Did you catch the FIFA World Cup? Honestly I was never a big soccer fan and I only started to understand soccer a little better since I went to an actual Whitecaps game last year. We were invited to my food buddy Moto’s house for a fabulous brunch and watch the Croatia vs Russia quarter finals; I was looking for something fitting to bring.. I was in Commercial neighbourhood found Rosemary Rocksalt Bagels (obviously I didn’t know they are there) and picked up half a dozen of Montreal style bagels of different variety; they were fresh and soft with crunchy bits..First impression? We like them, 4 people ate half a dozen of bagels..For sure I will return to their Main Street location to try out their bagel sandwiches sometime.
We paired the bagels with a creamy Croatian Pork Pate and pickles, picked up from Piast, a European Bakery and Delicatessen on Cambie (and 16th Avenue)…it’s a small little shop which has been around for a long time..
Aburi and Vegetable sushi @ Eat at Yui (102-1185 West Georgia Street (Georgia and Bute)
As a pure sushi lover who has a tremendous respect for Japanese cuisine and food culture; the idea of “vegetable sushi” somehow never sat quite well with me. however after my visit to Eat at Yui, the experience has changed my mind.
This little shop opened in May 2017 and it is tucked away within the Vancouver downtown core, located on ground floor inside a commercial building.
Known for their aburi sushi at affordable prices, we had a feast and ordered quite a few items to sample their offerings: their Yui salad, their signature Salmon, Ebi and Tai Oshi, plus their newly added Gindara (sablefish) Oshi, plus a few pieces of their vegetable sushi.
The vegetable sushi was beautifully prepared and the knife work was immaculate; the eggplant cooked and slightly charred (aburi) to perfection with the miso, the asparagus was served with a herbed pesto (I tasted cilantro), and the tomato gunkan sushi, slightly charred and added a hint of mayo, the small cherry tomatoes were cut in a perfect bite size and they were bursting with sweetness, it was put together so nicely and easy for the diner to enjoy. The sushi was put together with care and thoughtfulness, it showed great skills and respect.
They are open for lunch and dinner (except Sundays), they do close early because of operating hours of the commercial building. The service was friendly; it is a small space and they are busy. This is definitely not my first and last visit; I will have to pop by sometime to try their lunch items. As for parking, your best bet is probably on Robson or Alberni Street, then walked down to West Georgia (it’s right at the corner of Bute and Georgia).
The Kerrisdale neighbourhood seems to be going through many transformations, slowly yet surely evolving into a younger and vibrant hood and I am so surprised there is such an abundance of Asian dessert places choose to open in this traditional English neighbourhood.
Met up with WhatJoAte at Dear Fro (2070 West 41st, west of West Boulevard) where we shared a mango ice-cream bingsoo and I enjoyed it! The ice was fine and smooth, the mango was sweet; sometimes it pays off to give the small neighbourhood places a chance.
Usually I am not easily swayed by what is popular or being showcased on Social Media; with all the hype surrounding Nana’s Green TeaI did pay a visit last weekend to find out what it is all about. A Japanese brand famous for their matcha desserts, I tried the Hojicha (my personal favourite Japanese tea) Parfait with warabi mochi, red bean, hojicha ice-cream, hojicha jelly and corn flakes…I savored every bite and finished the entire dessert by myself, although I could do with less red bean, it’s strictly a personal preference. The shop operates 7 days a week, the lineup could be quite long; I was there on a Saturday afternoon around 1530 and waited for 15 minutes, limited seating available for dine in.
Sunny Days easy hikes and walks: West Vancouver, Squamish, White Rock and Langley
Working hard to get back into my walking exercise regimen, particularly during the summer months where the weather is so fine; I try to go outdoors as much as possible! During the Canada Day weekend when my cousin and wife were visiting from New York, we headed to Sea to Sky in Squamish and Whytecliff Park in West Vancouver.
Last weekend I spent time with my food buddies in Crescent Beach, White Rock and Derby Reach Regional Park Trail in Langley, we logged 17000 steps (some briskwalking involved!) for the day!
Here are some photos taken during our outdoor excursions:
Are you trying to go greener? I have been thinking more about this subject over the universal concerns we shared on climate change; gradually I have already reduced the usage of plastic bags, take out boxes, and now trying to more unnecessary packaging.
Recently a new concept (no packaging) grocery store Nadahas opened on East Broadway (by Fraser) and I just picked up a couple of beewax muslin cotton food wraps; I am going to use them to wrap my lunches and snacks and see how they fare, review coming up in the next couple months and see how I can establish a new habit!
Any other suggestions? I would love to hear from you, please email me at : email@example.com
Follow mefor more recent updates; remember always adjust the seasoning and ingredients according to your own and loved ones’ dietary needs, and the most important ingredients, COOK with LOTS of LOVE and PATIENCE (OO).
One pot suppers season is back in full swing!!
If you have been following my Instagram accountyou probably notice my claypot has been making a few appearances in my feed since late September…
This month is all about Japanese comfort foods: Matsutake-Chanterelle mushroom rice, Japanese Oden stewand my take on the popular homestyle dish Niku-jaga, which literally means “Meat and potatoes” – I named my dish Cauli-Niku-Jaga (see picture above).
The cooking method for the “jaga” is exactly the same as the making of a regular Niku-jaga with a couple minor tweaks: barley fed pork belly slices were used instead of beef, the addition of two vegetable component : edamame beans and cauliflower florets were added (1-1 cauliflower-potato ratio and about 1 cup of beans); I have also changed things up a little with the meat stewing process. To soften meat I usually use orange juice, the usage of sugar to soften the texture of the meat is a more suitable and great tip from Chef Masa from Masa’s ABC Cooking.
Ingredients and Preparation (2-4 people): (Part of Recipe adapted from Masa’s ABC Cooking)
200 grams of thinly sliced pork belly (Sliced in half, marinade in 1 teaspoon of coconut palm sugar(*my preference only) and 1 Tablespoon of sake for 15 to 20 minutes, set aside)
Prepare all the vegetables: 1 onion (medium size, sliced), 4 potatoes (I’ve used medium size creamer potatoes (usually russets are used) – quartered, edges slightly”peeled”*to prevent breaking up while cooking, in Japanese the method is called “mentori”, then soaked in water for 10-15 minutes, drained), cauliflower (florets – about 1 1/2 cups (to your liking, chopped about same size as carrot), 2 medium carrot (peeled and chopped in rolling wedges, size slightly smaller than potatoes because it takes longer to cook), 1 package of shirataki noodles (blanched, rinsed and drained), 1 cup of edamame beans (frozen and shelled – blanched then shocked in cold water, drained and set aside)
Prepare the dashi stock (recipe in my archives or you can use water) – 700 to 800 ml (I usually make extra just in case I need more, it not available, just use water).
Measure the seasoning: 3-4 Tablespoons Tamari or organic low sodium soy sauce (*can be substituted with regular soy), 3-4 Tablespoons sake, 2 Tablespoons of Mirin, 1 Tablespoon coconut brown sugar (**can be substituted; this is my preference)
Cooking Process all in one:
Over medium high heat, use a large pan (a braiser would be excellent, I used a Japanese donabe) and add 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil (something neutral of your choice – canola or grape seed oil), saute the pork slices until slightly browned, removed from pan and set aside.
Add slice onions and carrots, saute until they slightly browned.
Add potatoes to the pan, gently mix well with onion and carrots, then add the drained shirataki noodles, continue to saute, make sure the shirataki noodles do not lump together and do not mash the potatoes.
Add dashi stock to pan; make sure you have enough stock to cover all ingredients
Once it comes to a boil, turn the heat down to medium and skim off the scum. Add seasoning to pan, stir and mix well. Cover the lid and let ingredients cook for approximately 6 minutes.
Remove the lid then add pork slices, make sure the slices are evenly distributed, then sprinkle the cooked edamame beans. When meat is cooked, taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Remove from heat and let it stand for while before serving, the ingredients will absorb the flavours!
***Note: This is the step which I have tweaked to keep the meat tender. You can watch his original video for his method and wonderful cooking tips (Masa ABC cooking on YouTube )
If you want a thicker sauce, you can turn up the heat and the sauce will reduce if you cook it a little longer.
For this dish the most difficult part would be balancing the sweetness and saltiness; just keep tweaking and you will find the balance to your liking, remember it also depends on what kind of sweetener you are using. Do not make it overly sweet!
My sources in Vancouver for ingredients: Nikuya Meats (for the pork slices, in Richmond BC), Sakura-ya (517 East Broadway, Vancouver, BC) and Whole Foods (various locations – for Delta’s Fraserland Farms Creamer potatoes).
You know Fall is here when matsutake mushroom (Japanese pine mushroom) becomes available; this year I changed things up a bit and added chanterelle mushrooms, and voila it really works. Remember back in August 2016I recommended Food Video Channel (in Mandarin Chinese) on YouTube (also on Wechat, Weibo) ? Well the chanterelle mushroom mix idea is also from one the videos I watched on that channel, apparently somewhere in Yunnan province chanterelle mushrooms are also available and they usually saute them together with Chinese ham.
It is very difficult to purchase high quality cured ham here in Vancouver; last Fall I experimented with Italian cured pork jowl “guanciale” and lay them underneath the rice, then topped with sliced (torn actually) matsutake (doused with little sake earlier) and the kombu (kelp from the dashi making). When rice is almost cooked (with approximately 10 minutes remaining), I used organic unsalted butter to saute the remaining mushrooms then add to the rice cooker and let everything finish cooking together. It worked beautifully and my family totally loved it.
This year I added the chanterelle mushrooms (thanks to a trip to Vancouver Farmer’s MarketI got the fresh chanterelle) to cook with everything else initially in the rice cooker, repeat the same organic butter saute finishing process. The chanterelle mushrooms were quite difficult to clean, however it added another depth of flavor to the rice and the results were beyond my own expectations.
Because the mushrooms are quite expensive, I use them sparingly. For 3 cups of rice (I used Haiga rice), I use approximately 1/2 to 1 lb of mushrooms (depends on budget, grade and availability).
I used the rice cooker for convenience because my Zojirushi has the “Mixed Rice” setting; the rice is also cooked in homemade dashi, with the standard soy sauce, mirin and sake seasoning (3-2-1 ratio which works very well – always adjust according to your own taste).
My “hybrid” version (that’s what my friend “mydoctorgreen”called it) tries to retain the nuance of the original concept, keeping things simple without over-seasoning, just adding another layer of flavor to enhance and showcase the star ingredient, the matsutake. The chanterelle also did not overpower and they co-existed together harmoniously.
Important notes: Remember the guanciale is a little salty so factor that in when tasting. The rice should be cleaned and soaked prior to cooking; because you are adding mushroom, reduce the water (my experience at least 1/4 less liquid) and the guanciale should be removed before serving. This mushroom rice simple recipe should work well with shimeji and maitake mushrooms also, be adventurous and experiment.
It tastes as good as it looks (OO).
My source for Matsutake mushroom in Vancouver: Fujiya Japanese Food Store on Clark Drive (East Vancouver).
Japanese Oden with Umeboshi flavoring – Recipe adapted from Masa’s ABC Cooking
My Japanese friends taught me how to make oden a long time ago without any specific recipe; just like any regular home cook/hobby chef, sometimes we just make something “on the fly” based on our existing knowledge. When I try to make a new dish, I like to research a few recipes, apply my own skills and tweak things to our tastes, hence the creation of “hybrid” food (like my cauli-niku-jaga).
I don’t get to make oden very often at home because my husband somehow must have experienced a childhood episode which may have scarred him for life, he finds the idea of having oden repulsive. Well that being said, I would cook it for myself when he happens to be away on business trips (Ha ><). The most recent creation happened a couple weekends ago when my friends came over for a gathering.
Recently I have been watching Chef Masa’s channel quite a lot; been busy comparing and tweaking my own recipes, learning new tips and applying new techniques. Changes are also made according to our preference and dietary needs! The more I study about cooking, the more I love it.
This is what I truly love to do during my down time at home.
I highly recommend you to watch his original video for wonderful cooking tips and methods.
This dish is really great for cold weather and the recipe is good for 2 people, be sure to try it out this winter!
Ingredients and Preparation for Soup base: 500 ml homemade dashi, 2 Tablespoons Sake, 1-2 Tablespoon Mirin (I used 2), 1/2 to 1 Tablespoon tamari (*my preference, use regular soy and don’t add too much because it will darken the soup), 1 teaspoon sugar (**I used coconut palm sugar) and 1/2 teaspoon sea salt.
Add all the above ingredients in this particular order to the claypot (Japanese donabe), taste and adjust accordingly.
Oden Ingredients and Preparation:
Japanese daikon radish (peeled skin, sliced approximately 4 cm thickness, then use small knife and smooth the edge of the daikon (Mentori method as mentioned and used for the potatoes in previous recipe) – mark an “X” cut in the middle (do not cut through completely), using medium heat, at radish slices to cold water, bring to boil and cook until soften. While daikon is cooking, prepare the other ingredients. Check on the daikon periodically, when cooked through and softened, remove from pot gently and set aside.
Enoki Mushroom: 1 small package, ends cut, set aside.
Napa Cabbage : a small one would do, washed, sliced to bite size, blanched, drained. Lightly squeeze excess water when napa is cool enough to handle.
Japanese firm tofu (approximately half a box, 200 g – slice into squares. Using medium heat, brush the pan lightly with vegetable oil, sear and brown all sides of the tofu lightly. It is easier to handle by using a small pair of tongs.
Japanese konjac (konnyaku): 1 small package, cut into square pieces (approximately 2 cm thick), lightly scored both sides (think Cuttlefish Chinese way, the konjac will absorb the flavor). Then sliced into triangular pieces. Parboil konjac in hot water to get rid of the “fishy” taste, set aside.
Kombu (kelp): The cooked kelp from the dashi making can be added to the oden. Rinse and lightly scrub off the “sliminess” without breaking the kelp, cut into trips and tie into a bow shape.
Chikuwa (tube like fish cake purchased at Japanese food store) stuffed with asparagus: 2 pieces of chikuwa and 2 -4 stalks of asparagus (ends trimmed, blanched, shocked in ice (to keep color) and stuff inside chikuwa. If the asparagus stalks are really thin, you may need two for each chikuwa). Slice each chikuwa into 3 pieces, place 3 pieces of chikuwa on each skewer.
Eggs (2 large eggs) – boiled and peeled, set aside.
Lay all ingredients nicely and get ready to cook in the donabe which you have used to prepare the soup base earlier.
Using medium low heat, keep the soup base in a simmer and add 2 umeboshi (store bought pickled plums – removed the seed); put the napa cabbage, daikon, cooked egg, konjac, tofu and kombu in this order. Turn up to medium high heat, cover with lid and cook the ingredients for approximately 4-5 minutes.
Remove the lid (be careful as it will be very hot!), check the ingredients and if necessary, cover again and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes.
Remove the lid (again be careful) and gently add the chikuwa skewers and enoki mushrooms. cover again and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes.
The Delicious oden should be ready…once you open the lid, steam will come through and you will see a nice bubbling action; hear a “bub bub bub bub bub” bubbling sound…and smell a whiff of the pickled plums flavor….
**My Verdict: Chef Masa‘s idea of adding umeboshi to the soup base adds freshness and slight “tartness” which my friends and I enjoyed immensely. This is such a wonderful idea which I am trying to work into other recipes. Thank you Chef Masa for all your cooking tips!
In the video he made Japanese napa cabbage rolls; I didn’t want any meat in this dish so I did not replicate the recipe. The cooking time will definitely be slightly longer if you include the cabbage rolls. Other fish cakes (can be purchased at Japanese deli) and Mochi bags (kinchaku – mochi stuffed in fried tofu skin) are great oden ingredients. I avoid eating processed foods so I may skip the chikuwa next time.
I have a bigger size donabe so I was able to cook more ingredients at the same time, and I prepared more dashi.
**Potatoes and Daikon have sharp edges which need to be removed before cooking, otherwise when the pieces cook together in the pot, they will start rubbing and it will cause breakage. The method is called “mentori”.
My sources in Vancouver: Fujiya (Japanese food store on Clark Drive in East Vancouver), Sakura-ya (East Broadway and Fraser in East Vancouver).
Here are some of the dishes which I have been cooking at home in September! Autumn is definitely my favourite cooking season (OO)
This month I am featuring three recipes which you may have seen on my Instagram account @mygoldenapron
Follow me for more recent updates; remember always adjust the seasoning and ingredients according to you and your loved ones dietary needs, and the most important ingredient, COOK with LOTS of LOVE and PATIENCE (OO).
Italian style Tomato, Green beans and Potato Salad (Adapted from September 2016 edition of Food and Wine)
I have adapted this simple and nutritious recipe from last September’s Food and Wine magazine; every six months when my dear friend James return from Italy to Canada for a visit, I always go through an Italian cooking phase!
Ingredients and preparation: You can change the produce according to seasonality; I find the balsamic vinaigrette works very well with savoy cabbage and brussels sprouts, so use your imagination and work with the flavours.
1/2 pound baby potatoes: In medium saucepan, covered with cold water and bring to a boil, add a pinch of sea salt and simmer over medium low heat until potatoes are tender. Drain and let cool, then slice in half.
1/2 pound green beans (or any other colourful beans you can find at your local market) – trim the ends; bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil. Fill a large bowl with ice water. Add the beans and a pinch of sea salt and blanch until the beans are crisp yet tender, under 2 minutes. Drain and transfer beans to ice bath to cool. Drain again and dry thoroughly.
1 whole shallot – thinly sliced, you can use red onions or add more shallots
1 -2 ears of fresh corn: remove the husk (you can freeze and save it for later use to make vegetable broth) and silk, bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil, add corn , cover the saucepan and return it to a boil. Cook until corn is tender; drain and let cool. Place the corn on a clean cutting board, trim one end of the corn so it stands flat, use a knife to slice the kernels off the cob.
1 Tablespoon capers, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup chiffonade (thin strips) of fresh basil and 1/4 cup chiffonade (thin strips) of fresh parsley
1 pint mixed cherry tomatoes, halved
In a large mixing bowl, whisk 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, 2 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar and a drizzle of honey (optional). Add the potatoes, beans, tomatoes, corn, shallots and capers and toss gently. Fold in the basil and parsley, season with salt and pepper.
*To increase our vegetable intake, I added some mixed greens to the dish. When making a vinaigrette, use a good quality extra virgin olive oil.
A Healthier Baked Pork Chop “Rice” (with cauliflower, carrot, rice) with homemade tomato sauce with onions, red and green pepper:
Baked pork chop rice is one of my favorite childhood dish, I made a version of this Hong Kong style dish using boneless pork loin (from one of my favourite butcher shop Petes Meats crusted in toasted panko (panko precooked before breading the pork, method adapted from Ms. Namiko Chen’s Just One Cookbook method)
Prepare the Panko Crusted Pork:
Preheat the oven to 350 F (place oven rack on top).
I have chosen a good quality pork and pound it evenly, prepare the toasted panko (1 cup panko and 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (enough to coat two pork loins) – Combine the oil and panko in a frying pan, and toast the panko over medium heat, stir once in a while to ensure all panko bits are toasted until golden brown and evenly. Set aside and let cool down, keep 1 to 2 teaspoons aside and use as “sprinkle” when ready to bake the dish.
Let the toasted panko cool before you start coating the pork loins. Coat the pork loin one at a time: dip pork loin into beaten egg mixture, make sure you get rid of the excess egg mixture.
Using your dry hand, coat the loins with toasted panko. Lightly brush the flakes to cover the pork loin, then lightly press the panko flakes, make sure they adhere and the fillet is coated evenly. Place the coated pork loins on the baking sheet. Baked the pork loins until 3/4 ways cooked through (approximately 8 – 9 minutes). Remove from the oven.
Prepare the cauliflower, carrot and rice combination: I do not have specific measurements for this recipe, however for the two of us, I have prepared one cup of cooked rice (I used Japanese Haiga rice), 1 cup of finely chopped cauliflower, 1 small carrot (finely chopped) – First I cooked the rice in the rice cooker, when it is ready, remove from rice cooker and let it cool (you can use “overnight rice”). In a frying pan, add 1/2 to 1 Tablespoon olive oil (or vegetable oil), sautéed the cauliflower (you will need to add a little water otherwise it will burn, you will need to cover pan for a short time to “steam” and soften the cauliflower), add carrot when cauliflower is half-cooked, add the cooked rice and a pinch of sea salt (season to taste), mix “cauliflower rice” and rice very well, when vegetables are cooked through, remove from heat and set aside.
Prepare the Tomato sauce: You can use canned tomato sauce and add onions, red and green pepper. For my sauce, I used 1/2 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil to sautéed three medium size San Marzano tomatoes (I got from the Farmer’s Market, they are so flavorful: chopped and seeded), you can use more tomatoes if you want to make more sauce), 1/2 to 1 cup filtered water and a clove of finely chopped garlic. Using medium low heat, cook the mixture until tomatoes are soft. Turn off heat, working in small batches, spoon mixture into blender, remove the centre cap from the lid of the blender. Cover the lid with a folded clean dishcloth and hold it down when you are blending. Repeat until you are done.
Using the same sauce pan, add another 1/2 teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil to sautéed one chopped (bite size) onion until slightly caramelized. Add one chopped red pepper (thin sliced) and one chopped green pepper (thin sliced), cook for 1 minute, return puree tomato sauce to pan, mix well and using low heat, simmer until sauce is thickened (20 to 25 minutes), season with sea salt to taste.
Preheat the oven to 300 F. Using an oven proof casserole or baking dish, spoon the “rice” in the bottom, then add a layer of the tomato and pepper sauce, place the panko crusted pork loin, then spoon more sauce and cover the pork loin, make sure you have some onions on top, and sprinkle the remaining toasted panko. Baked in the oven for 8 to 12 minutes, or longer if you want the sauce to brown nicely, remember the pork loin must cook through.
***You can use the “broil” feature to really brown the sauce, cheese can be added to achieve a “bubbling” effect.
***The Extra Virgin Olive oil which I use for sauteed or stir fry dishes is suitable for everyday cooking usage.
Shiso Lemon Water: Recipe from YouTube “Food Video”
Since last year I started watching the “Food Video” channel on YouTube; this channel is based in Shanghai, China and feature some professional and home chefs.This channel is so much fun to watch: the videos are short and stylish; the cooking demonstrations and instructions are simple to understand.
Do you like shiso (perilla leaves)? It is commonly used in Taiwanese and Japanese cooking, particularly used to flavor and pickled plums, and often it will appear on your sashimi order. If you have read my other posting (August 2017: Cheesecake and Salad Rolls with Cooking Buddies), my friend Phung has shown us to add shiso leaves to homemade salad rolls; I have also used shiso in my duck breast dish (September 2014 posting).
Shiso has its medicinal benefits and two recipes are featured on this video: the one I have tried is a very refreshing drink, a great digestive aid and helps to reduce the “dampness” (Chinese medicine term) in your body. The flavor is very subtle and drizzle of honey is used to sweeten the drink. When the lemon juice is added to the purple shiso water, it changes into a very pretty pink colour.
I have made this drink a few times and I really enjoyed it! You only need three ingredients: fresh purple shiso leaves, lemon juice and a little honey (I used a drizzle of manuka honey).
Below is a translation of the recipe:
In a large sauce pan, add 80 grams of chopped purple shiso leaves to 1 litre of filtered cold water, bring to a boil and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes.
Set aside and let it cool.
Add 50 ml freshly squeezed lemon juice, the shiso water will start to turn “pink”.
Add a drizzle of honey as sweetener.
You can drink as is or add ice / ice water if you prefer the drink to be slightly diluted. Enjoy (OO)
Here’s what I have been cooking at home in August!
Since I am not professionally trained, I always love to learn and draw inspiration from others (professional or home chefs).
This month I am featuring three of my creations which you may have seen the pictures on Instagram already.
For first hand updates follow me on Instagram: @mygoldenapron
And remember, always adjust the seasoning and ingredients according to you and your loved ones dietary needs, and the most important ingredient, COOK with LOTS of LOVE and PATIENCE (OO).
Baked Halibut Filets with Homemade Tartar sauce: (Picture shown above)
I have adapted Just One Cookbook(love her cheesecake and other Japanese recipes) Ms. Namiko Chen’s toasted panko (for baked pork chop/chicken katsu) for my baked halibut filets; I actually skipped the flour and dipped the cleaned and skinned fillets in beaten egg and toasted panko only. Once the panko cooled down, add grated lemon zest (1 lemon), 1 teaspoon of sea salt and mix well, set aside.
Baked Halibut fillets: (ingredients: halibut fish fillet, panko, one lemon (for slices and lemon zest), salt and pepper)Pre-cook the panko before baking the fish fillets: For the 4 fillets, I have used 1 cup of panko and 1 Tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil. Combine the oil and panko in a frying pan, and toast the panko over medium heat, stir once in a while to ensure all panko bits are toasted until golden brown and evenly. Tremendous patience is required for this step. Let the toasted panko cool before you start coating the halibut fillets.
Preheat oven to 400F. Lined the baking sheet with parchment paper. Pre cut some lemon slices (using the same lemon which you used to get the zest) and placed them on the baking sheet.
I bought 4 filets (there were 4 of us) and total weighed approximately 1.5 lbs. Skinned the halibut filets (or you can ask your fish monger to take care of this), pat them dry.
Coat the halibut one at a time: gently dip each piece into the beaten egg mixture, make sure you get rid of excess egg mixture. Using your dry hand, coat the fillet with toasted panko. Lightly brush the flakes to cover the fish, then lightly press the panko flakes, make sure they adhere and the fillet is coated evenly. Place the coated fillet on top of lemon slices on the baking sheet. Baked fish fillets until cooked through (test using a bamboo stick or tooth pick, once it goes through the fillet easily they are done), approximately 12 to 15 minutes. Halfway through I turned the baking sheet around (for even cooking) quickly, and I checked the fillets quickly at the 10 minute mark for doneness.
Serve cooked fillets with homemade tartar sauce: I do not have any specific quantity for this recipe; I used the OJAI lemonaise (or any mayo) and Greek yogurt at 1-1.5 ratio, added some lemon zest, cooked corn niblets and takana (optional – dried radish leaves, rehydrated), sea salt and black pepper (a pinch) to taste. If you want to thin out the sauce a little, you can add a squeeze of lemon juice.
As for my bean, asparagus and prawn salad withponzu vinaigrette, I used a store-bought ponzu and add good quality extra virgin olive oil, a little rice vinegar and ground pepper for the vinaigrette (2:1 ratio oil/soy, most vinaigrettes 3:1 ratio oil/acid, I prefer less oily). I blanched the asparagus, sautéed the beans and boiled the small prawns (with lemon) quickly, then shocked them in ice and shelled them. When you are ready to eat, toss the ingredients together and lightly dress the salad (do not drench!!).
Note: Be creative with your vegetable selection, and remember always adjust your seasoning according to your dietary needs and taste !
Pork and Yamaimo (Mountain Potato) patties with apple ginger sauce, sautéed cauliflower, enoki mushroom and okra
I still cook a lot of Japanese food at home.
I adapted the patty and sauce recipe from the popular Japanese chef Masa (Masa’s ABC Cooking @masa.abc on Facebook) who resides in Taiwan. If you check his Facebook page, there are regular uploads of cooking videos with wonderful and clear instructions (for readers who can understand Chinese, it is in mandarin, Chinese subtitles on-screen). I love his idea of using yamaimo (mountain potato) with ground meats; the addition keeps the patties very moist! Chef Masa’s original is actually a chicken patty donburi recipe (with okra and eggplant), I created a dinner set and served with cauliflower, enoki mushroom and a dairy free chilled potato leek and watercress soup.
Pork Patties: organic /hormone free ground pork 250 g, 1/4 of yamaimo (mountain potato, grated), grated ginger, 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, 1 egg, 1 stalk green onion (chopped), grated ginger (1 teaspoons), 1 Tablespoon tamari****, 1 teaspoon maple syrup***, pinch of white pepper for season, 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil ***tamari and maple syrup are my choices, I prefer also not to use too much oil. The original recipe
Thank you Chef Masa for such a great recipe and inspiration!
Using your clean or spatula, mix ground pork and sea salt until you achieve a “smooth and sticky” texture. Then add the egg, chopped green onion, grated ginger, maple syrup (or sugar), tamari and grated yamaimo to the meat, use the spatula in a “cutting” motion (easier to work with the mountain potato), fold and blend well. Set aside.
Apple dipping sauce: Add Tamari, mirin and sake (1-1-1), 1/4 apple, 1 clove of garlic, 1 teaspoon maple syrup and 1 small knob of ginger to blender, puree and blend. Taste and adjust your seasoning (I tend to use less soy). ***When using maple syrup you may need a little more to cut down the sharpness of the ginger.
As for the vegetables, basically anything goes. I just sautéed and lightly season them with sea salt, cover up with aluminium (another great tip from Chef Masa) to keep them warm.
Using medium heat, heat frying pan and add the extra virgin olive oil, using a Tablespoon (or small scoop), spoon the meat mixture onto the frying pan, forming small “pancake” size patties (you can always adjust). Do not crowd the pan with too many patties at once, medium size pan should fit 3 to 4 small size patties. Let it cook for a few minutes before gently “lifting” the patty to check if it is set, once they turn golden brown, it is time to flip the patties and let them cook through. When patties are almost cooked, spoon some sauce over the patties and let the flavor melt together. (**With pork it is better to cook a little longer, the yamaimo actually keeps the patties moist). I heated the remaining sauce and served it on the side.
For the original recipe and video, please check his site on Facebook or English website.
Homemade Heirloom Tomato and Kabocha Fish Soup with Rice Noodles and vegetables
Recently I am on a “chinese food mode” and I decided to make my own “Fish soup rice noodle at home”.
I go through phases from time to time; recently I have been watching a lot of Chinese cooking shows.
I must admit as I am getting older, and having lived overseas for such a long time, I have a stronger desire to get back to my “roots”.
Soup Base: 2 small size yellow croaker fish (cleaned – or any white whole fish which is great for soup making, don’t splurge on anything too expensive), 1 medium size kabocha (Japanese pumpkin seeds removed and chopped into pieces), 2 big heirloom tomatoes and 3 medium tomatoes on the vine (seeds removed and loosely chopped), 9 cups of cold filtered water, 2 croaker fish (cleaned), knob of ginger, green onion, cilantro, 1 large yellow onion, 2 to 3 stalks of celery (optional), a small knob of ginger (sliced), sea salt and white pepper for seasoning.
**This is a pretty large pot of soup, we had some for dinner the other night and used the rest for noodles. This can feed a family of 4 to 6 easily.
I actually made the soup two days ahead of time; here is a good tip for preparing the kabocha: I admit I am not strong enough to “chop” through the kabocha and honestly I don’t want to lose my hands along the way, my friend Sofei told me to put the kabocha into a pot of hot water and let it slowly simmer for a while The skin will soften and make it much easier to cut through. Once it is ready, peel the skin (I use a peeler), scoop out the seeds and chop into 1 inch pieces. Seed the tomatoes, loosely chop cilantro, celery stalks, onion and green onion (keep stalks in tact). Set aside.
Clean the fish (remove the blood line), pat dry, lightly seasoned with sea salt and white pepper Heat the frying pan over medium heat, add a little extra virgin olive oil, add and stir fry th ginger slices. Add fish to frying pan, and cooked both sides until slightly golden brown. You can always add a splash of Chinese cooking wine (Shaoxing) to eliminate the “fishy” taste, I find by using ginger and definitely be mindful about removing the bloodline (at the neck between the head and body, you can see a little “clot”), the fish is not bitter or “fishy” at all.
Fill large clay pot with cold filtered water, add tomatoes, onions and celery.
Remove the fish from frying pan and together with the ginger slices, put inside the “fish soup bag” (can be purchased at most Asian supermarkets). Tie a tight knot. Add the fish bag to the soup pot.
Bring it to a boil, skim the “scum” and turn down to medium low heat, let is slowly simmer for 1.5 hours. While the soup is simmering, check and skim the foam from time to time.
Using chopsticks or tongs, remove the celery stalks and the fish bag. Using a spatula or ladle, “squeeze” the fish bag gently , you will find a lot of soup is actually “soaked” into the bag, you don’t want to waste the liquid gold!
Add half of the kabocha chunks into the soup, and let it simmer for another half hour to 45 minutes, let the flavors melt together (I like my kabocha “melted”. Finally add the remaining kabocha chunks, cilantro and napa cabbage, simmer until vegetables are cooked through. Season with sea salt and ready to serve as soup in a regular Chinese family dinner.
To turn this into a noodle soup base:
Noodle and Fixings (be creative): rice noodle, mung bean noodle, shimeji mushroom, napa cabbage, bok choy, swiss chard, microgreens (for garnish), tofu fish cake, green onion, boiled egg. I am not going to list the quantity because it really depends on how many people you are feeding.
Cook all vegetables and fixings separately (all boiled) and create a noodle bar, lay out all ingredients, and chopped up more cilantro and green onions for garnish.
Have fun and be creative with your dinners…now as my friend Peter (Pastaboypeter on Instagram) always say, “now go and eat with the ones you love”.
Sources for my ingredients in Vancouver: Seafood City (Granville Island), Vancouver Farmers Market, Choices Market, the August Market, Sakuraya Japanese food store, T & T Supermarket and H-Mart.
Here are the snapshots of what I have been cooking at home this past month! Recipes coming very soon.
For the time being you can find my other updates and pictures with description posted on Instagram (@mygoldenapron).
I would also love to hear your feedback so feel free to send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or drop me a line through Instagram (OO).
Picture above: Sake Kasu Miso Sable Fish with Mixed vegetable (burdock, turnip leaves, lotus root and broccoli) rice: the dried burdock, turnip and lotus root are from Japan, I found them at a local Japanese store).
Nduja spaghetti Bolognese (with basil sausage from Oyama sausage and Co) : Remember Nduja, the spicy sausage spread ? I added to my Bolognese recipe to spice things up a bit !
When Japanese meets Italian: Roast shio koji organic chicken, cauliflower broccoli penne pasta in lemon parsley herb drizzle, garnish with crispy kale bits and lemon zest. It is very easy to make the herb drizzle: chives, parsley, lemon juice, grated lemon zest, extra virgin olive oil, drizzle of honey and pinch of sea salt.
Pan fried spot prawn with Thai red curry (store-bought paste, added fish sauce, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves) served with lentil quinoa turmeric rice: since spot prawn season is over, you can substitute with other prawns/shrimp available for this dish).
Faux Unagi Donburi (Rice bowl): Orange roughy turned into unagi; baked and glazed with homemade unagi sauce, scrambled dashi egg with green onions, on a bed of turmeric (just a touch) fresh peas and carrot rice, garnish with crispy kale bits (my current favourite garnish in place of seaweed)
Disclaimer: All ingredients are non-sponsored purchased at some of my preferred vendors in Vancouver, BC. Pictures are my own and dishes are my creations based on what I have learned through cooking classes, reading cookbooks and research.