Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Asparagus and Chicken Skin Yakitori

It feels almost weird to be staring at the blogger screen, typing. My brain seems a bit fuzzy in the edible vocabulary department, and this whole writing thing feels a bit foreign. In fact, cooking anything that involved a chopping board felt a bit foreign to me after days of oatcakes and peanut butter for breakfast  lunch dinner, and 2 hours of sleep a night. I've missed the comforting crunch of the knife as it slices through vegetables and the noisy jangling of the lid as the stock boils in the pot; missed sitting down (and no bus seats don't count) to eat, off a plate that requires washing; missed fussing over my food and taking photos before (finally) tucking in. And I've missed this blog.

But yes, I AM BACK. Alive. And awake.

It's a pity the sun – which was all glorious and tempting when I had to be holed up in the studio working – has just about disappeared. But I insist it is barbecue weather anyway. There is nothing as exciting as friends all done with assessment, a pack of 100 skewers from the pound shop and a bag of chicken thighs and wings from the farmer's market. (I have no patience for expensive lean chicken breasts.) The wings were smothered in rempah (pounded spice paste which is the base of almost anything Peranakan) and then grilled a la ayam panggang, and the thighs, chopped into pieces and smothered into another sort of rempah for chicken satay.  And because I hate wasting any part of anything edible at all, I thought to skewer the chicken skins too and make yakitori out of them.

In its raw, cold, flabby form, chicken skin seems hardly appetising, but think back to your grilled chicken wings and roast chicken – the skin really is the best part. I don't subscribe to the anti-fat school of thought; in fact I believe it's all good for our body, and surely, there's a ton of skin-benefitting collagen in the skin, so I wasn't the slightest bit guilty eating these. And come on, there's asparagus involved, fresh in season and so healthy it probably negates all that sinfully delicious chicken fat.

 Credits to shizuoka gourmet for his wonderful help on this chicken skin business.

makes 4 skewers
100g skin from a happy chicken
4 stalks asparagus*

Tare (teriyaki sauce for grilling)
50ml soy sauce
50ml sake
50ml mirin
1 tbsp unrefined cane sugar

*I suggest using thicker stalks as they stand up to the longer grilling and high heat better than the spindly tender young asparagus which I used – they sort of shrivelled up a little by the time the chicken skin was cooked. 

1. To prepare the chicken skin, first lay it flat and hold one end firmly before using your knife to scrape off most of the fat from the inside of the skin. Too much fat will bury the taste of the skin and also end up causing too much smoke when you grill later. But leave some on please (yum). Cut the skin into 1/2 inch wide strips.
2. Chop the asparagus into 1 1/2 inch long pieces. I left the more delicate tops for something else.
3. Thread the skins onto the skewers, alternating them with the asparagus.
4. Simmer the ingredients for the tare to get your basting sauce.
5. Fire up your barbecue or grill and begin grilling on both sides without the sauce. When the skin starts changing colour, brush the sauce on and continue grilling, keep turning to make sure everything is cooked and charred evenly. This is possible in the oven too, on the grill setting at the highest heat possible, but you do miss the aroma of burning charcoal.
6. Eat immediately, while hot and before you can have second thoughts.

The chicken skin is wonderfully smoky and sticky with the sweet salty tare, and each bite yields a delightful burst of chicken juices and fat, perfect against the clean bitter-sweetness of asparagus. These skewers were, as my friend called it, one bite naughty one bite nice. I would like to add, one bite extravagance one bite cheap. I have never understood the British fuss over asparagus season, I do love it but I'm a fair person and I love, say, cabbage just as equally. I must say, a lick of the hot grill does wonders though, and I might just find myself shelving out another £4 (£4?!!) for a bunch of asparagus. Especially if what accompanies it costs basically nothing at all.

Other recipes for the barbie:
Barbecue Coffee Pork Ribs
Singapore Chicken Satay with Proper Satay Peanut Sauce
Grilled Sambal Stingray 

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Big love.

Hi. Sorry for the absence. My final portfolio deciding the grade for my degree and possibly the rest of my future is due in 2 weeks. So although I would really love to blog (and roll around in the sun and eat sorbet and laugh with silly people and do nothing except get brown), I have to FOCUS DAMMIT.

In the meanwhile, you can have a rummage around the blog archives, get your foodie photo fix from instagram, and watch my youtube videos so I have more than an embarassing 300 views.

And I'm not great at mushy talk, so this is the best I can do: Thanks for following my blog despite my rubbish blog schedule! Big love.