Saturday, 8 March 2014

Steamed Chilli Chicken (or Tofu) cooked with Sea-Spiced Aubergines and Rice - Thermomix Method

These are quite simple dishes to make in themselves. (If you want the non-thermomix methods, go here for the Steamed Chilli Chicken recipe, and here for the Sea-Spiced Aubergines recipe). You can cook them all together in your Thermomix, and just finish off the aubergines in the sauce in a wok at the end while the chicken is resting and keeping warm in the Varoma.

The quantities given for the chicken serves two people as a main dish for 161 calories per serving, and you could easily double this if you're feeding more. If you prefer, substitute firm tofu (you can press wrapped in clean muslin for 20 minutes first, to firm up a little more, before cubing), and omit the blanching stage as not necessary. The quantities given for the aubergine serves four as a main, or six to eight as a side (depending on how hungry you are! Its 84 calories for a quarter of this quantity.), and I have cooked it in greater quantities because it freezes and re-heats well, and is great stirred into stir-fried noodles the next day, with some poultry, or meat of your choice and a handful of beansprouts, or similar! However, feel free to halve the quantities if you only want to make enough for two without lefteovers. The aubergines are also great as an accompaniment to dishes such as home-made Char Siu Pork or a smoked dish such as Tea-Smoked Chicken or duck.


For the chicken
2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into approximately 1 inch pieces (240g, or use firm tofu, cubed and omit blanching) [264]
1 inch ginger root (about thumb thickness), finely grated/crushed [3]
1 tbsp Shaoxing wine (or substitute dry sherry / white wine [which are GF] - Shaoxing wine is NOT gluten free) [20]
1 tbsp Chopped Salted Chillies (or substitute 1 large red chilli, finely chopped with or without seeds depending on your preference, and an extra teaspoon of soy) [7]
1 tsp light soy sauce (or use tamari for gluten free) [3]
1/2 tsp toasted sesame oil [22]
1 spring onion, finely sliced on the diagonal, to garnish [3]

For the aubergines
650 to 700g aubergines (about three medium-sized) [130]
1 tsp neutral oil (e.g. groundnut, sunflower, ricebran etc.) [45]
1 1/2 tbsp chilli bean paste (see notes below for easy substitutes, NOT generally gluten free, but suggestions below, including my easy salted chillies)  [20]
2 inches finely grated/crushed ginger root [7]
5 large garlic cloves, crushed [30]
150ml light chicken (or vegetable) stock [8]
1 tsp sugar [16]
1 tbsp light soy sauce (for gluten free use tamari soy sauce) [8]
1 tsp potato flour (or cornflour/cornstarch) mixed with 1 tbsp cold water (optional) [11]
1/2 tbsp Chinkiang / Chinese black vinegar (contains wheat - for gluten free substitute balsamic vinegar) [3]
4 spring onions, sliced finely on the diagonal [14]
1 tsp toasted sesame oil [45]

Rice - up to 300g in total (easy-cook rice will not stick together, use 50-70g per person - 50g is approximately 176 calories, 70g is 246 calories, if you're counting).

Bring a pan of unsalted water to a rolling boil and blanch the chicken breast chunks in it for 20 to 30 seconds (omit for tofu), making sure none stick together. Remove, refresh under cold water briefly to stop them cooking, and drain. (You could do this in your Thermomix if desired, inside the internal steaming basket, but I find it easier and safer to do in a pan because I don't like carrying boiling water around the kitchen and tipping it down the sink!).

Mix together all of the other ingredients for the chicken/tofu, except the spring onion, in a shallow dish which will hold the chicken/tofu in one layer, and fit into one of the Varoma baskets (I put mine in the top). Add the chicken/tofu, and mix well so that is completely coated with the rest of the ingredients.

If you think that any liquid from other ingredients, or the lid of your steamer may drip into the bowl with the chicken in it, during cooking, then you will need to loosely cover the dish with foil to prevent this from happening and diluting the juices/sauce (plus if putting in the bottom shelf, you will have the aubergine juices dripping onto it, which will stain it an unnattractive greyish colour which you don't really want!).

Prepare the aubergines. Cut the top off, quarter them lengthwise, then cut into slices approximately 1cm thick. Arrange in the other Varoma basket randomly, with plenty of space in between for the steam to get through, sprinkle over a pinch of salt.

Add 1 litre of cold water to the Thermomix jug, put the internal steaming basket in place, and weigh your rice into it. Add salt then put the lid on the Thermomix bowl (with the MC off) and rinse the rice for 10 seconds / Speed 5.

Place the Varoma on top of the Thermomix lid, with both trays and the lid on and steam for 20 minutes / Varoma Temperature / Speed 3.

Meanwhile, about 5 minutes before the timer is up (don't worry if you do this once the timer has gone off) take a good, non-stick wok and make sure you have some recently boiled water to hand, in case you need to add it near the end. Put over a medium high heat, add the oil, and then add the chilli bean paste (or chopped fresh or salted chillies) and cook for about 15 to 20 seconds to release the flavour into the oil, then add the ginger and garlic and cook for another 20 to 30 seconds until fragrant, being careful nothing catches or burns. Add the stock, sugar and soy sauce and give a quick stir, remove from the heat and set aside until the Thermomix timer goes off.

Once the timer goes, turn off the Thermomix and carefully remove the steamed aubergine slices from the Varoma (don't worry if a few look less cooked - they will finish cooking in the wok), tip them carefully into the sauce in the wok (replacing the Varoma back on top of the Thermomix to keep the chicken warm), turn the heat back onto high and simmer for about five minutes or so (or until cooked through to your liking), to allow them to absorb the flavours.

From this point, if the liquid seems to be evaporating to quickly at any time, add a little more hot water from the kettle. Stir in the potato/cornflour mixture along with the vinegar, and incorporate thoroughly, turning or tossing until the sauce thickens. You will only have a small amount of sauce (you can make this without adding the starch too if you like, as the aubergines will absorb most of the liquid). Add the sliced spring onions, and toss through for a minute, then finally stir in the toasted sesame oil, taste for seasoning and add a dash more soy, or pinch of salt, if you think it needs i.

Check the chicken is cooked all the way through (check the largest piece in the middle for done-ness, if you're not sure), and serve the chicken (or tofu) on top of the rice, scattered with the sliced spring onion, and the juices from the dish; and the aubergines on the side.

The next day
You could make a quick noodle dish, by adding this to some cooked noodles, and stir-fried poultry or meat (e.g. thinly sliced chicken, beef or pork, or some mince - I used vegetarian mince). To serve two people, I cooked two servings of noodles (per pack) and meanwhile I quickly stir-fried about a cup full of (Quorn) mince with a splash of soy, added one portion of sea-spiced aubergines to heat through, then added the cooked, drained noodles and a large handful of bean sprouts, and stir-fried for another minute or two, with extra soy and sesame oil to taste, for a really quick and easy meal.

Re. chilli bean paste (the Sichuan variety)...

Chilli bean paste is not generally gluten free as it contains wheat. ('Yeo' make hot bean sauce which is gluten free - more suggestions for gluten free alternatives here.)

Some large supermarkets will sell (general) chilli bean paste in the world food aisle, such as Lee Kum Kee Chilli Bean Sauce, and you will certainly find it at oriental stores. I can't tell you the name of the brand I use, as it's in Chinese characters!

Substitutions: for gluten free, or if you can't get hold of any, substitute salted chillies for some savoury heat, or a couple of chopped fresh chillies and a little (extra) tamari soy sauce (or you could add a tbsp crushed yellow bean paste [which contains wheat] for the fermented bean flavour, if you're not looking to make it gluten free).

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