Tag Archives: easy
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!
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?
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?
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?
Pickled jalapenos are so easy to make, you’ll wonder why you’ve been buying them all this time! Best of all, you can use this recipe for carrots, daikon, or whatever you’re favourite vegetable happens to be. They’re delicious on tacos, nachos, omelettes, or in this case, breakfast tostadas. Try for yourself and discover your own amazing combination!
You will need:
- 1lb fresh jalapenos, cut into ⅛” slices
- 1 ½ cups palm vinegar (or any light coloured vinegar)
- 1 cup water
- ½ cup sugar
Grab a container large enough to fit the jalapenos, put them in, and set aside.
In a medium saucepan, combine the liquid ingredients and whisk together. Bring to a boil, stirring til the sugar is fully dissolved. Remove from heat, pour over the jalapenos and allow to cool thoroughly. When cool, put in the refrigerator and let sit overnight. That’s it!
Pickled jalapenos are awesome. The pickling tones down the heat and gives them a nice gentle heat. They’re versatile too, as you can use them on almost anything. Check out these amazingly simple breakfast tostadas using just a few everyday ingredients.
- tostadas (available at the grocery store in the Mexican food section)
- bacon, chorizo or longonisa
- shredded cheese
- fresh cilantro
- lime juice
- sour cream or crema
- pickled jalapenos
Use your imagination! You can use whatever you have in the fridge to make a colourful and tasty breakfast that’s a fresh departure from the usual. Have fun in the kitchen!
What do you like to put your pickled jalapenos on?
Scrambled eggs like a BOSS: http://youtu.be/MMtlZ8DEZTo
Salsa & Pico de Gallo vid: http://youtu.be/nfRuI7mbRYk
Ever run into one of those mornings when you look in the fridge and discover that you have nothing to make into breakfast? I’m gonna show you how to make a quick version of a traditional bannock using a few basic ingredients from the pantry. Fresh from the pan, these are delicious with almost anything – jam, butter, syrup, cream or cinnamon spread. Breakfast solved!
You will need:
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 – 1 ½ cups water
- ½ cup cooking oil
We’ll start by mixing the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Start with the all-purpose flour, then add in 1 teaspoon each of baking powder, sugar and salt. Whisk together to combine.
To that, whisk in 1 cup of water to make a pasty batter. Add up to a ½ cup more if it’s not enough. You want your batter to be like paste and hang off a spoon. At this point, you can add raisins, dried cranberries or saskatoon berries for some variation.
Heat up ½ cup of cooking oil in a cast iron skillet on medium heat til the oil starts to shimmer. You can drop in a little piece of batter to test it. When the oil is ready, drop in the batter a tablespoon at a time and fry until golden brown. Flip over and continue frying until done. Carefully take out of the pan and drain on paper towels.
Fresh bannock goes well with just about anything, especially butter and your favourite jam. You can also dress this up like a scone with whip cream and fresh berries. It’s up to you!
Bannock is a traditional First Nations bread that was also enjoyed by the Metis. Because it was so easy to prepare, trappers and hunters often brought it out into the bush. It’s still made today and is gaining popularity with all Canadians.
What is your quick go-to breakfast?
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?
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?
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?
Zaru Soba is a cold noodle dish featuring fresh buckwheat noodles and a delicious dipping sauce with additions like finely chopped green onion, grated daikon, wasabi and raw quail egg. This refreshing and healthy dish is perfect for a hot summer day and it’s really easy to prepare.
You will need:
- soba noodles (dried in bundles or preferably fresh)
For the dipping sauce:
- 1 cup dashi
- ¼ cup soy sauce
- ¼ cup mirin
- 4 quail eggs
- 1 bunch of green onion (finely chopped)
- ½ cup shredded daikon
- fresh wasabi
- 2 sheets of roasted nori, finely shredded
- some roasted sesame seeds
Start with a small saucepan of the dashi on medium heat and add the soy sauce and mirin. Heat til the sauce comes to a simmer then let cook for about 5 minutes. Take off the heat and set aside to cool.
Cut a 2-3 inch section from a fresh daikon and peel. Using a Japanese grater or box grater, grate the daikon into a small bowl. Taking the daikon pulp in your hand, gently squeeze the juice and save the pulp. Set aside.
Add the soba noodles to a large pot of unsalted boiling water then turn down to a simmer (don’t cook soba at a rolling boil like Italian pasta). Cook the soba noodles until they are just done. You want them tender, but not al dente and not mushy. As soon as they’re done, strain into a colander in a large bowl and run cold water til the soba is rinsed of all the starch and the water runs clear. When that’s done, drain well and set aside.
Put the sauce into individual dipping bowls and each of the add-on ingredients into small dishes. Start with the grated daikon, then a small serving of wasabi. Carefully take the top off a quail egg and pour off the egg white, keeping the yolk in the bottom half of the shell. Put the quail egg on top of the pile of daikon. Finally, add some finely chopped green onion and you’re ready.
Using chopsticks, take some of the noodles and wrap them around til you have a nice mouthful portion. Gently place on a plate and repeat til you have 3 nice bundles. Finish with some shredded roasted nori and roasted sesame seeds.
To eat, simply add the daikon and green onion to the sauce and mix. If you like, add the quail egg and as much wasabi as you prefer. From there, simply take some noodles, dip them in the sauce and enjoy!
What is your favourite cold dish in the summer?
This recipe for Thai Beef and Basil is incredibly quick to prepare and very tasty. The key to this dish is using the freshest ingredients you can get your hands on, so if you can’t find the Thai Holy basil, use your local basil, as it will bring some impressive aroma to your finished meal.
- 250 g of beef, sliced skirt steak or ground
- 1 red chili, roughly chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
- 1 tbsp fish sauce
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp oyster sauce
- 1 cup of fresh basil leaves
- 1 large chili sliced
- 1 handful of green beans
- canola oil for cooking
Start by pounding up a roughly chopped red chili pepper and 3 cloves of garlic in a mortar and pestle with a pinch of kosher salt til they release their oils and fragrance. The coarse grain of the salt will help season as well as provide some texture while you pound the chile and garlic.
Next, in a small bowl, combine 1 tablespoon each of soy sauce, fish sauce and oyster sauce. Mix well and set aside.
In a wok or frying pan heat up 1 tablespoon of oil on high til it starts to smoke, then add the chilli garlic mix. Stir well for about a minute until it starts to smell really fragrant. Add 250g of sliced skirt steak and keep everything moving as you continue cooking for another minute. Next, add the sauce mixture and combine.
Next, stir in a handful of green beans (or long beans) and a sliced chili pepper. Finish off with adding 1 cup of fresh basil leaves. Mix to combine, then give a final taste. You shouldn’t need salt since you have fish sauce, but if it’s a little too spicy, balance it out with a touch of palm or brown sugar. When it’s tasting perfect, plate up on a fresh bed of steamed rice and top with a crisp fried egg if you have them.
The skirt steak is much like the flank, but with a coarser fibre. When you slice it thinly across the grain, you will get a really tender stirfry meat that cooks very quickly. As for the basil, the purists will insist on using Holy basil which is a Thai variety. Since I live in Canada and there are so many great places here that make some incredibly fresh and fragrant basil, I’m using it. With simple dishes, the freshness of the ingredients is crucial. Go out to your local Farmers Market or community garden and make good use of the bounty that’s available for you. It’s simply a waste if you don’t. Trust me, you’ll thank me later.
So my question of the day for you is: What are your favourite fresh herbs to cook with?