I spent a long time thinking about this month’s TGRWT. Not least because I’ve had a lot of time to think recently (albeit admittedly between bouts of being ridiculously busy). In the end, I figured that rose is already enough of a middle eastern flavour. Why not run with the theme a little…?
So I decided to do something with filo pastry! Now I have to admit, there was kind of a personal challenge in making this. My past efforts with filo pastry have been… well… I don’t like to use the phrase ‘abject failure’, but it sums it up rather well. So I cheated and bought some pre-made filo. But anyway…
- Filo Pastry
- Olive oil (extra virgin)
- Rose water
- Rose syrup
- A pinch of salt
- Red Peppercorns
- 2 Thai bird eye chillis
- Fresh Raspberries
- Pomegranate Juice
- Pomegranate Juice
- Rose syrup
- Agar agar
This was a complicated dish to make. Reminded me a little of making maki-sushi, actually. Still, it was worth the effort!
- Firstly, preparing the rice. I didn’t rinse all the starch off the rice, and I used milk instead of water to boil it. Combined with the rice flour, this caused to milk to agglutinate into a kind of rice bechamel. To get that to work, I needed to cook the rice chinese style (just enough liquid to cook thoroughly, without having to drain off any excess).
When the rice was of a nice sticky consistency, I allowed it to cool a little, before folding in a generous amount of rose water and a dash of rose syrup. Both rose ingredients were bought from a local indian food store (it’s amazing what you can find if you know where to look).
- Then the chicken. Taking two chicken breasts I cut them into thin strips and grilled them at a high temperature until they were golden brown and crispy on the edges. A hot grill usually means the outside will be crisp, while the inside is still juicy. Just to make sure I got plenty of tasty maillard reaction products in the crispy layer, I finished these with a blowtorch. It always adds a little extra something to the flavour.
When these were done I took a sharp knife and shredded them thoroughly. Grilled shredded chicken really does smell delicious.
- I decided on a fruity mix for the chicken. Two things which synergise nicely with rose are pomegranate and raspberry. Taking a handful of crushed fresh raspberries and about 25ml of pomegranate juice (pure, cold pressed), I mixed in two finely chopped thai bird eye chillis and about 2 teaspoons of crushed red peppercorns to give the dish a bit of added bite.
With this spicy fruity mixture ready, I stirred in the shredded chicken, making sure it was all nicely coated.
- Ok, the bit I’ve always been bad at. Working with filo pastry!
Actually, purely because I’ve had a lot of practice at it, I decided to do this part almost exactly like maki-sushi. Take a long strip of filo pastry, pad it with rice at one end, line the rice with chicken and carefully roll it all up (with a dab of water to stick the pastry together). This lot made a good sized tray full of firecrackers.
- Finally, I brushed the firecrackers with a generous amount of extra virgin olive oil (italian, naturally) and gave them a light dusting with powdered paprika. About 20 minutes in a preheated oven at 200°C made them nice and golden at the edges.
- While the firecrackers were baking, I had plenty of time to make the sauce to drizzle over them. This was easy to make — a couple more crushed raspberries, some pomegranate juice, and a dash of rose syrup. Microwave for 15 seconds to heat the mixture up without destroying too many of the flavour compounds and stir in the agar agar bit by bit (always be careful to only add enough to get a good glaze-like consistency! Too much and it turns too gelatinous after it cools).
Just drizzle the sauce over a couple of freshly baked firecrackers and voila!
The verdict? Positively delicious. The flavours synergise so well, it was actually difficult to discern what the individual ingredients were. The whole combination just has a distinct flavour of its own. One thing I will say, my first impression was that I’d been a bit heavy handed with the peppercorns. On the other hand, this turned into a pleasant after-burn, following the tingly fire added by the chillis.
Overall a success. And I didn’t even mess up the filo pastry!