Cooking with Alison

Posts Tagged ‘Japanese food’

Night It Up! 2016 – Toronto’s Best Asian Food Festival

In Reviews on July 17, 2016 at am

There is still one more day left of the 2016 Night It Up Asian night market in Unionville (Markham), Ontario. I’ve been to most of the Asian food festivals across the GTA and Night It Up is, in my opinion, hands down the best of them all! The vendors seemed especially good this year. Below you’ll see what we ate, what we saw, what Really excited us, and some of the better deals that we found!

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The Largest Japanese Festival in Canada

In Reviews on July 11, 2016 at pm

The inaugural Japan Festival in Mississauga, ON was on July 10, 2016. It was the largest in Canada and was a huge success. I suspect (and hope) that it will become an annual event! There were food and drink vendors, informational booths, and an assortment of products for sale. The entertainment was non-stop with great variety (traditional and modern). Some of the performers were flown in from Japan. Having a stage and large screens at the venue made the wait for food less painful. I don’t think I’ve ever had to wait so long in line for food. But in my opinion, the food was worth the wait. I’ve shared my photos and reviews of the dishes that I tried.

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Chicken Ramen Recipe From Scratch

In Asian, Rice and Noodle Dishes on April 3, 2015 at am

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.)

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California Hand Roll Recipe (and a great way to serve them)

In Appetizers, Hors D'oeuvres, Snacks, Asian, Other Asian Foods, Rice and Noodle Dishes, Seafood on March 28, 2015 at am

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.

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Japanese Seaweed Salad Recipe

In Other Asian Foods, Soups and Salads on March 21, 2015 at am

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!


Frozen wakame was used for this seaweed salad.

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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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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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Miso Soup Recipe

In Asian, Soups, Soups and Salads on January 4, 2011 at am

Miso soup is a simple Japanese soup that consists mainly of dashi stock and miso paste.  Miso paste is available in a variety of colours (ie. yellow or red) and flavours (ie. salty or sweet).  Additional ingredients, such as seaweed, tofu, mushrooms, and/or pork, are often added to this soup.  Although instant miso soup powders are widely available, this soup is very easy to make (minus the MSG and preservatives).  Traditionally, wakame is the seaweed of choice, but this time, I used dulse, a red seaweed that I bought in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada (photo below).  See my post on how to use dulse here.

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Enoki Mushroom and Pork Roll

In Other Asian Foods on April 21, 2010 at pm

These are enoki mushrooms rolled in thinly sliced pork and grilled or cooked on a griddle (you could also pan fry or bake these).  All of my favourite Japanese restaurants in Markham, ON serve these.  But since I rarely eat there now, I tried making my own, and they turned out really well.  🙂

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Udon Noodles, Broth and Panko Crusted Chicken

In Meat and Eggs, Rice and Noodle Dishes on March 2, 2010 at pm

Udon noodles: This was my first time making any sort of pasta from scratch and it was surprisingly easy.  Since Japanese udon noodles are supposed to be thick (4 – 8 mm) and chewy, no machinery was required to make this.  I plan to eventually buy the pasta making attachments for my stand mixer, so one day I’ll make italian pasta from scratch too.

Udon broth: My favourite way to eat udon noodles is in Japanese broth.  However, I am often disappointed with the unauthentic broth variations served at most restaurants and I don’t like using powdered soup mixes because of the MSG, excess sodium and preservatives.  So I was Very excited to see an authentic dashi recipe on the Rasa Malaysia food blog provided by a Japanese guest writer.  Dashi is a type of Japanese stock that is usually seafood based, using ingredients such as shaved bonito (a type of fish) flakes and kombu (kelp).  Unlike chicken or beef stocks, dashi takes only minutes to make.  It is a basic soup recipe to which you can add whatever ingredients you like (see variation suggestions in the recipe below).

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