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There’s nothing better on a snow day than staying indoors and digging into a hot and hearty comfort meal. This Shortrib Kimchi Jjigae is just that. Meaty, mouthwatering, fork-tender beef shortribs braised in a kimchi broth with caramelized onions and chewy tteok. Add some fresh steamy rice and prepare for a meal that will make you wish every day could be a snow day.
You will need:
- 2 lbs yellow onions, thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 – 3 lbs beef short ribs (4 ribs)
- 2 cups kimchi
- 700 ml anchovy stock (or Japanese dashi)
- 2 cups tteok (Korean ricecakes)
- 2 tablespoons sesame oil
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- salt and pepper, to season
- ¼ cup mirin
- fresh bean sprouts
- julienned carrot
- green onion
- white and black sesame seeds
In a large pan on high, heat the canola oil and butter. Add the onions, turn the heat down to medium, and slowly cook until the onion get caramelized and brown. When the onions are done, put them in the bottom of a pressure cooker or dutch oven and set aside.
Season the shortribs with salt and sear in the pan on high heat with more oil til they are browned. When they’re brown, place them on the onions.
Deglaze the pan you just seared the ribs in with the 2 cups of kimchi. Stir the kimchi around until all the fond comes free from the bottom of the pan. Place the kimchi over the ribs.
Finally, add the anchovy stock to the pot with the other ingredients. Cover and pressure cook for one hour, or bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 2 – 2.5 hrs or until the shortribs are tender.
Near the end of the cooking time, heat a pan with the sesame oil and saute the minced garlic for about 30 seconds. Add the tteok and continue cooking until they are lightly browned. Add the tteok to the pot of jjigae and let simmer for about 5 minutes until the tteok is done.
Taste the jjigae and season with salt if you need it. Add the mirin, give a final stir and get ready to serve.
Ladle the jjigae into individual serving vessels with one rib per serving. Place under a broiler for 5 minutes to give the meat a little colour. Garnish the servings with fresh bean sprouts, carrot, green onion, and sesame seeds. Serve with steamed rice and enjoy!
What is your favourite winter meal?
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?
If you have been following along for some time now, you’ll know that I, or Jo and I in this case, started our first foray into the restaurant business last October. Our place, Eats of Asia, is located in the famous Millarville Farmers Market, about 20 minutes or so southwest of Calgary. The Market itself has been around for over 30 years nestled in the heart of the Millarville racetrack which has been around for over 100 years. When the opportunity to get into this hallowed location came up, I almost said no. It was actually Jo that slapped the reality of this unique gift into my head. When I look back now, I wonder if I was high that I considered turning down what eventually became the start of the most important crossroad of my, or our lives.
For as long as I’ve been doing The Aimless Cook, people always told me in the video comments that I should open a restaurant. I’ve always dismissed the notion, knowing not only that it’s one of the most riskiest business ventures out there, but also that people who start to invest their money and quit their comfy salary jobs to pursue that dream of owning a place of their own often end up crashing and burning into oblivion. So what the hell am I thinking?
Well, I’ll be honest with you. Passion can make you do some crazy shit. The key is that you keep it real, make good decisions, and not be stupid. If I were to put it into terms that most people would understand, “Don’t be like a young lovestruck teen, letting your dick make your decisions for you.” How’s that? One of the first rules I learned about the restaurant business from my mentor, “Never buy anything you don’t need. Cash flow is everything.” This opportunity didn’t come sooner because I wouldn’t have been ready. I’m 41 years old, I’ve been divorced, I’ve gone through the worst that relationships can give you, and in addition I have the best that relationships can give you. I have 4 wonderful children that mean the world to me, and looking back I wouldn’t change a thing. You could say that the experiences that I’ve had made me super skeptical and yet always hungry for more. I would say that I’m ready. I can also safely say at this point in life that I know what I don’t need.
So what pushed me over the edge of being nestled comfortably in the safety of corporate life into navigating the often treacherous waters of entrepreneurship? Well, in my case, take a few of the well-known elements of success and throw in some key players who walked into my life, a unique opportunity, and my current mental state and I think you have it.
Everyone knows that passion is key to pursuing your dreams, and I’ve had a lot of dreams. I think during the course of my life I’ve wanted to be a comic book artist, a rock star, a writer, a financial planner (don’t ask how that one got in there). The difference now is that something always brings me back to food. Like an old friend, you never appreciate what you have, but they’re always there for you no matter what and no matter how many years go by. I love to cook good food, share Asian culture, and making a career out of it made perfect sense. A noble pursuit indeed.
In the next few posts, I will be writing more on the subject of my adventure in the industry. If you have your own dreams of opening a restaurant, I hope that this memoir will serve as a guide, or at least give you an idea of the realities of pursuing your own passions.
The ramen burger is gaining popularity in North America. Touted as the newest food craze, it’s a clever sandwich using ramen noodles as the bun. Today, I’m going to show you how to make your own. Enjoy!
You will need:
- fresh ramen noodles (one package per person)
- 1 egg, beaten
For the beef teriyaki filling:
- 10 oz. thinly sliced beef (per person)
- 1 yellow onion, sliced
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons mirin
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- a splash of sake (optional)
- ¼ cup dashi
Cook the ramen like you normally would until cooked. Strain and transfer to a large mixing bowl. Add the beaten egg and combine until the noodles are evenly coated. Take the noodles, divide them into 2 equal portions, and put them into ring moulds, ramekins, or burger patty moulds. Pack them and weigh them down so that they can set in the shape of your ‘buns’. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
For the Beef Teriyaki, start by sauteing the onion in a small pot on medium heat with a bit of oil. Cook until the onions are lightly caramelized, then add the beef. Cook until the beef starts to change colour. Next, add the rest of the ingredients and continue cooking until the beef is done and the sauce is thickened to your liking.
When the noodles are set, they should pop out of the moulds easily. Fry them on a lightly oiled skillet on medium high heat until they are slightly browned and warmed through.
Assemble your burger and enjoy!
*The ramen bun holds up well to sauce. You can of course enjoy them with hamburger patties, katsu, fried oysters, etc. It up to your imagination.
What are you going to put in your ramen buns?
Char siu is that famous Chinese red roast pork that you see hanging in the windows of your favourite meat shops in Chinatown. So delicious and savoury with that hint of sweetness from that incredible caramelized marinade. It’s easier than you think to make so let’s get cooking!
You will need:
- ⅓ cup Hoisin sauce
- ⅓ cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons Shaoxing cooking wine
- 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
- ½ teaspoon 5-spice powder
- 1 ½ tablespoons maltose (or honey)
- 3 lb pork shoulder*
*For a great balance of fat and lean, go for shoulder. If you want extra lean, get yourself pork tenderloin. If you want to go for broke, get pork belly.
The first thing we’re gonna do is make our marinade. You want to do this the day before so that your pork will have maximum flavour.
In a medium mixing bowl, combine ⅓ cup of sugar with 2 tablespoons of shaoxing cooking wine, 2 tablespoons of oyster sauce, a ½ teaspoon of 5-spice powder, and ⅓ cup hoisin sauce. For nostalgia, I’m also adding about 6 drops of red food colouring. Finally, add 1 ½ tablespoons of maltose, which is the secret to that wonderful caramelization that this dish is famous for. You can find maltose in most Asian grocery stores. If not, you can substitute honey.
Maltose is a very thick and very sticky ingredient, so be patient. It will slowly dissolve as you mix it with the other ingredients.
When the marinade is ready, put it into a large ziplock bag and then add about 3 lbs of pork shoulder. These steaks are about 2 inches thick, so for our home recipe, they should cook up fast. Coat the pork evenly and pop into the fridge to marinate overnight. Be sure to turn the bag over every few hours or so.
When the meat is ready, take it out of the bag and keep the marinade in a small bowl. Place the pork in a roasting pan on a rack and put in into a preheated 375F oven until done. You want to baste it with that marinade every 10-15 minutes. Also be sure to flip the pork over halfway through cooking. It will be done when the edges start to caramelize and the surface is glistening red. If you have a meat thermometer, the inside should read about 160F.
Once you know the meat is about done, turn the oven up to broil and briefly hit it with that high heat to caramelize the rest of the surface. Take out of the oven and set aside to rest for a few minutes before slicing.
Char siu is crazy versatile so make lots and keep it handy for whatever you want to use it for. It also freezes well, so you can store it whole or sliced, thaw it and use it whenever you get a craving. Enjoy!
What is your favourite dish with char siu?
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?
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?
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?
Inspired from Martin Yan’s China
This chicken recipe was inspired from a street stall in Guangzhou and is featured in Martin Yan’s book, “Martin Yan’s China”. I have never seen a marinade using fermented tofu for fried chicken. It piqued my curiosity for sure!
- 2 cubes (1 oz) red fermented tofu
- ¼ teaspoon sugar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ⅛ teaspoon white pepper
- 1 lb chicken thighs, boneless/skinless, cut into bite-sized pieces
- oil, for deep frying
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 egg
- 1 green onion, chopped
In a medium mixing bowl, mash the fermented tofu into a paste with a fork. Add the sugar, salt and white pepper and mix well. Add the chicken, cover and marinate in the fridge for 1 – 4 hours.
Heat 2 inches of oil to 350F in a wok or medium pot. Mix thecornstarch and a couple eggs in another medium bowl with a whisk. Add the chicken and stir to coat evenly. Working in batches, deep-fry the chicken, stirring gently to prevent them from sticking together until golden brown and crisp (about 5 min). Remove and drain on paper towels.
Put into paper cones, garnish with green onion and serve.
What is your favourite stinky food?