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Three cup chicken is a dish I first had back in the states. I didn’t really know much about its Taiwanese origins until some of my Taiwanese international student friends told me that it’s a pretty popular dish from their home country. Coming back home, I was even more surprised to find out that it was one of my dad’s favorite childhood dishes since our old family cook who came from China not only cooked regional Chinese dishes but also Taiwanese. Read more on three cup chicken and its fascinating background from the recipe link below.

So when I chanced upon a recipe for this dish, I decided to try it out. As you may have read in my older posts, I rarely cook so this is one of the rare cooking posts I have to share. Prepping: I was very fortunate to find the ingredients in our pantry. Luckily, my aunt who used to live with us left us some of her Chinese cooking ingredients. As for the Thai Basil leaves, well guess what, we grow that in our garden! Oh, just one of the perks of living in the countryside…

The only thing I would do differently? Cook it for longer. I looked up another recipe that said to cook it until the sauce thickens and just barely covers the chicken. I realized what a big difference this step brings to the dish since it is when the flavor from the sauce is absorbed by the chicken. Neglecting this step can turn your three cup chicken into a bland mess. And on the same note, in terms of flavor, the Thai Basil leaves sets this dish apart. The herb provides this sweet lemony aroma that gave the dish so much more flavor.

I would also like to note that I now appreciate the technique of marinating chicken in baking soda before cooking. I always found it an odd step in Chinese cuisine. But I was really pleased with the result since the chicken turned out so juicy and tender. I was worried considering how tiny the chicken could be cubed, leaving more room for error in terms of drying it out.

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If you’ve been wondering where my post for last week’s cooking with the big jar of Prego sauce is, here it is! I wanted to use the sauce in some type of soup so we could use a lot of it at once as a flavoring agent. I remembered this tomato seafood soup that my aunt made during Holy Week that I really loved. It was fresh, light and very flavorful. The soup just had to be recreated. So I asked Tita, who you should know from my last cooking post, to buy some seafood from the market that morning.

With fresh seafood, the broth, mixed in with maybe a cup and half to two, was packed with flavor. The seafood and tomato tastes were distinct layers but married well. As for my project of finishing up things I see in our pantry- I saw a box of lasagna pasta. I had this idea to cook them and cut them in squares or strips to mix into the soup. And so my Seafood Minestrone was made.

This was very, very good. As you can see, Tita bought way more seafood than needed but nobody complained. This big pot could have served 8-10 people. But three people feasted on this. The parents were abroad so it was just the brothers and I. Not all consumed that lunch but also for dinner that night and then lunch again the next day. I actually didn’t get tired of this soup!

OH, and as for the Prego sauce progress:

I think just one more dish, huh?

Remember that big jar of tomato sauce I’ve been working towards finishing? Let me show you a picture of it again just so you remember exactly how big it is:

remember this big jar of sauce??

My cook, Tita, is aware of this project. We try to come up with ideas every week as to how we’ll tackle this problem of the big jar of Prego sauce that is about to expire.. I’ve been wanting to make Eggplant Parmesan but I can never find the big, fat eggplant variety anywhere here or in Manila. Let me know if you guys know where I can buy some? This made me change the recipe for the week to Chicken Parmesan. Luckily, we had several types of pasta available to choose from. I picked the Spinach Tagliatelle since I thought the color of it would go well with the sauce– maybe healthier? Tita’s specialty isn’t Italian cuisine so there’s always a lot of supplies leftover from when we do try to expose her to more Western cooking and dishes. I actually think she finds this project amusing and that she’s learning a lot 🙂

Since we try to eat healthy here in the province, Tita rarely fries anything for us. So she had the idea to put the breaded chicken breasts in the turbo broiler. Same crunchiness to be expected was attained.

I also made a tomato cream sauce. (Yes, using the Prego sauce) I basically mixed some sauce and sour cream with a touch of honey. Then I mixed the cooked pasta in. Mhm.. yes I sweetened it up again with honey, hey it’s Pinoy taste!

Last thing I did was top off the chicken with some mozzarella and parmesan cheese then sprinkled some dried basil leaves. This just came out of the oven.

The chicken was then put on top of the cooked pasta. It was a good dish. More of the sauce was used up.. probably almost half of the jar gone!

Even though Tita learns a lot from us siblings about Western cooking, I, personally learn a lot from her. Here at our house, she makes homemade Puto, Suman, Biko and other Filipino desserts. I also don’t actually know a lot about Pinoy cooking so teaches me once in a while. Here’s a picture of us during the cooking session!

She meant to smile in this picture..

This is my first cooking post. I should tell you guys right off the bat that I am not a cook. I am a baker. The obsessive compulsive in me creates the perfect personality of the baker where following exact instructions and measurements excites me. Yes, I said that excites me.

Back in the states, my cooking really just consisted of making lots of pasta, garlic rice, corned beef (only Purefoods- the original blue can) and scrambled egg beaters.. Two summers ago, I wanted to step out of my comfort zone so I joined my brother in taking a Fundamentals in Culinary Arts course at CCA (Center for Culinary Arts) Manila. It was a 13 day course of several techniques in cooking different cuisines so I definitely learned a lot. More information can be found if you click the course hyperlink.

So that’s a little bit of background on my cooking. As I discover the inner potential cook in me, I’ll try to post my new experiences as much as I can. Lucky for you, here goes the first one. If you’ve read my Onion Focaccia post, you’ll remember that I said I used the bread to make these pizza squares. The plan: sweeten up some tomato sauce with some brown sugar and honey, top it off with cheese and unseasoned bits of cauliflower and chicken. Salty focaccia, what now?? pizza squares.. now that’s what I’m talking about!

Let me take a step back for a second and let you in on a little project I’m in the middle of. As I’ve mentioned before, I check whatever we have lying around and try to use those that are about to go bad. Well here my friends is the project of the month! Prego Sauce. A 4-pound jar of deliciously seasoned tomato sauce. As they say in their commercials, it’s all in there! They didn’t lie. So I hope you can bear with me if my weekly cooking posts include using the sauce and me updating you on the consumption level.

BIG jar of sauce

In the end, the tale of the salty focaccia bread closed on a good note. It was like having pizza on a well seasoned crust. No need to panic when things don’t turn out the way you expect them to be, there should be ways to remedy them.

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