Tag Archives: salad

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?

Panfried Pickerel with Cannellini Bean Salad

Panfried Pickerel by The Aimless Cook

Pickerel, or walleye as its sometimes known as, is a freshwater fish native to Canada and parts of the Northern US. It has a nice white meat that is flaky and tender, perfect for pan-frying. Today, I’m going to show you a simple pan-fry recipe and make a nice beurre noisette (brown butter) sauce in the same pan. To go with our pickerel, I’m making a nice cannellini bean salad. This makes for a nice and easy weekday dinner, so let’s get cooking!

For the salad, you will need:

  • 1 English cucumber, diced
  • 1 handful of grape tomatoes, halved
  • ½ package mixed greens
  • 375g Cannellini beans (white kidney, drained and rinsed)
  • 1 handful parsley (flatleaf if you got it, chopped)
  • ¼ cup dried cranberries
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • the juice of 1 lemon
  • S&P

For the rest:

  • 2 pickerel fillets, skin on
  • 2 tablespoons, butter
  • olive oil
  • parsley, chopped
  • the juice of 1 lemon
  • S&P

To make the salad, start by making a dressing with 3 tablespoons of a good quality extra virgin olive oil with 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. Add a pinch of salt to season and mix well to emulsify.

In a large bowl, add the cucumber, 75g of mixed greens, a handful of halved grape tomatoes, a three finger pinch of chopped parsley and the cannellini beans. Add the dressing and toss lightly to combine. Give it a taste and season with salt and pepper. Put a nice generous serving on each plate and set aside.

For the rest, start by scoring the skin of 2 pickerel fillets and seasoning with salt and pepper on both sides. Heat up a pan on high heat and add a tablespoon of oil and a tablespoon of butter. When the pan is hot, add the pickerel, skin side down to the pan and cook for about 2 or 3 minutes, or until the fish comes free from the pan. You need to build that beautiful crust.

Turn the fish over and cook the other side for an additional 2-3 minutes. When the fish is done, take out of the pan and set a piece on each of the plates of salad.

In the same pan, melt another pat of butter on medium low heat and cook until it starts to brown. When you start to see the brown particles in the butter, remove from the heat, add the juice of 1 lemon and half a handful of chopped parsley. Season with a pinch of salt and spoon the brown butter sauce over the cooked fish and salad. Enjoy!

The cannellini beans brings a nice creaminess to the whole dish and complements the acidity of the dressing. The dried cranberries are a nice bit of sweetness that adds a touch of colour to the whole dish. If you don’t have pickerel, any white fish will do, including cod, halibut or even catfish. This dish is light, yet hearty enough with the beans to fill you up without having to make rice. Take this recipe, make it yours and have fun in the kitchen.

Pickerel or Walleye – what do you call it where you come from?
Special thanks to my friends over at Dor-Bel Fine Foods and Mustafa from Nefiss Lezziz

Salmon Poke Recipe – Hawaiian Classics

Salmon Poke by The Aimless Cook

Poke is a popular Hawaiian dish made with raw or slightly seared fish like tuna, or in this case, salmon. The fish is cubed and tossed together with a light soy seasoning with sesame and seaweed. It’s very refreshing and extremely delicious. Here’s a version that I make with wild sockeye salmon from Canada. Enjoy!

You will need (for 2):

  • an 8 oz filet of sushi grade sockeye salmon (skin on is best)
  • soy sauce
  • sesame oil
  • Shaoxing wine or sake
  • toasted sesame seeds
  • Hawaiian sea salt (Alaea, or kosher salt)
  • furikake (roasted nori seasoning, available in Japanese foods at the Asian grocery)
  • chives or green onion, chopped finely

Start with an 8 oz filet of wild sockeye salmon. If you can get it with the skin on, even better. Start by running a sharp knife along the bottom of the filet to remove the skin if you have it. Keep the skin for later. This is too good to just throw away.

Dice the salmon into 1 cm cubes, and put them into a large mixing bowl.

Once you’re done prepping the salmon, take that skin you set aside and put it on a sheet of foil or parchment paper, skin side down. Put it into a 350F oven until its nice and crispy.

Now back to the salmon. Dress the salmon with a drizzle of soy sauce, sesame oil and Shaoxing cooking wine. Be sure to taste, making sure to adjust the flavours as you go. For colour, add some black and white sesame seeds as well as some finely chopped chives or green onions. Finally season with a touch of salt. Today, I’m using Hawaiian sea salt. It gets its red colour from iron oxide in the clay where it’s harvested. Mix everything together then set aside to let the flavours develop.

When the salmon skin is crispy, let it cool then cut into thin strips. Now, let’s put it all together.

Simply spoon some of the poke into small bowls or nice glasses. Top with a sprinkle of some furikake, then finish with some salmon skin strips. The roasted salmon skin is a nice compliment to the raw meat and gives a good texture contrast.

Salmon poke is the perfect starter and can easily be made into an elegant party appetizer by putting into little fried wonton cups or mini temaki rolls. If you’re like me, enjoy it as a side to some great bbq or on top of a bowl of rice with a raw quail egg. Oh yeah!

I hope you enjoy this recipe and have fun in the kitchen, which brings me to my question of the day:

What is your favourite raw dish?

Halibut with Spicy Mango Salad – Thai Cooking

Halibut and Thai Mango Salad

Today, we’re making a Thai style spicy mango salad. To go with it, I’m cooking up a mouth-watering pan-fried halibut from my friends at Dor-Bel Fine Foods. Dor-Bel is the only retailer in Alberta that sells sustainable seafood carrying the Oceanwise brand. This mango salad is very simple to prepare and is a prime example of the flavours that are typical to Thai cuisine.

For the mango salad, you will need:

  • 1 green mango (firm, not ripe)
  • a slice of watermelon
  • 2-5 thai chilies (adjust to your tolerance)
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons palm sugar (or brown)
  • the juice of 1 lime
  • 1 shallot, finely sliced
  • ¼ cup green onion, finely chopped
  • ¼ cup cilantro, chopped

For the halibut:

  • 2 (8 oz) portions halibut fillet
  • 1 thai chili, finely minced
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • kosher salt, to season

Start by drizzling some extra virgin olive oil on both sides of the watermelon. Put on a grill on high heat and grill them til they have those nice marks. Watermelon tastes incredible when grilled. The surface sugars caramelize and take on a honey flavour that will complement the other flavours in the salad. When the watermelon is done, cut into cubes and set aside.

Peel the mango and cut it into julienne. No fancy tools needed, just make parallel cuts into the fruit by hacking it with a knife and shave the strips off into a large mixing bowl. If you have a mortar and pestle, pound the Thai chilies to release the oils and fragrance. Alternatively, you can use a knife handle, mallet or a rolling pin. Add the chilies to the mango, then add the fish sauce. Toss lightly to combine then the sugar. The sugar will balance out the flavour of the fish sauce and chili. To that, add the shallot, cilantro and green onion. Finally, add the juice of 1 lime and the watermelon and toss everything together until combined. Set aside in the fridge and let’s cook the halibut.

On a cutting board, evenly sprinkle on 1 or 2 chopped chilies then drizzle on some extra virgin olive oil. Add a touch of kosher salt, then put the halibut on the board. Flip them over to get the seasoning all over both sides.

From here, you can either pop them on the grill or panfry in a hot skillet with a couple tablespoons of oil (I prefer pan-frying because I like to get that nice crust). Fish takes very little time to cook, so you’ll only need to cook until the meat is golden brown.

To finish, simply plate the fish and put the mango salad right on top. Serve right away and enjoy!

If you don’t have halibut, you can use any kind of meaty fish that’s not too fatty like catfish or red snapper. My halibut today was donated by the fine folks at Dor-Bel Fine Foods, who are partners with the Oceanwise organization. Oceanwise is a non-profit organization that researches and compiles information on fish and shellfish stocks in an effort to educate retailers and restaurants on what seafood to buy or avoid.

This simple fried fish goes well with the spicy, sour and sweet Thai flavours of the mango salad. Take this recipe, make it yours and have fun in the kitchen.

Do you like seafood? If so, what is your favourite kind?

Pear and Fennel Salad

This Pear and Fennel Salad features an apple butter vinaigrette and is very simple to put together. The flavour of the fennel and ripe pear is bright and fresh, just like Spring. This salad goes very well with grilled meat or fish, which is a bonus since grilling season is upon us once again.

You will need:

  • 1 large bulb of fennel
  • 2 ripe bartlett pears
  • the juice of ½ fresh lemon
  • some extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 ½ teaspoons apple butter
  • fresh oregano
  • salt and pepper
  • some lemon zest

Cut the stalks off the fennel and remove the tough outer layer. Cut in half lengthwise, then cut into paper thin slices with a mandolin or knife. Set aside in a large bowl.

Peel and julienne one of the pears and set aside in some water with a little lemon juice so it doesn’t oxidize. Take the other pear and cut half into thin slices. Set in the water with the rest.

For the dressing, I’m gonna use the juice of about half a lemon and combine it with a couple tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, 1 ½ teaspoons of apple butter, a bit of fresh oregano and some salt and pepper. Give it a good shake until well blended. Give it a final taste, then season with salt and pepper. 

Combine the fennel, julienned pear and dressing in a large mixing bowl and toss until combined. When plating, finish with some sliced pear and some fresh oregano leaves. Top with some lemon zest and serve.

Roasted Potato Salad with Lemon and Dill

Weekday dinners are often devoid of inspiration because we’re back in the groove of the daily grind. It’s no wonder why we have grown so dependent on processed and ready-to-eat food in recent years. I’ll admit, there are times when I don’t feel like cooking anything for whatever reason and it’s a hard sell to get me into the kitchen to make dinner from scratch when I’m feeling completely wiped. 

The good news is, there are a lot of things you can cook from scratch that don’t really feel like you’re cooking them at all. They are the kinds of recipes that may require little prep, minimal involvement in the actual cooking or just simple technique like mixing something together. This is one of those recipes. 

You will need:

  • 5 medium white potatoes
  • 1 head fresh garlic
  • the juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon fresh dill
  • 1/4 cup grated parmigiana reggiano
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • a touch of S&P

Cut those potatoes into bite-sized chunks and toss them in extra virgin olive oil. Pop them on a baking sheet in a single layer with the cloves from that head of garlic (You can leave the peels on, just separate the cloves). Toss them into a 400F oven until golden brown and fork tender.

Put the potatoes into a large mixing bowl and add all the other ingredients. Mix well to combine, season with salt and pepper and enjoy with a nice steak, chicken or fish. Hell, these potatoes are so tasty, you can eat them in a big bowl by themselves. You’d do that too, wouldn’t you?

Lemon Dill Potato Salad

I hope you enjoy this recipe, make it yours and have fun in the kitchen!

J’s Century Egg Salad Recipe

More than a year ago, I uploaded a vlog about my favourite ‘exotic’ foods. Now this vlog included items such as chicken feet, dinaguan (a Pinoy pork blood stew) and the infamous Balut. Of these wonderful acquired tastes, I also talked about Chinese century eggs. These are duck eggs that have been preserved in a mixture of clay, wood ash, quicklime, salt and rolled in rice husks. They are then left to ‘cure’ for several weeks resulting in a transformation of colour, texture and flavour that is truly unique.



Now I usually love century eggs in my congee with pork, a little ginger and green onion, but today I’m gonna show you how to enjoy these wonderful flavour-bombs in popular Asian tomato salad that’s healthy, colourful and easy to make. The high notes of the cilantro, fish sauce and citrus compliment the earthy complexity of the century eggs. You’re gonna love this so let’s cook!

You will need:

  • 4 century eggs
  • 2 large tomatoes, cut into wedges
  • 1/2 large red onion, sliced thinly
  • 1 Thai red chile
  • 1 handful fresh cilantro
The dressing:
  • the juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon fish sauce
  • 1 teaspoon canola oil

Let’s start by peeling the century eggs and blanching them in boiling water very briefly. This is to get rid of the alkaline smell usually associated with century eggs. Cut into wedges and set aside.

Next let’s prepare the elements of our salad by taking the tomatoes and cut them into wedges. Take the red onion and soak in cold water to mellow out the raw bite. Finally, chop the chile and get ready to assemble.

Now grab yourself a large bowl and let’s start making the dressing. We’re gonna begin by drizzling in about a teaspoon of canola oil followed by about 1 teaspoon of fish sauce and the juice of 1 lemon. From here, add the red onion, the century eggs and a handful of chopped cilantro. Mix well to combine and give it a taste. Add salt to season and any of the other ingredients from the dressing to balance it out. Southeast Asian flavours are always a balancing act and a little fine tuning to our personal taste always makes every batch unique. 

I like to let salads like this sit in the fridge for awhile to let the flavour come together. Alternatively, you can also make the dressing ahead of time so that it’s ready to rock come assembly time. Enjoy this recipe and have fun in the kitchen!

Thai Inspired Beef Salad with Rice Noodle Recipe

Southeast Asian flavour is a playful balance of sweet, sour, salty, spicy and bitter. Using ingredients like fresh lime juice, red Thai chiles and fish sauce, you can create something pretty incredible. This Thai-inspired beef salad uses some simple ingredients brought together with amazing results.

for the dressing, you will need:

  • 3 Tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon chile garlic paste (sambal oelek)
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • salt to season

the rest:

  • 1 lb baby bok choy, trimmed and rinsed
  • 225g thick rice noodles (banh pho)
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 lb flank steak
  • salt & pepper
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  • crushed peanuts
  • fresh lime wedges, for garnish

In a small bowl, mix all of the dressing ingredients together, salt to taste then set aside. Boil the rice noodles until tender, rinse in cold water, strain then set aside. 

Blanch the baby bok choy in the boiling water for about 1 minute. Take out and rinse in cold water then set on a baking tray lined with kitchen paper to dry. Set aside.

Drizzle the flank steak with olive oil on both sides and season with salt and pepper. Ensure your steak is room temperature before you grill. Sear the steak on an oiled cast iron skillet on high heat or on a grill on high for about 3 minutes per side. You want a nice brown crust, but don’t let it cook too long. Once the steak is seared, set aside for at least 10 minutes to let the juices re-distribute through the meat.

Flank Steak from Hoven Farms

After the 10 minutes, slice the steak into 2 inch strips along the grain then across the grain into thin slices. Now we’re ready to assemble.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the rice noodle, bok choy, the dressing and the beef and toss until combined. Add the chopped cilantro and get ready to plate.

*the cilantro bonus dressing

  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 handful cilantro leaves
  • juice of 1 lime
  • salt
  • wasabi to taste

In a blender start with the liquids, then add the rest of the ingredients. Pulse til well blended. This is a great dressing that you can use for a lot of different things. You can also add different ingredients depending on the dish.

Thai inspired Beef Salad

Plate the salad on a small plate or small bowl. Drizzle the cilantro dressing over the top and garnish with chopped Thai chiles. This recipe makes a great lunch for the next day since you don’t have to heat it. The beef is juicy, lean and hearty. Of course, if you want to omit the meat, you can. Make this recipe yours and have fun in the kitchen!

Ono Mac Salad Recipe – Hawaiian Soul Food Pt. 2


Macaroni salad is a staple side to the Hawaiian mix plate. What makes it unique is the subtle Asian influence to this common salad. It’s delicious and there are many ways you can add your own creativity to it to make your own version. Here is mine.

  • 6 oz macaroni
  • 1.5 oz crab meat
  • 1.5 oz salad shrimp
  • 2t grated carrot
  • 1t grated celery
  • 1t minced onion
  • 1c mayo (Best Foods…just sayin’)
  • ¼ t sugar 
  • 2t mirin
  • 1/8t hon dashi
  • s&p to season

Start by boiling the macaroni in salted water until tender. Strain and rinse in cold water. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the macaroni and the other ingredients and mix until combined. Cover with kitchen wrap and put in the fridge for at least an hour to let the flavors make love and have illegitimate children. Just wanted to see if you were paying attention. lol. If you like your mac salad sweeter and you don’t want to more sugar, try shredded pineapple. That’s another trick from my aunt. 

Thai Style Chicken Salad


This past weekend, I made this incredibly easy and super flavourful Thai style salad based on the taste of Laab Gai. You can also say ‘larb’ if you wanna be specific. It’s a lot like a Lao style meat salad you typically see in that region of Southeast Asia but everyone has their own take on this great dish. Let’s see what we need:

  • 1 lb ground chicken
  • 1T ginger, chopped
  • 1 stalk lemongrass, chopped
  • 3 Thai chilis, chopped
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1T fish sauce
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • 2T Thai basil, shredded
  • fresh lettuce leaves, for wrapping

Start with a tablespoon of oil in a pan and heating it on high heat. Add the ginger, lemongrass and chili and cook for about 1 minute. Add the chicken and cook until the chicken is cooked (about 5 min). Remove from heat and put the chicken into a large mixing bowl to cool slightly. Once your chicken has rested (you want it warm) dress by adding the lime juice and fish sauce. To that, add the cilantro, basil and sliced red onion. Toss until combined and season with a little salt and sugar to balance the flavours. Serve in individual bowls with a plate of lettuce leaves for wrapping. Enjoy!