Tag Archives: cuisine

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?

Ramen Burger

Ramen Burger by The Aimless Cook

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?

Calgary Stampede 2013 – Midway Food!

Stampede 2013 with The Aimless Cook

The Calgary Stampede is back and so is all the excitement that comes with it. I was on the Stampede midway last night and sampled some of the latest offerings that the food vendors had to offer. Among the classics, like corndogs, tacos, flautas, mini-donuts, and ginormous turkey legs, the bar was raised once again with the typical deep-fried shock-fest of offerings such as deep-fried Oreos, cheesecakes, Philly Cheesesteaks, and butter. Yeah…deep-fried butter. Here are a few of the items I had the pleasure (or displeasure) of sampling…

The classic corndog

This is my favourite food item under the “meat-on-a-stick” category. Whenever I visit the Stampede, this is one thing I cannot leave without having. Crunchy battered exterior, yielding to a perfectly cooked mystery meat in tube form underneath. This is street food genius on a stick. Just mustard, please!

Eggroll-on-a-stick

This is basically exactly what it says it is, and as a result of eating this, I ask the simple question…why? Eggrolls are finger food, meant to be eaten with your hands. They’re already made into a form that promotes portability and ease of consumption. Why complicate things by adding a stick? Now grab some wontons, make them super-sized, fry them up and put 4 on a skewer. There’s something I can enjoy on the midway!

Chocolate-dipped Jalapenos

I honestly thought I would enjoy these. The heat of the peppers in play with the dark chocolate sound intriguing, but I was dead wrong. Since the jalapenos are fresh, they emit that raw, very powerful heat that just overwhelms the palate in a way that the chocolate just can’t compete with. Another one of those snacks for late night drinking challenges when it’s time for truth or dare.

Deep-fried Butter

This just sounds wrong on a lot of levels, unless you’re a huge fan of Paula Deen’s cooking. Chunks of cold butter are wrapped in pie dough and deep-fried. As a result, what you end up with is a pile of deceptive little morsels of molten-hot, artery clogging pastry bites. Since the butter inside is melted, you get this crispy on the outside, raw dough inside bite that’s just not appetizing at all. They’re a little better dipped in ice cream, but if you want a better experience for your buck, just get churros and ice cream.

Naaco TNT

Calgary food truck, The Naaco Truck, brings their unique spin on Indian cuisine to the streets, and at this year’s Stampede, they have brought the Naaco TNT. The TNT is chef and owner, Aman Adatia’s take on the famous Indian street snack, Jhal muri which features a colourful and refreshing mix of local produce, puffed rice, fried chickpeas, cornflakes, cilantro, lime and a tangy tamarind dresssing. Put that mix into a paper cone, add a stick (in this case, a tongue depressor) to scoop it all up, and go hard. I love this dish. Unlike all the other fried offerings that are constantly trying to out-shock each other, the Naaco TNT is fresh, healthy and incredibly delicious. The textures of the dry ingredients interplay with the crisp cucumbers and sweet corn to give your mouth a very pleasant experience.

The flavour profile focuses on the fresh, local vegetables and are a nice complement to the tang of tamarind and lime juice in the dressing. The pineapple also adds a nice hit of sweetness to round things out. Beautiful.

There are a lot of foods on the midway that are out to challenge your perception and tastebuds. Some are way out there while there are still the good old classics. What are some of your favourite midway foods?

Char Siu – Chinese Roast Pork

char siu by The Aimless Cook

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?

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?

Guangzhou-style Fried Chicken

Guangzhou-style Fried Chicken

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!

Marinade:

  • 2 cubes (1 oz) red fermented tofu
  • ¼ teaspoon sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon white pepper

And then:

  • 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?

Steamed Bao – Chinese Steamed Buns

Steamed Bao by The Aimless Cook

Steamed bao are Chinese buns which are made by steaming a simple bread dough. They can be made plain or have a variety of tasty fillings like custard, meat or bean paste. In this recipe, I make the buns for my favourite Taiwanese style slider, gua bao. Enjoy!

  • 1/4 cup water
  • 5 tablespoons milk
  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable shortening, melted
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar

Combine water and milk in a small bowl. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, and baking powder. Slowly stir in the water mixture, and when absorbed, stir in the shortening and vinegar. Turn the dough out to a floured surface and knead for 10 minutes until smooth and elastic. Cover the dough and let sit under plastic for 1 hour.

Makes 16 bao.

What is your mealtime staple where you live?

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?

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?