Cooking with Alison

Posts Tagged ‘Asian food’

Pickled Daikon Radish and Carrot Recipe

In Asian, Other Asian Foods, Sides and Sauces on November 3, 2013 at am

One of the reasons why I love love love Vietnamese sandwiches (banh mi), is that they contain pickled daikon radishes and carrots.  These pickled daikon radishes and carrots are very easy to make and are a great side dish to almost any meal.  Enjoy them with a bowl of Vietnamese beef noodle soup (pho tai) (see recipe here), or a dish of meat and rice, or add them to your rice paper rolls (see recipe here).  These are also a great accompaniment to Korean food (see my beef short ribs (kalbi) recipe here).  I love making my own pickled vegetables, because I can control the salt and sugar content.  If you are not sure what to do with your leftover daikon radishes, you will find a list of different recipes that use this radish here.


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Tonkotsu Ramen Recipe (from scratch)

In Asian, Rice and Noodle Dishes, Soups and Salads on September 13, 2013 at am


As you can tell from my ramen eating tour through Toronto, ON, and New York City (see my reviews here), I was kind of obsessed with ramen for a little while.  It’s been a longer while since I’ve last eaten some, haha.   Ramen is a Japanese noodle dish in broth.  Traditionally, you are supposed to finish the entire bowl of noodles, including the soup, but I would never drink more than a few spoonfuls of the soup served in a restaurant (unless they specifically claimed that they do not use MSG).  Although I was loving the restaurant served MSG-laden bowls of ramen, I still wanted to be able to enjoy ramen with controlled sodium and fat levels, so naturally, I made my own.  I happily drink every drop of my home-made ramen broth.  It is very easy to make and you could make a large batch and freeze some for quick and easy future meals.  My favourite ramen broth is tonkotsu, which is made with pork bones.  For those that prefer a lighter broth, see my chicken ramen broth recipe here.  Once you’ve made the base stock, you can tailor individual bowls of ramen broth with seasonings such as shio (salt), shoyu (soy sauce), miso, mayu (burnt garlic oil), etc.

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Ramen Tour of Toronto and New York City (Restaurant Reviews)

In Reviews on September 10, 2013 at am

Three years ago, I became obsessed with tonkotsu ramen, a Japanese dish of noodles in a pork bone based broth.  Tonkotsu broth is made by boiling pork bones (sometimes in combination with chicken) until the soup has rich and hearty pork flavour (see my recipe here).  The broth should be milky and practically opaque in colour.  Some people find tonkotsu broth too heavy, but that’s what I love about it.  Ramen noodles come in various thicknesses and some restaurants will let you specify your desired texture (i.e. al dente or soft).  Ramen toppings differ depending on where you go.  My favorite toppings are soft boiled marinated eggs and thinly sliced pork jowl.

At the time that I first discovered ramen, the only ramen you could find in Toronto, ON was MSG laden and closer in resemblance to instant noodles than the real thing.  So when I had the opportunity to travel to New York City and San Francisco, USA, I went in search of the best ramen they had to offer.  I’ve only shared my review of my favourite ramen place in NYC, because I didn’t like any of the ramen places that I tried in San Francisco.  San Francisco supposedly has some of the best and most authentic ramen in North America, so it’s possible that I simply failed to choose the right places.

Luckily, over the past year, we’ve seen an explosion of new ramen places in downtown Toronto.  So, naturally, I ate my way through all of the promising ones.  I ate so much ramen in such a short period of time, that I haven’t eaten it since I completed my ramen tour.  But that just means that the next food obsession may begin.  😉  Keep your eyes open for my Donut Tour of Toronto.  Why couldn’t I be obsessed with something healthy???

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Thai-Inspired Noodle Salad Recipe

In Asian, Rice and Noodle Dishes on September 5, 2013 at am

This is a great dish to make during the summer months, because it’s easy to make, it’s light, and it can be served cold.  This is also a great way to use up leftovers.  Feel free to substitute with any vegetables and/or cooked meat that you like or happen to have on hand.  I served this Thai inspired noodle salad alongside a Thai mango salad for lunch (recipe here).

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Thai Mango Salad Recipe

In Appetizers, Hors D'oeuvres, Snacks, Asian, Other Asian Foods, Sides and Sauces on September 1, 2013 at am


This Thai mango salad is delicious and very easy to make.  The key to success is to use mangoes that have the perfect ripeness, just starting to ripe and still firm.  Some recipes call for green mangoes, but I’ve found that using green mangoes results in a crunchy salad that lacks mango flavour and colour.  I made this for my sister’s lunch group at work and everyone loved it.  I served it as an appetizer to a cold Thai noodle salad (recipe here).

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Favourite Slow Cooker Fish Recipe

In Asian, Fish / Seafood, Seafood on August 28, 2013 at am


I have had the toughest time trying to figure out how to cook using a slow cooker.  I’ve tried different recipes from different cookbooks and websites, and I’ve tried using different meats and/or vegetables, but 9 times out of 10, I end up with overcooked slop.  I’d love to hear how you mastered the slow cooker!  The only other recipe that I’ve had success with is this slow cooker pulled pork.  So I tested this fish recipe a few times and even had John (a beginner in the kitchen) make it once by himself before I shared this new favourite slow cooker recipe with you.  We love this dish.  It is Thai inspired, mild, and light yet creamy.  My family approves of this dish too, and that’s saying a lot because they strongly dislike slow cooker cooked food.  But I should warn you, this recipe requires a bit more work and attention than typical slow cooker recipes.  In my opinion, it’s worth the extra effort, because your meal won’t look or taste like it came out of a slow cooker.

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Malaysian Cincalok Dip and Steamed Pork Belly Recipe

In Asian, Meat and Eggs, Seafood on August 25, 2013 at am

I traveled to Malaysia for the first time in May 2013.  It was an amazing food experience and I am excited to share what I learned about Malaysian cuisine with you.  The best part of the trip was watching my dad enjoy nostalgic food from his childhood.  While souvenir shopping in a Malaysian grocery store, my dad spotted a bottle of cincalok and told me that when he was a child, his family’s servants would toss nets into the ocean during shrimp season to catch tiny shrimp for his mom to make cincalok from scratch.  After hearing that story, I had to bring some home.

Malaysian cincalok

Malaysian cincalok

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Kalbi Recipe (Korean BBQ beef short ribs)

In Meat and Eggs on August 8, 2011 at am

One of my favourite Korean foods is kalbi/galbi (BBQ beef short ribs).  Luckily, these are incredibly easy to make at home, but it might take a few tries to master the timing for the perfect doneness, because these can be tough and too chewy if they are overcooked or undercooked (a tiny bit of pink is perfect in my opinion).  These are best cooked over a charcoal BBQ, but any grill or cast iron pan will work too.  Every home and restaurant makes their kalbi slightly differently (some even using Coke and/or Sprite)  so adjust the sweetness and saltiness to your taste.  This is best served with Japanese rice (sticky rice) and kimchi.  The side shown above is chap chae, a Korean glass noodle dish (recipe here).  For John’s house warming party, I made thinly sliced prime rib using this recipe and served them in lettuce wraps with kimchi.  They were one of the party favourites.

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Jap Chae Recipe (Korean Glass Noodle Dish)

In Rice and Noodle Dishes on August 5, 2011 at am

Jap chae (or chap chae) is a flavourful Korean glass noodle dish that can be served as a side dish or as a main course.  [Note that Korean glass noodles are made with sweet potato starch and are thicker than Chinese cellophane noodles, so be sure to check the ingredients so you don’t purchase the wrong ones.]  Enjoy this noodle dish warm or at room temperature (but not cold). 

The flavour and ingredients of chap chae vary slightly depending on the restaurant or home, so feel free to use whatever vegetables or protein you like (ie. spinach and peppers) and adjust the seasonings to your taste.  Although many people add thinly sliced beef to their jap chae, I prefer this as a vegetarian/vegan dish.  Also, this is the perfect make-ahead dish for entertaining, bbqs, or pot lucks, because it tastes better over the next day or two.

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Teriyaki Chicken with Bean Sprout Medley (and a teriyaki sauce recipe)

In Meat and Eggs, Sides and Sauces on March 6, 2011 at am

Teriyaki sauce ranges from thick to thin and salty to sweet depending on where you’re getting it from.  This is my favourite teriyaki sauce recipe.  Adjust the consistency and flavouring to your taste.  Serve this with miso soup (recipe here) and Japanese restaurant style salad with miso dressing (recipe here).

Photos above:  Teriyaki sauce used as a marinade (left) and used as a sauce poured over cooked chicken (right).

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Pad Thai Recipe

In Rice and Noodle Dishes on January 11, 2011 at am

There are so many different ways to make pad thai authentically, that it really annoys me when restaurants don’t make it properly.  The worst is when the “pad thai” is made with a thick, red coloured sauce.  I rarely order it so as to avoid disappointment.  Luckily, pad thai is very easy to make at home.  It usually contains rice stick noodles, bean sprouts, Chinese chives, fish sauce, and sugar.  White vinegar or tamarind are used in Thailand for the sour component of this dish.  More information on tamarind has been posted here.  Depending on the street vendor, other varying ingredients include eggs, tofu, pork, dried shrimp, fresh shrimp, preserved raddish, and/or dark thick soy sauce, etc.  So add whichever ingredients you like.  Ed and I prefer a mildly and lightly flavoured pad thai, but you can adjust the sweet and sour balance of the recipe below to your preference.

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How to use Tamarind

In How-To on January 10, 2011 at am

Tamarind is a pod-like fruit that is used in Southeast Asian and Indian cooking.  It is also available candied.  It has a hard, dry, light brown exterior and several hard seeds.  The flesh is reddish brown in colour, slightly chewy in texture, and unique and tart in flavour.  If you’re not familiar with tamarind, you might be surprised to learn that it is an ingredient in Worcestershire and HP steak sauce.  On a side note, I like tamarind, but I dislike those sauces.

If you’re starting with fresh tamarind, discard the shell, the seeds, and the fibrous thread that runs along the outside of the flesh.  Otherwise, tamarind can be purchased in other forms.  There doesn’t seem to be a consistent use of terms that distinguish between those options.  So depending on the source, it can be very confusing as to what a recipe actually calls for.  Here is my general understanding:  Wet tamarind or tamarind block is shown on the right side of the photo above.  This is often simply labeled as “tamarind”.  I have even seen this referred to as tamarind “paste”.  But in general, tamarind paste, tamarind juice, and tamarind water usually refer to tamarind that has been prepared for cooking.  To add further confusion, the term tamarind pulp has been used to describe both the flesh of tamarind (wet tamarind / tamarind block) and, contrarily, the parts of the tamarind that do not “dissolve” or mix with water.

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