Tag Archives: kitchen
These quick pickles are incredibly versatile and take only minutes to make. I love them with rice or sweet shiitake and they go well with just about anything. Best thing is that they last for weeks in the fridge. Let’s make some pickles!
You will need:
- 1 cup hot water
- ½ cup rice vinegar
- 6 tablespoons sugar
- 2 ¼ teaspoons kosher salt
- 2 English cucumbers, carrots, daikon, or whatever you like
Slice your veg into ⅛ – ¼ inch slices and add to a large mixing bowl. Add the salt, mix well, and set aside for about 10 minutes.
In a plastic container or jar (750ml), combine the water, rice vinegar, and sugar. Mix well until the sugar is dissolved.
Take the veg out of the bowl, shake off the excess moisture, and add to the liquid. Cover with the lid and refrigerate overnight.
Pickles will keep in the fridge for about 3-4 weeks, if they last that long!
What is your favourite pickled vegetable?
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?
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?
Passion. You hear that word all the time. It’s the cornerstone of success according to almost everyone who’s ever talked about climbing their own personal mountain to the pinnacle of their professional or personal lives. Like I said in my last post, there’s nothing wrong with passion. In fact, I am fuelled by it, but the key is not to let it get you stupid. It’s like the hit of nitrous you see in the Fast and the Furious films that shoots the car into a blurred haze. It can rocket you to victory, so long as you can still steer the car and not end up as a burning heap of twisted metal and charred flesh. You can have the fastest car, but if you can’t drive it, you’re fucked.
Before the race, before strapping yourself in, before even getting in the car, you have to understand something. Passion is like love and it comes with all the things that make you feel good, but also all the things that make you mad, frustrated, sad, disgusted, sickened, discouraged, and everything negative as well. Like a relationship with a person, you have to take the bad with the good. You have to ‘like’ what you do and not just say you ‘love’ it. Does that make sense? I hope so, it’s just the rest of your life we’re talking about.
You might be a good cook, hell, you may be a great cook. As you flip that chicken breast in your Jamie Oliver T-Fal to the amazed gasps of your friends, and expertly plate up the evening’s meal like something you saw on Food Network, you’re feeling pretty good. People may tell you all the time that you’d have a successful restaurant and that you should open up a place of your own. As you take a moment to bask in the compliments of your guests and consider that thought, pause.
“Wow, you are quite the chef.”
“Thanks for the delicious eggs benedict, chef!”
Chef is a ubiquitous term. In everyday life, it carries the same weight as when your barber calls you, “Boss”. If you are seriously entertaining the thought of opening a restaurant to feed your ego and expect your friends to come in and make you successful, you’re probably delusional, from the fumes from that T-Fal teflon coating.
I’ve been working in kitchens on and off for over 20 years. Though I spent a big stint of time in the corporate world, I was always brought back to the kitchen. Divorce brought me back to the kitchen. Relationship breakdown brought me back. When I was young, the kitchen was a way for me to bring food to the table, go to school, and buy diapers for my daughter. It was a necessity. More recently, it was a way to get away from the despair of feeling lonely or depressed. It was a way for me to learn a business, learn a cuisine, learn a new language, and earn money. It was my education. I owe my life to the kitchen.
The kitchen doesn’t judge you. It doesn’t care about your credit score, your grade point average, or your tattoos. You work hard and you come back tomorrow, you slug it out together as a team and you gain yourself some brothers. There is no place for political correctness or tact in the kitchen. If you are offended by f-bombs, jokes about your genitals, jokes about your sexual persuasion, or your ethnicity, perhaps you should start a nice online business selling scented candles on Etsy. This is just how it is. Anthony Bourdain already said it all in “Kitchen Confidential”. If it wasn’t true, that book wouldn’t be the classic that it is.
All I’m saying is that one of the best ways (and cheapest ways) to learn about a business is to work there. You could go to school and take some courses on small business, get the logic and theory of running a business, but spend an evening after a busy dinner service with the boss, drinking a cold beer (cold beer after a busy dinner service is the BEST tasting beer EVER) and you’ll be surprised how much wisdom you can learn.
Now let’s say you’re a dishwasher or cook at a restaurant. You work a few nights a week, get off work at 11 o’clock, have a beer and take out the garbage after mopping the floor and cleaning the prep surfaces (hopefully not in that order). You’re exhausted. Times that by 10, work 7 days a week and you might have an hint of what it’s like to be the owner of that business.
How passionate do you feel now?
There is a good reason why people with their own businesses tell you how much hard work it is when you ask them. Because it’s true. Jo had no previous kitchen experience before starting Eats of Asia with me, but what she did have was a very long retail experience with exemplary people management skills. In the middle of cowboy country, having someone like Jo with the perspective she has with Asian food was crucial in selling bibimbap and gua bao to people that have no idea what our brand of Asian food was all about. I remember the first market day we had last October. It was the first weekend after taking over the old concession and everything was suddenly changed.
To the locals and regular shoppers, it was a burger and fries joint that changed overnight to a multicultural ethnic street food fest that I billed, The Saturday Street Feast. We were one of five independent vendors that moved in to bring some diversity to the dining choices that were previously in place. We led the charge that day with Curry Laksa, a Malaysian noodle bowl with rice noodles, fish balls, prawns, chicken, and fried tofu in a coconut curry broth. We took a huge chance, but I was confident that the food would be well received. I stuck to the idea that I wanted to make food that I loved to eat. I also wanted to take the best elements of Asian food, bring them together and brand them to be accessible and approachable. That day, we made about $500, but we felt triumphant.
The comments were good. They went from, “This is so goood.” to a local rancher that said, “Tofu!? This is ALBERTA, man!”
I still laugh when I think of that one.
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?