Tag Archives: asia

J’s Nasi Goreng – Indonesian Inspired Fried Rice

J's Nasi Goreng

Red curry paste is a great ingredient to have handy. It lasts practically forever in the fridge and is extremely versatile. I use it in many different recipes, including this one for my version of the famous Indonesian fried rice, Nasi Goreng. There are so many varieties of Nasi Goreng depending where you go and who’s making it.

I love this dish because it’s flavourful, aromatic, spicy, and it’s the perfect way to use up leftover vegetables. Throw in some bacon lardons or sausage, top with a fried egg, and you have yourself a delicious breakfast. So what are we waiting for? Let’s cook Nasi Goreng!

 

For the sauce, you will need:

  • 1 tablespoon of red curry paste
  • 1 tablespoon kecap manis (sweet soy sauce, ABC brand is the best)
  • 1 teaspoon (or more to taste) sambal oelek (garlic chili paste)
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon fresh minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon fish sauce

 

For the rest:

  • 2 – 3 cups of cold leftover rice
  • 2 tablespoons fresh minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons chopped shallots or red onion
  • some vegetables (julienned carrots, mushrooms, etc)
  • some leftover meat (bacon lardons, sausage, bbq pork, prawns)
  • fresh cilantro or chopped green onion
  • lime wedges
  • a touch of salt

 

In a bowl, combine the ingredients for the sauce and set aside.

In a hot wok, add a couple tablespoons of oil. When it starts to smoke, add the garlic and shallot and fry for about 30 seconds. Add the rice and continue to cook, breaking up the clumps with your spatula. Cook for a minute or 2, before adding the sauce.

Once you add the sauce, continue to mix everything until the sauce is well distributed. At this point you can add your vegetables and meat (totally optional) and cook until they’re done.

Top with fresh chopped green onion or cilantro and squeeze some fresh lime juice over top just before serving.

Also, dont forget to top your nasi goreng with a sunny side up fried egg. There’s nothing like digging into that first bite with that lovely runny yolk. Enjoy!
What is your favourite rice dish?

Ginataang Bilo Bilo – Filipino Merienda Food

Ginataang bilo bilo by The Aimless Cook

Ginataang Bilo Bilo is a type of Filipino snack or dessert made by cooking root vegetables and fruit in sweetened coconut milk with chewy balls of mochi (bilo bilo). Taro, ube, and sweet potato make up the base of this incredibly unique tropical treat with jackfruit providing that touch of tartness. Finish that off with chewy mochi and tapioca pearls and you have something truly magical. I have enjoyed this dish since I was a child and now I want to share it with you!

 

 You will need:

  • 1 cup Mochiko
  • 2 cups taro, diced
  • 2 cups ube, diced
  • 2 cups sweet potato, diced
  • 2 cups cooked tapioca (small)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cans coconut milk + 2 cans water
  • *saba (banana) or jackfruit
  • *pandan leaves for aromatics

 

Mix the mochiko with about 11 tablespoons of water to make a dough. Once the dough is made, take a marble-sized piece and roll into a ball. Set aside.

In a large pot, add 2 cans of coconut milk and 2 cans of water. Stir in 2 cups of sugar and the pandan leaves (if you have them). Heat over medium heat and stir until the sugar is dissolved.

Bring to a simmer, then add 2 cups of diced taro, 2 cups of diced ube and 2 cups of sweet potato. Continue to cook, stirring frequently. Halfway through the cooking, add the bilo bilo (mochi balls), one at a time so that they don’t stick together. At this time, you can also add your saba or jackfruit.

When the bilo bilo are done, they will float to the top of the liquid. At this point, add 2 cups of cooked tapioca and continue cooking until the ube and sweet potatoes are tender.

Give a final taste and adjust the sweetness if needed. Ginataan can be served hot, or refrigerated overnight and served cold.

 

**this would be a great topping on shaved ice. Just sayin’.


Do you enjoy hot or cold desserts?

Taiwanese Bubble Tea – Jasmine Milk Tea with Boba

Taiwanese Bubble Tea by The Aimless Cook

Taiwanese Bubble Tea is a flavourful and delicious drink that’s very popular in Asia and North America. Using premium ingredients, I’m going to show you how you can make your own at home for a fraction of the price you pay at the stands. The taste difference is amazing and you’re going to slap yourself when you realize how easy this is to make. This is a great recipe from Andrew Chau and Bin Chen, aka The Boba Guys.

You will need:

• 5 cups water
• 2 tablespoons loose-leaf jasmine tea
• 1/2 cup white sugar
• 1/2 cup brown sugar
• 1 cup cooked boba
• 4 tablespoons honey
• 1 cup half-and-half

Boil 4 cups of the water then let it sit for 1 minute (the temperature should be 170F or about 80C). Add the tea leaves and steep for 8 minutes. Strain and set aside.

In a small saucepan, combine the remaining cup of water and the white and brown sugar. Bring to a boil and simmer til the sugars are dissolved.

Steep the boba in a small bowl with ½ cup of the simple syrup and the honey. Soak at least 30 minutes. For best results, steep for at least 3 hrs.

To assemble, grab a cocktail shaker and add 4 cups of tea, 1 cup of simple syrup, the half-and-half, the honey-soaked boba, and a handful of ice cubes. Shake till mixed, and pour into a serving glass with a wide straw.

What is your favourite sweet drink?

Thai-style Green Apple Salad

Thai Green Apple Salad by The Aimless Cook

This Thai-style salad is a lot like som tam, but uses green apples instead of green papaya. Since green papaya can be hard to find, the green apple provides a nice tart flavour and crisp texture that’s incredible in this type of salad. I hope you love it!

You will need:

 

  • 1 Granny Smith apple, julienned
  • 1 carrot, julienned
  • 1 large shallot, sliced lengthwise
  • 1 small handful grape tomatoes, quartered
  • ¼ cup green beans, trimmed and cut into 2 inch lengths
  • 1 tablespoon dried shrimp
  • ¼ cup roasted peanuts
  • the juice of ½ lime
  • fish sauce, to taste
  • sugar, to taste
  • 2 Thai chilies, chopped
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro

In a mortar and pestle, add the green beans and about 6 grape tomatoes cut in half. To that, add the shallots, chilies, a tablespoon of dried shrimp, and a clove or 2 of garlic. Pound that mixture together until the tomatoes are crushed and the green beans are bruised.

Season your mixture with about a teaspoon each of fish sauce and sugar and continue to lightly mix in the mortar and pestle until the ingredients are combined. Finally, add a ¼ cup of roasted peanuts and crush them coarsely.

If you don’t have a mortar and pestle, you can do all of this with a ziplock bag and a rolling pin.

Combine the contents of the mortar and pestle with the apple and carrots in a large mixing bowl. Add the shallots, toss everything together and give it a final taste. Balance out the flavours if you have to and finish by adding a handful of fresh chopped cilantro. Traditional som tam is made entirely in the mortar and pestle, but I wanted to preserve the crunchy texture and look of the apples and carrots.

This salad is great on its own, or as a side with some fish or this home-style fried chicken which I’ll show you in the next episode.

When was the last time you used a fruit as a vegetable?

Tonkatsudon

Tonkatsudon by The Aimless Cook

Tonkatsudon is another delicious style of Japanese donburi, or rice bowl meal. Very simply, it’s a crispy pork cutlet which is then simmered in a broth of soy, dashi and mirin til it becomes slightly sweet and savoury. Add thinly sliced onions and a beaten egg and you have a meal in a bowl that you can make anytime you’re feeling the craving for something Japanese. Have fun in the kitchen!

You will need:

  • 100ml dashi
  • 2 tbsp Soy Sauce
  • 2 tbsp Mirin
  • 2 tsp Sugar
  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 eggs, beaten (for cooking)
  • 2 pork chops, boneless
  • all purpose flour
  • 1 egg, beaten (for breading)
  • panko, or rice crispies
  • green onion, or furikake

Start by flattening the pork chops between 2 layers of kitchen wrap by pounding it with a mallet or a rolling pin. Dredge the chops in the flour, followed by a coating of egg, then a coating of panko or rice crispies. Set aside.

Combine the dashi, soy sauce, mirin and sugar in a small bowl or measuring cup and then mix until the sugar is dissolved. Set aside.

Heat a few inches of oil in a pot to about 350F. You can test the oil by putting in a chopstick. If it starts to bubble from the bottom of the pot, then you’re good to go. Carefully place the pork cutlets into the oil and cook until golden brown on both sides. This should only take a couple minutes since the cutlets are thin. When they’re done, drain on a rack or on some kitchen paper then set aside.

In a 10 inch skillet on medium high heat, add the sliced onions and just enough of the sauce mixture to cover the bottom of the pan. Squeeze in the juice of ½ of the grated ginger and let simmer until the onions are start to turn soft.

Slice the cutlets into bite-sized strips and using a spatula, lay a cutlet carefully onto the simmering sauce and onions. Immediately pour on half a beaten egg and cover, letting simmer for about a minute. Take off the cover and pour on the remaining egg, letting set for about 30 seconds.

Carefully lay the contents of the pan onto a bowl of freshly steamed rice. Top with fresh chopped green onion or furikake. Now grab a pair of chopsticks and enjoy!

Have you ever had to make an ingredient substitution in the kitchen?

Gua Bao – Taiwanese Pork Belly Sliders

Gua Bao by The Aimless Cook

Gua Bao are a popular Taiwanese street food. Slider-sized handfuls of slowly braised pork belly, stuffed into steamed buns with red sugar, crushed peanuts and cilantro. These are flavourful and delicious little sandwiches that are sure to bring happiness wherever you bring them. Enjoy!

For the pork you will need:

  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 500g pork belly, skin on
  • 3 tablespoons dark soy sauce
  • 1 liter water
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 star anise
  • 4 cloves
  • ½ teaspoon Chinese 5-spice powder
  • 1 ½ bulbs of garlic, (separated to cloves, but you don’t have to peel them)

for the rest:

  • hoisin sauce
  • Taiwanese red sugar, or jaggery
  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
  • roasted peanuts, crushed
  • fresh steamed bao (Chinese buns)*

Heat oil in a heavy pot or dutch oven on med high heat. Brown the pork belly on all sides. Add the soy sauce to both sides of the pork after its browned.

Immediately after, add 1 litre of water, 1 cinnamon stick, 1 star anise, 4 cloves, ½ teaspoon Chinese 5-spice powder and the cloves from 1 ½ bulbs of garlic. Bring to a boil, then turn down to simmer covered for about 1.5 hours or until tender.

When the pork is finished, carefully take out and slice into ½ inch pieces. Serve in the steamed buns and garnish with crushed peanuts, red sugar, hoisin and fresh cilantro.

Toppings for this Taiwanese sandwich are gonna be a little different than what you’re used to in a North American sandwich. I’m starting with some hoisin sauce, followed by some Taiwanese red sugar, or in this case, some jaggery. It’s a type of cane sugar that I got from the Indian market. Also I have some roasted crushed peanuts for texture and finally some fresh chopped cilantro. The cilantro is gonna cut the richness of the pork.

*You can find pre-made Chinese buns in your local Asian grocery. If not, you can do what I’ve done before and make them from Pillsbury biscuit dough. Just cut into rounds, fold over and steam for 15 minutes.

Pork belly is very rich and tender when it’s braised. Some people are put off by the fattiness of it. How about you? Are you put off by certain food textures or qualities?

Tsukimi Udon – Moon Viewing Noodles

Tsukimi Udon by The Aimless Cook

Tsukimi Udon, or “Moon Viewing” Noodles are named for the egg that’s placed in the bowl as this Japanese dish is served. It’s usually a very simple affair, sometimes even consisting of a bowl of freshly prepared udon noodles, soy sauce, green onions and a raw egg. Today I will show you how to make my version of tsukimi udon using fresh oyster mushrooms, snow peas and a really easy soup broth. Enjoy!

You will need:

  • 2 servings udon noodles
  • 2 ½ cups water
  • 1 ⅓ teaspoons dashi powder
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons mirin
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 small pieces of lemon zest
  • 6 snow peas
  • 1 cup oyster mushrooms (or whatever you got)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 eggs

Start with 2 saucepans, one large and one small. Fill the large sauce pan with water and bring to a rolling boil. While you’re waiting for that, combine the soy sauce, mirin and brown sugar in a small bowl. Put 2 ½ cups of water in the small saucepan and the dashi powder. Bring to a simmer to dissolve the dashi powder then add ⅔ of the soy mixture. Bring to a boil, stir to combine, then lower the heat to simmer. At this point, you can add the snow peas so they cook briefly.

Shred the oyster mushrooms to manageable pieces then add to a frying pan on high heat with 2 tablespoons of butter. Saute the mushrooms for a few minutes til they are fragrant and golden brown. Add the remaining soy mixture and continue cooking til the mixture thickens. Set aside.

Add the udon noodles to the large pot of boiling water and cook til tender (according to directions).

With the eggs, you can serve them raw on top of the hot soup, poached, or make onsen tamago.

To assemble, start by putting a piece of lemon zest on the bottom of each bowl, followed by the strained noodles. Follow that with soup stock and then top with the snow peas, mushrooms and the egg. Garnish with a sprinkle of furikake and serve.

It’s customary to slurp your noodles with enthusiasm, so be sure to enjoy yourself! Do you like to slurp loud or eat your noodles quietly?

Natto Gohan (Fermented Soybeans on Rice)

Natto Gohan by The Aimless Cook

This particular Japanese style breakfast is one of the simplest to make. In fact, I make this whenever I need a quick snack. This is natto gohan.

You will need:

  • a couple packs of natto (available in the Asian grocer’s freezer)
  • some steamed rice
  • 2 eggs (raw, or soft poached)
  • furikake
  • chopped green onions
  • soy sauce

Natto is fermented soybeans which, like miso, are rich in protein. They are, however, an acquired taste since they have a powerful smell and slimy consistency. If you like stinky cheese, It’s nothing you haven’t experienced before and I highly recommend you try it.

Natto

Natto is sold in the freezer section of the local Asian grocery and is packaged in foam containers like these. They usually come with packets of tare (a tiny stock flavouring) and karashi mustard. The moment you open it, you’ll know what I mean about the slimy texture. To prepare the natto, just add the 2 packets and mix well with chopsticks.

Now grab a bowl ‘cause it’s time to put everything together.

Start with a large bowl with enough room to mix. Put in a couple scoops of freshly steamed rice and top with the natto. Make some room on the other side of the bowl for your egg. In this case, I’m using a fresh raw egg. If you don’t do raw eggs, you can use a soft poached egg instead. Lastly, I’m adding furikake to finish. Chopped green onions are are delicious as well so use them if you got them.

To enjoy, simply season with a little soy sauce and mix everything together. That’s it!

Natto gohan can be enjoyed on its own or with a nice bowl of miso soup. You can make natto gohan even better with some diced avocado or some raw tuna. Take this recipe, make it yours and have fun in the kitchen!

Do you like natto? Would you ever try it?

J’s Pancit Bihon

Pancit Bihon by The Aimless Cook

Pancit Bihon is a very popular Filipino noodle dish throughout the world. It’s made with thin, rice noodles, or bihon and tossed with shredded meat and lightly sauteed vegetables. Today, we’re gonna make our pancit using some flavourful leftover Chinese steamed chicken and some cooked shrimp from the Asian market. We’re also gonna use that aromatic green onion and ginger sauce that came with the chicken in our base. So get ready for a really fun and easy recipe for Pancit Bihon!

You will need:

  • 250g leftover cooked chicken (Chinese, or one of those rotisserie chickens work well)
  • 150g cooked shrimp
  • 8oz bihon noodles (rice stick)
  • 200g shredded cabbage
  • 125g shredded carrot
  • 125g sliced onion (1 medium)
  • 2 cloves sliced garlic
  • 75g snow peas (or green beans)
  • 750ml good chicken stock
  • 2 ½ tablespoons soy sauce
  • some oil
  • S&P, to season

Start by soaking the bihon noodles in cold water for about 10 minutes. When that’s done, strain and set aside.

In a large pot on medium heat, heat up a couple tablespoons of oil and add the onions and garlic. Gently saute until the onions are starting to look translucent. One the onions are done, add the shredded cabbage, carrot, snow peas and cooked chicken. Cook and stir on medium high for about 5 minutes. When that’s done, season with salt and pepper and put all the ingredients in a large bowl and set aside.

Using the same pot, add the chicken stock and soy sauce. Turn the heat up to high and then add the bihon noodles. Let the noodles boil on high heat until the liquid is almost evaporated. When that’s done, put back the ingredients from the bowl and mix to combine. Serve warm with calamansi or lime wedges and fish sauce (patis) and enjoy!

Pancit bihon has a refreshing flavour with the calamansi and fresh, crisp vegetables. The better your leftover chicken, the more flavour it will impart to the finished dish. Experiment with different ones to see what you like the most. Take this recipe, make it yours and have fun in the kitchen!

Do you like Filipino food? Let me know what Filipino dish you’d like to see on The Aimless Cook and we’ll make it happen!

Sesame Shrimp Toast

Sesame Shrimp Toast

We’re making a popular item from the dim sum cart. You can also find this item if you’ve ever found yourself at a snack house late at night with your friends. I’m talking about shrimp toast, and this Thai version of sesame shrimp toast features the flavours of fish sauce, lemongrass and fresh limes for a bit of a cool twist. Enjoy this as a nice, crispy snack with an ice cold beer or serve as a fancy appetizer for your next party. Your friends are gonna love this one!

You will need:

  • 14 oz. raw shrimp, peeled and de-veined
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 teaspoon minced lemongrass
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1 or 2 red Thai chilies, finely minced
  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger
  • 1 egg
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon corn starch
  • 8 thick slices of white bread, crusts cut off
  • ½ cup sesame seeds
  • ½ bunch fresh cilantro
  • fresh limes, to garnish
  • oil for frying (canola or peanut)
  • sweet Thai chili sauce, for dipping

Start by putting the shrimp in a food processor. To that, add 1 egg, lemongrass, garlic cloves, Thai chilies, fish sauce, the juice from the grated ginger and a pinch of salt. Process until the mixture forms a thick paste. Check the mix. If it’s too thin, add the cornstarch to tighten up the mixture. When that’s done, set aside.

Cut the crusts off the bread. Spread about a tablespoon of the shrimp mixture on the bread slices and dip the shrimp side into a saucer of sesame seeds.

In a cast iron skillet, heat up a couple inches of oil until you can fry a small piece of bread in about 30 seconds (350F). If it cooks too fast, carefully take off the heat and wait until it’s the right temperature. If the oil is too hot, the shrimp won’t cook. If the oil is too cool, the bread will absorb the oil and you’ll get greasy toast.

When the oil is ready, carefully place the toast in the oil, shrimp side down. Cook for about 30-45 seconds or until its golden brown. Turn over and cook the other side for the same amount of time. When done, gently take it out and drain on a tray with paper towels.

To serve, cut into triangles or sticks, garnish with chopped cilantro leaves and enjoy with Spicy Thai Chili sauce and fresh lime wedges.

Shrimp toast is one of my favourite Asian snacks and I hope you enjoy it too. Take this recipe with you, make it yours and have fun in the kitchen!

What is your favourite dim sum item?