Thursday, 24 May 2007
Ken Comes To The Toon
An eventful day today. After a few days of relative peace and general unexcited nothingness, I was asked if I would like to go and watch a magician in action. Not a magician in the conventional sense, but one who can do amazing things with sharp knives, hot woks and chopsticks. A certain Mr Ken Hom was paying a visit to the area to demonstrate a few of his dishes from his new book. As it was going to be in the institution that is Fenwicks of Newcastle, I had to get off my backside and see the great man in action.
Ken is one of the true TV chef greats. In this day of TV saturated with people trying to show us all how to cook, Ken Hom comes from a time when it was unusual for anybody outside of Fanny Craddock, Delia Smith and Keith Floyd to be on television cooking. Especially one trying to show a whole nation of pasty white Brits the benefits of cooking using a wok. I can remember watching him as a young lad and thinking it was all too complicated. But how wrong I was, and today Ken showed an eager crowd of Geordies just how quick and simple this stir-fry lark is.
When I spoke to him, he blew me away by saying, 'I am honoured to have you come along and watch me cook'. Of course I nearly fell over, but I regained my composure and stuttered something like, 'Errm, of course Ken, but it is my honour to watch you'. I think the guys at Fenwicks who know me had told him I had been on MasterChef and he must have thought that made me a star. I'm happy to pretend just for one day! What a lovely guy; very down to earth, very polite with no ego or arrogance. Rare qualities in a man so rich, successful and talented.
Anyway, in a break from my usual style, I thought I would give you one of my favourite Ken Hom recipes. I own so many cook books, but I only own one Chinese cook book and it is Ken's 'Travels With A Hot Wok'. I don't cook much Asian food at all but this one is brilliant which anybody can do, and if anything, I'm inspired to start doing a lot more with my wok. Ken, it was a pleasure to meet you. A true gent and a genuine star.
Stir-Fried Chicken with Mushrooms
450g chicken meat, cut into chunks
For the marinade
2 teaspoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons rice wine or dry sherry
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 teaspoons cornflour
For the Stir-fry
25g dried mushrooms
350g button mushrooms, sliced
2 tbs garlic, chopped
2 teaspoons salt
Half teaspoon five spice mixture
2 teaspoons orange zest
2 tbs rice wine or dry sherry
3 tbs oyster sauce
2 teaspoons sugar
Large handful basil
1 - Combine the marinade ingredients in a bowl and add the chopped chicken. Leave to marinade for 20 minutes.
2 - Soak the dried mushrooms in boiling water for 20 minutes. Drain and squeeze.
3 - Heat a large wok then add the groundnut oil. Add the chicken and stir-fry for 5 minutes until brown. Remove the chicken with a slotted spoon.
4 - Add the onion and garlic and stir-fry for 2 minutes. Add the salt, five spice, dried and fresh mushrooms and stir-fry for 1 minute.
5 - Return the chicken with the orange zest, rice wine and stir-fry for a further 4 minutes. Finally, add the oyster sauce, sugar and basil leaves, cook for a further minute. Serve with plain boiled rice.