Guess what?! I made something delicious today, it came to me over coffee this morning with my father. As I sipped on my Hazelnut Choc Spin at Spinelli’s, complete with crunchy bits of roasted coffee beans I suddenly knew what I wanted to make for lunch… Something meaty, fresh, packed with flavour, and most importantly, light! It’s quite hot in Singapore (yes I have returned in time for the Hungry Ghost festival and Singapore’s 49th Birthday) so light meals rich in protein are the order of the day.
This recipe features minced chicken punctuated with fresh notes of ginger, lemongrass, and coriander. **I’m not sure whether I’m talking about music or perfume… let’s go with both because the best creative minds have synaesthetic tendencies… like Wassily Kandinsky. It was music in my mouth. Honest.** I’ve balanced these notes with spring onions, garlic, chilli, a little Gulah Merah (unrefined “red” sugar) I picked up in Bali, finished with rice vinegar and a dash of fish sauce.
I used the stiff outer leaves of the lemongrass stalks as skewers because they inject flavour into the meat whilst its cooking, waste not, want not!
Sound good? I thought so too… read on, my foodie friends, read on!
To make the skewers you will need:
230-250g minced chicken (makes about 6)
2 small (!hot!) green chillies, finely minced (de-seed one of them to spare your stomach)
2 sticks of fresh lemongrass- peel off 3 whole leaves from each stick starting at the base and set aside. Finely mince the white “bulb” of one stick.
3-4 spring onions, finely sliced
1/2 tsp crushed red chillies
3/4 tsp roasted coriander powder
1/2 tsp Himalayan salt
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1.5″ ginger, finely minced
3-4 cloves garlic, finely minced
50g brown “Shimeiji Mushrooms”, finely minced. (These are the freshest local mushrooms available, feel free to substitute any other chestnut mushroom you find.)
2 tbsp gram flour to bind the mixture
A small bowl with a little oil in it to grease your palms whilst forming the mince – like they say, greased palms get the work done faster… 😉
To serve them up you will need:
A small bunch of fresh green coriander, ripped up
100g washed salad leaves, use any that are fresh and locally available… mix them up for more colour!
1 chopped tomato
7-8 tbsp fish sauce
3 tbsp rice vinegar
2 tbsp gulah Merah or any unrefined sugar… try jaggery or palm sugar as they carry the same warmth we’re after.
1.5 tbsp Sri Racha Sauce (cardinal sin… but trust me on this one)
1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds for the final flourish (optional)
Got everything? Let’s begin!!!
Step 1) Wash and prep all of the vegetables. This means mincing up mushrooms, garlic, chillies, ginger, lemongrass and also washing the salad. Prep the lemongrass stalks/skewers as well. as chopping up the tomatoes and set aside. Pre-heat your oven to 220c (200c Fan Assisted) and line a baking tray with foil. Grease the foil, ready for the skewers.
Step 2) Make a dipping sauce in a small bowl by adding fish sauce, rice vinegar, Sri Racha, adding in the second lemongrass bulb whole after bruising it with a heavy knife (I find this oddly cathartic) and Gulah Merah. Use the stem as a “muddler” if you wish and ensure all of the liquids and sugar are well mixed. Set this aside for later.
Step 3) Into a medium sized bowl, plonk the chicken, minced sundries – garlic, ginger, mushrooms, chillies, lemongrass bulb,- salt, turmeric, roasted coriander powder, crushed chillies, and gram flour. Mix together with a tablespoon.
Step 4) Using your palm greasing bowl, grease your palms and grab a handful of the minced chicken mixture and shape into long kebabs. Stick a lemongrass skewer through the centre and place on the tray. Continue doing this, greasing in between making each skewer to avoid goopy hands, until the mixture is finished…this makes approximately six. Wash your hands thoroughly and sprinkle your beautiful tray of skewers with a little bit more of the red sugar. This creates a beautifully browned surface and enhances the flavours in the meat!!
Step 5) Whack the tray in the oven for 20-25 minutes turning once.
Step 6) Remove skewers from the oven. Place desired quantity of salad on a plate, top with chopped tomatoes, ripped coriander and sesame seeds. Plonk skewers beside the salad in an artsy/ non-artsy way depending on hunger levels. Dress the plate with a little bit of the dipping sauce or keep it separate if you wish and serve hot.
Mmm mmm good!!