Spicy, sticky Korean chicken drumsticks

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Spicy Korean chicken is the ultimate in Asian comfort food. Sweet, spicy and savoury flavours make them one of the most moreish dishes which is perfect for a quiet night in or a party with friends. Just be prepared for them to go down a storm so make more than one batch! Allow a little time for the chicken to marinade in the fridge before you need them so the flavours have time to infuse. The recipe can easily be multiplied depending on how many guests you are feeding and can be used for a whole range of chicken pieces from drumsticks to thighs to wings so get cooking!

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Ingredients- makes 12 drumsticks
12 chicken drumsticks
60ml dark soy sauce
3 tbsp runny honey
2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
2 tbsp gochujang

1. Crack on with the marinade in advance by simply combining the soy, honey, rice wine vinegar and gochujang. Simple! Place in a bowl or in a zip lock freezer bag along with the chicken pieces and make sure they are well coated. Chill in the fridge until you need them. A couple of hours is good but overnight is even better if time allows.

2. When you are ready to cook them, they will take around 20-25 minutes in the oven on 200c/ 180 fan. Make sure the chicken is cooked through and the juices should run clear when it is ready. Reserve the marinade and place in a small pan on the hob and gently heat until it begins to thicken. When it is ready brush the chicken drumsticks with the thickened sauce on each side before giving one last minute in the oven. You can also finish them off with a sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds if you like. The marinade makes the chicken deliciously sticky and irresistible. That’s all there is to it!

Spicy Korean chicken drumsticks- grab a pile of napkins and dive in!

 

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Spicy Szechuan shredded chicken

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After cooking a roast dinner the other day I had a lot of leftover chicken that was calling out to be finished up and this is where this simple but spicy Szechuan shredded chicken comes in. Szechuan pepper is a wonderful ingredient that is well worth using if are not familiar with it and have not cooked with it. It brings a warmth along with citrus notes that really lift a dish. I also served this with homemade spring rolls and salt and pepper prawns for a midweek feast.

As I say I used leftover roasted chicken for this however you can roast chicken thighs or legs in advance if you don’t have any spare; avoid breast meat if you can as it tends to dry out quickly. I have purposefully left the chicken quantities more vague than usual- I often struggle to eat much meat in a meal however when it came to this I couldn’t help but have seconds…and thirds… Just remember that leftover beef would also work a treat! Cashews are also a welcome addition if you like too.

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Ingredients- serves 2-3
Roasted chicken thighs or legs- 1-2 per person depending on appetite
1 tbsp cornflour
Red and yellow bell pepper- chopped
Handful of unsalted cashews
2 tbsp vegetable or groundnut oil
2 garlic cloves- crushed
1 inch piece of fresh ginger- grated
1 tsp Chinese chilli oil
3 tbsp dark soy sauce
3 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 1/2 tbsp runny honey
2 tbsp water with 1 tsp cornflour mixed in

1. Start by heating the oil in a wok to medium. Shred the chicken into pieces and toss in the cornflour. Begin to fry off in the oil and stir from time to time. You want chicken which is golden and starting to crisp up in places. When just crisping up, add in the chopped pepper and cashews; stir well.

2. In the meantime, combine all the remaining ingredients in a bowl. Choose a small pan and simmer the sauce until thickening and glossy. Tip into the chicken and toss to coat. Serve immediately with rice or noodles.

Spicy Szechuan shredded chicken- love your leftovers with this super speedy midweek meal!

 

Kimchi rice bowl with braised pork and prawn

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After recently restocking my supplies of kimchi I thought it was only right that this kimchi rice with prawns and braised pork belly took pride of place on the dining table. Kimchi is the national dish of Korea and has become much easier to get hold of in recent years.

The key to cooking the rice is to prepare it ahead of time so it has plenty of time to cool before stir frying to reheat. This will give you rice that is fluffy without being stodgy. I cover the rice with water and then bring to a boil before simmering with the lid on for ten minutes. Remove from the heat and leave the lid on so it steams. You’ll get perfect rice every time!

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Ingredients- serves 2-3
For the pork
2 generous slices of belly pork
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp gochujang paste
1 tbsp dark soy
1 tsp rice wine vinegar
1 garlic clove- crushed
1/2 tbsp runny honey
400ml water

For the rice
300g white rice- cooked and cooled
Glug of groundnut oil
50g kimchi- shredded if in larger pieces
1/2 tbsp gochujang paste
Bunch of spring onions- half shredded, half kept whole
1 tbsp sesame seeds
200g raw king prawns

1. Start by preparing the pork belly. Cut the pork into bite sized pieces. Bring a pan of water to the boil and cook the pork for 2 minutes before removing from the pan with a slotted spoon. Drain the water and dry the pan before placing it back on the hob over a medium heat.

2. Add the vegetable oil and dissolve the sugar into it. Pop the boiled pork into the pan and cook until golden; this may take a good few minutes so don’t rush it. Combine the gochujang, soy, rice wine vinegar, garlic and honey and add to the pan; stir well to coat the pork before adding the water. Cover the pan with a lid and simmer for an hour until the pork is meltingly tender and the sauce is reduced. Towards the end of cooking you may like to remove the lid to help it reduce even more.

3. Next up goes the rice base for the dish. Get going by heating a large wok or frying pan and popping in a little groundnut oil over a medium heat. Add in the kimchi and garlic and cook for a minute before adding the gochujang. Half of the spring onions need to be shredded and added into the pan next before tossing the cooled rice through to heat. Add the pork chunks back into the pan along with the prawns and stir through, cooking until the prawns are cooked through. Sprinkle in the sesame seeds before serving. Lightly trim the remaining spring onions and oil before griddling and serving on top of the rice.

Kimchi rice bowl with prawn and braised pork belly- a delicious introduction to Korean cuisine!

 

Sticky, sweet and spicy Chinese style ribs

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When you fancy a Chinese takeaway the lure of the ribs on the menu tends to be strong… well at least in my mind anyway. Try making your own so you can make them as sweet, savoury or as spicy as you want- or all three! A rack of pork ribs is inexpensive and an average sized rack feeds two people so it’s a bargain! Keep your eyes out for a rack that has plenty of meat on it as some can be a little scrawny and that only brings disappointment rather than pure porky joy!

If you cast your eye down the list of ingredients you will notice that one of them is not Chinese, but Korean: gochujang. When I was putting the marinade together I thought what would give a deep chilli flavour but stand up to the other ingredients so it was settled.

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Ingredients- serves 4
2 racks of pork ribs
120ml oyster or hoisin sauce
60ml dark soy sauce
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
3 tbsp dark brown sugar
2 tbsp runny honey
1 tbsp gochujang
2 cm piece fresh ginger- grated
2 garlic cloves- crushed
1 tbsp ground five spice

1. Ideally the ribs would have around 3 hours in the fridge marinating but overnight is perfect if you have a bit more time. Simply mix together all the ingredients in a bowl and pour most of the marinade over the racks. Cover and place in the fridge to marinate.

2. When you are ready to cook the ribs, preheat the oven to 160c/ 140 fan. Wrap the racks of ribs in foil parcels and make sure they are tightly sealed. Cook in the oven for around 3 hours (depending on the size of the racks). After this time the racks should be tender and flexible so you know they are nearly all set.

3. For the last step, turn up the oven to 200c/ 180 fan. Peel back the foil and brush the last of the marinade over the ribs and cook for a further 10- 15 minutes until sticky and unctuous. Use a knife to separate the ribs and grab a stack of napkins (you’ll need them!); serve the ribs immediately.

Chinese takeaway style ribs- let’s face it, there’s no elegant way to eat these but dive in!

Pomegranate molasses and honey glazed duck breasts with spiced pilaf

Treat yourself to taste of the Middle East with this pomegranate molasses and honey glazed duck. It gives the perfect balance of sweet and sour which is matched with a lightly spiced bulgur wheat pilaf style side. Pomegranate molasses are punchy and should be used with care but it is well worth a try if you have not used them before; they can be found in any good supermarket.

I paired the duck with a delicate pilaf with aubergine, onion and tomato with spices and herbs but get creative. A sprinkle of pomegranate seeds through the bulgur would also be great. I sourced the duck breasts from http://www.ixhillfarm.co.uk which were plump and packed with flavour. This is the perfect time of year to add duck to your menu!

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Ingredients- serves 2
For the duck breasts
2 duck breasts
1/2 tsp pomegranate molasses
1 tbsp. runny honey
Pinch of ground cumin (optional)

For the pilaf
80g bulgur wheat- rinsed and drained
1 red onion- finely chopped
2 garlic cloves- finely chopped or crushed
1 small aubergine- finely chopped
3 plum tomatoes- deseeded and finely chopped
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
1 tbsp pepper paste
Handful of fresh coriander and parsley- chopped

1. Start off by removing the duck from the fridge and let them sit at room temperature for around half an hour. Take a sharp knife and slash the skin of the breast a few times. Combine the pomegranate molasses, honey and cumin and rub into the skin side of the duck. Preheat the oven to 220c/ 200 fan ready for later. Take a large non-stick frying pan and heat to high; add the duck breasts skin side down in the pan and sear for 2-3 minutes before turning and searing for a further minute- the skin will caramelise and start going a gorgeous golden colour. Remove from the pan and cook in the oven for 10 minutes for rare and around 15 minutes for medium. When it is cooked to your tastes, allow to rest for around 10-15 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, get started on the bulgur wheat. This can also be done in advance whilst the duck is warming up to room temperature. Place the rinsed wheat in a pan and add 600ml of cold water; bring to the boil before covering and simmering for 15 minutes until tender. You often need to drain a small amount of excess water after cooking.

3. Take a frying pan and add a small splash of oil. Cook the onion and garlic for a couple of minutes over a medium heat until starting to soften before adding the aubergine. Cook for a further few minutes before adding the tomatoes, cumin, coriander, pepper paste and season well. Remove from the heat and add to the cooked bulgur wheat. Add the chopped fresh herbs and taste- adjust the seasoning to taste. You may need to add a little more spice if you like as the water content in the wheat can absorb a lot of the flavour. Keep warm until the duck is has rested and is ready to slice.

Serve the bulgur wheat in a bowl with the duck slices arranged over the top- sprinkle with some herbs if you like.

Pomegranate molasses and honey glazed duck with pilaf style bulgur wheat salad- a flavoursome taste of the Middle East! Who could resist this?…

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Sticky Szechuan pepper prawns

Now this is a must cook dish! Szechuan pepper prawns are sweet, sticky and spicy which in my mind is the perfect combination for these juicy beauties. Szechuan pepper can be bought in Chinese supermarkets or online from http://www.souschef.co.uk (I challenge you to have a look on this site and only buy what you were originally looking for!). The pepper gives a tingle and I toast my peppercorns before using to bring out the flavour. I also used kicap manis in this recipe which is an Indonesian soy sauce that adds a savoury hit which balances the sweetness of the honey. What are you waiting for? Read on!

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Ingredients- serves 2
200g raw peeled king prawns
1 tbsp runny honey
1 tbsp kicap manis
1 tsp Szechuan peppercorns
1 garlic clove- crushed

1. Start off by toasting the peppercorns- simply take a small pan and heat the peppercorns over a medium/ high heat for a couple of minutes. Don’t give them too long otherwise they will burn and turn bitter so keep an eye on them. When they’re ready, grab a pestle and mortar and roughly grind them. You’re after a coarse grind rather than dust!

2. For the marinade mix the honey, kicap manis, pepper and garlic and pop the prawns in. Cover and leave in the fridge for aroud 30 minutes. When you are ready to cook, take a small frying pan and add the excess marinade. Cook for a couple of minutes over a medium heat until it starts to thicken and turn lovely and glossy. Add in the prawns and toss to coat in the sticky sauce. The prawns should need around 3-4 minutes depending on their size. And that’s all there is to it! I served the prawns with a simple vegetable and noodle stir fry.

Sweet, sticky and spicy Szechuan pepper prawns- a tingly taste of heaven! I mean, just look at them…

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Honey and balsamic sausage tray bake

This is a one tray wonder that requires very little time and attention so it is perfect for a midweek meal. Choose good quality sausages that are well seasoned and remember sausages don’t always have to be pork- I used zebra sausages from Oslinc: www.oslinc.co.uk.

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Ingredients- serves 4
8- 10 good quality sausages
2 garlic cloves- crushed
Sprigs of fresh rosemary
1 large sweet potato- cut into cubes
2 red onions- cut into wedges
2 large beetroots- cut into cubes
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp runny honey
Sprinkling of chilli flakes
Seasoning

1. Get going by preheating the oven to 180c/ 160 fan. Take a large pan and add a drizzle of vegetables oil before heating. Add in the sausages, garlic and rosemary and cook until the sausages are turning golden. Remove and set aside.

2. For the vegetables, take a roasting tray and add a little oil so the veggies don’t stick. Add in the vegetables and pour over the honey and balsamic vinegar with a good crack of pepper and salt. Sprinkle over some chilli flakes and toss again. Add in the sausages, garlic and rosemary and give another toss before covering with foil and cooking in the oven for around 35-45 minutes. The sausages should be cooked through so the juices run clear and the vegetables will be tender when tested. Just before its ready you can remove the foil and cook for the last few minutes uncovered to get an extra bit of colour.

Honey and balsamic sausage and vegetable tray bake- a midweek winner that is short on time and big on taste!