Tag Archives: Dude Food

Buttermilk Chicken, Polenta Crumbed Okra with House Made Tartare Sauce

Photo by Jun Pang

Photo by Jun Pang

I have talked about “Dude Food” several times, I just have a huge fascination with it.  To me, it’s about comfort.  I love cooking and eating food that’s tasty, easy to eat and easy to recognize.

More and more people are looking for food that is “easy”.  I feel that these days, no one seems to have the patience or time for “uppity” type food in stiff restaurants.  People are looking for a place that’s comfortable, light, fun and accessible to most people.  Atmosphere plays a huge role, served by people who are knowledgeable but approachable, relaxed and easy going.  The food has got to be easy but packed full of flavour.  People have got to know it because they don’t have the patience of a long winded explanation of what they’re about to eat, they just need to be enticed quickly by recognizing it quickly on the menu or by orders being walked to tables by waiters.  Fancy food is out people, mark my words and it is also why I believe food trucks in Australia much like the food trucks in America will do so well, why you say, well for many different reasons.  The trucks are so accessible to many people, they’re cheap, fresh and they produce really tasty meals and these days, what else does one need?

There are many recipes here, from the spice mix, the okra, the chicken and tartare sauce.  Try them separately in other dishes, for example, try the spice mix with fish or baked potatoes or even on rice, paella style.  With the buttermilk chicken, try it with thin strips of beef or even fish using the same methods, it works out really well.

Buttermilk Chicken, Polenta Crumbed Okra with House Made Tartare Sauce

Serves 8

For the Cajun Mix

¼ Cup Salt

2 Tbspn Ceyenne Pepper

2 Tbspn paprika

1 Tbspn Onion Powder

1 tbspn Freshly Ground Black Pepper

1 Tbspn Freshly Ground White Pepper

1 Tbspn Garlic Powder

2 Tsp Dried Basil

1 Tsp Chilli Powder

¼ Tspn Dried Thyme

¼ Tspn Ground Mustard

1/8 Tspn Ground Cloves

For the Buttermilk Chicken

1kg chicken Wings

500ml Buttermilk

250gr Plain Flour

2litres Vegetable Oil

 

For the Okra

1kg Okra

200gr Plain Flour

6 Eggs

200mls Milk

200gr Plain Flour

200gr Polenta

2 litres Vegetable Oil – for frying

For the Tartare Sauce

2 Eggs

1Tspn Dijon Mustard

¼ Cup White Vinegar

600ml Vegetable Oil

1 Lemon – juiced

1tblsp Worcestershire Sauce

100gr Cornichuns – finely chopped

80gr Capers – finely chopped

I Brown Onion – roasted in skins until soft then peeled, finely chopped

5 Cloves garlic – roasted in alfoil until slightly brown and soft, finely chopped

1 Bunch Parsley – finely chopped

Method:

For the Cajun Mix

  1. Place all ingredients in a bowl and mix thoroughly

For the Buttermilk Chicken

  1. Mix 2/3 of the Cajun spice mix together with the buttermilk
  2. Place the chicken wings into the buttermilk mixture and marinate for at least 30 minutes, over night is better
  3. Once marinated, strain excess buttermilk and dust with flour
  4. Heat the oil to 180 degrees Celsius using a thermometer
  5. Deep fry the wings until golden brown and cooked through, test by cutting one open
  6. Once cooked, toss in a bowl seasoning with remaining Cajun mix

For the Okra

  1. Whisk the egg and milk to together
  2. Create a crumbing station by placing the egg and milk in one bowl – whisked together, flour in another then polenta in a another bowl.
  3. First, place the okra in the flour, roll around until well covered, dust excess
  4. Then place flour dusted okra into the egg and milk mixture, making sure it is well covered, shake off excess
  5. Finally, roll the okra in the polenta until well covered
  6. Using a thermometer, heat up the oil to 180 degrees Celsius in a large, deep sided pot
  7. Fry the okra until golden brown, strain using a slotted spoon and place onto kitchen paper to absorb excess oil

For the Tartare

  1. Place the eggs, mustard and vinegar in a food processor and turn on high for one minute
  2. Add about ¼ cup of the vegetable oil in the food processor and process on high for about 30 seconds until it is emulsified into the egg mixture
  3. Slowly “stream” the rest of the oil into the egg mixture until all the oil is emulsified into the egg
  4. It should now form a thick mayonnaise, if not add extra oil.  Thickness will depend on size of eggs etc
  5. Add the lemon juice and Worcestishire until completely mixed
  6. Add the rest of the ingredients whilst still on high
Photo by Jun Pang

Photo by Jun Pang

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Sisig

I grew up eating Filipino food and many of the dishes have created great life memories for me and Sisig is one that stands out.

The first time I had Sisig was when I visited the Philippines as an adult.  My friend and I thought it would be a great life experience to visit the Philippines on our way to Ireland.  We spent two weeks in Manila, the capital of Philippines with my uncle and cousins.  It was then that I was introduced to Sisig and the delicacies of Filipino bar food.

I remember the night well, we were taken to a night club but to me, it looked like a huge tin shed with a bar and a dance floor.  The place was mainly outdoors and to the back of the this tin shed was what seemed to be a make shift kitchen with guys dressed in casual clothing with a tea towel in hand waiting for an order.  We sat on a one of the huge wooden communal  tables and waited to be served.

I remember it being a balmy night.  I remember thinking how far we were from the civilized world of little ol’ Adelaide, thinking how very different this “night club” was to ours at home.  I remember ordering San Miguel beer and immediately thinking how awesome this beer was and how unlucky that we didn’t have it in Adelaide.  I also remember how my cousin’s friend ordered all the food that night with caution because he knew that most of it was so different to the food we usually eat in Australia and boy, I was amazed at how fast it all came out once he ordered and I remember the smell that filled the room once the food was placed on the table.

Filipino men like to drink beer with food readily available.  When these guys get on the sauce, it seems they anchor down and do a proper job at it.  Food must be served at these sessions.  Now, I don’t know if traditionally the women cook or if it is expected they cook, but when ever I have drinks with my Filipino male friends in Australia, food just miraculously appears, discretely served by their Filipino wives.  Sisig was one of those dishes or pork in general cooked in many different ways.  What ever meat it is, it’s usually crispy, salty and served with a dipping sauce that consists of chillies, vinegar and soy or a combination of all or some of those ingredients.  Smart really (for the men who drink at these bars and for the people who own the bar) salty, sour and crispy snacks are the best if you want drink alcohol, because the flavours almost induces more drinking.

Sisig is no different.  It is made mainly from pigs head, every bit of the head from the snout to the ears, cheeks and even the brains.  It also has pig livers and if you have the luxury version, people may add pork belly to it.  Simply put, the head is boiled for a long time then char grilled until almost black, picked and chopped into a small pieces.  Chopped, grilled livers are added to it and then finished by binding it together with the pigs brain and dressed with a vinegar and soy based dressing then served on a sizzling plate and finished with a raw egg on top and  calamansi, a type of citrus used in a lot of Filipino cooking.

Sounds interesting huh?  But let me just add, I served this little beauty to 240 guests at a gala dinner not so long ago and a lot people commented positively on the dish, mind you, they didn’t know what they were eating!!  But that’s not the point, they enjoyed it because it is a tasty meal.  Crispy pork bits bound with gooey egg, cut through with the freshness of the calamansi juice.  Salty, sour, hot and tangy at the same time, perfect beer snack.  As one of the ladies at the function mentioned, it is a type of “Filipino Dude Food”, and you know what, I like that because as she mentioned that, I thought back to the first time I had sisig and that description fit perfectly well.

This is a a bit of a process but well worth the effort.  Be the first to discover this flavour, it is unique and enjoyable.  This type of food will take off, I know it.  Even though it’s classified as offal, the flavours are just too good and Aussies love a “good thing” especially if it goes well with beer. Every time I have made Sisig and served to “unsuspecting” diners, they have always come back with positive reviews.  This will be the next wave of “dude food” in Australia.

I have blogged this before, look into “Cooking Lessons” for step by step tips on this recipe.  That’s how much I love this dish, I just had to re-blog it!

Sisig – served on a hot plate with calamansi & raw egg

Sisig

1 Whole Pigs Head

1 Pigs Brain – vacuumed sealed or sealed in sandwich zip lock bag

2 Onions – finely diced

1kg Pork Livers or Chicken Livers – cleaned and de-veined

8-10 Birds Eye Chilli – sliced

2 Cups Cane Vinegar

½ Cup Soy

3tblspn Sugar

2 Bay Leaves

4 Spring Onion Stems – finely sliced

1 Whole Egg

Salt

Black Pepper

Method

  1. Boil the pigs head, the meat off of the head in water, black pepper and bay leaves until tender, approximately 1 hour
  2. Boil the livers in water for about 20 minutes along with the brains.  Strain, then set aside to cool
  3. Make the sauce by mixing the chilli, 1tablspoon f the chopped onion, vinegar and soy and seasoning with salt and black pepper, balancing with the sugar
  4. Once the meat is tender strain the meat until dry then BBQ or grill it along with the pigs head and livers. Grill them until the livers are evenly browned and the pig meat crackles on the skin side and browns lightly on the meat side.  Smokey flavour is the key with out burning
  5. Allow the mat to cool slightly so you can handle it, and pick the meat off the bone.  Leave the eye
  6. Finely chop the meat into small bits, leaving small chunks
  7. Place the chopped meat into a bowl ad add the remaining onions and mix through with your hands
  8. Do the same with the remaining chillies
  9. Add the sauce and mix through thoroughly

10. Add the brain by crumbling it into the mixture, breaking it into small pieces

11. Heat up a heavy based pan until it smokes slightly then add the pork meat mixture

12. Cook until starts to brown, stirring continuously.  Make sure you scrape the bottom of the pan every time it starts to stick, this is the flavour of the sisig

13. Once crispy, heat up a Chinese hot plate until smoking hot and add the sisig to the plate

14. Crack one egg on top and sprinkle with chopped spring onions