Normandie Kitchen

Shared food in a share house

Category: Asian

Braised pork belly, with optional figs

An unctuous, and savory delight. We only let ourselves make braised pork belly once every six months or so. It’s wonderful served over rice, or as a component of the Normandie Wedding Banh Mi. Braised pork belly is a special treat, made with fresh figs in the summer. It ends up sticky, and slightly sweet — kind of like a pork jam. At another time of year, you can substitute coconut juice or guava nectar for the figs, and add a little bit of caramel for flavour.

Wendy, Brad

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Kerala pepper chicken

An intensely aromatic, spicy chicken from the state of Kerala, in the southwest of India. Like a lot of food from Kerala, mustard seed and curry leaf are prominent. With the sweetness of the onion, the richness of the chicken, and the fresh spiciness—it’s crave worthy. We were literally stealing the last few pieces off each-others’ plates. We made this at the Normandie house, as part of a big Indian-food-and-Bollywood night, with our good friend Mythili (check out her great blog!) who’s a regular collaborative cooker in our kitchen. It was perfect with a coconutty egg roast, and some chapati, rice, and beer.kerala chicken

–Mythili Menon

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Pork and mustard greens (aka Wendy soup)

Wendy soup (or canh cải chua) is one of the simplest, most delicious soups you can make in winter. It’s pretty much nothing more than cải chua (fermented mustard greens), and soup-cut pork ribs. The bones make a flavourful stock, the pickles balance the richness, and the meat is fall-off-the-bone tender. As you can tell from the name, Wendy grew up eating it, and introduced it to the Normandie house. It’s in pretty heavy rotation, when the days get short. In this version, we take advantage of something that’s usually a negative — unripe, green tomatoes are common in winter, and are perfect in this soup.  Otherwise, daikon is more traditional.

Canh Cải Chua

Wendy
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Red-braised pork belly

We’re only allowed to make braised pork belly twice a year. After all, you can only fly so close to the sun, before you fall to earth. It’s glorious. Chunks of unctuous meat layered with tender fat, simmering in a sweet-and-savoury-sauce, until they come to sticky, slippery, soft perfection; bathed in a “sauce” of glistening oil. pork_belly

Ulli and Thomas
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Sesame sauce noodles

This versatile recipe might sound like an absurd, five-year-old’s invention — spaghetti with peanut butter. But you can make this remixed Sichuan dish with little more than those two ingredients. In Chinese, the original is called cold noodles with chicken slivers (雞絲涼麵), and, accordingly, it’s usually made with chicken. But if you’re happy to bastardise it, this recipe works with whatever happens to be in the fridge (I love cucumber, eggs, and tomato; but leftover chicken, celery, bean sprouts, tofu or mushrooms would work). Infinitely flexible, infinitely delicous, this is a staple meal, for Brad, Wendy, and Joyce. Thomas suspects it might be the perfect, post-zombie apocalypse dinner. Master it now, before the walking dead appear.

chicken sliver noodles

Brad, Wendy, Joyce

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Five spice poached chicken

Poaching chicken is a quick, and easy, way to prepare meat for salads or noodles; or just to eat with a dipping sauce. It’s also a nice way to infuse chicken with a lot of flavour — although you can do pretty much the same thing, without the aromatics. If you want to use skinless, boneless chicken breast, for some sort of “healthy” alternative to food, feel free. But your best bet is to use a whole chicken, or at least a mix of bone-in, white and dark meat, for maximum flavour.

poaching_chicken

Brad

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Char siu bao

This is one of the best winter foods — sweet, fluffy bread, wrapped around a savoury, fragrant filling — especially when served with spicy chinese mustard. There are a lot of different kinds of bao (or mandu, or niku man, or banh) but the barbecue pork one is the archetype. They’re best eaten right away, but are good reheated, too, for breakfast or lunch. This recipe is a little bit labour intensive (sorry, not sorry), so if you want to make char siu bao, grab a bunch of friends, and start stuffing.

stuffed_buns — Brad, Wendy

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Chinese BBQ pork – char siu

Char siu, or char siew (fork roast: 叉燒), is sometimes referred to as BBQ or roast pork. It’s a Cantonese dish, and is probably a familiar sight, as the red meat hanging along side the duck in the window of Chinese restaurants. It’s savory, slightly spiced, and slightly sweet. Because it’s so easy to buy good char siu, you might not want to bother making your own, to use in noodle soup, or char siu bao (steamed buns) — or just to eat with hoisin sauce. But it turns out, it’s easy to make, and the char siu you make at home can be more delicious than the restaurant version. And you can control the sweetness — and red food colouring — to suit yourself! We recently made this, for a big char siu bao making party. It was amazing.
char_siu

Brad
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