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PERSONAL CHEF

PERSONAL CHEF
FOOD FOR REAL PEOPLE

Saturday, March 25, 2017

SCHEZWAN CHICKEN





Chinese cooking is very easy, that's why I love it, to cook it and eat it. Out of all the Asian cuisines including Pacific Islander cuisine, or my rooted Filipino style, if I had only one style to cook and eat, it would be Chinese. Seriously, I love it. That's why when some couple hires me to cook for them, it's always my cleaver, my cutting board, my wok, and a saucepan on the side, and a few mixing bowls. And since I am touching on the spicy side of Chinese cooking, or the Schezwan style, I figure let's do a chicken stir fry.

Ingredients (2 servings)

8 oz. (1/2 lb.) of cubed chicken breast
1 tbsp. Sesame oil
1/2 tsp. Salt
1/2 tsp. White pepper
1/2 cup cooking sherry wine, or Shaoxing Rice Wine
1 tbsp. Cornstarch
* In a stainless steel or glass mixing bowl, add in the cubed chicken (room temperature), then sprinkle the sesame oil, and mix. Then sprinkle the salt and white pepper, and mix. Then pour in the Sherry wine, or Shaoxing rice wine, and mix. Lastly add in the cornstarch and mix well to coat. Then set aside

Sauce
1/2 tsp. Grated ginger
1/2 tsp. Minced garlic
1/2 tsp. Minced green onion
2 tbsp. Rice vinegar
1/2 tsp. Sesame oil
1/2 cup dark soy sauce
1 tsp. Raw sugar
1 tsp. Chili garlic sauce
* In a mixing bowl, add all ingredients and mix well, set aside.

In a hot wok heat up 1 tbsp. Of vegetable oil, when hot, add in the chicken cubes and stir fry until the pieces become browned and crisped on the exterior. Once comleted in about 3 minutes or so, add in the sauce, and cook until thickened slightly. The cornstarch from the chicken will help the sauce thicken. 

Garnish with sliced green onions, and you're good to go.
















Saturday, March 18, 2017

PRIME SANDWICHES In China Town Honolulu Hawaii

China Town Honolulu, a hustle and bustle part of the island with lots of history. Walk the streets, and turn of the century architecture surrounds you. The heat of the streets gives you a sense of something, maybe it's that inner you that says, "I feel like I'm back in time here, the buildings look old, there really isn't a lot of modernization going on."

As you walk by mostly Asian marts, eateries, and kitchen supply shops, you will notice however that there are other shops not conducive to the Asian fare. OK China Town is well-Chinese, we see a lot of Chinese entrepreneurs here, also Vietnamese, Japanese.. that kind of rhymes. But pizza? Or should I say sandwiches? OK I'll say it, there's a killer sandwich shop located at 1120 Maunakea St. #186 called PRIME SANDWICHES. What is Prime Sandwiches? Here's the good thing, my good friend that I've known for over 30 years Peter Pao is the owner of this little sandwich heaven, according to Peter his sandwiches are unique. Open over eight months or so, Prime delivers the unconventional. 

"If you want conventional, go to Subway," says Peter, very confident in what he does, always. Ever since I've known him, he was always a doer, if he says he'll do something, guess what, he's going to do it, and not half ass. He'll do it full blast the way he envisions it. "Look at the menu Ron, what do you notice?" Hmmm, well, I look. And I say, "Looks like you have prime rib as the root of all your creations." Peter looks at me, "You got it, that's why I named it Prime. I've been doing prime rib for decades, I know the science behind cooking this thing." I must also add, that Peter has sold restaurant equipment to restaurants and professional chefs for well-decades. Peter sold professional knives, pots and pans, you name it. In fact, I still have a 10" serrated blade he sold me well-over 20 years ago.

"I not only do I do prime rib, but pork belly, all slow roasted in an Alto Shaam cook and hold oven, low heat for 18 hours." Wow! "The prime rib comes out perfect, not dried, the pork belly gets a crisp skin, and juicy inside. It's all about quality and execution, the Alto Shaam cook and hold ovens are perfect, we utilize two of these." According to Peter, the Alto Shaams, will hold the meats without ruining it. The units comes with vents that you can control to help with moisture.

"This area has lots of foot traffic, but we could always use more business since we are just open for lunch. On the weekends we got breakfast, I'm working on a waffle creation." Knowing Peter, that waffle creation will be unique. "We have an ingredient, it's not a liquid that you might think it should be, but it's a slice." A slice, now get this, it is a slice of gravy. "It's dehydrated, we slice it, and just think of a slice of American cheese, that's it." Man that's creative. "And we don't use mayonnaise, we use guacamole instead. It's not that I want to serve healthy, just think, guacamole is tasty, it's creamy, it's perfect for a sandwich. We have a bottle of mayo in the refrigerator, but haven't used it yet."

And what else? "We got adobo flavored chips if you want with your sandwich." Hmm, never heard of it before, vinegar, garlic, bay leaves, peppercorns, I can dig it. In fact, vinegar chips, sour cream and green onions chips, all good.


Call them at 808-536-8462

Prime Rib Seasoned 

Slow Roasted Pork Belly
Chef Gary holding a creative sandwich
Video of Peter Serving Samples

Prime Rib Rueben for St. Patty's Day

Chef Gary Slicing Prime Rib


Video of Peter Serving Sample Sandwiches




Thursday, March 9, 2017

THE SZECHWAN STYLE OF CHINESE COOKING PART 1


Hello my friends, it's been a while. In this series of blogs coming up, we will delve in, and learn together the Chinese Szechwan style of cooking. The style of cooking is influenced by its surroundings, if you look at the map below, right above the yellow Yunnan province, it is on the southern edge of the continent. 

Not too many foodies are aware of the different styles of cooking that comes from China. Most westerners are familiar with the Cantonese style that was exported out of Hong Kong and made its way to the states. The more light fare, tasty, lightly salted, not spicy at all stir fries and soups. However the Szechwan style is much more pronounced, with more than a hint of garlic, ginger and Szechwan peppercorns that gives most wok fries more heat than the average Canton foodie can bare.

If you like spicy foods like hot Mexican, I believe you'll enjoy Szechwan style Chinese. One of the most famous dishes from this region is the Kung Pao Chicken. However the protein can vary, it could easily be Kung Pao Tofu, or Kung Pao Pork, you smell the coffee?

Some people say, "Ron when I go to my local Chinese dive in town, all the food taste the same, there's a million stuff on the menu, but it's basically the same thing, sweet and sour this, garlic this, same taste." And I agree to some extent. You must remember, the same can be said for all styles of various national cooking. For instance I grew up in a Filipino home, and we use lots of ginger, garlic, vinegar, soy sauce, and fish sauce. So basically I can claim, most of our dishes are well.. kind of taste familiar And don't forget, Italian foods, they use basically the same herbs, but from different regions in Italy if you study the foods, you can make a various menu, with all similar cooking techniques, but different degrees of flavors, it depends on the chef/cook.

I've seen many cooks do Kung Pao Chicken differently, from deep frying chicken pieces that was marinated in chili oil and soy sauce, and then covered with a spicy chicken broth that was thickened with a slurry of corn starch and water, and the heat came from red chilies and Szechwan peppercorns. Some cooks went to great lengths to sweeten the hot broth, making it sweet/hot. Chefs and cooks are artists right? I can make it, but you may not like it, you'll eat it, but it wouldn't be the same as if your favorite chef in a real Szechwan dive did it, or for that matter someone's Chinese aunty, man those ladies are the best!

So let's go over the ingredients you'll need to make some spicy hot Szechwan style in your home.

Remember to keep it simple, don't get crazy.

Soy Sauce- use your favorite brand, don't use soy sauce that is too salty, you want to adjust any salt towards the end of the cooking process. In Hawaii I use only one brand believe it or not, it's Aloha Shoyu, for everything from dips, marinades, and of course stir fries. Yamasa brand is good as well.

Chili Bean Sauce/Paste- Lee Kum Kee brand is popular in many western markets, it's a combination of fermented beans, garlic and salt. Adding this to a simple stir fry gives it some depth.

Sichuan Pepper- it has a numbing sensation, almost like going to a dentist and getting novocaine on your tongue. 

Xiaoxing Cooking Wine- if you can't get this Chinese staple made from fermented rice, use a cooking sherry wine instead. If all possible try getting the Chinese ingredients to make your wok experience as authentic as possible.

Black Vinegar- is well-black. It is a Chinese inky black vinegar that's aged. If you can't get this, try using an aged balsamic vinegar instead.

Chili Oil- If you feel like being a prep cook, make your own chili oil. Or buy one at your local market. You can use a Mexican oil also.

Chili Paste- I use the Sambal Oelek, it's a hot paste with garlic in it, if you want to jack up heat in a Kung Pao, just add this into your wok! LOL. Or use a Sriracha.

Other Items of interest-
- dried or fresh rice noodles
- long dried rice noodles
- wood ears
- dried shiitake mushrooms
- canned mushrooms
- canned water chestnuts
- canned low sodium beef, vegetable, chicken broths
- fresh scallions
- sweet round onions
- fresh black pepper corns
- hot mustard powder
- safflower oil
- peanut oil
- sesame oil
- arrow root or cornstarch
- brown sugar
- sea salt
- canned bamboo

* If you can have these on hand, you'll do ok, so until the next blog on Szechwan cooking, next blog, let's make some dishes. Have a good one guys, keep it Yay Yay!

© 2017