Tag Archives: soup

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?

Tsukimi Udon – Moon Viewing Noodles

Tsukimi Udon by The Aimless Cook

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?

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?

Snack House Soup – Hong Kong Meets Vietnam

Snack House Soup

Hong Kong meets Vietnam in this snack house inspired soup that you can do at home with a couple tomatoes and a few leftovers. This is easy home cooking and you’ll be delightfully surprised at how flavourful this quick broth is.

For the soup broth, you will need:

  • 2 medium, ripe tomatoes
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1 chili pepper, minced
  • 500 ml chicken stock

Start with a deep skillet on medium heat with a little olive oil and add the tomatoes, a clove of minced garlic, a minced shallot and a minced chili pepper. Let that cook for a few minutes while the tomato breaks down then add the sugar and fish sauce. Continue to cook until the tomato is completely broken down and becomes a sauce.

Now at this point, you can serve this sauce on pretty much anything, but let’s keep going. Today I’m making a soup, so I will add the chicken stock and just stir to combine.

Give it a taste and adjust with salt til you get it the way you like it. You probably won’t need much additional salt since you have the fish sauce. I didn’t.

For the rest of this soup, that’s where your creativity comes in. I have some instant ramen noodles here, but you can use whatever noodles you have handy. If you want an authentic Hong Kong snack house experience, use elbow macaroni.

Other toppings you can use:

  • leftover steak or pork chops
  • roasted chicken
  • cold cuts
  • SPAM
  • tofu or tempeh
  • cooked spinach, peas and carrots, green beans
  • eggs (fried, poached, boiled, omelette)

Have fun with this recipe, make it yours and have fun in the kitchen!

Gazpacho Recipe

Gazpacho

by Jay del Corro

Gazpacho is a refreshing tomato soup that is served ice cold during the hot summer months. It comes from southern Spain in the region of Andalucia and is enjoyed everywhere, including right here in North America. In my recipe, I’m taking some of the old-school Spanish technique by incorporating some day old bread in the base of my soup. I’m also going to use a little Mexican trick of lightly charring my tomatoes and bell pepper to get a nice roasted flavour as well. We got some plump ripe produce here just waiting to be enjoyed, so keep watching as we get started right here on The Aimless Cook.

You will need:

  • 2 lb fresh ripe tomatoes
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 cup leftover bread
  • 1 chili pepper
  • ½ cup fresh basil
  • 3-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1-2 tablespoons sherry vinegar*
  • salt and pepper, to taste

garnish:

  • finely diced shallot
  • finely diced cucumber, seeded
  • Mexican crema*
  • extra virgin olive oil

Start by heating up a dry cast iron skillet on high heat. In batches, add the tomatoes and a cut up red bell pepper, skin side down. What you want to do is char the skin all over til parts are blackened. This is going to give us a nice roasted flavour. When the tomatoes and pepper are done, simply put into a large bowl and set aside.

In another bowl, tear up the bread and soak with a splash of water and some white wine if you have it. Mix well until all the bread has soaked up the liquid then set aside.

In a food processor, add the tomatoes and bell pepper, the bread, garlic, basil with 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and pulse until everything is well-blended. After that, pop off the lid and give it a taste. Add a touch of acidity with 1-2 tablespoons of sherry vinegar. Pulse and taste again. Season with salt and pepper to til you get the flavours perfect.

Once your gazpacho is perfecto, put it into a large container and refrigerate until chilled.

Ladle into bowls and garnish with diced shallot and cucumber. Drizzle in some extra virgin olive oil and crema to serve. Enjoy!

*notes: If you don’t have the Mexican crema, you can make a home version by mixing some sour cream with heavy cream. You can serve this as an amuse-bouche by putting into shot glasses. It looks cool and you can layer the crema and gazpacho for fun. Top with a paper thin slice of toasted French Bread. Be creative and have fun.

What is your signature summer dish?

Hearty Ham and Potato Chowder Recipe – Cheap Comfort Food

This rich and creamy ham and potato chowder is not only super easy to make, but also extremely economical. I have a hard time even calling this a recipe, it’s that easy. The best thing about this is that you can substitute the ham with seafood (clams, oysters, etc) or even leftover chicken and have yourself something totally different.

You will need:

  • ⅛ cup butter
  • flour
  • 1 cup each (onion, celery and ham and potato) diced
  • ¼ cup water (or chicken stock/white wine)
  • 3 cups milk
  • salt and pepper

In a small skillet, start on medium heat and melt the butter. Add the flour and whisk until you get a paste. Cook the roux on the heat just until the raw smell is gone then set aside.

In a large heavy pot or dutch oven, saute the veg and ham in a tablespoon of oil on medium heat until the onions are starting to turn translucent. Deglaze with the water/stock/wine then add the milk. Bring the heat up to full and bring to a boil. When it starts to boil, turn it to medium low and simmer til the potatoes are almost tender. 

Finally, add the roux, stir to combine and thicken and let simmer on low for about 5 more minutes. Give a final taste and season with salt and pepper. That’s it!

Ham and Potato Chowder

Garnish with chopped bacon and chives. Serve with a nice toasted French bread or baguette with butter.

**notes:

You can use this recipe as a base for some other great chowders by subbing the ham with seafood or leftover roasted chicken. Also, you can add carrots. I don’t know why this recipe didn’t have carrots, but that’s just the way it is… Take this recipe, make it yours and have fun in the kitchen!

Filipino Sour Soup – Corned Beef Sinigang Recipe

Filipinos love their sinigang. It’s a very popular soup with a signature sour broth. If you’ve never had sinigang, you gotta try it. Most versions are made with seafood or pork. Today I have a beautiful corned beef brisket that I found at the market and I think the flavour of this meat goes quite well with the sourness of the broth. You’re in for a real treat today so get ready!

Start with a 2 lb piece of corned beef brisket and put it in a pressure cooker with about 5 cups of water and cook for about 45 minutes. If you’re cooking in a regular pot, you will cooking for about 2 hours. You can go longer if you want to make the beef really fall apart tender. (what I’m gonna do next time for sure is cook it til it’s really soft, then slice it thinly like a pastrami)

When the beef is cooked, take it out and slice into bite-sized pieces. Put back into the liquid and add 2 sliced carrots, 1 medium yellow onion cut into wedges, 2 medium potatoes (peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces) and 1 packet of sinigang sampolok seasoning. Stir well to dissolve, cover and cook until the potatoes are half done.

When the potatoes are half done, add about 300g of daikon, cut into quarter inch thick half moons and some fish sauce to taste (about 2 tablespoons). Continue to cook until the potatoes are done. When the potatoes are done, add 1 bunch of fresh spinach, cover again and let stand until the spinach is wilted. Give it a final stir and serve with steamed rice.

For the vegetables, you can feel free to use whatever you got. The more traditional versions of sinigang include taro, long bean, bok choy as well as cut up tomato to stew with the meat. The most popular versions of sinigang are made sour with the use of tamarind. Though tamarind can be found in North America, most people make this incredible comfort food with seasoning packets that you can find at most Asian grocery stores.

Take this recipe, make it yours and have fun in the kitchen!

Japanese New Year’s Soup – Ozoni recipe

Ozoni is a deliciously light and simple soup of chicken, vegetables and mochi that is eaten on New Year’s Day in Japan. Here in the West, Ozoni is a very welcome contrast from all the heavy fare I’ve indulged in over the holidays, so it will be a welcome addition to my table today. Because Ozoni is so easy and quick to make, it’s perfect for anytime with any ingredients you have on hand.

  • 1L dashi stock
  • ½ cup thinly sliced carrots (on the bias)
  • ½ cup thinly sliced daikon (quartered and sliced)
  • 8 pieces mochi
  • 8 snow peas
  • 45g enoki mushroom (or 4 medium shiitake)
  • 1 handful of napa cabbage, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • a dash of usukuchi (light colored soy sauce)
  • a pinch of salt

Ozoni is very easy to make. As you can see, the ingredients are fairly simple and their preparation requires little more than cutting and simmering in the soup broth, which consists of some dashi and a little usukuchi, or light colored soy sauce. 

 On the stove, heat up a litre of dashi stock in a medium saucepan and add some thinly sliced carrots and daikon. After they’ve cooked for a couple minutes, add 2 boneless skinless chicken thighs, which have been cut into small, bite-sized pieces, cover and simmer for about 5 more minutes. 

Mochi is made by pounding sticky rice into a paste and moulding into cakes. It’s a traditional Japanese New Year’s food and is available at your Asian grocery. We’re gonna start by taking some small cubes and put them under the broiler, turning frequently. 

 When the chicken is done, add the snow peas, enoki mushroom and napa cabbage and continue to cook until the cabbage is wilted and the peas are bright green. This should only take a minute.

 Finally, season the soup with usukuchi and a little salt to taste. If you don’t have usukuchi, you can use regular soy sauce. Just add less and balance with salt. The key is to preserve the light color of the broth.

 Now for the assembly. Since I don’t have any yuzu here, I am going to use some zest of a lemon. You only need a piece the size of your pinky nail. This is going to add a noticeable dimension to the flavour of your soup. Put the zest in the bottom of the bowl before you ladle the soup in.

 Take the time to arrange the elements creatively. Use the colors to draw your eyes around the bowl. Finally, add the roasted mochi leaving half above the surface of the liquid. This will ensure that you get both crispy and chewy in one bite.

Now grab some spoons and enjoy this tasty soup!

Asian Styled Soup 101 – Test Kitchen Vlogging

Nokorimono Soba is something I made while I was rooting through the cupboard for something to eat for dinner one night. There are many occasions where you find yourself in this predicament, piecing together a meal from leftovers and staples you have on hand. I figured this was as good an opportunity as any to document my process when cooking an improv meal. The test kitchen vlog is the result of my little experiments. In this post, let’s go through the components of an Asian styled bowl of soup:

The Noodle:

Soba is a noodle made from buckwheat. They are healthy, hearty and delicious. They also cook up fast and are easy to store. I like to keep them handy since they are a lot better for you than instant ramen noodles, which contain a lot of fat from palm oil. The wontons are from a late night wonton making session I had one night after I shot the Party Food video, seeing as I needed to use up the rest of the wonton skins after using 12 for the crispy cups. For the noodle component, you can use soba, udon, rice noodle, ramen or spaghetti.

The Veg:

Sansai is mountain vegetables that are packaged in water in a plastic pouch. You can buy them in the Asian grocer in the fridge section. Usually, the pouches come with mixed veg, mushrooms, or bamboo shoots. Very convenient and easy to prepare. All you need to do is strain and rinse. Other convenient veg you can use include kimchi, spinach, corn, peas, green beans, sprouts or thinly sliced carrots. Just think of vegetables that are small enough to cook fast with a quick blanch. 

Protein:

For the protein component, I used a little leftover kalua pork. The great thing about these kinds of soups is that your protein source can be whatever leftover meat you have on hand. Some great ones to have are cooked ham, leftover chicken, turkey, beef brisket, Spam, tofu, tempeh, salmon, tuna… Possibilities are endless. 

Soup:

Though you have a hodge-podge of elements, like the A-Team, there is one thing that brings harmony to the show and that’s the soup broth. It’s hot, comforting and meld the flavors together in a happy, savory harmony. In the video, I used a homemade ramen broth I had frozen. I like to make huge batches of broth and freeze them, since it’s a time consuming process that makes your kitchen resemble a scene from CSI. Other soup bases you can use include beef or chicken stock with some soy sauce, dashi based stock or miso.

The Finisher: 

This brings us to the last component. I can’t make an Asian styled bowl of soup without a soft cooked egg. It seems sacrilegious to not have it. lol. For a perfectly soft cooked egg with cooked white and a silky, runny yolk, I like to boil my water (lots of water) and gently lower the egg in. Immediately, I start to time my cooking for 5:10. This comes from David Chang from Momofuku, who is probably the guru of egg cooking. Something simple like cooking an egg is amazingly complex when you think of it. There are so many different textures you can achieve by varying the cooking times and methods. More on that later.

So there you have it. The combinations of soups you can make with this simple guide are limitless. I have been using this train of thought for years, since I was a starving art student with a cupboard full of instant ramen, some cold cuts and a couple eggs. The only difference is the world of ingredients that I have discovered over the years. If you happen to be starving student, don’t despair. A lot of good ingredients are cheap, they store well and can be prepared using a simple hotplate or a microwave. Have fun in the kitchen, have no fear and live!

-J

Yaka-mein (Old Sober)

Yakamein (Old Sober)

Yaka-mein, more affectionately known as “Old Sober” as it is a popular hangover remedy, is an American-Soul Food fusion dish from New Orleans. There are a couple different stories surrounding the origin of this local favorite. One story claims that the dish was the result of servicemen coming home from WWII and Korea with a craving for the tastes of Asian food. Another one tells the tale of Chinese immigrants in the 1800s that worked the plantations, and later on, the railroads who made their version of this soup using local ingredients. In any case, what we have is a simple and satisfying noodle soup that makes the perfect street food with a flavor profile that stands on it’s own.

I love dishes with interesting stories and mysterious origins and this one was definitely worth researching in more depth. On the surface, Yaka-mein looks very simple and unassuming. The soup has a beef broth base like many Asian soups but it’s uniqueness comes from the addition of local spices and condiments like Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, Old Bay and even ketchup. Reminds me of when I was a kid at a family picnic and I saw some guy putting ketchup in his pancit.

The meat is usually brisket (suggesting a Korean influence?) or pork chops, but can consist of any leftover meat or seafood that you got. My version has leftover Filipino bbq pork (the kind you see at every Filipino picnic on the skewers). Hard boiled eggs are a common inclusion as well as the green onion garnish. So as you can see, Yaka-mein is a great dish to explore your culinary creativity. I will give you a starting point and you can take it from there. Have fun!

Yaka-mein (for 2):

  • 1L good quality beef broth
  • soy sauce
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • spaghetti noodles, boiled al dente, drained and rinsed
  • 2 green onions, finely chopped
  • leftover steak, pork chops, chicken, shrimp, brisket (whatever you got)
  • a couple hard boiled eggs
  • hot sauce, Old Bay or ketchup for seasoning

Start by cooking your noodles. New Orleans locals use spaghetti, but you can really use whatever you want. In my video, I used some brown rice pasta I had lying around. In another pot, start heating up the beef broth to a nice simmer. Cut up the meat into manageable strips and pop it into the broth to warm through. When the pasta is done, drain and strain. Now you’re ready to assemble.

Grab yourself a bowl or a large cup. Start by putting the noodles on the bottom and then ladle the broth and meat on top. Cut your hard boiled eggs in half and put on top. Season with your soy sauce and seasonings to taste. Finish with the green onion and enjoy!