No, hell hasn’t frozen over, nor is the sun rising from the west now. But for the 2nd day in a row, I actually cooked. As in, used more than one ingredient, used the stove top, and actually cooked stuff. Granted, its nothing fancy, nothing that I would serve at a dinner party (hah! As if I would ever have a real dinner party!) but it was edible, and it sort of followed a recipe. Last night, I made, what is known in my home as ‘Brisbane Chicken’. I call it that because I think my mom made it for the first time when we were in Brisbane on vacation. For the first time in my life, we weren’t staying with an aunt or some other random relative while abroad. We actually rented a vacation apartment and went some place where we did not know anyone. Although we traveled quite a bit as a family (mainly back and forth between LA and Singapore once a year) due to the perks of my dad’s job, we never went any place if we couldn’t a) stay with a relative b) visit said relative to deliver whatever Singapore food goodies they were not able to get in their new adopted lands. It was as if being on vacation and being able to travel out of SEA was such a privilege, we had to find some way of paying for it somehow even if the air tickets were going to be free.
Back in the early 1990s, Australia was still considered an exotic location for many of my peers. The costs of flying anywhere was still rather expensive at that time, and the furthest people went was Hong Kong. Or maybe even Japan. USA was the ultimate destination, but no one really thought about Australia. Because honestly, if you were going to spend that much money to fly somewhere, you were going as far as you can! And then the Australia tourism board got to work. Or perhaps its because SQ started flying there on a more frequent basis. Anyway, Australia became popular and we resumed our yearly flight towards the USA, or rather, I started flying home yearly from the USA when I started university there.
Honestly though, the recipe itself is quite simple. I mean, I may be on a cooking kick, but I haven’t gone completely batty. Anything too complicated will probably end up in the bin because I’m sure I would have ruined it even before its half way done. Or I would have given up and just thrown it away. Which would break my NY’s resolution to waste less this year in my bid to try to save the environment in my own small way. And there are a number of recipes out there that use both red onions and chicken so any of them would do but I never really follow a recipe (another reason why so many of my cooking experiments fail) and I’ve found over the years that if I follow every recipe, I always end up with a bunch of stuff I never use anyway. So I either try something that I know my mom cooks, or I ‘modify’ something existing to suit my needs. But if you really insist on having a recipe to follow, this caramelized recipe is the closest one I can find (I’ve also learnt that if I add sugar to food…it normally is caramelized something or the other…). Or at least, if I was searching, probably something I would have copied down, and then proceeded to hack my way through it mercilessly.
So the first thing to do is heat up the oil. I mean, you can use any sort of cooking oil. I’m sure there are people with finer taste buds than mine who would object to the random use of cooking oil. I personally use olive oil because well, I think its healthier, and because I think it tastes better. But I also think that when a dish has so many ingredients, it honestly no longer matters since something else will mask the taste anyway. I’m pretty sure the Urologist will disagree. But he actually went to cooking school in Italy, and I did not.
When it feels as if the pot is warm (if you leave it too long, I swear the pot will catch on fire, so please don’t do that..3-5 mins is probably long enough), throw in a packet of brown sugar (yes, I get my sugar in packets. I’m afraid of ants), and kind of distribute it evenly at the base of the pot and let it dissolve ..but try not to let it burn (I think I kind of just left it there for about 5 mins). In the mean time, chop up the red onions really quickly (because it was only a meal for me, I used half an onion). People who are more organized than me will probably have already chopped it up, in which case, you have to wait about 5 mins while waiting for the sugar to dissolve in the oil. Then throw in the onions. Mix it in. Enjoy it. I felt like a cook while I did that, the mindless shifting of the onions in the sugary oil mixture and the steam rising from it. It was fun. I did that for about 5-10 mins (don’t burn it) and then I put the chicken in. Prior to doing that, I had seasoned the chicken with a pinch of salt and a dash of pepper. By this I mean, I literally took a pinch of salt and rubbed it on the chicken, then I shook some pepper from the pepper bottle on it (really vigorously…about 10 shakes). I did all this after I had thrown the onions in and just allowed the chicken to enjoy the pepper and salt by itself while I pretended to be a cook for 10 mins. Then I put the chicken in, added some light soy sauce (2 teaspoons) and a cup of water and closed the pot, turned the heat down (I have a convection stove so I turned the knob from 6 to 4) and walked away. I then started to make some rice with my trusty electric steamer (that took 5 mins). After about 20 mins, the pot started to make some gurgling noises so I went to take a quick look at it. I turned the chicken around and closed the pot again. It kept making the gurgling noises which I presume is the steam trying to escape (sounds like my kettle when the water is boiling) and just waited for another 10 mins. I cut near the joint to make sure the chicken was cooked (it was), turned off the stove and just let it sit there on the stove until the rice was ready.
Although its not much of a recipe, the chicken was delicious (in my humble opinion) and it brought back some great memories. I spent a lot of time on the beach during that vacation. The sand was amazingly white and it was so much fun as a family to walk along the beach. Everything in Australia closed by 5pm. By 5pm, we were kicked out of the amusement parks, and the shops were closed. It was a wonder that we managed to find anything to cook at all (I think my parents went to get groceries while allowing us to run wild in the amusement parks for about an hour or so one day). But it was fun, because it was a family vacation for just 4 of us. Maybe one day, I’ll try using apricot jam as well.