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).
Archive for the ‘Other Asian Foods’ Category
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 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.
Fermented bean curd is a pungent Chinese condiment. It comes in glass bottles in the form of cubes of preserved tofu soaking in brine. It is salty and spicy with a hint of tanginess. I love this stuff, especially with congee (see recipe here). It can also be used in a marinade for deep fried chicken wings or in a sauce for stir fried Chinese veggies.
The absolute best fermented bean curd that I have ever tasted was made in Hoi Ping, Guangdong, China, which is where my mother was born. If you’re lucky enough to find this brand in your city, let me know what you think of it (and please ship some to me)!!!
My family and I love the Chinese drink, papaya and milk (木瓜牛奶). There is only one vendor that we buy it from, because most places do a terrible job of making this. Often vendors or restaurants will add ice or, more commonly, use papaya that is not nearly ripe enough. I’ve recreated our favourite vendor’s papaya milk drink. The most important thing to remember when making papaya juice or papaya milk drink is that the papaya must be overly ripe, to the point where it is almost starting to going bad, as shown in the photo below. The ripeness of the papaya not only affects the flavour of the drink, but also the texture of it.
When I traveled to Malaysia in May 2013, I tried many new foods in Kota Kinabalu, Sandakan, and Kuala Lumpur. One of my top three favourite things was sabah vegetable. The stems of this leafy green vegetable have, in my opinion, the perfect crispy and crunchy texture. To my knowledge, Sabah, Malaysia does not export this local vegetable, so be sure to look for it in restaurants the next time you’re in Sabah, Malaysia. I tried it stir fried with sambal belacan.
I am in love with Hong Kong style milk tea (see recipe here), and on a trip to Malaysia, I discovered that I love Malaysian pulled tea, teh tarik, just as much. The delicious teh tarik, which means “pull” tea, is made using sweetened creamer. Some people add evaporated milk as well. What sets teh tarik apart from other teas is the process of pouring the prepared tea back and forth between two containers until the tea tastes and feels smooth, silky, and light in weight. Apparently, you’re also supposed to develop a good froth. The further the distance between your two containers while you’re pouring the tea back and forth, the better your tea will be. Be careful not to get splattered by the hot tea, and wear clothes that you don’t care about, because the tea stains are hard to wash out.
Outside of Malaysia, it can be difficult to find the best tea leaves for making teh tarik. But luckily, I have been surprised by how good some of the instant teh tarik powders are. The brand Boh is very popular in Malaysia and is quite good. My favourite is Aroma Ipoh’s instant ginger milk tea. I found it in a Chinese grocery store in Toronto, ON.
Pomelo is a very large citrus fruit that tastes like a sweeter, milder grapefruit (photo not shown). Not only does pomelo taste better than grapefruit, it’s also much much easier to peel and eat. I didn’t think that it could get any better with citrus fruit, but I was proven very wrong when I discovered Israel’s sweetie grapefruit (also known as oroblanco in the USA). When I first tasted it, I thought, this tastes even better than a pomelo, sweeter and juicier, almost like a mix of pomelo and grapefruit. Sure enough, I later learned that the sweetie grapefruit is, in fact, a cross between the pomelo and the white grapefruit. I really hope you’re able to find this in your local grocery store. When picking a sweetie grapefruit, the skin should be green and should smell citrusy. Also, the fruit should be heavy and somewhat soft when pressed.
You peel a sweetie grapefruit the same way you peel a pomelo: Use a sharp knife to cut an X into the top of the fruit. Make sure that you cut all the way through the thick rind. Then peel the rind off in large slices. Then use your hands to pull the fruit apart so that you have two halfs with exposed flesh. Pull each lobe of flesh away from the white pith and enjoy.
Other must try fruits include: mangosteen (see here).
Cooking with Alison’s Mom (Part 3)
Pork stomach soup is one of my favourite Chinese soups. I just love the texture of pork stomach after it has been boiled in a peppery and clear soup. It is chewy and surprisingly neutral in flavour. The peppercorns in this soup make it especially warming during the cold winter months. Chinese restaurants add a lot of different spices to their pork stomach soup, but I’ve always found that the best soups are made from a simple list of ingredients. So here’s my favourite (and simple) recipe. [On a side note, according to the teachings of Chinese medicine, this is a ‘hot’ soup. The dried bean curd helps to reduce some of the ‘hotness’, but if you feel cold easily or if you have just given birth, omit the bean curd so that you can maximize the warming properties of this soup. If you are cooking for someone who has just given birth, see my grandma’s Chinese Ginger Vinegar with Pig Trotters and Eggs recipe here.]
This is a recreation of one of our favourite dishes from our favourite Chinese restaurant (see another recreation from that restaurant here). It is an easy, one-pot meal that is cooked in a Chinese clay pot. It is fresh tasting, light, and healthy. If you aren’t able to find young pea shoot sprouts, you could substitute with baby bok choy, but believe me when I say that the dish just won’t be the same.
Different versions of savoury pancakes are popular in Asian cuisine, including Korean pancakes, Japanese pancakes, and Chinese pancakes. My favourite is the Chinese scallion pancake that is believed to have originated in Shanghai. Considering these pancakes are made with flour and green onions, I have always found them to be overpriced in restaurants. Luckily, they are very easy to make. Although they are slightly time consuming to make, you can make a large batch and freeze them for quick and easy future meals. These make a great accompaniment to all sorts of dishes, but especially to stir fried Shanghai noodles (see recipe here) and sticky rice rolls with pork floss (see recipe here).