The often asked question to cooks all over is “how to cook”. It challenges me to ask myself how many methods of cooking are there out there that can be applied to a main ingredient. Let’s try this with the ever so famous chicken. And mind you, every part of the chicken can be turned into a dish. Have you heard of chicken feet as a specialty?
I will go in alphabetical order so that we can add-on if we find more.
1.Bake – there are many recipes to bake a chicken; either whole (a.k.a. roasting) or chicken pieces/breasts. We can also bake lovely chicken pies.
2. blanche – you can put the chicken into boiling water first, and then into ice cold water, before grilling the meat. That way you get to lock the juices in. Also the water used for boiling can be used as chicken stock.
3. boil – boiling chicken either gets you a nice chicken soup or chicken can be boiled before shredding and served as garnishing for noodles soup dishes. Also boiling the chicken before grilling shortens the cooking time.
You can also double boil a chicken; this is slow cooking over a few hours, requiring you to cook the chicken in a pot placed into another pot of boiling water. It is cooked using indirect heat for a more even cooking. Delicious but you have to be patient for the end result.
4. braise – this is like stewing; you add liquid just enough to cover the meats (dark soy sauce or just water) and let the chicken cook slowly. This is usually done for tough chicken pieces, like the “ayam kampong” (the tough free range chicken).
5. broil – this is like grilling chicken; we moisten the chicken pieces with some gravy, put them on a baking pan and cook them for a few minutes. These are lovely for sandwiches or salads.
6. ferment – yes you can ferment chicken and bake it thereafter. Sounds like a specialty.
7. freeze – freezing is arguably a method of cooking; cooking without heat. Works for ice creams, sherbets and yogurts, but don’t think you should try it on chicken though.
8. fry – this is common in Asian recipes. There are many delicious recipes for deep frying chicken. We use a “kuali” or wok for this for best results. The other is stir frying. Again, best results are produced using the wok. This is quick and shallow frying on high heat. Juices are locked in and the chicken is cooked in small pieces for quick cooking. Best served hot. You can cook simple one-dish meals, like fried koay teow, using this method. Yummy!
9. grill – one of the more common methods of cooking chicken is to grill or barbecue.
10. microwave – is that a cooking method? You can add some spices and seasoning and microwave the chicken. What cooking method is it then if not microwaving?
11. pickle – yes there are pickled chicken recipes. However, this is best eaten with something mild tasting like fresh salad and plain rice given the strong pickled flavor.
12. poach – gently cook the chicken in some water over low heat.
13. roast – this is another famous method of cooking chicken, and there are just so many lovely roasted chicken recipes that we can try.
14. sauté – sautéed chicken is a very simple recipe. It takes just a few minutes to sauté chicken with a little oil and herbs/a light sauce. Delicious!
15. scald – this is the first process to clean the chicken; scalding with boiling water to remove the feathers.
16. scramble – cooking scrambled chicken is like cooking scrambled eggs; cook shredded chicken or small chicken pieces in a light seasoning. In fact, we can cook scrambled eggs with chicken. How about that. Then eat it with rice or as a sandwich.
17. sear – searing chicken gives it a nice brown crispy exterior while leaving it soft on the inside, just like browning. It is accomplished through applying high temperature quickly to the chicken pieces.
18. simmer – gently boil the chicken; the gravy thereafter can be used as a sauce.
19. smoke – smoked chicken is not the easiest way to cook a chicken, but if done right, the result can be a deliciously aromatic, tender and juicy smoked chicken. Yum!
20. steam – steaming is a very simple and healthy alternative of cooking chicken. Simply add ginger and or mushroom.
21. stew – chicken stew needs no introduction. This is a slow cooking process that is worth the wait; we put some water, vegetables etc and leave to boil to a heavy gravy.
22. sweat – this is a term that I have just heard as a cooking method; you can cook chicken in low heat over a little oil.
23. tandoor – you’ll need to have this large clay oven for this method of cooking, but worth the while if you have one. This is chicken marinated in yogurt and spices, and grilled in this special clay oven over a charcoal fire. Hmm.. heavenly!
24. toast – Toasting is another form of grilling. Perhaps we can mix cooked chicken meat with sauces and spread this on some bread to toast.