For the first week, i woke up on sunday just not wanting to cook. it was weird, i went thru the normal preparatory stages, planned the meal through the week, did the shopping on friday, thought about the process on saturday but sunday rolled around and i just didn’t feel like it. there was a laziness that crept over me that i just can’t put my finger on. i’m looking forward to going home for christmas so much that i find it hard to deal with the here and now, even the things i have chosen for myself.
still, this aside, i did at the end of it all make the meal i had planned. i cooked almost out of habit, the meal flowing out effortlessly. i felt no real pressure or stress on the timeline, i just saw it as an inevitability. it was sunday. so i cooked.
i got a really late start. motivation was hard to come by and luckily this particular meal didn’t take as much brain power or time as some others that i have made in the past. i framed the meal around three courses, as is my habit, chinese five spiced chicken, using cornish hens as the fowl, curried eggplant and vegetable fried rice. all in all the meal took about 90 minutes to prepare and it turned out great, i was very happy with the results, especially the eggplant. it shouldn’t surprise me, its the dish that took the least effort so obviously it was the one that would turn out the best.
i decided to spatchcock the cornish hens both to decrease the cooking time and to give them a better presentation on the plate. increasing the surface area of the birds gave more crispness and delicious texture as well. i used the standard spatchcocking technique except as it turned out, the keel bones were insignificant and didn’t require removing.
thaw the cornish hens and drain well. with a pair of kitchen shears, cut along the backbone on each side to remove it. place the hen breast side up on your cutting board and flatten with the palm of your hand. cut two small slits in the skin on the end of the hen and tuck in the ends of the leg bones to hold them in place.
drizzle the hens with a bit of sesame oil. rub the oil over the chicken to thoroughly cover. liberally spice the birds with chinese five spice mixture, salt and pepper. roast uncovered in a 350 degree oven for around 45 minutes or until the internal temperature reads 180. turn oven off until ready to serve. i split each hen in two to serve, creating four servings from the two hens, it fit better on the plate and was suitable to my appetite level. i do love leftovers as well.
The curried eggplant:
heat a bit of olive oil and sweat down one diced onion and 4 cloves of garlic until translucent. sprinkle the onion/garlic with a scant 1/4 cup of brown sugar.
slice two japanese eggplants into 1/2 inch slices and place in the pan. sprinkle with curry powder, cayenne pepper, salt and black pepper. pour in 1/2 cup of water and cook over medium high heat until the eggplant is soft, about 40 minutes, ensuring to stir often to prevent any sticking to the bottom of the pan and distribute the spices. sprinkle with sesame seeds and cook for about 2 minutes more. serve immediately.
the fried rice:
i needed to use a bigger pan for this dish but the wok i have will not fit on this stovetop. a large hot pan surface will give a much better consistency to the fried rice, especially at the stage when you add the egg. but hey, you gotta do what you gotta do to get by.
prepare one cup of dry rice according to manufacturers directions. set aside to cool. heat a bit of oil in a large pan or wok and touch fry a mixture of four diced green onions, 2 thinly sliced carrots, a finely chopped thumb sized piece of ginger and around six sliced mushrooms. when this ingredients start to soften, season with salt and pepper, then add the rice back in, stirring to distribute evenly. with the heat on high, pour in one beaten egg and stir constantly to ensure the egg doesn’t clump. this is where a big wok would have came in handy as my egg merged too much with the rice and didn’t really add much to the dish. it still tasted damned good though.
Due to our wonderful selection of beverages here at Osan, we were limited in choice but Eddie came through with some more Kirin Ichiban which is a damned fine beer in my opinion. no complaints here, thats for sure. the eggplant was the star of the day with a surprise kick that knocked me down once with a particularly well spiced bite. i may make the eggplant again just during the week for myself, it was pretty tasty.
Eddie also came though with a meal suggestion, a Moroccan feast that i will be developing for next week. the centerpiece will be a lamb tagine with a couscous side dish of some sort. i may get crazy and make some pita alongside, it would be fitting and thematic.