Tag Archives: chef

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?

Silken Tofu – The Aimless Cook at Downtownfood

Silken Tofu with Downtown Food

Silken tofu is incredible when made fresh, and Chef Darren MacLean from Downtown Food shows us how he makes his own tofu in-house daily. This is part 2 of our 3 -part special on soybeans!

You will need:

  • 3 cups fresh soymilk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons gypsum powder, available at the Asian grocery

Make a slurry by combining the gypsum powder with a teaspoon of water. Add the mixture to the soy milk and mix well to combine. Put into a ceramic vessel and set aside.

Heat up a steamer on high heat til you have a rolling boil. Lower the temperature to med – med low until you have a gentle steam. carefully place the soymilk into the steamer and cover, leaving it slightly ajar to let extra condensation escape. Steam for about 6 minutes per inch of soymilk in the container.

*The tofu is done when it looks the consistency of custard.

Serve with your favourite toppings and enjoy!

Some of my favourite toppings include green onion, ponzu, mirin and soy reduction, sansai, dashi broth…

How do you enjoy your tofu?

Soy Milk – The Aimless Cook at DTF

Soymilk by The Aimless Cook

On today’s show, I’m with my friend, Chef Darren Maclean from Downtown Food. In this first episode of a 3 part special series, we’re cooking with soy beans!

Soy milk is amazingly simple to make and delicious. In Taiwan, it is enjoyed hot as a traditional breakfast item with freshly fried youtiao (Chinese crullers). In our special series on soybeans, we will show you how to make your own soymilk at home.

You will need:

  • 2 cups dried soybeans, soaked in water overnight

  • 1 litre fresh distilled water (your favourite spring water is also perfect)

 

Drain the soybeans and put them into a blender. Add 3 cups (750ml) of the water and blitz on high until the beans are completely blended.

Pour the mixture into a large pot and gently heat on medium high, stirring occasionally until the mixture reaches about 140F. You will see the mixture start to get frothy on the top. When it comes to tempurature, take off the heat and pour through a couple layers of cheesecloth.

Squeeze the cloth to extract the excess moisture, then open up the cheesecloth. Use the reserved cup of water (250ml) to pour over the soy pulp (okara) and give it another final squeeze.

Return the milk to the pot and give it another gentle heating to 140F. This is important as this will improve the flavour, removing the raw bean taste and breaking down the natural trypsin inhibitors thus improving the nutritional value as well.

When that’s done, strain again and put into a container. Refrigerate and enjoy!


What is your favourite soy product?

Honey Garlic Scallion Noodles

Honey Garlic Scallion Noodles

Here’s a great recipe that’s really delicious and easy to do. It’s a honey garlic scallion stir-fried noodle that’s sweet, with a touch of spice. If the flavour looks familiar, you’re right. It’s the same sauce from the Hawaiian chicken we did a few months ago. I added fresh chopped scallions for contrast and a splash of colour. You’re going to love this recipe!

You will need:

  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup mirin
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon chili flake
  • 1 teaspoon sesame seeds
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 454 g chow mein noodles
  • 1 bunch green onions (scallions) chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, finely chopped

In a large mixing bowl, combine the soy sauce, mirin, sesame oil, Korean chili flakes and sesame seeds. To that, add a couple tablespoons of minced garlic and a tablespoon of honey. Whisk to combine and give it a little taste. Adjust to taste and set aside.

Next, take the chow mein noodles and blanch them in boiling water for about 30 seconds. Drain well then set aside.

Heat up a couple tablespoons of oil in a pan or wok on high heat. Add the noodles and a tablespoon of finely chopped ginger and stirfry for a couple minutes. Add half a bunch of chopped scallions and continue cooking for another 30 seconds.

When that’s done, add your sauce and continue to stirfry for another minute or so. Immediately plate up into bowls and garnish with more scallions for colour and fresh contrast. This is a quick dish to make and serve up alone or with grilled meat. Try it at home and enjoy!

 

When was the last time you had green onions?

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?

Curanto Night

Curanto Style Leg of Lamb by The Aimless Cook

Curanto is an old-school cooking method still used today in Argentina. It uses heated rocks that cook food in a pit, very similar to Polynesian pit cooking. The food is placed on leaves or a blanket, which is laid on the hot rocks, then buried for several hours until the food is cooked. Of course, if you don’t want to dig a huge pit you can use what we used – a wheelbarrow. This was a lot of fun and I hope you try it out one day too!

You will need:

  • a wheelbarrow
  • some dry rocks (about 8 inches in diameter)
  • plenty of firewood (about 12 logs)
  • a shovel
  • a muslin, burlap or cotton sheet (dense enough to shield the food from the earth)
  • a whole leg of lamb (chickens work too, ribs, pork butt, etc)
  • some whole butternut squash
  • some whole russet potatoes
  • whatever root veg you want (carrots, beets, fennel bulbs etc)
  • time

for the spice rub:

  • equal parts (50g each) of fenugreek seeds, black mustard seeds, nigella seeds, fennel seeds and cumin seeds
  • some smoked paprika (10-15%)
  • some dried Kashmiri chiles (to taste)

Start a fire with 6 logs and a layer of rocks. Let it burn down for an hour and then add another 6 logs and another layer of rocks. While that fire burns down, let’s make a spice rub for the lamb.

The spice rub we’re gonna make is called paanch phoron, also known as Indian 5-spice. Take equal portions (100g each) of fenugreek seeds, black mustard seeds, nigella seeds, fennel seeds and cumin seeds and combine them in a large container or mixing bowl. You can also add about 15% of smoked sweet paprika for a little colour and punch. If you like a little spice, add some dried Kashmiri chilies to taste. You can store this mixture in an airtight container for months and take some out whenever you need it.

When you’re ready to use, simply roast the seeds in a dry cast iron skillet until fragrant then coarsely grind them in a mortar and pestle or spice grinder.

Once the rocks are ready and the fire has burned down, shovel a 2 – 3 inch layer of earth in the bottom of the wheelbarrow. Carefully cover that layer with your hot rocks with hot embers to fill in the gaps. Cover again with more earth as an insulating layer.

We’re gonna use a cotton sheet to lay the food on. You can also use banana leaves, burlap or muslin. Just make sure that the layer you use is dense enough to shield the food from the earth.

Cover the food with another layer of cloth, then follow that with more earth. You want to have at least a couple inches above the rim of the wheelbarrow. Once everything is good and buried, just let it sit for about 5 hours.

After 5 hours, take off the cloth layer, being careful not to get any dirt on the food. At this point in time, your lamb should be around 145F and your veg should be nicely cooked.

Cooking outdoors is a lot of fun and very easy to do, just keep it safe and make sure your fire is completely out when you’re done. Take this recipe, make it yours and have fun out there!

QOTD:

What is your favourite food to cook outdoors?

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!

Panfried Pickerel with Cannellini Bean Salad

Panfried Pickerel by The Aimless Cook

Pickerel, or walleye as its sometimes known as, is a freshwater fish native to Canada and parts of the Northern US. It has a nice white meat that is flaky and tender, perfect for pan-frying. Today, I’m going to show you a simple pan-fry recipe and make a nice beurre noisette (brown butter) sauce in the same pan. To go with our pickerel, I’m making a nice cannellini bean salad. This makes for a nice and easy weekday dinner, so let’s get cooking!

For the salad, you will need:

  • 1 English cucumber, diced
  • 1 handful of grape tomatoes, halved
  • ½ package mixed greens
  • 375g Cannellini beans (white kidney, drained and rinsed)
  • 1 handful parsley (flatleaf if you got it, chopped)
  • ¼ cup dried cranberries
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • the juice of 1 lemon
  • S&P

For the rest:

  • 2 pickerel fillets, skin on
  • 2 tablespoons, butter
  • olive oil
  • parsley, chopped
  • the juice of 1 lemon
  • S&P

To make the salad, start by making a dressing with 3 tablespoons of a good quality extra virgin olive oil with 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. Add a pinch of salt to season and mix well to emulsify.

In a large bowl, add the cucumber, 75g of mixed greens, a handful of halved grape tomatoes, a three finger pinch of chopped parsley and the cannellini beans. Add the dressing and toss lightly to combine. Give it a taste and season with salt and pepper. Put a nice generous serving on each plate and set aside.

For the rest, start by scoring the skin of 2 pickerel fillets and seasoning with salt and pepper on both sides. Heat up a pan on high heat and add a tablespoon of oil and a tablespoon of butter. When the pan is hot, add the pickerel, skin side down to the pan and cook for about 2 or 3 minutes, or until the fish comes free from the pan. You need to build that beautiful crust.

Turn the fish over and cook the other side for an additional 2-3 minutes. When the fish is done, take out of the pan and set a piece on each of the plates of salad.

In the same pan, melt another pat of butter on medium low heat and cook until it starts to brown. When you start to see the brown particles in the butter, remove from the heat, add the juice of 1 lemon and half a handful of chopped parsley. Season with a pinch of salt and spoon the brown butter sauce over the cooked fish and salad. Enjoy!

The cannellini beans brings a nice creaminess to the whole dish and complements the acidity of the dressing. The dried cranberries are a nice bit of sweetness that adds a touch of colour to the whole dish. If you don’t have pickerel, any white fish will do, including cod, halibut or even catfish. This dish is light, yet hearty enough with the beans to fill you up without having to make rice. Take this recipe, make it yours and have fun in the kitchen.

Pickerel or Walleye – what do you call it where you come from?
Special thanks to my friends over at Dor-Bel Fine Foods and Mustafa from Nefiss Lezziz

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?

Humita Recipe – Savoury Corn Pudding

Humita Recipe

Summer is an awesome time to get together with friends to enjoy some drinks and some nice steaks on the grill, and this humita is the perfect companion to the flavours of the season.

Humita is a Latin American dish from pre-Hispanic times made with corn. There are many different regional versions of humita including this one from Argentina which is slowly cooked with onions and spices until it becomes thick and rich. This recipe has been adapted for the home kitchen and is very easy to prepare. Hope you love it!

You will need:

  • 8 cobs of fresh, sweet corn on the cob, husks removed
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1-2 teaspoons crushed chili flakes
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Start with a box grater and grate the kernels off 8 cobs of the freshest, sweet corn you can get your hands on into a large mixing bowl, saving all the precious liquid (don’t waste a drop!). When you’re done, run the back of a chef’s knife along all the cobs to get the last of the juice out (that is the sweetest juice). Set aside.

In a large dutch oven or heavy pot, heat up a tablespoon of olive oil and 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Add a diced medium onion and let cook for 6-8 minutes til translucent. When the onion’s done, add the grated corn and continue to cook until it gets thick and creamy.

When the corn is thickened, stir in ¼ cup of whole milk and continue to cook til creamy. When the milk has been absorbed, stir in the rest of the milk and continue cooking until the mixture has thickened once more (4-5 minutes). When that’s done, add a teaspoon of ancho chili paste or crushed chili flakes. This is gonna give the corn a nice smoky flavour with a little spice. To that, add a cup of fresh basil leaves. Stir until combined, season with salt and pepper to taste and get ready to serve.

Humita is a great side for a nice steak or grilled fish, some slices of really good crusty bread or right off the spoon. Take this recipe, make it yours and have fun in the kitchen!