By Clair Lo
Crisp, colourful and sweet, capsicum just needs a quick stir-fry by tossing in schmaltz to give it a totally different flavour. Made from rendering chicken skin and fat, schmaltz is packed with umami. A good alternative to lard, schmaltz is ideal for Asian stir-fries, adding tons of flavour to dishes like Leek Stirfry with Roast Pork and Steamed Golden Pomfret, Teochew-style Fish where cooking oil can be substituted with schmaltz. A delicious by-product is cracklings which make excellent garnishes for porridge and noodle dishes.
Total Time: 1 hour
A: Chicken Lard
1 kg chicken skin and fat
250ml filtered water
B: Assorted Capsicum
6 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
1 large purple onion, peeled and quartered
½ red capsicum, seeded and cut into chunks
½ green capsicum, seeded and cut into chunks
½ yellow capsicum, seeded and cut into chunks
1 heaped teaspoon schmaltz or chicken lard
1. Rinse chicken skin and fat under running water. Drain in a colander.
2. Heat up a non-stick wok or deep saucepan over high heat. Add chicken skin. Pour in water.
3. Using a spatula, stir continually until water evaporates, approximately 10 minutes.
4. As chicken skin cooks, oil will render and it will gradually turn brown. Keep on stirring while it cooks so that skin will not stick to wok or saucepan.
5. Once chicken skin turns slightly brownish – approximately 30-40 minutes – reduce to medium heat.
6. Continue stirring for another 5-10 minutes until chicken skin crisps up. Remove cracklings. Set it aside.
7. Allow rendered chicken lard aka schmaltz to cool down in wok or saucepan. Pour into a jar.
8. To stir fry capsicum, heat up wok or saucepan over medium heat. Sauté garlic briefly in a generous teaspoon of schmaltz.
Toss in onion and cook 1 minute. Add in capsicum and cook another 3 minutes.
Dish up and serve immediately.
PHOTOS: Clair Lo
TIP: Cracklings can be enhanced with chicken stock powder or salt and used as a seasoning agent. Place cracklings inside a large ziploc bag. Using a rolling pin, crush until they break up into pieces. This is ideal as a garnish or topping for salads and noodle dishes.
To turn cracklings into a paste, grind to a fine texture in a spice miller Season with ½ teaspoon chicken stock powder or salt. Store in a jar in the refrigerator.
TECHNIQUE: Adding water while rendering chicken lard prevents the skin from sticking to the base of the wok or saucepan. Also, oil will not splatter during the cooking process and when it cools down completely, you get a clear golden brown liquid.
You can use schmaltz in liquid form at room temperature for up to a month. For maximum flavour, store it in a jar in the fridge – it will solidify to resemble ghee with a golden hue.
Schmaltz can keep up to approximately 1 year refrigerated.
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