Ever run into a cooking “snag” ? I just did the other day and my sister was my life-saver.
We always have a variety of vegetables in our every day meals, usually sautéed, blanched or roasted.
We seldom make any sauce for our vegetables, usually lightly seasoned with sea salt and olive oil. Perhaps in a huge part this is related to the types of cuisine we usually have at home, and also due to our continued efforts to restrict having “processed” foods (including prepared sauces) in our household.
The other day when we were trying to decide what to make for dinner; my sis started to tell me about this delicious Vietnamese dipping sauce which she had with steamed vegetables in Vietnam, she sent me a recipe by Ms. Vicky Phan as reference.
I was thinking dipping sauce for vegetables? Ah I get it, something similar toBagna Caudawhich I made a few months ago for our epic Italian dinner, except there’s no butter and anchovies, replaced with shallots and fish sauce.
It is very easy to make, takes less than 20 minutes including prep time. My recipe is a modified version of Ms. Vicky Phan’sSavory Vietnamese Vegetable Dipping sauce, check out her website for delightful Vietnamese recipes.
For my recipe I use more shallots than garlic, less fish sauce and substitute with hot water to make it slightly less salty, I have also added a little twist: grated lime zest, squeeze of lime juice plus a drizzle of the King Sauce (just the chili oil) from Betty King Sauce (Available online or through Instagram – check out this awesome King sauce)
Ingredients: 3 Tablespoons Fish Sauce (I used “Red Boat”, 3 Tablespoons raw cane sugar, 1 Tablespoon olive oil, 1 large shallot (minced), 2 small cloves of garlic (minced), 2 Tablespoons of dried shrimp (rehydrated in warm water, pat dry and minced), grated zest of lime and squeeze of lime juice, hot water (a few Tablespoons). ***Vegetarians – Omit the dried shrimp and use more shallots/garlic, or add chopped lemongrass to create a fragrant sauce. For some heat, add chili (or chili oil).
In small bowl mix fish sauce, a Tablespoon of hot water and raw cane sugar well. Set aside
Using medium high heat, in a sauce pan, add olive oil (or vegetable oil of your choice).
Add garlic and shallot, lightly stir fried until fragrant. Be careful they burn very easily.
Turn heat to medium low, add dried shrimp, mix well with garlic and shallot, stir until fragrant.
Add fish sauce sugar mixture into the pot, stir gently and cook until sauce thickens. You can add hot water (by Tablespoons – optional) to adjust thickness and taste according to your liking.
Add chili oil (optional), lime zest and squeeze of lime juice
Keep watch closely and dont let the sauce burn – patience!
When sauce is cooking, steam the vegetables which should be ready in a few minutes. Serve hot.
For our meal we served the sauce with steamed Brussel sprouts, zucchini, carrots, purple kale and brocolini. I lined the steamer with “cooking steam cloth” (available at Chinese cookery stores).
I used a really great steamer which I first saw on Youtube used by home cooks/bloggers; I searched for a long time and one fine day in December when I walked byOrling and Wu …..there it was…and I bought it home..
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.
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.
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.
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.
Want to know what have I been up to in August? On Wednesday August 31st, 2016 I will be on Ms. Deborah Moore’s radio show on Fairchild Radio 1470 at 10:30am sharp!
If you have any feedback or recommendations, I would love to hear from you! Drop me a line anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org
“Ai and Om Knives” in Vancouver Chinatown
Having the right and suitable kitchen wares certainly makes doing the job better; and a good knife takes you a long way…
I really don’t know much about knives, my limited knowledge came from tips I’ve picked up at cooking classes, or friends’ recommendations and through reading I don’t really like to get too technical with almost everything, I just know what “feels” right and what works for me personally. The last purchase for the “Santoku” was more than 10 years ago (I’m still loving my Wusthof Santoku. Since April I have been on the search for the “right” nakiri ((菜切り包丁) a great vegetable knife). There were a couple of choices but somehow it didn’t feel quite right; I kept thinking I might as well wait and pick up one when I travel to Japan….Until last Saturday…
My hubby always say I like to “tuck” information away and somehow I can miraculously pull it out when timing is right. I came across the posting about ‘Ai and Om”‘s opening on Instagram (through another instagrammer MaknMing) around three months ago; and finally it opened on August 21st.
Last weekend I decided to check things out; I was standing outside their door; just one glance at the display window and there it was….I summoned the courage and went in…
The picture below says it all….and I was happily chopping and dicing away on Sunday..
Thank you for your help, Yvonne and Douglas (and thanks for answering my message!), I will introduce myself properly next time and will be in touch soon!
Check out their store and ask for recommendations: 129 East Pender Street, Vancouver Chinatown.
FoodVideo: Chinese cooking channel on YouTube, WeChat and Weibo:
This channel is so much fun to watch: the videos are short and stylish; cooking demonstrations and instructions are simple to understand; there was this particular video which showcases two simple family style dishes from Yunnan cuisine (something I am not familiar with also); it looked so delicious and simple to make, the names are interesting also, roughly translated to “Red Three Chop” and “Black Three Chop” .
I certainly put “Nakiri” into good use over the weekend. As I am unable to find some of the ingredients (the “black coloured” pickled Brassica juncea – mustard green), I sourced out local ingredients and came up with my versions; I wanted to find out what is the English name of the pickled vegetable used and I contacted the home cook on weibo; I was thrilled to hear from her!
“Triple Red Dice” and “Triple Green Dice” : Great with rice or noodle, suitable for entire family and it’s easy to make. Initially I “googled” the Chinese ingredient and the translation I got was ‘Kohlrabi”, big head vegetable (haha). Have you ever tried cooking with kohlrabi? The first time I had it was at Pidgin Restaurant (more than 4 years ago I still remember the Dan Dan Kohlrabi), and more recently I’ve used the raw kohlrabi for the Dan Dan Noodles (Thanks Nourish Vancouver); it’s the first time I try kohlrabi in its cooked form and it has a very nice sweet flavour.
Triple Green Dice: minced garlic and ginger, minced pork, kohlrabi, green pepper, Serrano chili pepper, shiitake mushroom, green onion, Tamari soy used as seasoning, and finish with Vancouver Island Fleur del Sel. (triple green: green pepper, kohlrabi, Serrano chili pepper)
Triple Red Dice: minced garlic and ginger, minced turkey (non-medicated and free range), heirloom tomatoes (they are in season!), red pepper, Thai chilli pepper, green pepper, Tamari soy used as seasoning, a drizzle of maple syrup and finished with Vancouver Island and Co. Fleur del Sel. (triple red: tomatoes, red pepper and Thai chili pepper).
This is what I truly believe in: Cook with love, always think of who you are cooking for, remember to season and adjust to personal tastes and dietary concerns!
Vancouver Island Salt Co : I met them at the Dinner Party YVR Event and I’ve been using their product ever since..(my personal favourite: smoked sea salt).
As our beloved city of Vancouver kept growing, the little hubs in our neighbourhood kept changing; old favourites might be gone, perhaps finding new love…
Opa! Nammos on Fraser:
I must confess I am not the biggest fan of Greek food but somehow having dined at Nammos twice (Brunch and dinner), I love their fresh and no fuss approach: Family style share plates with great vegetarian options, fresh and light tasting (try their crispy calamari with the beet dip), good size portion and reasonable pricing; the restaurant is spacious and airy, patio seating available…and it’s right next to Earnest Ice cream (OO).
Penang Bistro on Fraser (Used to be Bodhi Choi Heung)
Celebrated a friend’s dinner last week at Penang Bistro (Back to Fraser Hood!); Three things which stand out: the fluffy roti and the pork chop (sweet and sour) with fried kabocha squash; and lastly I must commend our server for his food knowledge and superb service, he understands the menu and the components for each dish very well.