Korean restaurants and food courts put too much salt and MSG in their pork bone soup, so, naturally, I started making my own. It’s really easy to make and it’s freezer-friendly. The broth is spicy and salty with a hint of fermented flavour from bean paste. You really need to use your hands to get to the flavourful meat and soft bone between the pork neck bones. So this dish is usually only served to family and close friends. But sometimes I will remove all of the meat from the bones prior to serving it. That way, it’s easy to eat, it’s not messy, and no one feels embarrassed.
Archive for the ‘Asian’ Category
My ex’s mother introduced me to beef and kimchi fried rice years ago. It doesn’t look like much, but it is addictively good. It’s also easy and cost-effective to make, which is why I was outraged when I saw it being priced at $14 in a Korean restaurant recently. It inspired me to finally get around to sharing my recipe. You could also top it off with a fried up (sunny side up) and/or add other vegetables. Want to try a fusion version of this? Top it with cheese and melt it under the broiler in the oven.
In Korean cuisine, small flavourful side dishes are often served with each meal. This broccoli is one of those delicious Korean side dishes that can also be enjoyed as a cold salad. This would be a great accompaniment for kalbi (BBQ beef short ribs) (see recipe here), or jap chae (see recipe here).
One of the hors d’oeuvres that I made for John’s housewarming was Korean BBQ beef in lettuce cups. I used my Korean kalbi (BBQ short ribs) marinade on thin slices of prime rib, but lean pork would work well too (see the kalbi recipe here). The sweet and savoury marinade contrasted nicely with the sour and spicy kimchi. These were flavourful, easy to eat, easy to make, carbohydrate-free, and everyone’s favourite of the items that I made. If you wanted to serve these as an entree for a sit down meal, serve the beef with white rice on the side and allow your guests to assemble their own lettuce wraps.
Ramen is a Japanese noodle dish in broth. In restaurants, the ramen broth is often overloaded with MSG and/or sodium, so naturally, I make this at home. It is very easy to make and you can freeze portions of the broth for future meals. My favourite ramen broth is tonkotsu, which is made with pork bones (see my recipe here). But not everyone likes such a heavy broth, so the last time I had fresh chicken carcasses, I made chicken ramen. I also made the ramen noodles from scratch (see recipe here). (See my ramen eating tour through Toronto, ON, and New York City here.)
My family and I LOVE Japanese sushi. In fact, sushi is my all-time favourite food. California rolls are, by no means, our favourite roll, but they are the ones that we make at home the most often, because the ingredients are affordable and easy to prep. The first time I made California maki for my family, I couldn’t make the rolls quickly enough to keep up with the rate at which they were eating them. I finished that dinner feeling rushed, exhausted, and hungry! So I stopped making sushi for a long time after that. Luckily, one life-altering day, my then-boyfriend’s mom made us dinner by serving all of the ingredients for California rolls and allowing us to assemble our own hand rolls at the dinner table. It was genius! It had never occurred to me to make hand rolls before, because my family Never orders them from the restaurants! The best part is that the cook only has to prepare the individual components, which requires minimal cooking – perfect for weeknight and summer-time dinners. The guests have fun assembling their own hand rolls to their own taste. I’ve since done this countless times for myself, my family, and guests. It’s also makes for a great and easy food station at larger parties. If you don’t like artificial crab meat, I’ve done this using smoked salmon instead.
Seaweed salad is my favourite Japanese side dish. The seaweed salad is bold in flavour with the naturally salty seaweed paired with toasted sesame oil and rice vinegar. Seaweed salad is, in my opinion, very expensive when purchased pre-made. Luckily, it is very easy, and much less costly, to make at home. Although, many different varieties of seaweed can be used for salad, it can be difficult to find the most popular type. After years of searching, I finally found some at the Asian grocery store chain, T & T. Check the refrigerators and the freezers. Also, I haven’t been able to figure out why the restaurants’ seaweed is always so much greener in colour. If you know the reason behind this, please let me know in a comment! Thanks so much!
Cooking with Alison’s Mom (Part 7)
Abalone is a luxury shellfish that is often served at Chinese weddings and other celebrations. Although preparation of abalone starts several days in advance, it is surprisingly easy to make, as long as you have a slow cooker. In fact, I like my mom’s abalone much much more than the ones I’ve had in high-end Chinese restaurants. I’ve shared her recipe below, just in time for Chinese New Year.
Cooking with Alison’s Mom (Part 6)
Dried birds’ nests (also known as swallows’ nests) are considered a Chinese delicacy. Bird’s nests are believed to have many health benefits, including improving overall health and combating signs of aging. There are 3 different types of bird’s nest and they can be distinguished by their differing colours. The colours are, in order of increasing price, white, yellow (shown in the photos below), and red. Some people say that drinking a few spoonfuls of birds’ nest each day will keep you looking young and feeling healthy.
Bird’s nest is most commonly used to make a Chinese sweet dessert soup. After being boiled, bird’s nest becomes gelatinous in texture. It is pretty much flavourless. Here is my mom’s simple recipe for bird’s nest soup. Alternatively, we also make the birds’ nest without the rock sugar and then mix a few spoonfuls of it into a bowl of warm milk. I love drinking it with milk just before bed.
Cooking with Alison’s Mom (Part 5)
According to Chinese medicine, “dong chong cho” or ‘winter worm summer grass’ or caterpillar fungus (ophiocordyceps sinensis), has many health benefits. Despite its high price tag, many Chinese families will boil it in a soup to improve their health. After being boiled, the “dong chong cho” does not really taste like anything, and it has a nice slight crunch in texture. This is how my mom makes “dong chong cho” soup.
Cooking with Alison’s Mom (Part 4)
Conch is seafood, and is basically a large sea snail. Conch soup is one of my favourite Chinese soups, because boiling fresh conch until it is soft, but still chewy, is my favourite way to cook it. Conch can also be stir fried, braised, steamed, baked, or BBQ’d whole in its shell. But note that the part of the conch that is found on the inside of the shell is the most tender, so use this part for quick cooking. The ‘head’ of the conch is better used for soup, as it is quite a bit tougher. Be sure to use fresh, live conch. When you’re in the grocery store, poke the muscle (or ‘head’) of the conch (not the shell). If it retracts into its shell, then it is alive. The faster it moves, the better. Ask the staff to remove the shell for you. The type of conch that we use for this soup is shown in the photo below.
First off, you should know that this recipe is, by no means, an authentic curry recipe from any part of the world. However, it is addictively delicious and ridiculously easy to make. I don’t normally post recipes that aren’t traditional or authentic, so believe me when I say that this recipe is worth sharing. I wouldn’t be surprised if it instantly becomes one of your family favourite recipes. It’s mild in heat, buttery, and slightly sweet. My sister’s friend, Chelsea, introduced me to this recipe. She made it for us and a large group of people at a ski chalet, once. Every single person loved it. I made it for John’s mom one day and she loved it too. This is a great dish to make for a crowd.
The key to making this sauce more than just a sum of its 4 ingredients, is to use high quality and complex curry powder. I’ve had the best success using Malaysian meat curry powder. Otherwise, it will taste like a curried, honey dijon chicken dish. But even the curried, honey dijon chicken tastes great, so use whatever you have on hand. Note that if you use a yellow curry powder, the colour of your sauce will be more yellow than mine. Ideally, you want the dijon mustard to be indiscernible, leaving your guests wondering what’s behind that addictive flavour.