Thursday, May 6, 2010

Chicken Nanban

I often cook dishes which I have never eaten before, it may be a dish that I have:
(a) seen a cookbook and it looked tasty so I wanted to replicate it;
(b) often heard about but never gotten around to trying out; or
(c) had a friend cook and describe it to me, and recommend that I try it. 

I tried to make some Chicken Nanban, brought about by option (c). It’s Japanese and basically fried chicken with a spicy and sour sauce dipped in tartar sauce. 

For the tartar sauce I made mayonnaise from scratch for the first time! Mayonnaise is an emulsion of oil (as much as 80% if its volume is oil), egg yolks, vinegar or lemon juice and often mustard which provides both flavour and stablising particles.

Ingredients (makes around 300ml of mayonnaise)
2 egg yolks
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
250ml EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)
2 teaspoons lemon juice
salt and pepper

Notes: Make sure all the ingredients are at room temperature as they are difficult to emulsify when cold. Olive oil can be rather overpowering in mayonnaise, so you can use an unflavoured oil such as sunflower or canola.

Place the egg yolks, mustard, vinegar in a mixing bowl with a pinch of salt and pepper. Stir quickly with a whisk and as soon as the mixture is smooth, slowly add in the EVOO, drop by drop to begin with and then a thin trickle (it is important to add the oil in slowly and sparingly to avoid curdling) whisking continuously to keep the emulsion stable. When all the oil has been incorporated and the mayonnaise is thick stir in the lemon juice and adjust seasoning to taste.

For tartar sauce

1 boiled egg, chopped
½ shallot, finely diced
2 sweet spiced pickled gherkins, finely diced
5 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 teaspoon ketchup
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
salt and pepper

Mix ingredients together in a bowl and refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.

For the chicken

500g chicken thigh
salt and pepper
plain flour
2 eggs, lightly beaten
vegetable oil (for deep frying)

Chop the chicken into bite sized pieces, season with salt and pepper, set aside. 

Heat up the oil in a saucepan for deep frying (at least 2-3 inches deep). 

Lightly coat the chicken pieces with flour and then dip them in the egg mixture and gently place them into the oil. Deep fry the chicken pieces until they are golden brown. Remove and place on a plate lined with paper towels.

Nanban sauce

I haven’t had nanban sauce before so I don’t know what it tastes like but I know that it is a spicy and sour sauce. I found 3 difference recipes for nanban sauce and used them as a guide to come up with my own nanban sauce. I mixed the ingredients together in a saucepan over low heat and tasted until I got a spicy and sour taste which I felt was good. I dipped a piece of fried chicken into the sauce to see how they tasted together and was happy with the result. Below are the quantities of the ingredients which I used in my nanban sauce. Next time I cook it, I will change the quantities to come up with a different tasting nanban sauce, I will probably add a bit more sugar as in hindsight I think it could have been a bit sweeter. 

3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
½ teaspoon dashi granules
½ tablespoon sugar
1 ½ tablespoon sake
pinch salt
2 red bird’s eye chillies, chopped
½ shallot, finely diced

To serve – place the fried chicken pieces on a plate and some tartar sauce on the side, spoon some nanban sauce over the chicken. Dip the pieces of chicken in the tartar sauce and eat.

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