Tag Archives: bowl

Vietnamese Caramelized Pork – Thit Kho

Vietnamese Caramelized Pork

Fish sauce is one of my favourite weapons to have in the pantry. It packs a powerful umami punch and can be used from simple dressings or to bring dimension to soups and braises. Today, I’m gonna show you a simple Vietnamese pork recipe that combines fish sauce and caramelized sugar to achieve an incredible flavour in a short amount of time. Get ready because it’s gonna happen right now on The Aimless Cook!

Serves 4

You will need:

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 pound pork belly or boneless pork shoulder (skinless or skin-on), cut-into 1-inch cubes
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large shallots, chopped
  • 1 scallion, green part only, thinly sliced
  • rice for serving

Line the bottom of a medium sauce pot with the sugar. Place the pot over medium low heat. When the sugar melts and becomes amber-colored, add the water and fish sauce. The darker the sugar turns, the more bitter the caramel will taste so be watchful. Add the cubed pork belly or shoulder and stir until coated.

Add a pinch of salt. Simmer on medium-low heat for at least 25 minutes or until the pork is fork tender.

Stir in a couple chopped shallots and and cook until translucent, another 5 to 7 minutes. The sauce should now be thickened. If that’s not the case, turn the heat up a little and simmer for another few minutes.

Serve on steamed rice and top with chopped green onion and fresh cilantro. This dish goes well with rice vinegar pickles to cut the richness of the pork.
What’s your favourite dish with fish sauce?


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?

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?

Jjajangmyeon – Korean Noodles with Black Bean Sauce

Jjajangmyeon by The Aimless Cook

Today we’re making my version of Jjajangmyeon. It’s a Korean wheat noodle bowl with a pork and black bean sauce that’s derived from a Chinese dish called zhajiangmian. There’s an instant version of this dish called “Chapaghetti” that’s quite popular in the grocery store, but to me it tastes awful. The real thing is very tasty and relatively inexpensive to prepare and perfect for weekday cooking. Let’s cook Jjajangmyeon!

You will need:

  • 8 oz pork shoulder, diced (or ground)
  • 1 cup carrot, diced
  • 1 cup onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 swizzle shaoxing cooking wine
  • 1 ½ tablespoons black bean sauce
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon corn starch (with a little water)
  • ½ English cucumber, julienned
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar

Heat up a couple tablespoons of oil in a wok on high heat then add the onion and garlic. Cook for a couple minutes before adding the diced carrot. Since the carrot is small, it shouldn’t need a long time to cook. Just stir-fry for a minute or so to give it a head start then let’s move on.

Next, open up a space in the bottom of the wok by pushing the veg aside and add the pork. I used diced pork shoulder because I like the texture, but if you’re in a hurry, you can use ground pork instead. Add a swizzle of shaoxing cooking wine. What a swizzle? Pour a little of the wine once ‘around the block’, or in this case, around the wok. This will add a little fragrance and aroma to the dish. When you’re done, cook the mixture until the pork is no longer pink.

Now that the pork is just cooked, add the black bean sauce. It’s available in a lot of grocery stores these days in the Asian section. It’s quite salty, so be sure not to add too much. Mix it all together thoroughly before adding the chicken stock. Mix again to combine and let simmer for another 2 or 3 minutes til the pork is done. Finally, the corn starch mixed with a little warm water to the wok and let thicken.

Give the sauce a final taste. Counter with a little brown sugar to balance out the saltiness of the black bean. When it tastes just right, you’re done!

Fresh noodles are best, and a lot of grocery stores carry chow mein noodles these days. Simply boil them in salted water for about 2 – 3 minutes then strain. If you have instant ramen, those work as well.

To assemble, start by putting the noodles in a large bowl (you need room to mix them when you serve). Top with a generous amount of the pork and black bean sauce on one side. Finish the other side with some fresh julienned cucumber then serve.

To enjoy, simply mix the whole thing together and that’s all there is to it!

What’s your favourite brand of instant noodles?

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 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?

Vegan-bap – Easy Korean Cooking

Vegan-bap by The Aimless Cook

This week, I made a vegan version of one of my favourite Korean dishes – Bibimbap, or in this case, Vegan-bap! Bibimbap takes a lot of prep, but you can make extra ahead of time and have enough for whenever you get a craving.

The elements:

The Shiitake:

Take about 10 – 12 dried shiitakes and reconstitute them in a bowl with boiling water to cover. When they’re done, drain and squeeze out the excess moisture with kitchen paper then slice them, discarding the woody stems.

Put the slices into a small saucepan with about 2 tablespoons each of soy sauce, shaoxing cooking wine and brown sugar. Add a splash of hot water and stir it up to get things going on medium heat and simmer til the liquid is absorbed. When that’s done, take off the heat and set aside.

The Spinach:

Take a bunch of fresh spinach, washed and rinsed and blanch in boiling salted water for about 30 seconds. Shock in cold water, drain and squeeze out the excess moisture. Put into a large mixing bowl and season with soy sauce and sesame oil. Add a pinch of salt to taste, garnish with sesame seeds then set aside.

Gochujang sauce:

In a mixing bowl, combine a teaspoon of sesame oil with a tablespoon of gochujang and a teaspoon of soy sauce. To that, add a teaspoon and a half of honey and a splash of hot water. Whisk together to combine and give it a taste. It should be spicy at this point, but will balance out when combined with all the other ingredients. Add some sesame seeds, mix well and then set aside.

Cilantro Garlic sauce:

In a food processor or blender, add a half a bunch of fresh cilantro and a tablespoon of roasted garlic puree (you can check out how I made this by clicking on the link in the annotation). To that, put in the juice of 1 lime and blend to a nice paste. When you have your paste, keep blending on low speed and slowly drizzle in ¼ cup of canola oil til you have yourself a nice emulsion. Season with a pinch of salt and then set aside.

Carrots and sprouts:

Lightly stirfry some julienned carrots and fresh sprouts separately in a little bit of sesame oil. You only need to cook them for about 30 seconds. Set aside.

The Protein:

You can easily make this with either ground beef or pork, but today we’re using some smoked tofu. Simply dice and stirfry briefly to heat through.


For a little texture contrast and added goodness, I added some julienned English cucumber and some sliced avocado. So good!

Start with a nice big bowl. You will need room to mix everything together when you serve. Put in a couple scoops of steamed rice, then drizzle the gochujang sauce and cilantro garlic sauce on each side. After that, assemble the vegetables on top, arranging neatly like a clock. Keep an eye on your colours to keep everything vibrant. Lastly, put the tofu in the center and top with more gochujang sauce and sesame seeds.

To enjoy, simply mix everything together well. Like I said before, bibimbap is one of my all-time favourite Korean dishes. Bibimbap literally means “mixed rice” in Korean. What is your favourite vegetarian dish? Let me know in the comments below and see you next time!

Miso Maple Glazed Salmon Rice Bowl

Miso Maple Glazed Salmon Rice Bowl

The Rice Bowl is the epitome of Asian comfort food and this recipe takes Canadian and Japanese flavours and puts them together in this beautiful marriage of sweet caramelized maple syrup and savoury umami-rich red miso. Paired with the fragrant sesame seasoned brown rice and some simple grilled asparagus, this is happiness in a bowl.

You will need:

  • 1 tablespoon red miso paste
  • 1 teaspoon mirin
  • 1 teaspoon rice vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated ginger juice
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup

Whisk into a smooth paste and set aside.

For the rice seasoning:

  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons roasted black sesame seeds (or regular sesame seeds)
  • a dash of honey if you prefer

Mix together in a container and set aside.

The rest:

  • a bunch of fresh asparagus
  • olive oil
  • kosher salt
  • 2 cups cooked brown short grain rice
  • 2 portions of salmon fillet

Start by preheating the broiler. On the stove, heat a large skillet on high heat with a couple tablespoons of canola oil. When it starts to smoke, add the salmon. Cook on the heat until the edges start to turn opaque, then spoon on the glaze. You will only need about a couple tablespoons per piece. Once the glaze is on the salmon, immediately put under the broiler (about 7-8 inches above the salmon). Depending on the thickness of the salmon, you will only have to leave it cook for about 3-4 minutes. At this point, the glaze should be starting to caramelize and brown. When the salmon is done, take out and set aside.

For the asparagus, simply toss in olive oil til coated then season with kosher salt. Put on the grill on medium heat and cook for a couple minutes until lightly coloured. Take off the grill and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, add the freshly steamed brown rice and slowly drizzle in the seasoning sauce. With a slicing motion, mix the rice and seasoning together until well combined. Taste and season with salt if you need to.

To serve, simply arrange the salmon and asparagus on the bowl of seasoned sesame rice. If you like, you can also add a fried or poached egg, some sauteed shiitake mushrooms or some diced avocado. Be creative and have fun in the kitchen!


Snack House Soup – Hong Kong Meets Vietnam

Snack House Soup

Hong Kong meets Vietnam in this snack house inspired soup that you can do at home with a couple tomatoes and a few leftovers. This is easy home cooking and you’ll be delightfully surprised at how flavourful this quick broth is.

For the soup broth, you will need:

  • 2 medium, ripe tomatoes
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1 chili pepper, minced
  • 500 ml chicken stock

Start with a deep skillet on medium heat with a little olive oil and add the tomatoes, a clove of minced garlic, a minced shallot and a minced chili pepper. Let that cook for a few minutes while the tomato breaks down then add the sugar and fish sauce. Continue to cook until the tomato is completely broken down and becomes a sauce.

Now at this point, you can serve this sauce on pretty much anything, but let’s keep going. Today I’m making a soup, so I will add the chicken stock and just stir to combine.

Give it a taste and adjust with salt til you get it the way you like it. You probably won’t need much additional salt since you have the fish sauce. I didn’t.

For the rest of this soup, that’s where your creativity comes in. I have some instant ramen noodles here, but you can use whatever noodles you have handy. If you want an authentic Hong Kong snack house experience, use elbow macaroni.

Other toppings you can use:

  • leftover steak or pork chops
  • roasted chicken
  • cold cuts
  • SPAM
  • tofu or tempeh
  • cooked spinach, peas and carrots, green beans
  • eggs (fried, poached, boiled, omelette)

Have fun with this recipe, make it yours and have fun in the kitchen!

Umi no Oyakodon – Salmon Chirashi Sushi

Chirashi sushi is a casual style of sushi that is often made at home by arranging fresh fish on top of a bowl of seasoned sushi rice. Oyakodon is a dish more generally known as having chicken and egg, ‘oyako’ meaning ‘mother and child’. In this case, our oyakodon comes from the sea (umi), so we’re using salmon and salmon roe. This is a glorious sushi dish you are going to enjoy immensely if you love the essence of the sea. Enjoy!

You will need:

  • 500g of sushi rice*
  • 1 lb sushi grade fresh salmon
  • ½ cup ikura (salmon roe)
  • 1 sheet nori, shredded
  • soy sauce and wasabi

the rice:

 Start by prepping the sushi rice. Washing and rinsing is a very important step in the preparation of Japanese rice. The easiest way to do this is by using a mesh strainer inside a large mixing bowl. You want to thoroughly rinse the rice until the water is clear. This will take about 3 or 4 rinsing cycles. After rinsing, soak the rice for about 30 minutes. 

If you’re using a rice cooker, simply follow the instructions for your particular model. If you are cooking on the stovetop, put the rice in a small saucepan and add the water. There are a lot of methods to determine the water to rice ratio when cooking rice. One of them includes putting your index finger in the water until your finger touches the rice. It should go up to your first knuckle. If you want to be more precise, grab a kitchen scale and measure the weight of the rice. You want the exact same weight of water, so in this recipe you will need 380g of water.

Cover the saucepan and bring to a boil. When the water starts to boil, bring the heat down to medium and simmer for about 15 minutes. After that, remove from the heat and let sit covered for another 10-15 minutes.

Take the steamed rice and put into a large mixing bowl. Add about 4 Tablespoons of the sushi vinegar to the rice by trickling on a rice paddle, distributing evenly all over. Mix completely by gently folding and mixing with a chopping motion. Spread the rice evenly in the bowl and set aside to cool. A small fan works nicely for this.

sushi taro: a package of seasoning for chirashisushi rice

*sushi taro is a commercially available sushi rice seasoning that is portioned ahead of time for 2 x 500g of cooked rice. It has a colourful selection of vegetables, rice vinegar and seasoning that adds colour and flavour to your rice. They’re very convenient and available at many Asian grocery stores.

Now that you have the rice seasoned, set aside and let cool to room temp. Now, slice the salmon into delicate ¼ inch slices and get ready to assemble your chirashi sushi.

Get a nice hand-sized bowl and put in the rice, being careful not to pack it in too tightly. Like the hands of a clock, start to arrange the salmon slices around the top of the rice until it’s covered by the salmon. Make a dent in the center of the salmon pile where the ends of the slices meet and pile on a generous spoonful of ikura. Each one of these amber jewels pops with the intense flavour of the sea. Complimented with the slices of fresh salmon and delicately seasoned rice, you are sure to love this dish. Finally, garnish with shredded nori and serve with soy sauce and wasabi.

Recipe Video: Bunny Chow

Bunny Chow

Last week, I wrote a post about the famous Durban dish, Bunny Chow. Today I will share with you a recipe for the curry I prepared for the cooking video. It is similar to the ingredients that I used in the wild buffalo version of the dish I did in test kitchen, but this time around, I am using some leftover rotisserie chicken to save time. The results are a solid, hearty curry with a fragrant tomato gravy that you are going to love. Let’s see what we need!

For the curry mix:

  • 1 t coriander seeds, toasted and ground
  • 1 t cumin seeds, toasted and ground
  • 2 t garam masala 
  • 1 t tumeric
  • *a cinnamon stick, bay leaf

*if you want to use a premade curry powder, you can. Just use a couple Tablespoons

This is a basic curry mixture. For the best results, use whole seeds and toast them to release the fragrant aroma. If you love making fresh curry, use an electric spice grinder to save time. You can pick them up cheap at any department store.

For the rest:

  • half a medium onion, pureed
  • 2 garlic cloves and a thumb of ginger, minced
  • 1 can of crushed tomatoes 398ml
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 leftover rotisserie chicken meat, shredded
  • 2 medium potatoes, diced
  • 1 cup frozen or fresh green peas
  • fresh cilantro or green onion to garnish
  • a loaf of your favorite bread, unsliced (or a couple nice buns)

I started by gently cooking the onion puree in a skillet for a couple minutes to get rid of the raw onion taste. You want it slightly golden. Add the ginger and garlic and continue to cook for about a minute. To that, add the curry mix and make a nice, fragrant paste. This will be the flavour base.

Add the tomato, the chicken, potatoes and combine. If you need to, add a little water so you can simmer the whole mixture on medium heat with a cover for about 10 minutes. After the chicken is warmed through, take off the cover and add the peas. Continue simmering for about 2 minutes, then give it a taste. Season with salt and pepper to taste. If you like a little spice, you can add some sambal oelek or some chopped fresh chilies. 

If you’re using a bread loaf, cut into quarters and scoop the bread out, making a nice hollow bowl. Keep the scooped out bread to put on top. This is called the ‘virgin’ and it is typically used to dip into the gravy. Fill your bread with the curry and top with the virgin. Garnish with green onion or cilantro and enjoy!

Buns make a great bunny. They are portable and can be eaten like a sandwich and not as messy as eating from a loaf. The challenge of eating a bunny is to eat it from a loaf using only your hands. You must tear away the bread, keeping it above the gravy line so you don’t get it all over you. Good times!