Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Korean style Ramen

Ramen is traditional Asian comfort food particularly on a blustery cold winter's day. What makes this dish so satisfying is of course the steaming bowl of broth, the noodles (long for longevity) and the infinitely variable ingredients. This ramen has a korean flavour because of the added kimchee (spicy fermented cabbage or daikon), the barbecued beef, and the traditionally seasoned and prepared vegetables including bean sprouts, spinach, seaweed, and shitake mushrooms. A poached egg is placed in the centre for visual appeal and added anti-oxidants. This bowl of steaming noodles is packed with protein, vitamins, fibre, and comforting warmth: an ideal dish for the New Year.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Global Hot Pot

What could be more festive than a group of friends and family sitting around a communal cooking pot? This kind of gathering satisfies a primal subconscious need for family, food, and fire in everyone. It brings people together in a way that eating a traditional three-course meal does not. Taking the time to cook, savour, and converse, everyone feels that they have participated in a celebratory ritual. It is a pleasurable and memorable dining experience that is easy to prepare, stress free for the cook, and entertaining for your guests.

Hot Pot 1: One method of hot pot involves each diner swishing a thin slice of meat into the broth until it is done, and then dipping it into a variety of sauces. Tofu and vegetables are left to simmer in the broth until ready to eat. At the end of this meal, noodles or rice can be added to the broth for a nutritious and satisfying finale. (Shabu shabu, Swiss Fondue, Beef Bourguignon, Mongolian Fire Pot, and Szechwan Hot Pot are examples of this style.)

Hot Pot 2: Another style of hot pot consists of adding layers of fresh ingredients to a broth, beginning with those richer in flavour, and allowing everything to simmer together until a desired degree of cooking is achieved. At this point, everyone helps themselves. The broth is served along with the ingredients, and seasoning and condiments can be added. (Bouillabaisse, Sukiyaki, Kimchi Chige are delicious examples.)

Kimchi Chige (Korean Hot Pot)
Ingredients (serves 4-6 people depending on appetite)
2-3 cups sour kimchee, cut in 1 inch pieces
1/4 cup juice, from kimchee (optional)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 cup water
1 dash salt and pepper
2 tablespoons crushed red hot peppers
2 cloves crushed garlic
1-2 lb cooked pork ribs, boiled beforehand
2 doz fresh oysters
2 blocks tofu (med firm) rinsed and cubed
1 head of Chinese cabbage, washed well
1 bunch of spring onions
1 bunch of chives
1 cup of brussel sprouts (these are in season right now, so we used them)

Combine top 7 ingredients into saucepan and bring to boil.
Stir occasionally. Adjust flavour of broth according to degree of spiciness….
Simmer over medium heat until kimchee is tender.
Pour into communal cooking pot.
Add a portion of the pork ribs, oysters, veggies, and tofu.
Simmer 5-8 minutes.
Serve with steamed white rice.
Add another portion of ingredients and simmer.
*Can add more water or broth from cooked ribs to simmering ingredients as needed.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Aromatic Asian Herbs

The next time you grab a handful of herbs from your herb garden, rather than focus on traditional favourites – oregano, basil, rosemary, parsely – try being a little more adventurous and innovative.

Asian herbs are aromatic, pungent, refreshing and interesting. They can be substituted for many of our traditional herbs in such recipes as pesto, gremolata, herb butters, salad dressings, salsas, soups, marinades, scented vinegars and oils, flavoured teas and liqueurs. Countless recipes from different cuisines can be adapted to create unusual and appetizing global flavours.

In Thailand, herbs such as lemon grass, kaffir lime leaves, Thai basil, and cilantro are used in abundance. Chinese cuisine tends to use more spices than herbs. However a pungent herb that is often used to embellish soups, fish dishes, dipping sauces, and stirfries is Chinese parsley, also called cilantro. With its earthy flavour, cilantro is one of the most popular herbs worldwide. Chinese chives are also a popular herb in this cuisine and are used freshly snipped over wok recipes, egg and fish dishes, salads, and sauces - they have a stronger, spicier taste than N.American chives. Some of the most commonly herbs in Japanese cuisine include shiso, chrysanthemum leaves, mitsuba, kaiware, and sansho. Mint and curry leaves are used extensively in Southern Indian cooking. Sprigs of heavily scented curry leaves are adding during the cooking of curry and then removed before serving. Fragrant mint leaves are used in many Indian chutneys, yogurt dishes and desserts.

(a classic condiment for Osso Bucco)
2 ½ tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley
2 ½ tsp grated lemon zest
1 tsp finely chopped garlic

Thai Gremolata
(use on grilled fish or steak)
fresh finely chopped cilantro leaves
lime zest
finely grated garlic

Japanese Gremolata
(use on grilled fish or steak)
fresh finely chopped shiso leaves
uso zest (Japanese citrus)
finely grated ginger and garlic

There are no rules with these garnishes.
Season and experiment according to taste and mood!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Fried Rice

I love this dish. Why? Because there are no set rules. With the addition of a particular herb, spice or ingredient, you can adapt fried rice to whatever cuisine or global flavour you're craving. Your only limitation is your imagination. So open the fridge and let your creativity soar! Another reason why fried rice is so incredible is because it's similar to stew or curry in that you can use up a lot of leftovers or dying vegetables that may have passed their peak but can still be used in a meal such as this.

5 cups of leftover rice
1 cup of finely chopped ham
1 finely chopped large onion
1 tbsp. pureed garlic (approx)
1 tbsp. grated ginger (approx)
1/2 cup of corn
1/2 cup of sliced celery
1/2 cup of sliced carrot
1/2 cup of sliced yellow pepper
1/2 cup of sliced brocoli tops
salt and pepper
splash of soy sauce
splash of chicken broth

Fry onion, garlic and ginger in olive oil with a dab of sesame (for flavour).
Add ham and saute. Add veggies and saute.
Add rice at the end and fry while mixing quickly.
Season with salt and pepper and a splash of soy sauce.
Can add splash of chicken broth, but not too much or rice will be soggy.
Can garnish with chopped green onion, cilantro, parsley, or mitsuba.
Enjoy immediately with a bowl of soup or a green salad or some barbecued chicken or steak....

** Also good with added bacon, shrimp, sliced steak, or charsiu pork. Be creative and colorful!
** By the way, my rice is 1/3 white rice, 1/3 brown rice, and 1/3 japanese barley - cooked together in rice cooker. (I don't cook white rice anymore as my Japanese husband has high blood sugar ... anyway mixed rice is much healthier.)

Monday, September 15, 2008

Chicken on the Global Grill

Barbecued Chicken Polynesian Style
Although it’s back to school, people are still enjoying their barbecues during the last weekends of Indian summer. Try some global flavors for a change: Polynesian style grilled chicken has a spicy sweet asian tang because its marinade consists of honey, soy sauce, hoisin, star anise, and ginger. Indian ‘Tandoori Chicken’ has a velvety marinade made from yogurt and a combination of cumin, curry, and chile powders with added garlic and ginger. The dish’s subtle flavour and tender texture is enhanced by it being grilled in a traditional Tandoor clay oven. Caribbean ‘Jerk Chicken’ uses a centuries old method of marinating chicken in spicy sweet seasonings and grilling it over wood for a smoky barbecue taste. The marinade contains chile pepper, allspice, thyme, cinnamon, nutmeg, pepper and scallions which are made into a paste with oil, vinegar, soy sauce, brown sugar and dark rum. This fiery sauce is also great with meat and seafood. Tuscan style barbecued chicken uses classic Italian ingredients such as tomato paste, garlic, rosemary, oregano, basil, balsamico, and red wine. Honey or molasses is used as a sweetener. In Japanese cuisine, teriyaki or yakitori styles are favourite ways of serving chicken. The ubiquitous teriyaki sauce is the chosen marinade for these popular dishes which are enjoyed throughout this island nation.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Meat on a Stick

The ritual of barbecuing meat on a stick is one of the oldest recorded cooking techniques. As a result, there are hundreds of cultural and regional adaptations of this ancient delicacy.

One of the most popular types of kebab is Indonesian satay. Indigenous to almost everywhere in Southeast Asia, satay consists of three small cubes of meat threaded onto skewers made from bamboo or from the spines of coconut palm fronds. Chicken, lamb, beef or pork is marinated in a blend of spices consisting of coriander, cumin, turmeric, aniseed, chilli, lemongrass, ginger and garlic. After a few hours of marinating, the satay is grilled over low heat and basted using a stalk of lemongrass which adds a delicious lemony fragrance to the meat. These succulent and exotic morsels are then served with rice packets and peanut sauce.

Yakitori is a delicious snack eaten in Japan as well as an essential cultural experience. Millions of bamboo sticks of chicken are sold everyday in every region of Japan. A popular appetizer eaten with beer, yakitori is marinated in teriyaki sauce, grilled over hot direct heat and basted during the process. Variations abound ranging from salty (shio) to sweetish (amai); however the basting sauce is typically made from soy sauce, sake, mirin (sweet rice wine),and sugar.

The Indian version of kebab is known as tikka. This is usually meat, lamb, chicken or fish that has been marinated in a preparation of yogurt and spices for a few hours and grilled in a traditional clay oven called a Tandoor. According to the BBC, the most popular dish in multicultural Britain is Chicken Tikka Masala. This meal consists of a creamy tomato sauce enhanced by garlic, ginger, lemon and coriander which is served over marinated chicken tikka

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Asian Salads

Instead of munching on your usual ceasar salad tonight, why don't you create an Asian salad?

Green Papaya Salad is a popular Thai dish that refreshes the palate when served with spicy foods. Thinly sliced green papaya is mixed with carrot, ham, shrimp, tomato, and lettuce in a dressing made with nuoc cham. Coriander and peanuts are added as a garnish.

In Japan, Harusame salad is a favorite as it combines rice noodles, shrimp, wakame seaweed, julienned cucumber, ham, chicken, and carrot in a sesame oil and lemon dressing, and is then garnished with deep fried tofu skins or toasted garlic.

Burmese cuisine has a salad similar to coleslaw that combines sliced cabbage, onion, chili, and shredded cooked chicken or tuna, in a simple dressing made from olive oil and lemon juice.

Gado Gado is served in both Malayasian and Indonesian cuisine and is typically a colorful platter of steamed vegetables, garnished with sliced hard boiled egg and potato and served with a spicy peanut dressing. Tofu and cooked chicken can also be added for variation.

Another light summer dish is Vietnamese Table Salad with Pork. The intrepid diner wraps butter lettuce around grilled meat, noodles, and fresh Asian herbs like Shiso or Thai basil, and then dips the wrap into a tasty pungent sauce. Messy but delicious!