Saturday, March 28, 2009

Spice Temple & Chinese Chicken and Beer Stew

I must admit, when I first heard that Neil Perry was planning to open a Chinese restaurant I really did fear the worst. I pictured everything from cheesy decor, exorbitant prices, tiny portions, lack of authenticity and a dull, "Westernised" menu. I was planning to avoid it.

But I caved in to the good reviews that came out and I went along. Before we were halfway through the banquet we had ordered, all of my fears had been proven wrong.

Spice Temple is, quite simply, a lovely experience.

One of the highlights of the 10 or so dishes in the banquet (and certainly the most theatrical) was the "Three shot chicken". The waitress brings a small gas stove to the table and sets a clay pot of chicken stew on top. Three shotglasses containing beer, chilli oil and soy are poured into the pot, depending on your tolerance for chilli. The dish is finished on the stove and spooned over rice. A brilliant taste that had me wanting more.

More information on Spice Temple can be found on the website located here.

Spice Temple on Urbanspoon

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So today I decided to give it a shot. I didn't have much of a clue about what Perry used in that Three shot chicken and couldn't find a similar recipe on the net, so I had to experiment (and hope) a bit.

- 2kg of chicken thigh fillets
- 6 cloves of garlic
- Around 8 spring onions
- 1.5 cups of soy sauce
- 1 cup of water
- 100ml chilli oil
- 2 cups of beer (I used Coopers Sparkling Ale, but any ale or draught should work fine)
- 1 thumb of ginger
- 2 carrots
- 1 tsp of sugar
- 2 tablespoons of cornflour

- Blanch the garlic twice in boiling water to remove the "rawness". This is done by adding the peeled cloves to a pot of boiling water for around 30 seconds, then removing the cloves, replacing the water, repeating the blanching, then removing the cloves and cooling with cold water.
- Trim the chicken thigh fillets of any unwanted parts and cut into pieces. Marinate in around 1/2 a cup of soy, a splash of beer, the garlic and 1 tablespoon of the cornflour.
- Peel and thinly slice the carrots and ginger. Finely slice the spring onions but leave the stalks fairly long, just trim off any bad stalks.
- Add some peanut and olive oil to a large pot and add the spring onions (NOT the stalks) and carrots. Cook briefly to soften. Add the chicken and stir so it seals.
- Add all of the remaining ingredients, except for the spring onion stems. Cook on a low simmer until the chicken and carrot are soft. Just before it's ready, add the spring onions.

I found out a short time ago that Perry's Three shot chicken actually used bean paste as the basis for the stew. But I was still pretty happy with how my version turned out.

Apologies for the poor quality photo. The photos I took before ravaging the bowl didn't turn out properly.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

The 14-Pie Pie

A pie that has a filling of 14 pies of different flavours? Sure, why not?