Category Archives: Fusion Cuisine

Okara Fritters – The Aimless Cook at Downtownfood

Okara Fritters by The Aimless Cook

On today’s show, I am with Chef Darren Maclean from Downtownfood as we make some delicious okara fritters on part 3 of our special on soybeans.

The first thing you’re gonna need is some okara. Okara is the leftover lees, or pulp from the soymilk making process, and if you haven’t watched our soymilk episode, you can watch it by clicking the annotation or on the link in the video description below.

We put together something simple using some minced pork and vegetables that we’ll include in today’s recipe, but you can use whatever ingredients you have on hand.

You will need:

  • 7 oz. okara
  • 3 oz. minced pork
  • 1 teaspoon chili paste
  • 1 teaspoon ginger, minced
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon mirin
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • ½ cup oyster mushrooms, chopped
  • 2 eggs
  • a pinch of salt
  • 2 tablespoons kimchi
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup dashi

Combine the ingredients into a large mixing bowl and mix well to make a batter. Put in saucepan on medium high and cook slowly for about 6-8 minutes, stirring often until the mixture absorbs most of the liquid. You should have something like thick pancake batter or mashed potatoes.

Heat some oil in a pot or deep fryer to about 325F. Using 2 spoons, carefully drop the batter into the oil and cook for 4-5 minutes until golden brown.

Drain well on paper towels and serve with your favourite toppings.

We used green onions, nitsume (unagi sauce), gochujang, and kewpie mayo.

The first thing I should say about these okara fritters is that they are very light and fluffy in texture. The okara absorbs flavours very well resulting in a very tasty bite.

What is your favourite deep-fried food?

Thai – Inspired Poutine Recipe

Thai Poutine by The Aimless Cook

Today, I’m taking a Canadian classic and giving it a little bit of Thai love. I’m making a Thai-Inspired Poutine with sweet potato fries, fresh cheese curds, a rich coconut curry gravy and crispy skin chicken. There are a lot of beautiful things going on in this recipe that you are gonna love. Let’s cook!

You will need:

  • 1 shallot, finely diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely minced
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 2 tablespoons red Thai curry paste
  • 2 tablespoons curry powder
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 750ml chicken stock
  • 1 teaspoon fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 package of cheese curds (Bothwell makes a brand called Squeekers)
  • 2 chicken thighs, deboned and flattened (skin on)
  • fresh cilantro
  • fresh lime
  • sweet potato fries (or regular fries)

In a wok, start by heating a couple tablespoons of oil. Add the shallot and garlic and stirfry for about 30 seconds. Add the curry paste and powder, combine and cook for about 3 minutes until the mixture darkens and becomes aromatic.

Once the curry mixture is ready, add the coconut milk and chicken stock. Whisk it all together, then add the fish sauce and sugar. Let it come to a boil, turn down to medium, and let simmer uncovered for about 15 – 20 minutes.

You can make your fries from scratch if you like, and you can find the recipe right here. For convenience sake, I went the way of buying them at the grocery store and baking them in the oven.

For the crispy skin chicken, I simply de-boned the thighs and laid them out flat like cutlets, preserving the skin (of course). Season well on both sides with salt and pepper and heat up a small skillet with oil on high heat. Lay the chicken down on the hot pan skin-side down and cook until golden brown on both sides. Since it’s thin, it won’t take long to cook (about 4 minutes per side). When they’re done, take them out and set aside to rest for about 10 minutes.

After the curry sauce has been simmering for 15 – 20 minutes, you’ll notice it has reduced by about a third. Test the consistency with a spoon. It should coat the back of a spoon. Give it a final taste and season to your liking. Now it’s time to assemble!

Grab a nice big bowl and put down a layer of fries with a few cheese curds on top. Add some gravy on top, then continue with another layer of fries and cheese curds. Add the crispy skin chicken (sliced into strips), then ladle more gravy on top. Make sure you get gravy on the cheese curds so they melt. Finish with fresh chopped cilantro and serve with lime wedges.

If you’ve had poutine before, then you’ll love this new twist. All the flavours of classic Thai cuisine are here with the gooey cheese and rich flavourful sauce. The crispy skin chicken has a wonderful crunch and is tender and juicy. Enjoy this recipe and have fun in the kitchen!

What is your favourite melty cheese dish?

Kabocha Ratatouille

kabocha feature

This is a simmered kabocha ratatouille – the best way to describe what I’m making today. I’m taking a couple of my favourite vegetable dishes, ratatouille and kabocha no nimono, and putting them together in this awesome new recipe. Enjoy and have fun in the kitchen!

This is a viewer request from Rajaa in Morocco. Thanks for watching, Rajaa. This one’s for you!

You will need:

  • ½ kabocha (Japanese pumpkin), cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 2 large carrots, diced
  • 1 small onion, coarsely chopped
  • 5 small tomatoes, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup fresh corn
  • 350 ml dashi
  • 1 ½ tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 ½ tablespoons mirin
  • salt

Start by scooping out the seeds from ½ a kabocha and cutting into bite-sized pieces.

In a heavy pot on medium heat, add a couple tablespoons of oil and add a roughly chopped onion. Cook for about 6 minutes til translucent. When the onions are done, add 2 diced carrots, 1 diced red bell pepper and the kabocha and continue cooking for another 5 minutes.

Next, add 5 roughly chopped tomatoes and 350 ml of dashi, turn up the heat until everything comes to a boil, then back down to medium. Cover and simmer until the kabocha is fork tender.

When that’s done, add 1 ½ tablespoons each of mirin and soy sauce and a tablespoon of brown sugar and continue to cook uncovered on medium high to reduce slightly.

Lastly, add 1 cup of fresh corn and get ready to serve.

You can serve this dish on rice or whatever pasta you have, but If you wanna try something really good, cut up some mochi and roast it under the broiler til crispy. When they’re done, add them to the bottom of the bowl, spoon the vegetables over them, then add more mochi on the top. You can thank me later…

What is your favourite pumpkin dish?

Salmon Poke Recipe – Hawaiian Classics

Salmon Poke by The Aimless Cook

Poke is a popular Hawaiian dish made with raw or slightly seared fish like tuna, or in this case, salmon. The fish is cubed and tossed together with a light soy seasoning with sesame and seaweed. It’s very refreshing and extremely delicious. Here’s a version that I make with wild sockeye salmon from Canada. Enjoy!

You will need (for 2):

  • an 8 oz filet of sushi grade sockeye salmon (skin on is best)
  • soy sauce
  • sesame oil
  • Shaoxing wine or sake
  • toasted sesame seeds
  • Hawaiian sea salt (Alaea, or kosher salt)
  • furikake (roasted nori seasoning, available in Japanese foods at the Asian grocery)
  • chives or green onion, chopped finely

Start with an 8 oz filet of wild sockeye salmon. If you can get it with the skin on, even better. Start by running a sharp knife along the bottom of the filet to remove the skin if you have it. Keep the skin for later. This is too good to just throw away.

Dice the salmon into 1 cm cubes, and put them into a large mixing bowl.

Once you’re done prepping the salmon, take that skin you set aside and put it on a sheet of foil or parchment paper, skin side down. Put it into a 350F oven until its nice and crispy.

Now back to the salmon. Dress the salmon with a drizzle of soy sauce, sesame oil and Shaoxing cooking wine. Be sure to taste, making sure to adjust the flavours as you go. For colour, add some black and white sesame seeds as well as some finely chopped chives or green onions. Finally season with a touch of salt. Today, I’m using Hawaiian sea salt. It gets its red colour from iron oxide in the clay where it’s harvested. Mix everything together then set aside to let the flavours develop.

When the salmon skin is crispy, let it cool then cut into thin strips. Now, let’s put it all together.

Simply spoon some of the poke into small bowls or nice glasses. Top with a sprinkle of some furikake, then finish with some salmon skin strips. The roasted salmon skin is a nice compliment to the raw meat and gives a good texture contrast.

Salmon poke is the perfect starter and can easily be made into an elegant party appetizer by putting into little fried wonton cups or mini temaki rolls. If you’re like me, enjoy it as a side to some great bbq or on top of a bowl of rice with a raw quail egg. Oh yeah!

I hope you enjoy this recipe and have fun in the kitchen, which brings me to my question of the day:

What is your favourite raw dish?

Budae Jjigae “Army Camp Stew”

J's Budae Jjigae

Often, there are dishes that are born from necessity ingeniously created with whatever ingredients can be found and put together. Budae Jjigae is one of those dishes enjoyed today that exemplifies this type of cooking and is probably one of the earliest examples of fusion cuisine.

After the Korean War, South Korea was crippled by poverty and food was hard to come by. It was said that US troops in the area would help out the locals by giving them ingredients from their own rations which included tins of Vienna sausages and Spam. They would be put into a pot of boiling water or simple stock with a bit of kimchi, red pepper flakes or gochujang. To that, any available vegetables were added to the pot and budae jjigae was born.

Today, this dish is still popular and is served in many restaurants in South Korea. In addition to Spam and hot dogs, ingredients like baked beans and processed cheese are also very popular additions. You can watch and learn more about Budae Jjigae by watching Qiranger’s video.

This dish is a perfect recipe for students and anyone that wants a great meal for very little money. You can cook budae jjigae at the table or cook it on the stove in a saucepan or large pot.

You will need:

  • a handful of kimchi (1 cup)
  • 1 litre of chicken or vegetable stock
  • 2 hot dogs, scored and cut into thirds
  • *tofu, cut into ½ inch slices
  • ½ can SPAM, sliced into ½ inch pieces and halved again into triangles
  • 1 bunch of green onions, chopped into 3 inch lengths
  • 3 ½ oz package of shiitake, stemmed and sliced (you can also use crimini)
  • 1 medium zucchini, cut into thick matchsticks
  • 1-2 tablespoons gochujang* (Korean chili paste)
  • 1-2 cups of frozen tteok* (Korean ricecakes)
  • 1 portion of instant ramen noodles

Start by arranging your ingredients in the pot with the kimchi in the center and top it with the gochujang. If you’re cooking at the table, arrange the ingredients so that you have an interesting variety of colour. Place on the burner and set on high heat. Immediately add the stock and let come to a boil. Once it starts to boil, use a whisk to blend the gochujang into the broth, turn down to medium and let simmer with the cover on for 3-5 minutes.

Take off the cover, clear a space in the middle of the mixture with a spoon and add the ramen noodles. Cover again and cook for another 3 minutes. When the ramen is done, uncover and serve.

If you don’t like Spam or hot dogs, use sausage, leftover steak or pork chops, chicken or even fish. There’s no rules here, only good food.

*Gochujang, kimchi and tteok are available at your local Korean/Asian grocery.

 

Special Thanks to:

Taro aka RunnyRunny999
Miki of MikisPantry
Angie from TheSquishyMonster

and Steve aka Qiranger

Pico de Gallo Pasta and Seared Scallops

Pico de Gallo Paste with Seared Scallops

This handmade pasta has a slightly spicy Pico de Gallo cream sauce with hints of lime and fresh cilantro. The spectacular pan seared scallops are from Digby, Nova Scotia and are diver harvested. They’re tender, sweet and so easy to prepare. So I hope you’re ready for some serious eating!

For the Pico de Gallo pasta sauce, you will need (for 2):

  • 3 medium vine-ripened tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large shallot, finely diced
  • 1 red chili pepper, diced
  • the juice of 1 lime
  • a handful of fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 250 ml heavy cream
  • salt and pepper
  • your favourite pasta (fettuccini or linguini is great for this)

Start with a deep skillet with some oil on medium heat. To that, add a couple cloves of minced garlic and cook til fragrant. Next, add ¼ cup of diced shallots and continue to cook for a couple minutes. Once your shallots have had a head start, it’s time to add 2 seeded and diced vine-ripened tomatoes. Continue to cook and stir until the tomatoes start to break down.

When the tomatoes are breaking down and starting to look like sauce, add 1 diced red chili, the juice of 1 lime and a handful of chopped cilantro. Now you can season with salt and pepper and call this your sauce, or continue by adding 1 cup of heavy cream. Once the cream is in, turn up to heat to a steady simmer and reduce by 50%, stirring frequently.

When the sauce has reduced by 50%, add the remaining diced tomato for colour and texture. Now grab a large mixing bowl and put in your freshly cooked pasta. (Here’s a tip: use tongs, never strain or rinse pasta!) In this case, we’re using fettuccini noodles. You also want to save a little of the pasta water, as the starch will help the sauce adhere to the noodles.

Add the finished sauce to the noodles and lightly toss until combined. Finish by adding more fresh cilantro leaves and freshly ground black pepper.

For the scallops, it’s very easy to do, but very easy to screw up. A couple of tips here as we go, first of all, use the freshest scallops you can get your hands on that are dry packed. Sometimes, scallops are shipped in water with sodium tripolyphosphate added to make them appear whiter and plumper. When you sear them, the moisture leaches out and you get steamed, rubbery scallops. Not something you want to pay good money for. It’s important that you have one ingredient: scallops.
So with a hot skillet with a couple tablespoons of oil, add the scallops in small batches. If you add too many at once, you’ll lower the temperature of the pan and steam the scallops again. The moment you place them on the hot surface, you’ll hear the sizzle and they will stick. That’s ok. Avoid temptation to move them around and leave them be.

From here, the cooking time will be very fast. You want to look at the meat as it cooks. Just like prawns, they will begin to turn opaque and the bottom will start to form a brown crust. When that happens, the scallop will be easier to lift off the pan. Gently lift the scallop from the pan and turn over. Once on the other side, add a dollop of butter to the pan and use a spoon to baste them til they’re done. Should only take a minute or 2. When they’re done, take out of the pan and set aside.

To plate everything up, simply place the scallops on a bed of the finished pasta and garnish with fresh cilantro leaves. Enjoy this recipe, make it yours and have fun in the kitchen!

J’s Fusion Grilled Chicken

J's Fusion Grilled Chicken Recipe

This recipe for grilled chicken uses Portuguese and Thai flavours in a bright and spicy marinade that is reminiscent of Piri-Piri and Gai Yan. Lots of garlic, lots of chili peppers and a touch of lemongrass gives us a very aromatic and spicy mix that tastes incredible on chicken. So fire up the grill and get ready because it’s all about to happen right now on The Aimless Cook.

For the marinade, you will need:

  • ¼ cup white wine vinegar
  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Thai chilies, minced
  • 2 red chilies, minced
  • a couple stalks lemongrass (tender end), minced
  • 1 lime, juice and zest
  • a pinch of kosher salt


All you need to do is put all the ingredients into a container and shake it til well combined. Set aside for at least 30 min to overnight to let the flavours mingle.

You will also need:

  • 1 whole chicken, or chicken pieces (2 ½ lbs)


Just take the chicken and score it all over both sides with a sharp knife. Season both sides with salt, then liberally massage the marinade all over the meat, making sure you get it into the cuts you made. Place the chicken on a hot grill on medium heat and cook, turning every 5 minutes or so. Baste with the extra marinade and continue to cook until the juices run clear and the internal temperature reaches at least 165F.

Since you have the grill on, you can grill up some nice asparagus or carrots tossed in olive oil and seasoned with kosher salt. Carrots are incredible on the grill. Just grill them until they have a little charring on the edges, then serve.

*notes:

You can adjust the spiciness factor of this dish according to your taste. The amount I used in this recipe seems like a lot, but it’s not. Of course, the type of chilies you use will have a great influence on how it will turn out. Just remember, the smaller the chili, the hotter it will be. If you don’t have fresh chilies, you can use cayenne, chili flake or sambal oelek.

Grilled Kimcheese Sandwich

grillkimcheese

This is a great grilled kimcheese sandwich recipe. That’s right, I said kimcheese. I’m going to show you a quick and surprisingly delicious version of grilled cheese using one of my favourite Korean go-to ingredients. I’m in a hotel room again, so I’m using Chef John’s infamous technique for making grilled cheese with the clothes iron. So let’s cook!

Grilled Kimcheese

check out the browning you can get with a clothes iron! 

Start by buttering 2 slices of bread. Make sure that the slices aren’t too thick because we are gonna be using the clothes iron to grill our sandwiches today. In this case, I’m using my favourite sourdough, but you can use whatever sliced bread you got. Place the first slice, butter side down on the shiny side of a sheet of foil. Follow that by a slice of cheese. Use a nice melting cheese like fontina, provolone or gruyere. I’m using a fairly mild tasting cheese because I will be adding some finely chopped kimchi. Simply put the kimchi on the cheese in a nice uniform layer, then add another slice of cheese on top. Finish by adding the other slice of bread, butter side out and then lay another sheet of foil over top. Shiny side on the bread.

Now let’s grill a sandwich! Grab the clothes iron and turn it all the way up to full wack. Make sure that if it has a steam setting that you shut that off. When the iron is nice and hot, place it on the foil to cover the sandwich completely. Press lightly on the bread til you can leave the iron in place and just wait. Compared to the stove, the iron won’t have as much heat, but will do the job if you’re patient. Just wait a couple minutes, remove the iron and lift the foil to check on the bread. If it’s not dark enough, simply put back the iron and continue cooking. When the one side is done, flip the whole thing over and repeat on the other side.

Grilled Kimcheese

When you’re done, you will have yourself a beautifully crispy and golden grilled kimcheese sandwich. Congratulations. 

If you’re lucky enough to have a microwave in your hotel room, heat up a nice mug of tomato soup and enjoy the fruits of your labour.

A Signature Bite – Mochiyaki Recipe

When Zac Young challenged the Next Chefs to make their ‘signature’ cookie, I will admit that I was a little perplexed. Though the challenge did not have to be a cookie, we were encouraged to think outside the box and be original. I think that what I made says a lot about me as The Aimless Cook. It’s simple and straight forward, has fun with flavours and is very satisfying and comforting… all in one bite. Hope you enjoy this.

So we’re gonna start by taking a block of mochi and slicing it in half lengthwise to make it about a quarter inch thick. Add it to a dry non-stick pan on medium heat and turn frequently to get it evenly toasted.  Alternatively, you can put it under the broiler, on the grill or even in your wafflemaker if you have one.

In a mixing bowl, combine about a 1/4 cup of softened butter, 1 tsp of shiromiso, 2 tbsp of sugar and a dash of vanilla extract. Whisk together until you get something like a whipped butter icing. 

When the mochi is nice and toasty, it time to assemble your bite. Simply start by topping the mochi with a generous topping of the sweet miso butter. Next, sprinkle with a touch of soy sauce, then finish with sesame seeds and shredded nori.

Now imagine a delicate balance of sweet and savoury brought together with the richness of butter. Add to that the satisfying roasted rice flavour and the textures of crispy and chewy all in one delicious bite. If you’ve never had grilled mochi, try to picture a roasted marshmallow without the sweet and a lot more chewy. It’s definitely an inspiring start to something good.

Try it out and let me know what you can make with grilled mochi. Take this recipe, make it yours and have fun in the kitchen!

Sweet Potato Poutine Recipe – Canadian Favourites

Poutine is a French Canadian favourite that is enjoyed all over Canada. Traditionally, it’s comprised of French fries, cheese curds and a rich gravy, although there are many variations and toppings available today such as smoked meat, bbq, or pulled pork to name a few. Today, I am making my poutine with sweet potato fries and topping them with fresh goat cheese and a rich butter miso gravy. The goat cheese goes well with the sweet potato and is all brought together with the savory flavor of the miso gravy. I hope you try this at home and enjoy!

Start by cutting up 2 large sweet potatoes into uniform ¼ inch sticks. This will ensure that they will cook evenly and at the same time. Now when cooking fries, I use a 2 step method. Heat a couple inches of oil in a pot to about 325F. Working in small batches, cook the fries for 3-4 minutes til tender. This will cook the inside of the potato. Then strain and dry on paper towels. For the second cooking turn up the heat to 375F. Working in small batches again, fry the potatoes until golden brown and crisp. This should only take a minute or 2. Drain on paper towel and season with salt.

Now let’s make our miso gravy. In a large mixing bowl, combine 1 ½ tablespoons of red miso, 1 tablespoon of prepared mustard, a dash of soy sauce, 1 dash of sesame oil and 2 tablespoons of flour. Gradually whisk in 2 cups of water until smooth. Pour the mixture into a large frying pan on medium heat and bring to a boil. When it starts to boil, reduce the heat and simmer til thickened. For added richness and texture, add 1 tablespoon of butter. Finally give it a taste and season with salt and pepper. 

To assemble the poutine, lay down a generous pile of fries and top with a nice, even distribution of goat cheese. Follow that with some miso gravy then finish with chopped green onion. Now grab a fork and enjoy!