September 2017 Homecooking Snapshots: Tomato Potato and Bean salad, Baked pork chop “rice” and Shiso Lemon Drink

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”

Pretty in Pink: Shiso Lemon Water

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)

 

 

 

August 2017: Cheesecake and Salad rolls with Cooking Buddies

Cheers!

In the last July weekend,  I spent the entire Saturday cooking with my friends Jo, Phung and Rita (thank you very much for hosting).

I always learn something new from this trio and under their “supervision”, moi the novice baker completed the measuring and most of the mixing/whisking tasks, we successfully made a really fabulous Japanese cheesecake, based on Ms. Namiko Chen’s recipe from Just One Cookbook.

One important note: you must prepare and weigh all the ingredients, have everything organized and follow each step carefully.  I find the most difficult part is folding the egg whites into the cream cheese mixture.

We actually skipped the glaze and the cake is still very tasty.

I posted the picture on Instagram and got a very nice reply from Ms. Nami.  Thank you to my friends who supervised me through this process, and thank you Ms. Nami for sharing a wonderful recipe.

Try making it and you will love it !

For her recipe, please check Ms. Namiko Chen’s website:

http://www.justonecookbook.com

We did it!! Under “supervision”, moi the novice baker managed to complete most of the complicated tasks ….Beautiful group effort, fabulous result !

Below you can see the fixings we prepared for our Vietnamese salad roll DIY dinner: fresh shiso, basil, mint and lettuce, rice noodle, dry rice paper, shredded chicken (from Costco to save time) and prawns, and Fried Egg, which is not seen commonly when you order the salad rolls in store.  Our dear friend Phung made her own peanut dipping sauce (hoisin, peanut butter, water, vinegar); I haven’t had this much fun at a DIY dinner party for such a long time!    My hubby came by afterwards and it was equally fun to watch him prepare his own salad rolls, I told him now we know we can purchase and use a salad roll wrapper tray (it is made of plastic, place rice paper on top), it makes it so much easier to prepare this at home!   Another great tip from Phung: Dip the rice paper in hot water instead of cold to rehydrate the rice paper.

I found the rice roll wrapper tray at 88 Supermarket (in East Vancouver on Victoria Drive).

Rice Paper!
All the Fixings on the Table….and Sparkling is perfect for this light summer dinner
My first DIY salad roll loaded with vegetables and herbs (Shiso!)

AUGUST 2017: Homecooking Snapshots (Baked Halibut/Pork Yamaimo Patties and Fish Soup)

Roasted potatoes, sweet beans, asparagus and BC wild stripe prawn cold salad with ponzu vinaigrette, Baked Halibut filet with toasted panko, Homemade Tartar sauce

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 with ponzu 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.

https://www.facebook.com/masa.abc/

https://masaabc.com/

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:

My homemade rice noodle in fish, tomato and pumpkin soup!

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.

 

 

 

July 2017 : Home Cooking SnapShots: Okra, Fish, Miso, Tomatoes and Udon

Oven Roasted Okra: sliced each okra lengthwise into halves and toss in sea salt and extra virgin olive oil, preheat oven to 400 degrees and roast for 15 minutes – Thanks Jo!

Here’s a snapshot of what I have been cooking the past two months..For updates follow me on Instagram (@mygoldenapron) and you will know first hand what I have been cooking and where I have been dining!

Roasting OKRA: I never thought of roasting okra until my dear sweet friend Jo showed me, sometimes we are just caught in our usual habits and don’t think about the most obvious options!  Since then I have been adding okras to our salads or enjoyed with our cooked fish, like the kasu-shio marinated halibut in shiitake, edamame, daikon and mustard leaves dashi broth… As for garnish, I have prepared some roasted kale (in place of seaweed) and pancetta bits.

Experiment at home: Shio Kasu Halibut, shiitake dashi with edamame, mustard green leaves, roasted okra and green onion, finished with roasted kale and pancetta bits

Remember sake kasu?   It’s the remaining lees from sake making and they have been available for sale at Japanese grocery stores (Fujiya in Vancouver) or Artisan Sake (at Granville Island, this is the one I use all the time).  For this dish, I added some salt and a little water to approximately 2 Tablespoons of kasu (water for slight thinning of mixture),  pat dry (really dry) the halibut filets and submerge them in the marinade for at least a day.  Before cooking, wipe the fish clean with paper towel to ensure there’s no kasu left (otherwise it will burn).  I baked my fish at 400F and finished with broiling the final two minutes (the cooking time varies pending on thickness of fish fillet).

Dashi broth: prepared with bonito flakes and kelp as base (search my archives for recipe), I added the shiitake mushroom stems, a couple of celery leaves (I kept them frozen and add to broth/stock making), a spoonful of sake kasu and a small chunk of daikon and let it cook for half an hour.  I strain the broth then add shiitake mushrooms, mustard green leaves, edamame beans (parboiled already) and season with sodium reduced soy, mirin and a little maple syrup (sugar for most of you), adjust accordingly to your taste and dietary needs always!  I prepared the pancetta and kale bits while broth is cooking, okra also roasted before and add-on together with green onion as garnish.   The cooked fish is lightly finished with fleur de sel.

The broth can be prepared ahead of time, when fish is about ready, reheat the broth and to serve, plate vegetables and fish in a regular or soup bowl, pour the broth, add the okra and green onions, kale and pancetta garnish last.  Enjoy!

Sakuraya: Last month I mentioned there is a Japanese grocery located on East Broadway (close to Fraser), they carry the organic dried mustard leaves and daikon leaves from a small village in Japan.  I re-hydrated the leaves and add to my dashi broth and they added so much flavor!  It has some glucose so remember to adjust your seasoning.

http://www.seafoodcitygi.com

Soy Dijon Mustard glaze chinook salmon with potato salad, green bean snow peas micro greens sea asparagus in ponzu vinaigrette:

Prepare glaze : sodium reduced soy sauce (2 Tablespoons), Dijon mustard (1 Tablespoon), olive oil (1-2 Tablespoons) and a little maple syrup.  Clean and pat dry the salmon filet and let it marinade for at least 30 minutes.  Remove the fish from marinade, scrape lightly so not much marinade will cling to the fillets (unless you like real browning action), and bake salmon in oven preheated in 350 F until desired doneness.  When you see any white spot appearing on the seams of the salmon filet, that means it should be done and well on its way to being very cooked.  While salmon is cooking, use a sauce pan and sautéed chopped shallots, add the marinade and cook until sauce boils and slightly thicken.

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).

As for the salad, basically anything goes!  I added the most delicious microgreens (West End Blend from Grown here farms purchased at August Market on Main Street in Vancouver), sea asparagus (In season for a short time in Vancouver, soaked overnight to get rid of the salt then blanched and shocked in ice, green beans and snow peas (also blanched and shocked in ice) .  I choose to use mostly organic products, use your imagination and add your favourite in season salad greens and vegetables to load more nutritious greens into your dish.

My potato salad is made of red potatoes, green onions, homemade relish mixed with half mayo (Lemon Ojai mayonnaise) and half greek yogurt, if you want to make it very Japanese, add kewpie mayonnaise.

http://www.thefishcounter.com

http://www.visaltco.com

http://www.eatlocal.org

http://www.augustmarket.ca

Tomato and Egg Udon: simple eats and tomatoes are in season!

One of my favourite all time Chinese family dish is converted into a soup base for udon; apparently tomato and egg noodle soup is a very popular dish in parts of China.  Taiwanese Chef James, well-known for his interpretation of Japanese cuisine, is now featured in cooking show filmed in China, I found on YouTube accidentally.  I modified his recipe and method by changing a couple of ingredients: The ingredient are simple : heirloom tomatoes, shallots, grated ginger (lots), green onion, filtered water, white pepper and a little maple syrup (you can use sugar) I used Japanese udon, omit cornstarch and tomato paste (it was used for thickening, instead I let the soup cook down to thicken).  The beaten egg is added in the end; if you have time, follow Chef James and make the eggs two ways.   Usually the noodles are eaten as “late night snack”, I had it for dinner and I find it perfect as a summer light supper.

 

Tomato Miso Nduja Bolognese with Udon

Remember a few months ago I talked about Nduja, the Italian spreadable spicy sausage? I changed things up a little – I mixed a little nduja and red miso into my own pork/turkey Bolognese sauce and had it with udon, garnish with roasted kale (salted and crushed to mimic seaweed) and it was a winner at my recent dinner gathering with my cooking buddies Jo, Phung and Rita.   The dish is a perfect marriage of Japanese and Italian ingredients; remember nduja and miso are both a little salty, you do not need to use much for seasoning.  The miso makes the sauce very hearty and meaty; if you have a good tomato sauce base, you can add the miso and serve it as a vegetarian dish with grilled eggplant. The nduja sausage spread adds a little spiciness, it is completely optional.  Experiment with your favourite meat sauce recipe and add these flavor profiles to your repertoire.

For both tomato udon dishes, the really thin udon noodles will not work as well.  I found this perfectly wonderful hand-cut dry udon at our local Fujiya Japanese food store.

Love the texture and thickness is perfect! It has a very good “bite”

 

 

 

 

RECIPE: Vegetable Curry Udon

DSC00843

A bowl of savory and mouth-watering curry noodle soup on a cold Vancouver winter day!

My recipe is loosely based and adapted from Japanese Soul Cooking (By Tadashi Ono and Harris Salat), one of my great recent cookbook finds!  They use soba broth (it’s called kake soba broth) to enhance the flavor of curry;  I added turmeric (when sautéed the onions and vegetables), diced apple and fukujinzuke, commonly used to serve with Japanese curry rice, are used as garnish (in addition to green onion) to a hint of sweetness and add “crunch” to the dish, the end result is much more flavorful.  Leftover curry taste even better the next day, add more vegetables or meat then serve with rice as a donburi (you can always add crispy fried pork cutlet (tonkatsu),  or simply freeze it ready for use anytime for quick ready-to-go weeknight dinner; Enjoy (OO).

Serves 2-4:

Ingredients:  4 bricks of fresh-frozen sanuki udon, 1 large onion (thinly sliced), 1 small head of cauliflower (florets roughly chopped), 1 medium zucchini (diced), 4 small bunched carrots (peeled and chopped), 3 Tablespoons of ground turmeric, 1 Tablespoon of mirin, 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, 1 package (110g) Japanese curry roux (I used Glico Medium Premium),  6 cups of katsuobushi dashi, green scallions (white part only, thinly sliced on an angle), kosher salt (light seasoning when cooking vegetables).

Note:

To make the dish completely vegetarian, simply substitute the katsuobushi dashi with kombu dashi broth

For Meat Lovers: Thinly sliced pork or minced pork goes very well with the curry,  I used the a bit of ground ginger and apple, turmeric powder and kaeshi to marinade the pork (minced or thinly sliced) night before if I am adding protein to the curry.

You can use curry powder and potato starch instead of the instant curry roux.

Check out Ms. Namiko Chen’s  Just One Cookbook, she has a great pork curry udon recipe.

Here’s a picture of the fukujinzuke!

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*Recipe for kaeshi (makes 2 1/2 cups) – from Japanese Soul Cooking

Prepare 2 to 3 days in advance this recipe : Add 2 cups Japanese soy sauce (I used only 1 1/2 cups + 1/2 cup katsuobushi dashi to make it less salty), 1/2 cup mirin, 3 Tablespoons sugar (I used coconut nectar instead, adjust the sweetness accordingly) – Add all ingredients into saucepan and bring to boil over high heat.  Turn off the heat and allow mixture to cool off to room temperature.  Refrigerate for 2-3 days to allow the flavors time to mingle, store in glass bottle and refrigerate up to a month.

**In Japanese Soul Cooking – they prepare the kake soba broth (combining the kaeshi and dashi and a lot of mirin) ahead of time, I did not combine the katsuobushi dashi broth and kaeshi, I add them separately into the curry and use a lot less mirin.  Check out their book, it’s filled with wonderful recipes, thank you very much for your inspiration.

Preparation:

  • 2 to 3 days before – prepare kaeshi (see recipe above, refrigerate in glass container ready for use)
  • Prepare dashi broth (can be done 1 to 2 days ahead, refrigerate in glass container ready for use)
  • Prep all the vegetables
  • In a large saucepan, reheat the dashi broth (if you did not make from scratch the same day) and keep it warm
  • In a different large heavy pot, heat 1/2 tablespoon olive oil using medium high heat, add cauliflower and cook for 2 minutes, then add carrot (cook for another 2 minutes) and zucchini, lightly seasoned with kosher salt and 1 Tablespoon ground turmeric, saute in total 5 to 6 minutes then remove from pot, set aside.
  • In the same pot, heat another 1/2 Tablespoon olive oil (medium high heat), add sliced onion and 1 Tablespoon of mirin and saute, stirring constantly for 2-3 minutes, until onion becomes soft and turn translucent (I let it caramelize a little).  Add the remaining 2 Tablespoons ground turmeric and cook, stirring constantly and mix well, be careful not to burn the turmeric!
  • Add the warm dashi broth and 1/2 cup of kaeshi to the pot , scrape the bottom of the pot,  cook for 2-3 minutes and bring to a boil.  Skim off any scum and fat from the broth.  Reduce heat then let the flavors mix and cook for another 10 minutes.
  • Turn off the heat, add the curry roux, using a strainer or chopsticks, melt the roux and blend nicely with broth mixture.
  • Turn on the heat to medium high, heat the curry, stir occasionally, making sure it will not stick and burnt on the bottom.  Using small fine mesh strainer, remove any scum.
  • Add cauliflower, carrot and zucchini mixture to curry, using medium low heat, let it simmer for another 15 to 20 minutes, gently stir occasionally to prevent sticking and don’t break the vegetables.  Keep it warm using low heat (and it will not burn), taste the curry and add seasoning (using kaeshi) if necessary.
  • Prepare garnish – diced apples (squeeze a bit of lemon juice to prevent it from turning “brown”) and scallions
  • Meanwhile using a separate pot, boil water to cook the sanuki udon (according to instructions approximately 1 to 2 minutes) – I prepare each serving individually
  • Turn off the heat, put udon into bowl, ladle the curry over noodles, garnish with diced apples, scallions and fukujinzuke, now ready to serve and enjoy!
  • If you are adding ground or sliced pork to this dish, lightly saute the pork in the beginning and set it aside, add the meat last when vegetables are cooked, bring curry to boil and turn off heat immediately, the meat will cook through and remain juicy!

Where to shop for ingredients in Vancouver: Fujiya (Japanese groceries, fukujinzuke is available – 912 Clark Drive, Vancouver, BC), Nikuya (11220 Voyageur Way, Richmond, BC – for sliced pork), T and T Supermarket (Various locations – for Sakura Farms ground pork), Japanese Soul Cooking (Available at Indigo, Amazon, I purchased mine from Crate and Barrel at Oakridge Centre).

Fallin’ hard for “Lang Lang” Langley in the Fall

Beautiful Barn at Vista D'oro, Langley, BC
Beautiful Barn at Vista D’oro, Langley, BC

I have a feeling and I’m not concealing..Fall is the time for it..I open my eyes to see and let my heart discover…I have fallen…fallen hard for “lang lang” Langley in the Fall..

What is “Lang Lang”?  You’ll find out when you read to the end…

A beautiful Fall Day in Langley..self drive to a couple of locations recommended by Circle Farm Tour

Visited Vista O’Doro Farms and Winery (thanks to an earlier visit to Cafe Orso in Deep Cove I discover their fruit preserves)

http://www.vistadoro.com

http://www.circlefarmtour.com

http://www.the-preservatory.com

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Enjoyed a wonderful lunch at Bacchus Bistro at Domaine de Chaberton (our second visit to the winery and restaurant)…wonderful time with dear friends…

http://www.chabertonwinery.com

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a non-drinker visiting a winery…
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I had a spinach salad..and shared a pork rillette with brioche (picture not shown)…
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Visited the shop, walked the grounds for photos and enjoyed the fine weather..

Afterwards we went back to Fort Langley…(we were there back in May!)

http://www.cranberriesnaturally.com

http://www.tourism-langley.ca

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The Old and the New – Vintage Cars out and about
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Second visit to Cranberries Naturally this year! This time I picked up a bag of cranberry powder for smoothies 🙂
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Crossed the Jacob Haldi Bridge between Fort Langley and McMillan Island, home of Kwantlen First Nation
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Venturing out..we went into the Brae Island Regional Park…Along the Fraser River’s Bedford Channel

While back to our city life in Vancouver…

I went on a photo walk in downtown and gastown…enjoyed a virgin berry mojito at Mosaic Grill (Hyatt Regency) on the way…

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A storefront in gastown: It’s all about Love…

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Do you like Ramen? There’s another ramen ya in Vancouver: Tried Danbo Ramen (on West 4th Avenue in Kitslano); someone had extra noodles; we like the flavors.

http://www.ramendanbo.com

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Fukuoka style Ramen with Chashu; I added seaweed.

I just love walking to Granville Island…to shop and prepare for cooking and fun gatherings with family and friends on weekend..

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A quick stop to my favourite seafood place…picked up a snapper (and great cooking tips)…

http://www.seafoodcitygi.com

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Of course I have to take one home…

Had the day off on Thanksgiving (Thanks to my brother and sister-in-law’s invite!)…

Then I cooked up a storm for my friends..Broiled Snapper for my friend’s birthday dinner! Cover the snapper in coarse sea salt for 2 to 3 hours; wipe clean afterwards (do not rinse!). I lightly stuffed the fish with lemon slices, green onion and some ginger…Broil the fish in the oven for approximately 6 minutes on one side (it’s a 1.5 pounder), and 5 minutes on the other (thanks William for your great cooking tip)…Serve hot with oroshi (grated daikon) with yuzu ponzu and chopped onion.

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For another gathering with three lovely visitors, I made kabocha and edamame croquettes, I tried to replicate the dish I had at Kinome Japanese Kitchen (2511 West Broadway, Vancouver, BC) last month; ideas are everywhere and creative juices are flowing…

http://www.facebook.com/KinomeJapaneseKitchen

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Kabocha and Edamame croquettes, cooking method adapted from Just One Cookbook..They are baked, not fried!
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Beautiful purple tulips..I love all things purple bright and beautiful..

Thank you Seafood City : Not only did I get great fish and cooking tips always..

I am happy and thankful I have made new friends, met a chef (star struck and pretended to be cool)… and received an unexpected gift (Thanks Brian!)..King Sauce…found Betty King Sauce on Instagram and we had a few exchanges!

http://www.bettykingsauce.com

http://www.facebook.com/bettykingsauce

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Made myself a tomato-dashi broth udon noodle and had it with King Sauce..it’s wicked good!  Going to try it with hotpot very soon!

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Because of “Chef”, I found out there’s a new Japanese restaurant on Fraser…Masayoshi Sushi (4376 Fraser Street (at E. 28th), Vancouver, BC)..Remember a few months ago I talked about Fraser Street, this sushi bar is right in my favourite area (around E. King Edward).

We had their nigiri sushi (shima aji, scallop, hamachi, tai (snapper)), loved their kimpira gobo (burdock root, it’s a stroke of genius by adding almonds, hazelnuts), enjoyed their smoked salmon salad (see picture below)…Excellent service by Tomo-san, he was very attentive and informative. Reservations highly recommended (omakase must be booked 3 days in advance as they include seasonal ingredients for their cooked food).

http://www.facebook.com/masayoshisushi

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Smoked Salmon Salad with papaya, apple, a hint of shiso, egg yolk kimizu (egg yolk and vinegar)…

Good Reads: heated debates?

WHO Reports on “Meat is linked to higher cancer risk” 

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/health-fitness/health/five-questions-about-the-whos-cancer-causing-meat-announcement-answered/article26982884/

I have yet to see Lang Lang (ha!) in concert, I saw Chris Botti instead 

To End in a “high note” (pun intended)…

I know one is a world-renowned pianist and the other a pop/jazz trumpeter…thanks Mavis for your invitation to the Richmond General Hospital Benefit and Gala…it was definitely an eye opening experience.

IMG_9092 In life all things and encounters happen for a reason….Grateful and Thankful always…Whatever will be will be.

So What is “Lang Lang”? It’s “Bright/Happy” in Mandarin; “Pretty Pretty” in Cantonese (OO)

RECIPE: Wafu Kabocha Soup (Japanese Pumpkin Soup with Toasted Seaweed)

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RRRRRR…It’s only mid-November yet it feels like we are already “deep” into the winter season; it might be chilly but I am not complaining as we have enjoyed some fine sunny days, which is quite unusual here in Vancouver…

So out come the Dutch oven and my Blender as Hearty Soup season is in full swing!

We don’t have kabocha very often in our household as it is not Andy’s favorite, I cooked it only once in a while for my own enjoyment, prepared either in Japanese (simmered in dashi and soy) or Chinese way (stewed with pork and soy).

I was so inspired by my friend Haruko’s creation; she made the most delicious and elegant version by keeping things simple, using fresh in-season ingredients (kabocha, onion, homemade chicken stock, milk)  and let them shine; I feel this is always the best way to cook.

I decided to incorporate my favourite “Wafu” style (yes again) into this recipe; the idea of the toasted nori came from Canadian food blogger “The First Mess”; she adapted the kabocha + chestnut soup recipe from Amy Chaplin’s cookbook ” At Home In the Whole Food Kitchen”, this cookbook is on my Christmas wishlist…any takers?? (OO)

Ingredients: (serves 2 – 4)

1 medium size kabocha, seeded, peeled, chopped into small cubes, 1 large yellow onion (thinly sliced), 2 garlic cloves (thinly sliced), 1 Tablespoon sake kasu (optional), 2 Tablespoon olive oil, 3 1/2 cups Japanese dashi broth*, 1 to 1 1/2 cups regular almond milk, 2 teaspoons Japanese mirin, 1-2 Tablespoons organic soy sauce, sea salt and freshly ground pepper for seasoning to taste, nori seaweed (**optional, toasted for garnish). 

Preparation:

– Prepare the kabocha squash: sliced it open into two halves. Remove the seeds, then cut into thin wedges; remove the skin then cut them into small even pieces

– Prepare the onion: peel and slice thinly

– In a 4 quart pot reheat the dashi broth, bring to a boil, lower heat and keep it simmering (if you are using pre-packaged dashi powder, prepare the stock according to instructions on package)

– Using a different heavy pot, heat the olive oil using medium high heat.  Add the onions and saute until they become soft and golden (6-8 minutes), add the sliced garlic and saute until it becomes fragrant.

– Add the kabocha to the same pot, add 1 teaspoon mirin and gently mix all ingredients; add reheated dashi broth, 1 Tablespoon of sake kasu and bring mixture to a boil. Once boiling, lower the heat (medium low) and simmer until kabocha is tender (you can use a fork to test the texture), approximately 20 minutes.  Using a slotted spoon, skim off any scums.

– While soup is simmering, prepare the nori – remove from package, lightly brush them with olive oil/mirin (1:1 ratio) mixture. Using medium low heat, place seaweed on small fry pan and toast them lightly using dry heat. The seaweed should be toasted on both sides, be very careful not to overheat and burn them.  Set aside.

– Using an upright blender, working in small batches, process and puree the soup until smooth (be mindful to fill blender jar less than half way). To prevent the liquid from splattering, remember to allow heat to escape by removing the blender’s lid centre insert (cap), hold a kitchen towel over the top when blending.

– Return puree soup to stock pot, over low heat, stir in the almond milk slowly till mixture is combined, do not let the soup boil.

– Season with sea salt and pepper to taste.

–  To serve: ladle soup in bowls and garnish with toasted nori.

*Notes:

Dashi is a fundamental ingredient to many Japanese dishes; it is used in miso soups, noodle soup, stews (oden) and sauces.

For your convenience, you can purchase the instant bonito stock packages which are readily available at Japanese food stores, and follow the instructions.

I choose to make my own awase dashi (basic stock) on a regular basis as I used it quite often as a substitute in many recipes. It is a combination of kombu (kelp) and katsuobushi (bonito flakes) and I have been using the recipe from Practical Japanese Cooking (by Shizuo Tsuji and Koichiro Hata) ; you can also find recipes available online.

You can substitute dashi broth with either vegetable stock or kombu stock (without the bonito flakes) to make the soup a completely vegetarian dish, or use chicken stock.

Sake kasu is optional, it adds lots of flavour to soups and stocks.  In Vancouver you can purchase at Fujiya Japanese Food Store or Artisan Sake Maker (Osake) in Granville Island.  

Always taste and change the ingredients according to your liking and dietary needs.

Here are links to other versions of kabocha soup:

http://www.thefirstmess.com/2014/10/29/vegan-kabocha-squash-chestnut-soup-kale-sesame-leaves-recipe/

http://www.justonecookbook.com/recipes/kabocha-squash-soup/

RECIPE: Faux-Omurice (Japanese Omelet Rice “Omurice” -)

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You must wonder what’s with the faux “Omurice” and Tomato Caramelized Onion “Jam-chup” (see other posting)?

Last month’s cauliflower “fried rice” was a food “jackpot”; I decided to continue to run with the idea and see what other variations I can come up with…

Over a dinner gathering with friends, we were talking about childhood comfort foods and our favours we love..my hubby Andy mentioned “Omelet Rice”….and voila!

I must give him full credit for coming up with this idea; It’s not a surprise at all as the Japanese “yoshoku” omelet is one of his all time favourite comfort foods! As an adult his tastes may have evolved in many ways but some things just never change – wonderful food memories and tastes just stay with us forever, we all have our own short list of “go-to” comfort foods.

As for the choice of vegetables: I picked carrots, corn and zucchini for their crunchy texture!  Although we are treating the cauliflower as “fried rice”, overall the texture is still a bit soft, it needs the “crunch” to add textural interest. The onions adds a sweet flavour and the Canadian back bacon lends a subtle smoky flavor, it is also leaner and I added just enough to satisfy a meat lover’s (like my husband) craving.

Canadian back bacon is also one of Andy’s favourites; this dish actually celebrates who he is, and pays homage to both his Japanese and Canadian roots.

The Tomato caramelized onion jam “jam-chup” (Andy calls it as it’s a replacement for ketchup, just a play on words) is a very lucky find (Serious Eats), I’m so happy and proud that I “tweaked” the original recipe and made it work for my dish.

You may wonder how I came up with this Deconstructed version in a bowl? Aesthetically this works beautifully; it’s practical and easy to serve. The cauliflower “rice” is actually quite filling and since it’s in small bits, you need to put a lot to “stuff’ the omelet to make it “full”, I think the serving will become too big.

Besides…It’s time for me to practice flipping omelets!! Enjoy (OO)

Ingredients: (serves 2-4)

1 small head of organic cauliflower, 3-4 teaspoons grapeseed oil, 1 medium yellow onion (finely diced), 1 large carrot (peeled and finely diced), 2 ears of fresh corn (husked and kernels removed), 1 large zucchini (finely diced), 2 slices of Canadian back bacon (diced), organic eggs (1 for each serving), unsweetened almond milk (1 Tablespoon for each portion), 2 Tablespoons of stock (I’ve used homemade Japanese dashi stock, you can substitute with chicken broth or vegetable broth), organic Japanese soy sauce (season to taste), sea salt and ground black pepper, chives for garnish (optional).

**For a vegetarian version – omit the Canadian bacon, substitute the Japanese dashi stock (from kelp and bonito flakes) vegetable broth.  I find the dashi adds a very nice flavor to this dish.

Preparation:

– Clean the cauliflower,core and trim the florets off the stems, cut off any blemishes (sometimes there are brown spots!).  Process florets in the food processor until they resemble the texture and size of rice grains.

– Chop the onion finely, dice carrot and zucchini finely, husked and removed corn kernels, set aside.

– Slice and dice the Canadian back bacon into small bits separately, set aside.

– In a large pot (I used a 5 quart pot with lid) or wok/saute pan, using high heat, heat 2 teaspoons of grape seed oil; add 1/2 the diced onion and cook until they become soft and translucent.  Add carrots, saute for 2 minutes; add corn and saute for another 2 minutes; add zucchini and 1 Tablespoon of dashi stock (you will hear a “sizzling” sound), saute and mix the vegetables well (takes approximately 2-3 minutes).  The entire process takes less than 10 minutes; vegetables should be cooked yet crunchy in texture.  Remove from pan and set aside.

– Using the same pot, adjust to medium low heat, add another teaspoon of oil, add the remaining diced onion, again cook until they become soft and translucent.  Add cauliflower, stirring gently for 5 minutes until the oil is evenly distributed and each “grain” is coated.

– Add 1 Tablespoon of dashi stock, put the lid on, adjust to low heat (to avoid burning) and “steam” the cauliflower for 3 to 4 minutes.  If you like it softer, cook a little longer.

– Remove the lid, readjust to medium high heat, add Canadian back bacon bits, saute for 2 minutes; return carrot/corn/zucchini mixture to pot. Using spatula, gently fold and stir fry ingredients until mixture is slightly browned, taste and season with soy sauce and black ground pepper, Turn off heat and set cooked mixture aside.

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Filling ready to go!

– Whisk the egg, add a pinch of sea salt and almond milk (1 Tablespoon to 1 egg) together in small bowl, you are preparing each portion individually.

– Lightly greased a small frying pan (I’ve used an 8 inch), coat the surface with a thin coat of grape seed oil.

– Heat the pan over medium high heat, when pan gets hot, pour the egg mixture and tilt to cover the pan evenly; once the egg has set, turn off and remove from heat.

– Gently remove “omelet” from frying pan and lay in a round bowl (find one that fits the omelet perfectly!), ladle the filling on top of “omelet”. (At this time you can decide whether you would like to make this version or a real omelet**).

– Garnish with chives (optional) and serve immediately with tomato caramelized onion jam “jam-up” (see separate recipe).

Notes:

Namiko Chen’s website “Just One Cookbook” has an excellent “traditional” Japanese Omelet Rice Recipe with very clear instructions and excellent demonstration on how to assemble the omelet.

http://www.justonecookbook.com/recipes/omurice-japanese-omelette-rice/

– I always try to keep oil usage to minimum; you can always add a little more to adjust.

– In a regular omelet rice recipe, ketchup is added to rice directly.  It’s my humble opinion that it will not work and make the cauliflower soggy and taste funny, besides we don’t use ketchup much these days and decided to look for a healthier option.

– This is an anything goes recipe; You can choose whatever vegetables you have or to your liking to substitute the corn, zucchini or carrots. I chose them because they add a crunchy texture. Feel free to use chicken (in regular recipe) instead of back bacon. Be creative!

– To all Moms: this may be a great option to encourage (or “fool”) your kids into eating more vegetables (OO). It makes a great bento box lunch and a wonderful one-dish dinner.

– I choose Canadian back bacon as it is leaner. If you are using regular bacon, render the fat and use it to saute the vegetables to add more flavor.  As bacon is salty, adjust the seasoning as required.

– As always, remember to taste and season according to your liking and dietary needs!