4 times with the remaining marinade.
Cut the pork into bite-sized pieces and serve.

Frozen Tilapia is not so bad afterall

Apparently I am very behind on my food blog, so lets see how many posts I can get up today!

I was always afraid to buy frozen fish from the seafood section because it's simply not fresh.
You can smell and taste that fishiness, and let me tell you something:  FISH SHOULD NOT SMELL AND TASTE "FISHY".
When you pick up a fish and smell it, it should smell like water. 
When you eat it, it should taste mild.
So I've been afraid of frozen fish because I have smelled that fishy smell before.

Well, on a trip to the store, there was a lady that was cooking fish and handing out samples, and let me tell you.. that fish tasted pretty DG (damn good)! 
I was really surprised to find out she was using frozen tilapia filets.

Skeptical, I bought 1 pack of the frozen tilapia.
When I got home, I found that each filet was vacuum sealed.
I took out a few filets and marinated it in a little soy sauce, garlic, and xiao xing cooking wine.  Pretty basic stuff.
I heated up my skillet with some veggie oil (to give the meat a good sear), and cooked the filets a few minutes on each side.
I was so surprised how the fish came out:  Not fishy at all, mild tasting, and moist.
It was lovely.

Does this mean I can bring frozen fish back into my life??

(by the way, if you have any questions about how to pick fresh fish and other sea foods at the market, ask me!)