Foodies like us love surprises once in a while, especially when unsuspecting flavours collide in the most tasteful manner, like this for instance. Pineapple, beautiful on the outside; yellow, juicy and vibrantly flavoursome inside – delicious fruit with great balance of tastes that are sweet and tart at the same time. When roasted, the pineapples gave a beautiful smoked flavour and yet, still juicy on the inside.
The addition of black rice vinegar to this dish really surprises me because I couldn’t imagine (until now) just how well the flavours blend together. If you are not familiar with the black rice vinegar, it’s endearingly known as the black magic potion – just a dash will literally blow you away. Think Chinese dumplings. Eyup! You’d recall a certain plate of dipping black sauce with ginger strips that comes with Chinese dumplings? That, ladies and gentleman, is the black magic potion.
When cooking this dish, use a good quality black rice vinegar. I swear by the Chinkiang black rice vinegar and so easy to get from any Asian Grocers. It’s dark black color, fragrant and slightly sweet taste, yet not too puckery.
Unsuspecting? Then let’s surprise your family and friends, shall we 🙂
Charred Pineapple in Sweetened Black Rice Vinegar (adapted from Jeremy Pang’s Chinese Unchopped)
200 g fresh pineapple, chopped into large chunks & reserve extra pieces for later use
300 g chicken thigh fillets, boneless & skinless
200 g cornflour, seasoned with 1/4 tsp each salt & black pepper
1 green pepper, chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 tbsp sesame seeds, toasted
1 tsp sesame oil
1/4 chinese five-spice powder
1/2 tsp sugar
1 tbsp light soy sauce
4 tbsp Chinking black rice vinegar
200 ml chicken stock
2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp dark soy sauce
1. Pre-heat oven to 230 celsius. Place the chopped pineapple chunks on a baking tray and roast in the oven for 20 minutes, or until charred around the edges. Set aside to cool.
2. Slice chicken thinly to about 5-6 cm wide. Put them in a bowl, add all marinade ingredients and mix well. Then add the seasoned cornflour and gently massage into the chicken pieces until each piece of meat separates.
3. Place all sauce ingredients in a saucepan and drop in the excess pineapple pieces (reserved earlier). Bring to boil. Then, lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes to extract that tasty tropical flavours from the pineapple pieces. Bring to boil again and cook for another 5 minutes or until the sauce has reduced by half. Remove the pineapple pieces and set aside.
4. Heat the wok and add vegetable oil to sufficiently deep-fry the chicken pieces. Once the oil reaches correct temperature (that is, when the tip of a wooden chopstick starts to sizzle in the oil), add the marinated chicken and deep-fry until golden for about 5 minutes or cooked through. Remove and drain.
5. Remove most of the oil but leave just about 1 tbsp of vegetable oil in the wok. Heat it up and then add chopped onion and pepper. Stir fry for 1 minute. Add charred pineapples, pour over the sauce and bring to a vigorous boil. Add deep fried chicken pieces. Toss to mix and quickly dish them up. Scatter toasted sesame seeds and serve.