This weekend I went in to haymarket with some friends and picked up a huge armful of fresh fruits and vegetables to restock my tiny fridge for the weekend and week to come. These black grapes are delicious and the whole bowl only cost me $1.20! This market is bustling and it’s a little bit of an effort to get to but if you can manage to get there it’s definitely a budget friendly way to shop. I spent less than $15 on everything you see here (minus the flowers). We parked at Broadway shopping centre and walked in to haymarket but if you’re getting a bus or a train into the city it only takes a couple of minutes to walk there from railway square. I even had my first authentic yum cha experience! We ate at The Eight Restaurant in Market City. My top two picks would have to be the spinach and prawn dumplings and the tofu rolls. You will need the sustenance because a weekend trip to Paddy’s Markets is a mission!

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Considering I’m fighting off a cold and spent most of my Sunday recovering from a 14km run on Saturday morning, I decided to put my market goodies to good use and try to kill off whatever it is that’s trying to take over my immune system this week. On my first night in Balmain I had a lemongrass chicken stir fry at Le Tonkin Vietnamese restaurant and have been wanting to try and recreate this dish in my own kitchen for a while now. I’ve always been one to take inspiration from experiences eating out and by browsing recipe books, magazines and food pics on the internet. I prefer to gain a lot of visual inspiration and then just take bits and pieces from various recipes and recreate them in my own way. I’ve found that there are times when it pays to follow basic methods, but you can still mix things up as far as the ingredients are concerned and make things to your own tastes. Here’s the result of my take on Le Tonkin’s Lemongrass Chicken, with a recipe (of sorts) included below.

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Lemongrass Chicken

2 chicken breasts, sliced

1 small red chilli, finely chopped

1 lemongrass stem, finely chopped

3 cm piece ginger, grated

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

1/2 white onion, sliced

1 big handful of fresh coriander, chopped

1 tsp honey

1 tbsp fish sauce

3 tbsp soy sauce (or more to taste)

1/2 bunch watercress

1/2 cup shallots, chopped

2/3 cup long grain rice, or whichever style you prefer

First up, get your rice cooking. To cook my rice, I put it in a sauce pan and cover it by about an inch with water. I cook it over a high heat until the water boils over, then I reduce the heat to moderate until all the water disappears and there are little holes all over the surface of the rice. This will only happen if you don’t touch the rice while it’s cooking, so this means no stirring!! When the holes appear, turn the heat off and put the lid on for about five minutes. Then take a fork and fluff up the rice and put the lid back on until you’re ready to serve. All in all it takes about 20-25 minutes (depending on how much you’re cooking) so do this first and let it cook while you prepare the stir fry.

To make the sauce for your stir fry, place your chilli, lemongrass, coriander, garlic and ginger in a mortar and pestle or food processor and grind/whiz until you have a smooth consistency. I added a tiny drizzle of olive oil because that is all I have, but I think the thing to use would probably be peanut or sunflower oil. Season to taste and add in the fish sauce, honey and about 1 tbsp of your soy sauce.

Next, heat up your oil of choice in a wok over a high heat plus a tsp or two of the sauce you have just made, and fry your chicken pieces until just cooked. I like to add in a little of the sauce rather than just cooking the chicken by itself because it gives the chicken a chance to really soak up some flavour. When it’s done, remove the chicken and set aside.

You may want to add a little more oil at this point if your pan is too dry. Stir fry the onions first and then add in the watercress and half of your shallots for about 30 seconds, before adding in the chicken and the rest of your sauce plus the extra 2 tbsp of soy sauce. If you need to add a little more soy sauce, then feel free!

Just before you serve, mix the rest of your shallots through the rice, then plate up and enjoy!

Die sore throat!!

Trini xo

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