Please sir can I have Samoa

    One of my big culinary crushes is Samoan-born chef Monica Galetti who grew up in New Zealand.Formerly Michel Roux Jr.'s senior sous-chef at the two-Michelin starred Le Gavroche in London, Galetti is best known as a presenter on MasterChef: The Professionals.She's made a name for herself on the show for turning so-called 'pro' chefs into quivering wrecks, often standing over them - eyebrows contorted in horror - as they fail spectacularly at simple skills tests, their years of training turning to mush as they burn honeycomb, massacre sea urchins and forget to wipe down their work station.
    The woman is formidable, she rocks a peroxide crop and her visual disappointment is something you would hope to never experience.
     Galetti appears to be undoubtedly awe-inspiring and thoroughly impressive,but I bet she's not half as intimidating as those crafty MasterChef editors make her out to be. All those aghast faces she pulls on camera? surely that's just exasperation at seeing quality produce wasted? She´s a right bobby dazzler.Having said that I´m not so sure I´d like to be in the ranks of her brigade. In 2017 she left the autocracy of Roux´s Gavroche, went her own way and opened her own restaurant Mere with her husband David, former head sommelier at Le Gavroche.
     Mere is French for mother but also apparently Samoan for Mary, Galetti’s mum’s name, and it’s supposed to be pronounced “mary” not “mare”. But the staff pronounce it “meer”, as in lake or as in “Pah, milord, ’tis a mere restaurant”. Meer, mare, Mary?   
    Soy and honey chicken with coconut brown rice
    This quick, easy springtime recipe by  Monica Galetti is inspired by her mother’s home cooking back in New Zealand.This is a wonderfully sticky dish which doesn't so much have a sauce as a glaze that coats the chicken. My twists to her recipe which are a substantial increase in the liquid quantity, the addition of some garlic paste part-way through cooking and the addition of  spring onion and red chlli to the rice adding some additional flavour along with some crunchy texture and chilli heat.
      400g chicken skinless thigh fillets
      1 tbsp clear honey
      1 tbsp dark soy sauce
      1/2 tsp garlic paste
      1 spring onion, shredded
      1 red chilli, sliced 
      150g/5oz brown rice
      pinch salt
      1 tbsp sesame oil
      1 tbsp rapeseed oil
      2 heads of bok choi, halved
      ½ tsp coconut oil
      1 tsp sesame seeds
      handful fresh coriander leaves

      Chop the fillets into bite sized pieces, or pieces that would require cutting in half when served - probably two to three pieces per thigh fillet
      Combine the honey and soy and mix together with the thigh fillet pieces. Do both of these steps in the cold, heavy (I used a cast iron casserole )  you're going to cook with to minimise the carbon-footprint of extra washing-up
      Put the pan on a medium heat and cook until the chicken is cooked through, and the coating has thickened to a glossy glaze, stirring from time to time
      When you feel the dish has about five minutes remaining before it's done (this was around 15 minutes of cook time for me), add the garlic paste and stir in
      Meanwhile, add the rice, 300ml/10½fl oz water and salt to a separate pan and bring to the boil. Once the water is boiling, reduce the heat and simmer the rice, covered, until tender (about 30 minutes).
      For the bok choi, heat the sesame and rapeseed oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat. Add the bok choi and cook for 3-5 minutes, or until the leaves have wilted.
      When the rice is cooked, fluff it with a fork, then stir through the coconut oil.
      To serve, spoon the rice onto serving plates and top with the spring onion chilli the soy and honey chicken. Sprinkle the seame seeds and coriander over the chicken and place the bok choi alongside. 


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