Weekday cookery: Chicken, cucumbers and kai lan


Think I’m going to start posting about my cooking adventures on this blog every now and then.

Not because I think I’m a great cook or anything like that. It’s more of to share the things that I learn along the way, in hopes that perhaps it might benefit you, my reader, too. đŸ™‚

And of course, as a means to nudge myself into posting more content on this blog even as it approaches its one year mark. (Oh dear, how little I’ve been posting all this time).

My latest cooking attempt was to make what you see in the picture above:

  1. Sliced chicken with cucumbers and fermented black beans
  2. Blanched Hong Kong kai lan (also known as Chinese brocolli/kale) with oyster sauce and sesame oil

The former recipe I took from a book titled Easy Chinese Stir Fries (so I won’t be posting the recipe itself since it isn’t my intellectual property to distribute). The veggie dish I concocted myself.

My husband, Deric and I followed the recipe’s instructions pretty closely for the chicken dish, and it turned out really well.

And just like how the author of the cookbook had predicted, I found it really amazing to see how just a simple ingredient like fermented black beans could lend so much flavour to a dish.

The reason we had bought the jar of fermented black beans in the first place was to cook it with pork ribs. That was basically the only dish that comes to my mind when I think about cooking dishes using fermented black beans .

So it’s nice to learn an alternative way of using this ingredient it in the kitchen.

Deric and I always have this dilemma about buying ingredients which we don’t regularly use.

On the one hand, there’d be this really cool recipe we’d like to try out, but then it would need this bizarre set of ingredients. And if we didn’t include those items, I’d feel that perhaps our version of that dish would end up being too different from how it’s actually intended to be.

So we’d end up buying those ingredients. Only to be baffled on how we could use it all up before it’s expiry date came around (since meals we make are only for two and we don’t cook every day of the week).

Well, at least as far as the fermented black beans are concerned, they will stand a better chance of being fully utilised now. Anyway, they’re fermented, so there is very little chance of it to go bad, since technically, it already IS bad (if you think about fermented stuff in that way).

As for blanching the veggies, I chose this method over stir frying it this time around partly because I was lazy. I also wanted to see how the veggies would taste when prepared with very minimal cooking.

This idea comes from my Mum, from whom I developed a love for cooking. She is always saying how good it is to eat food (especially fruits and veggies) as raw as possible so that the vitamins are still preserved in them at the time of consumption.

The veggies turned out well. In fact, I might actually considering using more of such lighter cooking methods in the future for the veggies we eat.

Besides that, I also realised that eating Kai Lan isn’t as difficult as I had imagined it to be.

Just so you understand where I’m coming from, I generally detest eating most leafy vegetables (other than kangkung and spinach) due to some uncomfortable experiences of being forced to eat such thing during my growing years.

Yes, I know they are good for me and all that, plus I often have constipation issues, but I really do not enjoy consuming them most of the time.

I also tend to avoid them because I think most of them are bitter in taste, making it an ordeal to chew them through and to swallow.

And while I am chewing and swallowing them, focussing my thoughts on how horrible the veggies in my mouth are will only make things worse, and if I dwell on it a tad too long, I may even end up feeling like throwing up.

But this particular Hong Kong Kai Lan that we bought from Jaya Grocer turned out to be really pleasant to eat. Not bitter at all, very fresh and easy to chew on. To me, at least.

Oh, and I also don’t really enjoy cucumbers in my food all that much either, as they can sometimes turn out to be unpredictably bitter or have an extremely yucky and mushy centre (where the seeds are) which is also a chore to endure.

For this chicken recipe, however, the pulp of the cucumber (seeds included) was removed so I actually enjoyed eating the cucumber more than I normally would. (And I could then keep aside the pulp to use for washing my face later on hehe – another trick I learned from my Mum :D).

So concludes one of our more successful episodes in the kitchen. Hehe.

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