Tag Archives: recipes

Quickles – Quick Vinegar Pickles

Quickles

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?

 

Vietnamese Caramelized Pork – Thit Kho

Vietnamese Caramelized Pork

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!

Serves 4

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?

Chocolate Pecan S’mores

Chocolate Pecan S'mores

These cookies are incredibly delectable and easy to make. They’re a perfect addition to your holiday baking playlist. This chocolate cookie is topped with marshmallow, rich chocolate icing, and a roasted pecan. Make lots because they won’t last long. Enjoy this recipe and have a Happy Holiday!

You will need:

  • ½ cup room temperature butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 ¾ cups flour
  • ⅓ cup cocoa powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 18 large marshmallows

For the icing:

  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 1 ¾ cup icing sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • roasted pecan halves

In a large bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until combined. Add the egg, milk, and vanilla and mix well. In another bowl, combine the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. Beat into a creamy mixture.

Drop rounded teaspoons of the mixture onto an ungreased baking sheet. Bake at 350F for 6-8 minutes. Meanwhile, cut the marshmallows in half. When the cookies are done, press a marshmallow on the top of each cookie, cut side down. Return to the oven for a couple minutes. Let cool on a baking rack.

For the icing, simply combine the milk, butter, and cocoa in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, mix well, and let boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat and set aside to cool slightly. Add the vanilla and icing sugar and whisk until smooth.

Put a spoonful of icing on each cookie and top with a roasted pecan half. Enjoy, and have an awesome holiday!

What is your favourite holiday treat?

Shortrib Kimchi Jjigae

Shortrib Kimchi Jjigae


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?

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?

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?

An Interview with Yara Shoemaker

Yara-Shoemaker

As a chef, I am always intrigued by new cookbooks. I am a sucker for cookbooks, mostly for the inspiration they provide, but mostly for the new ideas and innovative ways they work with ingredients to create new and wonderful dishes. I have had the opportunity to read a cookbook lately by former model, Yara Shoemaker called “Health on Your Plate: Shop and Cook with Yara”.

To call Health on Your Plate a cookbook would be inaccurate, as Yara takes the reader on a health and lifestyle journey. The guide is the result of the observations and experiences she had upon her arrival in the US from her native Syria. Navigating the big box food culture of North America and trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle was a challenge for her, but Yara shares with us her tips, recipes and insight into keeping it simple.

I had the pleasure of talking to Yara Shoemaker about life, eating right, and staying healthy. Here’s what she had to say:

 

1. What is your definition of “beautiful”?

Every person has something beautiful in them; many times it’s just a matter of
accepting your uniqueness and emphasizing it. In my opinion, becoming healthy
should be our priority before becoming “beautiful.” You’ll often see someone who
doesn’t look like the glossy magazine standard of beauty, however the person is
healthy with a happy spirit, which shines through to everyone around them. So, beauty
is a combination of looks, health and a positive attitude!

 

2. What is your favorite simple weekday go-to meal?

Shot Glass Salad! It’s so versatile that I can use the same formula any day of the week
to come up with a fresh, satisfying healthy meal. And if you’ve already got seasonal,
organic produce on hand, you can create a balanced meal in minutes.

 

3. What would be your best advice to people that don’t seem to have enough time to
cook at home?

If you know how much of an impact your food makes on your quality of life, it will
become a priority. Food is much more than pleasure – it’s our life source!

To simplify it, just shop once a week for fresh, seasonal, organic produce (from a local
Farmer’s Market, if you have the opportunity) and wash it right away to cut down on
prep time later in the week.

Realistically, you’ll still eat out sometimes and that’s okay. It’s just a matter of following
a few smart tricks when you order:

• Skip the bread and butter – save your appetite for something nutritious!

• Start with salad – a small plate of leafy greens will help you with portion control when
the entree comes.

• Get salad dressing and any sauces that come with your food on the side.

• Ask for your meal to be cooked in oil, not butter (especially for proteins).

• When the dessert menu is offered, plug your ears! At least most of the time, but go
ahead and indulge when you know you really deserve it.

• Slow down! It’s more to your advantage to be the last one chewing – it gives your
digestive system the opportunity to absorb every last nutrient and also helps you pay
attention to your body’s full feeling.

 

4. Do you think that North America is getting better at knowing where their food comes
from?

Yes, it’s really encouraging to see the health trend in this country! People are taking
serious steps to improve their health, including teaching their kids healthy habits, which
is so important. The only problem is: who to listen to? There is a wealth of information
out there and it can be confusing, so people need access to the right information to
make good food choices. That’s what my book is about, getting back to basics – the
essential facts that our ancestors have known for ages: focus on fresh vegetables and
whole grains, minimize the rest and you have the easiest guidelines that anyone can
follow! I hope this trend is lasting and that everyone will be more active in pursuing a
healthy lifestyle.

 

5. What is your fondest food memory?

I spent most of my childhood summers on the sunny Mediterranean coast in my
grandmother’s village in the mountains. She was always cooking up something
delicious in her tiny kitchen, and I remember her weekly ritual of making flatbread. I
watched her knead huge balls of dough and take it to her traditional tannour oven. She
made flat rounds and stuck them to the sides of the hot stone oven, waiting until they
bubbled and browned just right to remove them. Those warm pieces of bread dipped
in dark, earthy olive oil, covered with chopped ripe tomatoes from her garden and
sprinkled with salt is a memory I can almost taste even now!

 

Author Bio:

Yara Shoemaker is an ordinary woman with an extraordinary appetite for knowledge
about healthy living. She decided to dig deep into the facts of nutrition and health to
learn how every bite would affect her and her loved ones. As a result, she created an
ideal lifestyle centered on natural nourishment with real flavor, detailed in her new book,
Health On Your Plate; a complete resource for the optimal healthy lifestyle! It’s the quick
guide to everything you need to know, from the healthiest cookware and appliances, to
essential spices, produce, and ingredients every kitchen should have and how to shop
for them. This essential resource uncovers eye-opening, little-known food mysteries that
will help keep you and your family healthy and safe. And you can look forward to easy,
versatile recipes, like the unique Shot Glass Salads that help you get creative in the
kitchen to make incredibly healthy and delicious meals!

Find mouthwatering recipes, healthy advice and more at her blog: Yara’s Way!

 

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?