View the food dept.'s crisp skin chicken with five-spice salt and sweet vinegar dressing.
It's never difficult for us at t. to decide what to shoot, and to help SBS wring in the Chinese New Year (we love any occasion that involves eating), Sally Courtney, the food dept.’s food editor, wanted to do a version of Shantung chicken – something she can’t resist ordering when she goes out for Chinese. She absolutely loves the sweet vinegar dressing that goes over the crisp skin chicken and the bed of crispy fried spinach it is served on.
"Cooking a whole chicken for Lunar New Year symbolises prosperity, wholeness and the togetherness of family, making the food dept.’s version of Shantung chicken the perfect addition to a Chinese New Year banquet.
Our recipe starts with "white cooked chicken". Once the chicken has been poached and allowed to finish its cooking by standing in a hot shaoxing wine, ginger, garlic and shallot stock, it is then drained, dried and deep-fried to crisp up the skin. We then serve the crisp skin chicken with a fragrant five-spice salt, drizzled with a sweet vinegar dressing. Lettuce cups are another significant food served at New Year because of the way the Chinese word for it sounds like the word for rising fortune. At the food dept. we like to share a laugh and small plates of food, so on the day of our photoshoot we served this chicken with a pretty stack of delicate lettuce cups and some Chinese bowls of steamed rice. It disappeared very quickly!
Once you have mastered "white cooked chicken" you can easily create a wide variety of Chinese recipes (such as our chicken salad with pomelo, bean shoot, coriander and a spicy plum dressing) or Hainanese chicken, where the succulent chicken is sliced and served over rice with the hot stock and a selection of dipping sauces (our creative director, Anne Marie Cummins, craves the salty garlicky flavours of Hainanese chicken, and is always in search of the perfect Hainanese chicken recipe).
To view the rest of the food dept.’s Chinese New Year banquet menu, visit the food dept.
All about the food dept.
The momentum to start our blog last year was because...
"We saw a gap in the blogosphere for a professional food blog that had the wealth and depth of experience that the food dept have. We knew we could produce delicious recipes that not only work but also push creative boundaries." Anne Marie Cummins
"The timing just seemed right for this type of outlet for our combined creative forces, and the team were all super keen to see what we could create together outside of our usual editorial outlets." Petrina Tinslay
The must-cook recipe on our website is...
"Banoffee milkshake." Sally Courtney
"Without a doubt the chocolate and pistachio coated brittle with vanilla salt. I’ve made it for a friend’s Girls Night In for breast cancer, a charity night where I bagged up 100 small bags, another friend’s wedding and I’m about to make it this weekend for my friend’s daughter’s sixth birthday (under the request of Teal, the six year old, who has also requested her name be written with PINK chocolate). It seems the more I make it the more requests I get." David Morgan
"Too many! But I’m big fan of anything Asian recipe-wise. This Chinese New Year recipe is a real cracker." PT
The best thing about working together is...
"Having a wonderfully talented team to bounce things off and workshop creative ideas with." PT
"Working with a team of creative people who are passionate about beautiful food is so inspirational." SC
"To be able to collaborate from the very beginning, and to be involved in the decision making right to the end, from the initial idea, to the recipes and the styling to how it looks on the blog. We all bring are expertise from what we do but it’s nice to be involved in the whole process." DM
"Laughing all day." AMC
The worst think about working together is...
"We started a tradition where we toast the end of a food dept. shoot with a glass of bubbles. Shooting more often means that this has become a more regular (and lovely) habit." PT
The most difficult food to shoot/style and make look tasty is...
"Whole fish - there is always that little glassy eye staring back at you!" AMC
"Stews - lots of brown and no form." PT
My current food obsession is...
"Doughnuts (proper Italian ones)." PT
"Vino cotto – I’ve not found anything that it doesn’t make taste better!" DM
I learnt to cook from...
"My mum – she can cook anything." AMC
"All the wonderfully talented cooks and chefs I’ve worked with, via osmosis." PT
"My grandmother – she didn’t teach me everything I know but her passion for good home-cooked food is what inspired me in the first place." SC
"My mum gave me the how to’s and good basic skills but it was my nanna, who was the amazing baker and goddess of all things sweet that gave me my passion for cooking. I still can’t do an apple pie that is as good as my nanna’s." DM
I always have...
"Anchovies in my pantry, Champagne in my fridge and homemade stock in my freezer to make soup." PT
"In my pantry – nuts, good-quality olive oil, coconut milk and every spice you can imagine. In my fridge – salad leaves, herbs, lemons and natural yogurt. In my freezer – stock and good-quality premade pastry." SC
"Olives in my pantry, hummus in my fridge, vodka in my freezer." AMC
My most sauce-splattered cookbook is...
"Michele Cranston’s Marie Clarie Kitchen." PT
"Stephanie Alexander’s The Cook’s Companion." SC
"Nigel Slater, all of them. Any time I feel I’m losing my inspiration for cooking, I'll grab Mr Slater. Love his food." DM
"Neil Perry's cookbooks." AMC