Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Practical Exams: Steamed Chicken Leg & Stewed Chicken with Mushrooms and Chestnut

Steamed chicken leg. Low interest = no practise = panic!
No one told me this was to be included in the practical as well! Alamak!
I walked into school this morning feeling somewhat anxious about the practical exams as I had not really practised on the dish. Even though today was the last day of school, I could not quite feel relaxed yet because of the exams. To make matters worse, I realised an hour before that we would be tested on two dishes, not one! How could I have missed that? Super blurr!

The first dish is Chinese steamed chicken leg which I have some fair idea of the process but was concerned about how to debone it. At midnight last night, I googled "How to debone a chicken thigh". I saw a video on Youtube of a youth showing off his deboning skills to his hostel mates so I figured it can't be all that difficult, and all I needed was more confidence.

The second dish - stewed chicken in mushroom and chestnut - was not one of my favourites during class and so I didn't pay too close attention to it. In fact, I didn't even blog about it so you can tell it figured very low on my personal radar. So naturally, my heart skipped when I realised this was also to be included in the exams! In complete honesty, I thought about whether I should pretend to suddenly fall sick, LOL. I think I understand better what my children go through everyday in school now. 

Being in kindergarten, we were given 1.5 hours to complete these 2 dishes. I had to whisper a quick prayer for myself and told God that I would place my confidence in His goodness and grace and not on my limited skills.

At 12.15pm sharp, when the deadline was up, I presented both dishes to Chef. With a sense of pride in my work! Many things happened for me in those 90 minutes. I surpassed myself in deboning a chicken thigh, I had a better appreciation of the stew dish, and I learned to taste and adjust my seasoning as I went along in the dish preparation. There was a connection with the sauces and a new respect for each ingredient, never experienced before. Chef's previous comment on "You have no idea what a garlic means to me" came to mind. 

Chef checked on the colour and texture of my simmered sauce, then he cut a small piece of chicken and placed in his mouth and chewed slowly. With eyebrows raised, he smacked his lips and asked me what I thought as he ran his spoon under running water. I confidently said I personally liked the taste which was true. He said, "Some people may find your stew too dry especially if you don't serve it immediately. But I personally like stew this way. In fact, I like it alot. The flavour is well balanced. The sauce is not starchy. Colour is just right. Good work."

On the steamed leg, he almost choked, LOL. He said the ginger was too overpowering and advised me to cut down on that next time. He had to reach for some water immediately! Everything else was good, the gelatin was flavorful, the chicken was properly blanched, steamed, deboned, chopped and presented. So I scored 28/30 marks for practical, and for yesterday's oral, I scored full marks. 

One actually learns even while taking exams!


  1. Congrats on your graduation & excellent results!
    Haven't tasted any of your creations though...


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