Recipe: Rontini Signature Fried Chicken

~ This is Day 189 ~

Watch how to make #RontiniSignatureFriedChicken below! I’ve been developing these fried chicken since 2005 so needless to say, this recipe is perfect as long as you follow it! This is my No.1 way of making fried chicken at home. I have other ways to make different types of fried chicken but this is my go-to for full meals!

If you liked any of my stuff, get them here with the links below:

Disclosure: This post contains Amazon Affiliate links. If you click on one and buy something, I receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. All opinions are my own.

For the Marinade

  • 8-10 pieces organic chicken drumsticks
  • 1 head garlic, peeled
  • 1 bunch cilantro, stems removed/washed
  • Soy sauce
  • Chili powder/Red Chili Flakes
  • Sesame oil

For the Finish

  • 3-4 qts deep frying oil (canola, soy, vegetable, grapeseed)
  • 1 bag rice flour in a ziplock

Recipe: Paella de Mariscos

~ This is Day 182 ~

I’ve posted a couple paellas (1 & 2) in the past but here is the instructive video on how to do it yourself at home! I thought I posted more than 2 on this current website but the other ones were probably from my previous website. Anyhow, watch below:

If you want what I have:

Disclosure: This post contains Amazon Affiliate links. If you click on one and buy something, I receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. All opinions are my own.

Makes one 13-inch paella pan. Feeds 3-4 people.

For the Salsa Verde

  • 1 cup parsley leaves, packed
  • 1 cup EVOO
  • 1 garlic clove
  • Salt

For the Rice

  • 2 onions, diced
  • 6 garlic cloves, microplaned
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika/pimentón
  • 1 TBS tomato paste
  • 1.5 cups Matiz rice
  • 1100 mL chicken/clam/shrimp/lobster stock
  • Pinch of saffron
  • One 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes
  • Assorted seafood
    • 1 monkfish fillet – cut into 1-inch pieces
    • 12 headless shrimp – deveined, tail left intact
    • 1 chorizo link (forgot to put in the chorizo in my video! But sear this with your pre-partially-cooking process.
    • A few squid tubes and tentacles – cut into thin strips
    • Mussels, de-bearded
    • Littleneck clams – soaked in salted cold water 20 minutes before cooking
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Lemon wedges

Click here for the recipe to making your garlic aïoli!

Recipe: Garlic Aïoli

~ This is Day 178 ~

Ever had sriracha aïoli and wanted to make it at home? Learn how to make the base to all mayo/aïoli from my YouTube video! Also, mayonnaise is the base to many other sauces, such as tartar sauce, remoulade, rouille, salsa golf, etc…

To make garlic aïoli:

  • 2 egg yolks
  • ½ lemon, juiced
  • 1-2 cups neutral oil (grapeseed, canola)
  • 2 garlic cloves, microplaned
  • Salt, as needed

If you liked any of my stuff from the video, here are some links for them:

Disclosure: This post contains Amazon Affiliate links. If you click on one and buy something, I receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. All opinions are my own.

If you ever need ideas for different flavors of mayo/aïoli, go find Pommes Frites in NYC. I’m glad they didn’t close down and were able to move locations after the East Village fire.

Recipe: Sweet Soy Glazed Baby Back Ribs

~ This is Day 175 ~

We are living in strange times right now… if I’m cooking for myself, I want tasty one-pot/pan recipes or easy clean-up because I despise the clean-up part of cooking. I have always hated cleaning up all the mess from the cooking process. Getting back to the topic of this post, this is my go-to way to make baby back ribs at home because it’s super easy and prep is light for this. Roasting this is also easy because it’s not all active, you can do other stuff during the 20-minute intervals.

The following is for one third of a rack of baby back ribs. Serves 1.

  • ⅓ rack baby back ribs
  • 3-inch piece ginger
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 2 scallions
  • ¼ cup light brown sugar
  • 2 TBS red pepper flakes
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • Optional marinading ingredients: mirin, Chinese cooking wine

Slice the ginger and garlic thinly, on a mandolin or using a knife. Put those into the mixing bowl or shallow dish (if using a full rack) after slicing. Next, wash your scallions and trim off the roots and other damaged areas. Cut into one-inch pieces and put into the mixing bowl.

If you’re feeling super lazy, this next part is optional but I do it (almost) every time anyway because it just makes the meat fall off the bone easier. You want to trim off excess sinew, fat, membrane, etc… basically all that white stuff.

Next, add in the brown sugar and chili flakes. Add soy sauce to coat the ribs. Toss and turn the ribs and have the rib bones facing up while it marinates. You can either have the ribs marinading in room temperature for 2-3 hours or in the fridge for 4-6 hours or even overnight. 

Preheat your oven to 350°F. Line a sheet tray with foil or parchment paper, Pam spray the rack and place the ribs, bones facing upward, on the rack, and into the oven, set a timer for 20 minutes. Pour all marinating ingredients into a small saucepan. Turn on the heat and reduce until syrupy. Strain solids out and discard, the reduced marinade is the glaze that you’re going to apply on the ribs every 20 minutes. 

After the first 20 minutes, using a pastry brush, apply glaze onto the ribs. Then set another 20 minute timer. At this point, your ribs have been roasting for 40 minutes. Flip your ribs over using a pair of tongs. Apply glaze and roast for another 20 minutes. Onto the last 20 minutes! Apply glaze and set a timer! If you have leftover glaze, not a problem. Using the last of the glaze, apply to ribs for the last time and turn your oven on the broil function for 5 minutes. Then take ribs out from oven. It should be glistening.

Place your sexy ribs onto a plate and garnish with some chopped chives or scallions. 

Recipe: Moroccan Lamb Shanks

~ This is Day 151 ~

Since when did NYT started hiding/charging for their recipes? I saw this via the daily newsletter a few weeks back and when I wanted to go back to it, I couldn’t see it anymore. So I’m writing this recipe from memory and from my adaptation of doing this during my Zoom cooking demo last weekend.

I was testing out how a Zoom cooking class would work so I tried this out with four of my relatives on Zoom.

Ras el hanout is a spice mix found in Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco. There is no definitive composition of spices that makes up ras el hanout so if your store is out of ras el hanout, you can make it yourself:

  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ¾ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground coriander seeds
  • ½ tsp cayenne
  • ½ tsp ground allspice
  • ¼ tsp ground cloves

Serves 4.

  • 4 TBS grapeseed oil
  • 4 lamb shanks, averaging 1 lb each, trimmed of excess fat and sinew
  • 2 large onions, diced
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 tsp ras el hanout 
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • Generous pinch saffron threads
  • 3 quarts vegetable stock*, more if needed
  • ½ cup blanched almonds
  • 150 g raisins or currants
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 1 cup parsley leaves, packed
  • Kosher salt, as needed
  • Sea salt, as needed

*I always try to make my own stocks if possible because stocks shouldn’t contain salt in them. Every store-bought stock contains salt or low-sodium levels and it’s better to add your own salt in your cooking process. Click on above link for my recipe to making your own vegetable stock.

You should do this the night before: generously marinate trimmed lamb shanks in kosher salt overnight. The salt will help flavor the meat and will keep the meat retain moisture.

Blanch lamb shanks in cold water and bring to a boil. Drain and remove from water. Blanching helps remove excess salt and blood. Rinse under cold water if needed, then pat dry on paper towels. 

Heat grapeseed oil in a large heavy bottomed pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Working in batches if needed, sear the lamb shanks until browned on each side (there are 4 sides!). Make sure the oil is very hot before searing, you need to hear the sizzle.

Transfer the lamb shanks to a dish and set aside. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add more oil if needed. Sweat the onion, garlic, ras el hanout, and saffron. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Once aromatic, return the shanks to the pan with the cinnamon stick. Add the stock and bring to a boil over high heat. Taste and adjust for seasoning. The meat of the shanks should be mostly covered, but not fully submerged in the stock. Cover the pan, reduce the heat to a gentle simmer, stirring occasionally, until the meat is fully cooked and tender, about 2-2½ hours, depending on the size of your shanks. If it looks like there isn’t enough liquid in the pot or if it’s drying out during the cooking process, add some more stock.

Preheat oven to 400°F and roast blanched almonds for 10-12 minutes, until lightly golden. When nuts are cool enough to handle, use a food processor and pulse until coarsely ground or chop by hand. Sift through to remove the finer pieces. Set aside until ready to serve.

Pick, wash, spin parsley leaves then chop and set aside.

Once the lamb shanks are fully cooked, remove them from the pan and set aside. Add the raisins and honey to the sauce and gently stir to combine. Cook, uncovered, over medium-high heat for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has reduced to a syrup-like consistency. Taste and adjust for salt-content. There might be impurities coming up as you reduce, so skim those off.

When the sauce is ready, return the lamb shanks to the pan to warm them through and coat them with the sauce. Add in chopped parsley. Garnish with almonds and serve immediately with fluffy couscous.

Disclosure: This post contains Amazon Affiliate links. If you click on one and buy something, I receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. All opinions are my own.

Recipe: Vegetable Stock

~ This is Day 151 ~

I always try to make my own stocks if possible because stocks shouldn’t contain salt in them. Every store-bought stock contains salt or low-sodium levels and it’s better to add your own salt in your cooking process.

Makes 3-4 quarts.

  • 2 TBS olive oil
  • 1 large onion, cut into large chunks
  • 2 carrots, peeled & cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 3 celery stalks, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 head fennel, cut into large chunks
  • 2-3 bay leaves
  • 2 TBS whole black peppercorns
  • Parsley stems
  • 1 head garlic, cut in half horizontally

In a 7.5 quart dutch oven, on medium-heat, sweat the onions, carrots, celery, and fennel with the olive oil for 5 minutes. Then add in the rest of the ingredients and sweat for another 2 minutes before filling the pot with cold water. Bring up to a boil and reduce to a simmer and reduce by half.

Strain and cool. If you’re not going to use it immediately, you can freeze it.

Disclosure: This post contains Amazon Affiliate links. If you click on one and buy something, I receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. All opinions are my own.

Recipe Update: Coconut Curry

~ This is Day 95 ~

After making Fish Cheeks’ coconut crab curry at home several times using the mortar & pestle way, I got tired. It’s hard work!! So here is the modern way using appliances.

This is a double recipe of the mortar & pestle, yields 2 quarts of curry. I pint them up and freeze them.

For the Curry Paste:

  • 1½ oz. dried Thai bird’s eye red chili
  • 1 oz. fresh Thai bird’s eye chili
  • ½ oz. garlic
  • 1 oz. fresh galangal, chopped into small pieces
  • 2 oz. lemongrass, smashed and chopped into small pieces
  • 2 oz. wild ginger, chopped into small pieces
  • 1 oz. fresh turmeric, chopped into small pieces
  • 2 oz. dried shrimp
  • ½ oz. sea salt

In a food processor with a feeding tube, start with the ingredients listed above in that order. Blend into a paste.

For the Curry:

  • Four 14 oz. cans of coconut milk
  • 4 shallots, sliced
  • 2 oz. fish sauce
  • 2 oz. palm sugar
  • 2 oz. lemongrass, smashed and chopped
  • 2 oz. tamarind concentrate
  • 1 oz. fresh galangal, sliced into rounds
  • 8 fresh makrut lime leaves
  • 8 Chinese broccoli leaves, coarsely chopped

In a large saucepan over low-medium heat, bring the coconut milk, shallot, fish sauce, palm sugar, lemongrass, tamarind, galangal, makrut lime leaves, Chinese broccoli leaves, and the curry paste to a simmer. Be sure to break the tamarind concentrate thoroughly with a whisk. Stirring constantly to prevent scorching, cook for 15 minutes, then take off heat and remove the Chinese broccoli leaves.

Wait till cool enough to blend without steam building in the VitaMix. It’s better to blend while the curry is still warm but I don’t like to get burned by spicy curry at home so I blend the next morning, after the curry pot has cooled down completely in my fridge. Blend in batches until smooth. Pass through a chinois and discard solids.

Store and freeze! Just take them out the night before and let it thaw overnight in the fridge.

Recipe: Mussels with White Wine & Tomato

~ This is Day 75 ~

I get asked how to make this quite often from friends and family so I’m just going to write this really quickly. This is my favorite way to make mussels and clams. The best part after the mussels/clams? The bread dunking into the rich broth and into your mouth part.

  • 2 lbs mussels
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 2 tomatoes (or substitute one 14 oz. can diced tomatoes)
  • 2 thyme sprigs
  • 1 TBS tomato paste
  • ¼ cup butter (optional)
  • ½ cup parsley leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • Olive oil
  • Salt & freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ lemon

Finely chop the onion and thinly slice the garlic cloves. Dice your tomatoes if using fresh ones. Finely chop your parsley, reserve some for garnish.

Scrub the mussels and toss out the dead/damaged ones. If they’re open and don’t close when you poke them, they’re bad. Remove the beards if they have them. Set aside.

In a large pot with lid, heat up enough olive oil to almost cover base of pot. Sweat onions and garlic until aromatic and tender. Add in diced tomatoes and thyme. Season a little with salt, turn heat to medium. Cook for 2 minutes, then add in the tomato paste and cook that out, 3-5 minutes. Add the butter if adding and let the butter emulsify with everything. Once butter has melted, add in the mussels. Turn heat to high, season with salt and black pepper, and add the white wine. Cover with lid, mussels are ready once they open completely, 5-7 minutes. Before you take them out and off the heat, add in most of your chopped parsley and the juice of half a lemon, stir to combine well. Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary.

Once in a bowl, add the remaining parsley on top as garnish. Serve with toasted bread. I always eat it with ciabatta. Any bread will suffice, pick your favorite!

*For clams, I like to add bacon and hot paprika to this.

Quarantine Paella

~ This is Day 15 ~

It’s almost April!!! The month of March seemed like it took forever to get by. Oh my gosh… What will I do for the entirety of next month???

I’m calling this “quarantine paella” because ingredients are difficult to come by. I try to only go outside to grocery shop when I absolutely need to, i.e. when the fridge is empty. Grocery stores such as Whole Foods Market has all the basic stuff but sometimes the things that I want are out of stock. There are also limits on certain things that you’re allowed to buy. I had hoped to buy 15 lbs of AP flour today but I was only allowed to buy 1 unit, which was 5 lbs. There is no “2-day” prime delivery on Amazon anymore. Everything takes the old regular amount of time (5 business days) or now, even longer to arrive! Jeff Bezos should reimburse us with some Prime membership fees! Totally not going to happen though.

Anyway, with my limited resources and ingredients, I made this paella last night and I’m so glad that I can cook! Thinking about my friends who cannot cook as well as I do… what are they eating? All I want to do is share!! I usually make soffritto ahead of time and just keep a quart in my fridge – it’s good with everything, especially rice! But again, don’t have the excess of ingredients to do things ahead of time. I only put head-on shrimp and bay scallops in this paella, the least variety of sea creatures that I have done in my paella history.

Recipe: Coconut Crab Curry

My favorite restaurant in NYC is still Fish Cheeks, an authentic Thai restaurant that focuses on seafood in NoHo. For the first year in the restaurant, they had a sign that read “A No Pad Thai Zone”. I’m there basically every week. If I’m eating alone, I always start with the grilled pork cheeks (those taste better than bacon by a million times!) and then finish with their coconut crab curry! Other favorites on their menu: zabb wings, tiger prawn/lobster karee, and po tak! They also have happy hour everyday, twice a day, which is #awesomesauce because people who also work in the industry usually work during “normal” happy hour times.

Anyway, six months ago, I stumbled onto Fish Cheeks‘ coconut crab curry recipe on Vice. I immediately bookmarked it and have been trying to get the energy to do it at home. Fall season has hit NYC and my work life has been overwhelmingly exhaustive. I’ve been working 6-7 days a week since Labor Day. Last Saturday, I finally had the time to make curry paste from scratch. I have a new appreciation for what goes into the work of making the curry paste. I wonder how big their mortal & pestle is…? Or maybe Fish Cheeks has an assembly line of cooks making curry paste at the same time?

There were three ingredients that I couldn’t find though; betel leaves, prik ban chang, and shrimp paste. I was told by the Thai grocer that a close substitute to betel leaves were the leaves of Chinese broccoli (gai lan, 芥蓝). Prik, which is chili in Thai, is a red chili pepper that is not spicy but is used to make curries red/orange in color. The Thai market was out of shrimp paste so I bought dried Japanese shrimp from Chinatown.

So here is my adaptation from Vice’s published Fish Cheeks‘ recipe.

For the Curry Paste:

  • ¼ oz. sea salt
  • ¾ oz. dried Thai bird’s eye red chili
  • ½ oz. fresh Thai bird’s eye chili
  • ¼ oz. garlic
  • ½ oz. fresh galangal
  • 1 oz. lemongrass
  • 1 oz. wild ginger
  • ½ oz. fresh turmeric
  • 1 oz. dried shrimp

Make the curry paste by mashing everything together with a mortar and pestle. I have a 6-inch one and the volume was perfect. Start with the top listed ingredient and then work your way down. Do not move onto the next ingredient until the previous one has become a paste.

For the Curry:

  • Two 14 oz. cans of coconut milk
  • 2 shallots, sliced
  • 1 oz. fish sauce
  • 1 oz. palm sugar
  • 1 oz. lemongrass
  • 1 oz. tamarind concentrate
  • ½ oz. fresh galangal
  • 4 fresh makrut lime leaves, plus 2 finely chopped as garnish
  • 4 Chinese broccoli leaves, coarsely chopped
  • 8 oz. crab meat

In a medium saucepan over low-medium heat, bring the coconut milk, shallot, fish sauce, palm sugar, lemongrass, tamarind, galangal, 4 makrut lime leaves, Chinese broccoli leaves, and the curry paste to a simmer. Be sure to break the tamarind concentrate thoroughly with a whisk. Stirring constantly to prevent scorching, cook for 15 minutes, then take off heat and let it cool for another 15 minutes. Strain and discard solids.

Add in the crab and the rest of the finely chopped makrut lime leaves on low heat, until the crab is heated through. Pour into a serving bowl and serve with lots of steamed white rice!