Tag Archives: homemade

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?

Tantanmen – Peddler’s Noodles

Tantanmen by The Aimless Cook

Tantanmen (Peddler’s Noodles) is a spicy Japanese ramen dish based on a Szechuan dish of the same name. Dan dan is the name of the pole that the peddler would carry across his shoulders with the soup and noodles on each end. The broth is made from doubanjiang, sesame and miso, giving it a wonderfully spicy and savoury flavour. There’s nothing better than warming up next to a large bowl of this incredible ramen. Try it for yourself!

For the pork:

  • 180g lean ground pork
  • 1 clove garlic, pressed
  • ½ tablespoon grated ginger
  • 1 green onion, chopped
  • 2 ½ tablespoons doubanjiang* (Chinese chili paste)

The soup base:

  • 2 teaspoons tianmianjiang** (sweet soybean paste)
  • 2 tablespoons tahini
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon red miso
  • 1 tablespoon sake or shaoxing
  • 1 teaspoon chili oil
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 litre chicken or pork stock (homemade or the best quality storebought)
  • ramen noodles

Toppings:

  • bamboo shoots
  • green onions, chopped
  • nori
  • boiled eggs

In a small bowl, combine the sake/shaoxing, soy sauce, miso, tianmianjiang and tahini and then set aside.

Heat a couple tablespoons of sesame oil in a wok on high heat. Add doubanjiang, garlic, grated ginger and a couple chopped green onions and cook for 30 seconds.

Add the ground pork and cook for about 3 minutes then stir in the sauce mix.

Pour in 1 litre of chicken stock and a couple teaspoons of chili oil, bring to a boil, then simmer for 10 minutes. Taste for seasoning and balance out with brown sugar.

Ladle the soup onto the cooked ramen noodles and top with green onions, some toasted sesame seeds, a drizzle of chili oil, bamboo shoots, a soft boiled egg, and a quarter sheet of nori. Now grab a pair of chopsticks and enjoy!

*doubanjiang is a Chinese chili paste made from fermented broad beans, soy beans and chilies. It’s also known as the soul of Szechuan cooking!

**tianmianjiang is also known as sweet bean paste and is similar to hoisin sauce.

When was the last time you bought an unknown ingredient at the market?

Gua Bao – Taiwanese Pork Belly Sliders

Gua Bao by The Aimless Cook

Gua Bao are a popular Taiwanese street food. Slider-sized handfuls of slowly braised pork belly, stuffed into steamed buns with red sugar, crushed peanuts and cilantro. These are flavourful and delicious little sandwiches that are sure to bring happiness wherever you bring them. Enjoy!

For the pork you will need:

  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 500g pork belly, skin on
  • 3 tablespoons dark soy sauce
  • 1 liter water
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 star anise
  • 4 cloves
  • ½ teaspoon Chinese 5-spice powder
  • 1 ½ bulbs of garlic, (separated to cloves, but you don’t have to peel them)

for the rest:

  • hoisin sauce
  • Taiwanese red sugar, or jaggery
  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
  • roasted peanuts, crushed
  • fresh steamed bao (Chinese buns)*

Heat oil in a heavy pot or dutch oven on med high heat. Brown the pork belly on all sides. Add the soy sauce to both sides of the pork after its browned.

Immediately after, add 1 litre of water, 1 cinnamon stick, 1 star anise, 4 cloves, ½ teaspoon Chinese 5-spice powder and the cloves from 1 ½ bulbs of garlic. Bring to a boil, then turn down to simmer covered for about 1.5 hours or until tender.

When the pork is finished, carefully take out and slice into ½ inch pieces. Serve in the steamed buns and garnish with crushed peanuts, red sugar, hoisin and fresh cilantro.

Toppings for this Taiwanese sandwich are gonna be a little different than what you’re used to in a North American sandwich. I’m starting with some hoisin sauce, followed by some Taiwanese red sugar, or in this case, some jaggery. It’s a type of cane sugar that I got from the Indian market. Also I have some roasted crushed peanuts for texture and finally some fresh chopped cilantro. The cilantro is gonna cut the richness of the pork.

*You can find pre-made Chinese buns in your local Asian grocery. If not, you can do what I’ve done before and make them from Pillsbury biscuit dough. Just cut into rounds, fold over and steam for 15 minutes.

Pork belly is very rich and tender when it’s braised. Some people are put off by the fattiness of it. How about you? Are you put off by certain food textures or qualities?

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?

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!

Zaru Soba Recipe – Easy Japanese Cooking

Zaru Soba Recipe

 

 

 

 

 

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

The rest:

  • 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?

Marrow Mashed Potatoes

marrow mashed potatoes feature

Bone marrow is an incredible ingredient that adds flavour and depth to stocks, but its also superb for using in your mashed potatoes. These potatoes use roasted marrow to give it extra richness that you can’t get with just butter. You are going to love these potatoes with grilled meat or as a topping for your next shepherd’s pie. Let’s get started!

 

 

You will need:

  • 4 medium yellow potatoes
  • 3 large marrow bones
  • a small yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 leek, tender part, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • salt and pepper, to season

Start by roasting the marrow bones in a preheated 375F oven for about 15 minutes til they are nicely roasted and brown. When they’re done, set them aside.

Boil the potatoes, peeled and quartered in a pot of salted water until fork tender. When they’re done, set them aside.

In a pan on medium heat, saute a thinly sliced leek and a small yellow onion in a tablespoon of oil. Cook until the the leeks and onions are soft and starting to brown. When they are done, turn off the heat and get ready to put it all together.

In a large mixing bowl, start mashing the potatoes with a tablespoon of butter. Add the marrow from the bones and continue to mash until you get the desired consistency. Finally, add the leek and onions and combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste and you’re done!

The protein in the marrow is great when it comes to roasting these potatoes in the oven because you’re gonna get a nice golden finish. This is why they are great for making dishes like shepherd’s pie. Take this recipe, make it yours and have fun in the kitchen!

Pea Soup Recipe

pea soup feature

Pea soup has been enjoyed since about 500 BC in ancient Greece. Since then, the dish has been adapted and refined all over Europe and the world. In this recipe, I’m using dried split peas and some leftover lentils. We’re also gonna make a stock with some roasted smoked ham hocks with maple syrup. This is gonna build us a nice foundation for a delicious batch of pea soup and its happening right now on The Aimless Cook.

You will need:

  • 1 large yellow onion, roughly chopped
  • 3 large carrots, roughly chopped
  • 3 stalks celery, roughly chopped
  • 2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 smoked ham hocks
  • some maple syrup
  • some water
  • 1 ½ – 2 cups dried split peas
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Start by drizzling some maple syrup on the ham hocks on a baking sheet and roast them in a preheated 350F oven until golden brown and fragrant.

Next, start your stock with a couple tablespoons of olive oil in a 6 qt stockpot on medium heat. Add the onions, carrots and celery and sweat them out for about 6 – 8 minutes, adding the garlic at the last minute. Add in the roasted ham hocks, fill the pot with water and let it come to a boil. The moment it starts to boil, turn down the heat to medium and let simmer for at least 2 hours.

When the stock is done, take out the ham hocks and set aside. Strain out the veg and discard. Put the stock back on the stove and add the potatoes, split peas, some thyme and a couple bay leafs. Let simmer again for another hour until the peas are done and the potatoes are falling apart. The potatoes will help thicken the soup.

While the soup simmers, take the meat off the bones and chop into bite-sized pieces. Set aside.

When the soup is done, skim the surface to get rid of the foam. Next, use an immersion blender to puree the soup until you get the desired consistency. Add in the ham and stir everything together to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste and you’re ready to serve. To serve, ladle into bowls and drizzle with a little maple syrup. Serve with crusty bread and enjoy!

Pea soup has been made for ages and during that time, has been refined and re-interpreted over the years. The are many different variations of this recipe all over Europe as well as places like the Caribbean and right here in Canada. Since we are using dried peas and ham hocks in this recipe, it’s a very cheap dish to put together. You can serve this dish in many ways: You can serve it with a drizzle of maple syrup with a side of crusty bread, you can add crema for richness, or just plain. They’re all delicious!

What was your favourite soup growing up?

Loco Moco – Hawaiian Classics

loco moco feature

Loco Moco is a popular Hawaiian comfort food consisting of 4 quintessential elements:

  • steamed rice
  • a hamburger patty
  • a rich brown gravy
  • a fried egg

Served in a bowl or as part of a Hawaiian style plate lunch with macaroni salad, loco moco can tame the most serious hunger. So if you’re ready to take on this hearty Island soul food favourite, let’s get started.

You will need:

  • 1 lb of really good quality ground beef or pork (or a 50/50 mix called ‘aibiki’ in Japanese)
  • soy sauce
  • worcestershire sauce
  • karashi mustard
  • an egg
  • salt & pepper
  • ½ yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • some panko breadcrumbs

for the gravy:

  • a teaspoon of flour
  • 500ml of water
  • 2 tablespoons of red miso
  • soy sauce
  • karashi mustard
  • salt and pepper

for the rice:

  • furikake
  • steamed rice

Start by heating a skillet on medium heat with a tablespoon of oil and gently saute ½ a diced onion and 2 cloves of minced garlic for about 8 minutes until translucent. When that’s done, set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine 1 lb of really good quality ground beef with a tablespoon of soy sauce, ½ a tablespoon of worcestershire, ½ teaspoon of karashi mustard (or prepared mustard), an egg and ¼ cup of panko breadcrumbs. Mix really well with your hands and continue to knead, scooping up the meat in your hand, then tossing it back into the bowl.

*This technique is a lot different then when you prepare Western style ground meat. When you knead the meat like this, you are transforming the texture of the meat into a smooth and uniform consistency.

When the meat’s texture is nice and smooth, form into patties making sure that the center is indented. This insures that the outer edges are done at the same time as the middle.

In a hot cast iron skillet, cook the patties for 3-4 minutes per side. A flat top is one of the best places to grill a burger since all that contact with the heat source will form a delicious brown crust. When the patties are done take them out and set aside.

Immediately sprinkle some flour to cover the reserved juices from the meat you just cooked and combine them over medium heat til you make a roux. To that, add 2 cups of cold water and whisk until the roux is fully incorporated. Next, add 2 tablespoons of red miso and continue to whisk. By now, your mixture is at a nice boil. Season your gravy with more mustard, soy, worcestershire and s&p to taste. When your gravy has thickened to the desired consistency, set aside.

Now take some freshly steamed rice and sprinkle on your favourite furikake. I love the kind with just nori and sesame seeds since it’s so versatile. If you want to season with some shichimi togarashi for a hint of spice, go for it. Use the rice paddle to cut the seasoning into the rice until combined then get ready to assemble.

To assemble, simple start with a scoop or two of rice, top with the beef patty, ladle on the gravy, then a nice sunny side up fried egg. Finish with more furikake on top then enjoy. There is something to be said when you cut into that egg yolk for the first time and watch it slowly cascade down the rest of the dish, but then again, maybe that moment is just beyond words.