This section contains the heart of Onken cooking. Onkens do not eat in courses. They make a hearty meal and eat it. The main dish makes or breaks the meal, and if Onken cooks find an appetizer or other tidbit that tastes good, they simply make a bunch of it, and it becomes a main dish.
The reader will note that the recipes in this section appear to be a hodgepodge of dishes from various cuisines--some Asian, others Latin, and so on. This is simply not the case, for once a dish has entered the Onken repetoir is then part of Onken cuisine and ceases to be a meaningful part of any other ethnic or regional subgroup.
This dish is commonly served in Asian restaurants. Do not be fooled. The version below will spoil you and Chinese restaurant versions will never be satisfying again.
3 boned chicken breasts 2 egg whites, lightly whipped 4 tsp corn starch 3 Tbs bean sauce 2 Tbs hoi sin sauce 2 Tbs chili paste with garlic 3 tsp sugar 2 Tbs dry sherry or rice wine 2 Tbs red wine vinegar 6 cloves garlic (peeled and flattened but not chopped) 2 cups peanut oil 16 hot dried red peppers 2 cups raw shelled unsalted peanuts
Cut the chicken into bite sized pieces. Combine the chicken with the egg white and corn starch. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. This creates a very light batter and prevents the chicken from sticking together when cooking.
Combine the bean sauce, hoi sin sauce, chili paste, sugar wine, vinegar, and garlic. Set aside.
Heat the oil in a wok and when it is just short of smoking add the peanuts. You may turn off the heat or leave it on briefly. Once the first couple of peanuts begin to turn light golden brown remove them all. They will continue to cook after removed from the oil. Drain.
Reheat the oil and add chicken for about fortyfive seconds. Once the first piece of chicken begins to turn slightly brown remove all the chicken and drain.
Remove all but 2 T of oil, add the peppers and cook until the peppers are almost black. If you are sensitive, wear a military gas mask while cooking the peppers. When peppers are done add the sauce, the chicken and the nuts and heat thoroughly. Serve over rice.
When eating Kung Pao chicken do not eat the peppers or the hunks of garlic unless you are a fan of culinary pain. These items are intended to rub against the other ingredients and impart flavor. If you are cooking for very stupid people, you, as cook, should removed these items before serving.
A NOTE ABOUT RICE. Rice is properly cooked by rinsing the rice until the water runs clear, then putting it in the rice cooker according to the directions and pushing the on button. If you do not own a rice cooker, sell your food processor or one of your children and buy one. The basic rice in your household should be short grain, highest quality, Japanese sticky rice. Other kinds have uses, but Onken cooks do not know what those uses are. Do not buy long grain rice and do not make rice so that the grains fall away from each other like antisocial little maggots. It's disgusting. If you worry that rinsing the rice will remove nutrients, forget it. Rinsing removes the talc that is added to make the rice look white when you pour it out of the bag. If you are considering brown rice or some other "healthful" alternative, go eat a pine tree and skip the rice altogether. The Japanese got it right a thousand years ago in the rice business. Don't improve on it.
KUNG PAO CHICKEN THE WEENIE WAY. When in a hurry you can do a quick kung pao by simply cooking up the chicken as in the above recipe, adding the sauce, adding a couple cups of unsalted dry roasted peanuts, and heating the whole thing up in the microwave. The peanuts will not be as fresh and the only spiciness will come from the chili sauce, but it makes a good meal in a hurry.
A REMINDER ABOUT ASIAN SAUCES. Do not buy your Asian sauces in Safeway or other regular stores. Those places consider them "gourmet" and charge far in excess of what they are worth. Go to an Asian market. The employees may not speak English, but the low prices apply to round eyes too.
"Satay" is a mispronunciation of the word steak by the Thai. It is actually a method of cooking rather than a particular dish, but it has become associated with meats on a stick accompanied by some sort of peanut sauce. The following dish comes out best with chicken, but one can also use beef cut into thin strips and placed ribbon style on skewers. The recipe may be doubled.
2 large boneless chicken breasts several bamboo skewers MARINADE 1/2 onion (chopped) 1 T brown sugar 1 T fish sauce 1 t tamarid (or frozen orange juice concentrate) 1 T vegetable oil juice of one lime SAUCE 1/2 cup crunchy peanut butter 1 onion 1 cup coconut milk 1 T brown sugar 2 t cayenne pepper 1 stalk lemon grass 1 T fish sauce 1 T dark soy
Cut the chicken (or beef) into strips and either thread it ribbon style on the skewers or run the skewer down the center, lengthwise, of the meat. Place the skewered meat in a baking dish.
Combine all the marinade ingredients and turn it into a sauce with your hand blender or some other appropriate electrical device. Pour the marinade over the meat and allow to sit for at least two hours.
Combine all the sauce ingredients and process to a relatively smooth consistency with something electric.
When ready to cook, place the skewered meat on a hot barbecue. At the same time, begin heating the peanut sauce. The sauce is ready to serve the moment it starts to boil, and will over thicken if kept hot too long before serving. When chicken is done, remove and serve with the peanut sauce and rice. When you have guests, serve with Thai Cucumber salad to balance the heat of the peanut sauce.
A NOTE ON INGREDIENTS. Fish sauce is a common ingredient in Thai food. A bottle of it cost about a buck and lasts for a year or so. Don't taste it out of the bottle or you will never have the nerve to cook with it. Coconut milk is not the slimy stuff from inside a coconut. To make it, one shreds coconut, soaks the shredded coconut in water or milk over night and then squeezes out the liquid. It can be purchased canned or frozen. The frozen works a bit better. Lemon grass is a delightful herb sold in Asian stores. To prepare, remove the tough outer leaves of the stalk, and slice into extremely thin little circles. In a crunch you may use two tablespoons of lemon juice, but it isn't really the same. Lemon grass has a different and much more delicate flavor. Tamarid concentrate is available at most Asian stores and is preferable to the harsh citrus flavor of oranges.
This is a delicious dish often ordered out because it is messy and dangerous to make at home. Thus it is the perfect Onken dish.
20 or so prawns or large shrimp 1 T baking soda salt Batter 1 cup flour 1 cup ice water t tsp baking soda 1/2 tsp salt Sauce 1 T oil 2 T catsup 1 T tomato paste 1 cup water 1 T soy sauce 3 T white vinegar salt 1/4 cup sugar 1 1/2 T cornstarch
Peel and devein the shrimp. Butterfly them by cutting a slit down the back of the shrimp so that meat opposite the legs opens up like a butterfly. Marinate the butterflied shrimp in the baking soda and salt. This absorbs any fishy odors. Once marinated, rinse the fish well to remove the baking soda and salt.
Combine the first three ingredients of the sauce and cook for one minute to bring out the color. Add the remaining ingredients and simmer until thick.
Heat oil for deep frying to 375 degrees. Keep a thermometer in your wok to keep the oil at this temperature. Combine the batter ingredients, dip the butterflied shrimp in batter and immerse, a couple at a time, into the hot oil. They are done when the battered shrimp are golden brown. Do not do too many at a time or the temperature of the oil will drop and the batter will absorb oil. Serve with the sauce and rice.
NOTE ON DEVEINING SHRIMP. Buy a shrimp deveiner for about a buck. It will cut the work in half.
Everyone has had this one at the local Asian eatery. Now make the good stuff at home.
5 cups cold cooked rice 1 cup shrimp 1 tsp baking soda 1 tsp salt 2/3 cup ham or chinese sausage 3 eggs 1 T salt 1/2 cup cooked peas 1 cup bean sprouts 2 T oyster sauce 1/2 cup chopped green onions
Marinate the shrimp in the salt and soda to remove odor and then rinse the shrimp well to remove the baking soda. Stir fry ham, shrimp and onions until the shrimp is cooked. Add rice, peas, bean sprouts and fry quickly. Make a hole in the rice and scramble the eggs in that hole, mixing the cooked eggs with the rice as the eggs become cooked. Add oyster sauce to taste and serve. This particular version of fried rice is a meal in itself, but it may be served with other Asian dishes if making the rice hasn't trashed your kitchen beyond recognition already.
This dish is done in somewhat of an Asian style but has the old fashioned flavors of pork and apples.
The Stir Fry oil garlic 3/4 lb pork cut into thin strips 2 cups broccoli florets 1 green or red pepper 1 golden delicious apple (peeled and sliced) 4 cups sliced napa cabbage The Sauce 4 tbs chicken broth 2 tbs soy sauce 1 tsp corn starch 2 tsp sugar 2 tsp grated ginger 2 tsp vinegar pinch of red pepper flakes
Stir fry the garlic in oil and removed once it browns. Add the pork, stir fry until done and remove. Stir fry broccoli and pepper until hot. Add apples, pork and cabbage. Once all ingredients are hot add sauce and keep heating till ingredients are coated, the sauce thickens and the broccoli is tender.
This noodle dish is a basic in many Thai eateries. Some versions are good, some not. This is a good one that you can do at home.
The Stir Fry 6 cloves garlic 1 cup small cooked shrimp 1 tbs sugar 3 tbs fish sauce 11/2 tbs catsup 2 eggs (beaten) 1 cup bean sprouts 3 hanks rice stick (soaked) or any other thin noodle prepared according to package directions Garnish 1 tbs shrimp powder 2 tbs crushed peanuts 1/2 tsp chili flakes 2 tbs cilantro leaves 2 chopped green onions limes
Stir fry the garlic in oil until golden. Add the shrimp until hot, then add sugar, fish sauce and catsup. Cook until sugar dissolves. Add eggs and let partially set. Scramble the eggs. Add drained noodles and the bean sprouts and stir fry until everything is hot and the bean sprouts are tender crispy. Pile it all on a serving platter and add garnishes in the order listed or let everyone garnish his or her own. Serve with lime slices.
This is a strange recipe using ground turkey, chocolate and cinnamon. It makes, however, a remarkably delightful and hearty meal.
3 tbs oil 1 lb ground turkey 1 chopped onion 4 tsp chili powder 1/2 tsp cinnamon 1 16 oz can peeled tomatoes with juice 1 4 oz can mild green chopped chilies 1/4 oz unsweetened chopped chocolate flour tortillas
Cook first four ingredients in a heavy pan until the turkey is done. Add the tomatoes and chilies, breaking up the tomatoes and simmer for ten minutes. Add the chocolate and simmer until the liquid is mostly gone. Wrap the meat mixture in warm tortillas and top with cheese, lettuce, salsa and sour cream.
These little meat balls are served as appetizers in Spanish taverns. They make a great hor devours, but a plateful makes a wonderful meal as well. Remember the Onken motto: "If a couple of them are good, a whole plate full is better."
Sauce 2 tbs olive oil 1 large onion 1 large tomato 1 red bell pepper 1 cup chicken broth 3 tbs chopped roasted almonds 2 bay leaves Meatballs 1 lb ground turkey 1 cup bread crumbs 2 eggs 2 tbs fresh parsley 3/4 tsp leaf thyme 2 tbs chopped roasted almonds 2 cloves garlic (chopped) salt and pepper
Chop and saute the onion, bell pepper, and tomato lightly and add broth. Simmer until the liquid is reduced significantly and the broth is thick and chunky.
Combine the meatball ingredients and form into 1 inch meatballs. Bake the meatballs on a cookie pan at 400 degrees for twelve minutes. Pour sauce over meatballs and serve, or put sauce in bowl and serve meatballs skewered with toothpicks for dipping.
This is one of those slow cooked Dutch oven meals that is rich and filling on a rainy winter night.
11/2 lbs round (or even better, flank) steak sliced in thin strips 1/2 cup flour 1/3 cup oil 1 cup beef broth 2 cloves garlic, minced 1 onion chopped 1 tbls Worcestershire 1 large green pepper, cut in strips salt and pepper cooked rice
Coat steak strips in mixture of flour, salt and pepper. Braise the steak in a hot dutch oven on top of the stove. When brown add broth, garlic and onion. Place dutch oven into a 325 degree oven and simmer for an hour and a half or so, or until the meat is tender. Stir in Worcestershire sauce, green pepper, and about two tablespoons black pepper (depending on how hot you want it) and simmer until the peppers are limp and the sauce thick. Add additional liquid if necessary. Serve over rice.
NOTE ABOUT BLACK PEPPER: In a dish like this the bite cooks out of black pepper quickly. If you want that good black pepper burn to the dish add the pepper shortly before serving.
This is an incredibly decadent dish.
6 pork loin chops or slices of pork loin 1/2-3/4 inches thick oil 11/2 lbs spinach, washed, chopped and lightly steamed 2 tbs grated onion 6 tbs butter 6 tbs flour 11/2 cups strong chicken broth 11/2 cups milk salt and pepper 2 egg yolks, slightly beaten 11/2 cups grated Swiss Cheese 6 tbs freshly grated Parmesan cheese cooked rice
Brown the pork in a lightly oiled cast iron pan. Lower heat, cover and cook for 30 minutes or until the meat is done. Keep warm. Combine the cooked spinach and onion and set aside. Make a roux out of the butter and flour. Slowly add the broth and milk, stirring until all the liquid is added and the mixture thickens. Add salt and pepper. Stir a bit of this sauce into the egg yolk and return the yolk and sauce mixture to the sauce, stirring until the sauce is smooth and thick. Mix one cup of sauce with the spinach and spread it over the bottom of a large shallow greased casserole. Arrange the chops on top of the spinach. Meanwhile stir the swiss cheese into the remaining sauce and stir until the cheese is melted. Pour the sauce over the chops, sprinkle with the Parmesan and bake uncovered at 400 degrees for fifteen minutes or until the sauce is bubbling and slightly brown. Serve with rice.
This conventioneer's staple has gotten a bad reputation from its association with steam tables and luncheon speakers, but when made fresh and served hot it is a delightful and filling dish.
2 cups cooked chicken 1 cup sauteed mushrooms 1/2 cup canned pimentos 6 tbs butter 6 tbs flour 3 cups of chicken stock, milk, or preferably a combination of equal parts of both 2 egg yolks (lightly beaten) 1/2 cup blanched slivered almonds salt and pepper
Make a roux of the butter and flour and add the liquid slowly, stirring constantly. When the sauce is think and beginning to boil add the chicken, mushrooms, pimentos and reduce heat. Pour some of the sauce over the egg, mix and return the egg mixture to the pan. Stir and permit the sauce to thicken. Add the salt, pepper and almonds and serve immediately over rice.
Well, that's all for main dishes, try another?
Or maybe for a change,