Chicken Katsu Curry

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ImageWhere do i even begin with this. Katsu curry is a Japanese dish that for many like me, was a part of my university days. I remember going to Wagamama in Victoria Station looking like the 436 bus had just dragged me across London, sitting down on those benches and ordering a chicken katsu curry and Asahi beer (hair of the dog, it made sense at the time). It was and still is one of my favourite Japanese dishes.

So fast forward maaaaany years and here I am in Cape Town, on the road to recovery (see previous post) and I want a chicken katsu curry! I live right next to a Japanese restaurant… Mind you I think it is important to live near food sources, my previous flat was on top of Eastern Bazaar, which is an Indian canteen-style eatery. Think, having Diamond Plaza (if you’ve been to it in Nairobi) in one big room. The shawarmas, with a hangover; heaven sent! I digress, So the Japanese place next door, I tried the katsu curry there, didn’t get past one bite. It was like cardboard with sludge on top. So I decided to make it myself. Simple right?

Now cooking for me, is a bit of a struggle nowadays. Don’t be fooled by my Instagram pictures, I’m functioning on one and a half hands, elbows, teeth and toes… I kid, I kid! But seriously, it takes me a little longer than usual. I also have amazing friends who chop things for me and do the heavy stuff for me.

So here it is, my simplified version of a chicken katsu curry

For the chicken:

100g flour, seasoned with salt and pepper

1 egg, beaten

200g Japanese panko breadcrumbs (for my Nairobians, you can find it at HealthyU, Chandarana, Nakumatt or even try those Chinese shops that are popping up everywhere)

4 boneless chicken breasts, I left the skin on

100ml groundnut oil or vegetable oil

For the sauce:

1 tbsp groundnut or veg oil

1 onion, chopped (I cheated and grated mine, which I prefer)

5 garlic cloves, chopped (I also minced mine)

2 carrots, peeled and chopped (I may have forgotten this, but I recommend you add the carrots)

2 tbsp flour

1 tbsp curry powder

600ml chicken stock

2 tsp honey

1 tbsp soy sauce

1 bay leaf

1/2 tsp garam masala

Start with making the sauce. Heat oil in a small pot. sauté the onion and garlic for 2 minutes, add the carrots and sweat for 10 minutes with the lid on. Stir regularly. Add the flour and curry powder and cook for a minute or so.

Slowly pour in the stock (pour gradually to avoid lumps). Add the honey, soy sauce and bay leaf and simmer for 20 minutes (reduce the heat at this point). Simmer till the sauce is thick but still able to pour. Add the garam masala.

Pass the sauce through a sieve to get it smooth and velvety. If you prefer chunky a sauce then skip this step.

To prepare the chicken; start by flattening the breast pieces with a mallet, or if your like me you don’t have one of those, just use a rolling-pin. I covered the chicken with cling film first and then just bashed away. Good for de-stressing, just be sure not to destroy the chicken.

Place the seasoned flour, egg and breadcrumbs on separate plates. Coat the chicken in the flour, dip into the egg and then the breadcrumbs.

Heat your oil in a frying pan and when the oil is hot enough fry the chicken breasts for about 5 minutes each side. You want it to be golden brown and cooked through. Remove from the pan and leave on kitchen paper.

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Slice the chicken diagonally and serve with the sauce drizzled over some rice.

Bacon Jam

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I don’t think I can call myself a blogger anymore. A whole year, not one single post. Numerous drafts, but nothing ever made it up. I’m not proud of this, so to appease the blogging gods, I have bacon jam! 

Been through quite a bit of a journey the past year. I will summarise for you: I moved to Cape Town, started culinary school! Boy what an experience yo! In the patisserie class for six months, what an experience! I have a new appreciation for sweet things though I do have to say there were times I just wanted to stuff all those pastries and just eat chips with lots of salt and vinegar! Culinary school ain’t no joke though, it is a lot of early mornings and hectic days. It kicked my ass, but I kicked ass too. Well that is until I developed Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) in my right hand. My RIGHT hand!!! Like who does that? I won’t go in to the details of what that is (google is your friend), but it is not what you want to happen when you are starting out as a chef. Anyway, pushed through that pain for a couple of months, saw doctors, got injections, continued whisking away. I started my work placement at The French Oven (production kitchen for Cassis Patisserie here in Cape Town). They always say that you will work in some of the best places and some of the worst. But wow! nothing prepared me for the experience. But I think somewhere in that kitchen a sense of descency was lost, probably locked up in the freezer along with the macarons! But hey ho. I worked for 2 months before my hand gave up on me. And I went to a hand specialist and was told I needed surgery. Along with a botched steroid injection from the previous doctor, I still had CTS and now De Quervain’s Syndrome (again google is your friend). Surely there must be a limit to how many syndromes one can have at the same time! And really a chef who can’t use her hands.. Come ooooon!!

Surgery went down January 22nd. I had two surgeries, one for each syndrome. Had no use of my right hand for a while, but now I’m getting my strength back, fingers are moving. Can’t quite do things like I used to, I don’t think I ever will. I have become heavily dependent on my left hand. But I am back in the kitchen, albeit my little kitchen at home. So with my days spent at home, I have plenty of time to be cooking and writing. Lucky for you folk!

So that out of the way, I have a rather special recipe for you guys. Bacon Jam! I have seen this all over the blogsphere for years, there is a whole bacon movement going on around the world. I mean who doesn’t love bacon? If you don’t love bacon, why are you on this Earth? 

Here’s the recipe…

500g streaky bacon, chopped into small pieces

1 red onion, finely chopped

4 cloves garlic, minced

50ml maple syrup

50g brown sugar

250ml brewed coffee

1 tbsp red wine vinegar

In a medium pan, sauté the bacon for 10 minutes, until it starts to crisp.

Take the bacon out and set aside. Sautè onions in the fat left from the bacon until softened. Add the garlic for about a minute.

In a large pot add maple syrup,brown sugar,  and coffee. Mix the bacon and onion together and add to the pot. Simmer this over a low-medium heat for 1 hour. Stir through every 30 minutes and add some water. After an hour add the red wine vinegar (I used balsamic vinegar for some reason, and it turned it a lovely sour but sweet flavour).

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                                           Bacon Jam, straight out the bowl!

You can serve this with anything, on  toast with ago like I did, or slather on to your burger, or on some panfried scallops. I ate most of it right out of the bowl. I have no shame! The jam will keep in the fridge for a week, just warm it up a little before serving.

Bacon jam people. Bacon jam. 

Hopefully I will be back on the blog wagon. I have a few recipes to be testing out. 

As for the hand, it is getting better. it’s frustrating some times, but God put me on this journey for a reason right? 

 

Grilled Salmon with a Lime Butter Sauce

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Show of hands who loves salmon as much as I do? All of you? I know, there can’t be a soul in the world who doesn’t love salmon. Well at least that’s what it’s like in my world.

My mother recently bought a large quantity of salmon. If you have bought salmon in Nairobi, you know it is hella expensive. The kind of expensive that requires you to have sold your sisters kidney! Trust me, I have been tempted many a time. However, my mother being a farmer, and all her connections in the farmers world got us a whole lot of salmon for a cheap. I sometimes imagine farmers have their own mafia like underworld… Cross a farmer and you wake up with half a head of cabbage in your bed *eek* okay, okay i stop now!

Back to the Salmon. I thought about making salmon en croute, as we all know that is like one of my favourite ways to eat salmon. But I wanted something simple and easy to make (cooking with a hangover). What is simpler than grilled salmon?

The lime butter sauce was a kind of experiment. Salmon goes really well with oriental type sauces, that sweet and somewhat sour taste. I wanted something sharp for the salmon… Again the hangover was dictating this!

Here is the recipe:

No precise measurements on this one

2 fillets of salmon, I had 2 very large pieces about 250g each.

Juice of 1-2 limes

2-3 garlic cloves, minced

1 small bunch of coriander, chopped

Butter. Oh butter! I used 1 cup, melted

Salt and Pepper

Olive oil

Start with patting the salmon with a paper towel until completely dry. Coat them with a little olive oil, salt and pepper.

Heat a griddled pan over medium heat. If you are fortunate enough you can use an outdoor grill. Place the salmon fillets on the griddle and leave to cook, about 5-8 minutes each side.

While the salmon is searing away, place the lime, garlic, coriander, salt and pepper in a blender. It is easier to use a mini blender. Blend for a minute before pouring in the melted butter in slow and steady stream. Taste and season appropriately.

Remove the salmon form the griddle, plate up and pour over the lime butter sauce. Watch it melt over the salmon like umm… butter!

Serve with mash potatoes, steamed potatoes and perhaps a salad. I ate it all on its own:)

Salmon bathed in Lime Butter

Salmon bathed in Lime Butter

The sauce was phenomenal.

Enjoy

Lemon Orange Roast Chicken with Garlic and Ginger

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Roast chicken. Who doesn’t love roast chicken? To me, it evokes a feeling of togetherness, family togetherness. My sisters and I make this roast chicken every time we’re in Naivasha, or every time we have some sort of gathering. It is simple and quick to put together. Each of us has a different spin on the recipe; Lydia adds soy sauce; Gathoni loves her herbs and me.. I like lots and lots of garlic!

Here is the recipe… It’s a rough guide really, you can throw in whatever you like. But the lemon and orange is a must. I love the citrus tang it brings to the chicken, it compliments the warmth of the garlic and ginger.

1 whole bird, whole or cut in to pieces… entirely up to you.

Juice of 1 lemon, keep the lemons for roasting

Juice of 1 orange, also keep for roasting

Garlic, minced (I’ll leave you to decide the quantity)

a few whole cloves of garlic to add to the roasting pan

Ginger, minced (same with the garlic)

Herbs; I use everything from rosemary, thyme, parsley, mint. It is best to use fresh herbs rather than dried.

Salt and Pepper

Olive oil

Soy sauce (optional)

In a bowl, mix together the lemon and orange juice, garlic, ginger, salt, pepper and your finely chopped herbs as well as a little olive oil. In a freezer bag or plastic container mix this with the chicken and leave in the fridge for at least one hour.

Preheat the oven to 200C.

Bring the chicken to room temperature before laying the pieces out on the roasting tin. Skin side up. Add the orange and lemon halves you squeezed earlier, whole garlic cloves and sprinkle over salt, pepper and a little olive oil. Cover with foil and roast for 30-40 minutes. In the last 10 minutes, uncover the chicken to crisp up the skin. I love me some crispy chicken skin!

Remove the chicken and let it rest, covered for 15 minutes. When ready to serve, pour the gravy over the pieces.

Serve with a salad or roast potatoes.

This chicken is great for Sunday lunch, for those trips to Greenpark in Naivasha it is absolutely perfect!

This recipe is definitely for the heart and soul of my cooking, my beautiful sisters!

The Cape and Capsicum

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There are some journeys that we never imagine we could ever take, mostly out of fear or because we like to play it safe most of the time. I have never really been one to play it safe, well not all the time.

I saw on the news about this website that allows you to find and have affairs with other married people. Their slogan “LIFE IS SHORT. HAVE AN AFFAIR.” I didn’t think about it until I booked my ticket off to Cape Town, South Africa; and then it dawned on me that life is entirely too short not to have an affair!

My love affair is not with another man or woman, nor is it the kind that is forbidden by the Bible. Mine is with a place, and that place has stolen my heart! Much like the way a man steals your heart when you are in the throws of some illicit affair…. Cape Town is mine!

I decided some months ago that I would go to culinary school.. It has always been in my plans, but I played it safe and stayed in Nairobi for far too long. I woke up one morning, single and wanting more from the years ahead of me…. So I applied, I got in, and I will be off to Capsicum Culinary Studio in a few months (June to be exact) to become a chef.

So I just want to share with you all the love affair I had with Cape Town in the 9 days I was there in March.

I’ll let the pictures speak for my heart…

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Fish and Chips

My first meal in South Africa was at the airport in Johannesburg. I had fish and chips at Ocean Basket. You got to love how they serve it. Absolutely fabulous.

Sushi at Beluga

Sushi at Beluga

One of my friends, Jonathan from prep school days took me out to Beluga in CT for some of the most amazing sushi ever! I was literally having mouthgasms! On the plate there is salmon roses, seared tuna, rainbow rolls, and salmon sashimi.

Fully Loaded Burger

Fully Loaded Burger

I was staying at this lovely little hotel in Bantry Bay, right by the beach. They had an awesome burger with everything; brie cheese, sautéed mushrooms, tomato and chilli relish, onions. I had plenty of room service!

Mussels and Scallops

Mussels and Scallops at The Greek Fisherman

Out-of-shell mussels and scallops, sautéed until golden brown and served with
home-made mayonnaise and skordalia (potato purée with garlic) from The Greek Fisherman at the water front.

Stuffed Calamari at The Greek Fisherman

Stuffed Calamari at The Greek Fisherman

Tender calamari tubes, stuffed with line fish, shrimps, mussels, savoury rice and topped with a mild, curry sauce.

Big Mac

Big Mac

You know I love my junk food. It was awesome in the moment; 4 am, tipsy and trying to manoeuvre the drive-thru. Some nights.

Canal Walk

Canal Walk

Simply Beautiful.

View from my room

View from my room

I think this is Signal Hill.

Steak at The Hussar Grill

Steak at The Hussar Grill

We all know I love my meat, and this was one sweet hunk of meat. Dinner with Jonathan and Greg at The Hussar Grill in Camps Bay.

Salmon Roses

Salmon Roses

I do love my sushi.

Oysters at Pepper Club

Oysters at Pepper Club

Salmon at Pepper Club

Salmon at Pepper Club

Hake in a beer batter at Pepper Club

Hake in a beer batter at Pepper Club

Cranberry and Hibiscus Mojito

Cranberry and Hibiscus Mojito

Lunch at Pepper Club in Camps Bay with the boys was awesome. Beautiful views, great food, awesome company… can’t get better than that!

Dessert at The Bungalow Restaurant & Lounge

Dessert at The Bungalow Restaurant & Lounge

Me at Bungalow!

Me at Bungalow!

 

This has to be my favourite restaurant! The Bungalow Restaurant and Lounge for me kind of embodied what my experience in Cape Town was… A little bit of everything and a big swig of fabulousness!

Green Point Stadium

Green Point Stadium

At the stadium with Jonathan

At the stadium

Bafana Bafana fans!

Bafana Bafana fans!

I’m not one for football but I did go watch a world cup qualifier game South Africa Vs. Central African Republic at The Green Point Stadium (yes where the world cup was played). The atmosphere was electric and I did enjoy myself save for the cold and strong winds!

Dim Sum

Dim Sum

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Crispy Duck

I don’t remember the name of the restaurant I had dinner on my last night, I went there with Greg and his house mates and they were a bag of fun.

I left a big part of my heart somewhere in Bantry Bay, but that’s how it is with love affairs, you never really get to take them with you…

I now look forward to starting my journey, finding my heart in Cape Town.

To my boys, Jonathan and Greg… Thank you for being a part of my journey, you are now stuck with me forevs!

To all of you looking for that love affair… Life is Short!

 

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