Sir Flinthart

I am so weak on Asian cooking. Don't know the basic principles, or the flavour profiles. Got no feeeel for it brother. But I want to get better so when Mr Flinthart's recipes from his ROR trip lobbed into my inbox, I noted the wonton soup with interest.

I'd already stolen the basic principle of using the chicken wings from the stock for snacks for Friday night footy, but this time I followed his stock and soup recipe to the letter, or email as it were. (while I say this, it was a beeso following to the letter, no measurement and added ingredients where I felt like it.)

What a revelation, these beautiful savory packets of pork mince (bangalow pork, the best you can buy in QLD), floating in this delicate, refreshing broth with crispy raw veg. Healthy, cheap and 500g of pork mince did me enough wontons for two meals. The other half went into the freezer for The Wife for next time I'm on the road.

So Dirk you will no longer be Flinty to me, rather you shall be known as Sir Flinthart, teacher of Asian cuisine from afar.

I've included the recipes, (hope that's ok sir flinty) as I know of a least two people who will want them. Jase, this is well within your budget.

Spicy Chinese-Style Chicken Stock

If you tackle French cookery, they start you on making stock. A good, flavoursome stock is the sine qua non of French cooking, providing a base to a thousand different dishes and sauces. Unfortunately, making stock in the French manner takes hours of sweating slavery, skimming a boiling potful of crap until you're happy with the outcome.
I hate doing things like that. I've got better ways to spend my time. But I like stock, because I like risotto and soups and sauces and gravies and curries and cous-cous and... yeah. You get the picture. So what I do, maybe once every eight to ten days, is set up to make a serious pot of stock after the fashion I learned in Malaysia. It's inexpensive. It's really easy. You can store it in the fridge in an airtight container for a couple weeks, or you can freeze it for months if you want.
Normally, I do it with bones and scraps. Works for chicken, beef -- even seafood, if you're careful not to boil for too long, thus leaching iodine into your stock and making it bitter. However in Montville, I couldn't locate chicken frames and necks in time, so I just bought a few kilos of cheap wings and drumsticks, knowing I'd be able to use them independently, once I'd taken them out of the stock.
Here's the recipe:

3-4 kg mixed wings and drumsticks (chicken)
half a cup or so of salt (remember, you're making about 10lt of stock. Be generous.)
Zest of three lemons (or two bundles of lemon grass, finely chopped)
two cloves star anise
roughly one full clove of garlic, smashed and peeled
three medium/large brown onions, peeled and coarsely sliced
Thumb-sized chunk of fresh ginger root, coarsely sliced
half-cup or so of fish sauce
tablespoon brown sugar (palm sugar is preferable, but not vital)
(optional) tablespoon sliced hot fresh chili

Put all the ingredients in a large stock pot with a well-fitted lid. Add enough water to cover the lot. Bring to a boil for about two minutes. Turn off the heat. Put the lid on. Leave the pot alone until it comes back to room temperature. Rescue the chicken pieces, sieve the rest of the junk out, and save the stock. Done.
I know. It seems too simple. It works, though. Oh -- and the business about letting it cool slowly doesn't seem to be a health risk, even in summertime. I've been doing it this way for about fifteen years, and I'm only following the procedures supplied by hundreds of thousands of cooks in Malaysia. I've even asked chefs here in Australia and in Singapore about it; those who are familiar with the technique assure me it's never failed them. I dunno what the classic French chefs would say, but then I don't speak French worth a damn. So
boil your stock very briefly, put the lid on, and let it cool slowly. No problems.

(Again use what you have, i had no star anise so i used a cinnamon stick, but the sugar and fish sauce makes this stock. And the lemongrass and ginger. Hang on thats almost the whole stock!)

Spicy Twice-Cooked Chicken With Polenta Crust

If you chose to use chicken pieces in your stock, you've now got a big platter of very tender, very damp chicken pieces cooked to the bone, absolutely saturated with flavour. Cover them with a teatowel or something, and let the worst of the moisture dry, so they're merely damp to the touch. Ten minutes or so is fine.
Meanwhile, get a freezer bag. Put about a cup and a half of polenta into it. Add maybe two teaspoons of salt, and the spice mix of your choice. (I used chili powder, citric acid powder, black pepper, and basil. If you use the citric acid, keep it to about half the quantity of the other spices, eh? It adds a lovely lime/lemon note, but it can be overpowering.) Shake the bag to mix the spices with the polenta. Add your chicken pieces one or two at a time and shake them to coat them with the polenta/spice mix. Arrange all your chicken pieces on the (lightly oiled) oven racks, and bake at maybe 160-180C until the polenta/spice coating goes golden brown.
Serve the chicken pieces hot or cold. Because the chicken has already been cooked in the stock, it's saturated in flavour -- but relatively low in fat. It will stay moist inside while acquiring a lovely crunchiness outside. You can make a full meal of it with a garden salad and baked potatoes, or serve it as snacks. And as you know, chicken prepared this way makes even the most famous of take-away fried chicken taste like vile, greasy nastiness... so if you make it even once, be prepared to have people asking you to make it again, and again.

(I used chinese five spice, cayenne pepper and lots of salt on mine)

Won-ton Soup

The thing I really like about soups from China, Malaysia, Japan, Vietnam, etc is the way the vegetables arrive still crunchy and tasty in that delicious broth. There's no real trick to it; you just pour the near-boiling stock over the top of the pre-sliced veg in the serving bowl, and that's it. Won-ton soup is a big favourite in my house. The kids and Natalie alike will gorge themselves on the stuff if I make enough. It's kind of spooky to watch.

Plenty of tasty stock
Vegetables for slicing up -- choices of carrots, broccoli, broccolini, baby fennel, Chinese cabbage, snow peas, sugar-snap peas, or anything else that takes your fancy, really.
Two packets of Won-ton wrappers (should get about forty per packet)
About 750 gm pork mince
Spring onions
Fresh coriander
Fresh ginger root
salt, pepper, sesame oil.

Slice your vegetables, and arrange them in the serving bowls. Add a teaspoon of sesame oil to each bowl.
Next, mince a thumb-sized knob of ginger root, and finely dice four spring onions plus a clump of coriander. Mix the ginger, the coriander, the diced spring onion and one decent dessertspoon of salt into the pork-mince, and work it all together. Scoop teaspoons of the pork mince out and make little packets using the won-ton wrappers. Squeeze the won-ton pastry together to make sure the packets stay shut in the stock.
Bring the stock to a simmer in a decent pot. As soon as it's simmering, put all your newly made won-tons in. The stock will come back up to a simmer in short order, but you will know your won-tons are cooked through when they all float to the surface. Stir once or twice, early in the piece to keep them from sticking to the bottom of the pot. Serve with a ladle. Garnish each bowl with a sprinkle of sliced spring onion. Eat.
Note: don't feel restricted to pork-mince won-tons. Chicken mince works too. So do minced prawns. You could probably manage something with mushroom if you wanted. Game meats might be a bit heavy though...

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