alton toast (named for inimitable alton brown who created the original version of this recipe) is our go-to breakfast/lunch/dinner/snack when we need something filling and delicious that feels good. it's easy to throw together as long as you keep a couple cans of sardines on hand and have an avocado ripening at home, and it's packed with all the best kinds of fat from fish and avocados. as a bonus, because they're low on the food chain sardines are super sustainable, so you can chow down free from guilt. if you're unsure about canned fish, this recipe will make you a true believer and may even turn you (like us) into an obsessive canned sardine hunter whenever you visit a new grocery store! for the least fishy flavour, try to find small sardines like brislings.
for the past 4 months, I have had the opportunity to cook lunch 4 days a week at a local grocery store here in downtown kitchener (or as they call it, DTK). since it’s just me running the show (while the other cooks handle the catering side of the business), it’s been a huge learning curve; a really ideal way to test recipes and to get feedback for it. I get to share my experience through the food that I make while pushing people’s boundaries a little with asian inspired flavour bombs ;)
tbh, this recipe came about when I wanted to make a colourful stir fry with lots of veg and realized I only had kale in my fridge. happy surprise! I’m glad to now have this one in my back pocket for an easy meal to whip up when I’m feelin’ something simple. hope you enjoy it too.
when I first discovered thai chili jam a couple years back, my mind was blown. I had finally found an all-in-one flavour bomb that could instantly transform any stir fry into magic. the store bought version looks like this, but it contains some added flavour enhancers and colouring (if you’re not into that).
traditional homemade chili jam requires deep frying your own garlic and shallots, but this recipe uses store bought versions of those - cutting your time in half. store in the fridge for up to a month, or in the freezer for up to 6, and use with veg, seafood, meat, rice, noodles - the possibilities are endless!
do you love thai mango salad but live in a place where mangos don’t grow naturally? ‘cause I do! and green apples are a great substitute. they give a similar crunch and tanginess that green mangos have, plus, they don’t need to travel 11,000 km to get to your plate. pair this with our chicken and squash penang curry and maybe even this coconut chia pudding, and you’ve got a thai feast ready in no time.
hai everybadee! today we are going to make sundubu-jjigae, a korean spicy tofu stew!
I have to give full credit to maangchi, ‘youtube’s korean julia child’, for teaching me everything I know about korean food. with the addition of just a couple ingredients to your pantry, you can enter the world of maangchi too! for this recipe, you’ll need sesame oil, korean chili powder, some sort of asian cooking wine, and kimchi. all can be found at your local korean or east asian grocery store.
similar to mapo tofu, sundubu jjigae packs a whole lot of flavour in a short amount of time. small quantities of bacon make this dish flavourful, affordable and an easy weeknight option. serve with rice of choice.
it wasn’t too long ago that I had my first real deal kung pao chicken. I always thought of it as an americanized-chinese-mall-food-court thing, often looking way too electric orange for comfort, and always mixed with an assortment of previously frozen vegetables (including the dreadful baby corn) note: fresh baby corn is actually amazing but really difficult to come by in north america
this soup is as easy as combining 5 ingredients in a pot and waiting for 10 minutes! I highly recommend tracking down tom yum paste as this is the base of your flavour. plus, you’d need even more ingredients to substitute it in order to find the right balance. tom yum paste should be available in the international aisle of your major supermarket or at your local east/southeast asian grocery store. if you’re looking for a quick, and I mean rrreeaallyy quick appetizer with not much effort and all the gain, you’ll win with this one. add a little rice vermicelli to make it more filling, or a lot to make it a full meal. we all deserve an easy fix sometimes!
there’s not much to explain for this one. great as a quick snack or party app, this edamame is dressed to impress as it is packed full of flavour! this recipe makes about a cup of dressing, but you’ll only need about 1/3 of the recipe per 500 g pack of edamame. don’t worry when the dressing comes out a bit thin - you’ll just want to flavour the beans, not coat them. bonus for not having super greasy hands after eating these either! 1 pack of edamame makes about 6-8 servings, but I would lean closer to 6 since people tend to eat more than they think they will. serve with a nice, crisp cider or gluten free beer of choice.
banana muffins baking in the oven has got to be one of my favourite smells in the world. as the maillard reaction goes down and the bananas begin to caramelize, an intoxicating, golden aroma fills the room and brings me right back to early memories of the first thing I ever baked. this version (based off a recipe from reid’s mom) is extra fibrous and filled with lots of good stuff for when you’ve been eating too much take-out and need a gut cleansing. perfect for an on-the-go breakfast, or as a snack, any time of day. we sometimes sub the bananas with pumpkin or chestnut purée to mix it up a bit. serve with a knob of butter for extra unctuousness.
even though I grew up cbc (canadian born chinese), cooking cantonese always seemed so technical and intimidating, until I realized that it can actually be pretty simple.
sure, some dishes can have a lot of components, but simple dishes are really simple. and that’s how my mom likes her food. hot and simple.
once I figured out that all it takes is a hot wok, I mean screaming hot, and a little flick of the wrist (practice makes perfect with uncooked rice in a pan), I knew how to make food that she’d truly enjoy.
one upside of it being the dead of winter is that it’s also citrus season!!! from pomelos to clementines, blood oranges to navel, we’ve got some beautiful, tropical imports that remind us that there’s still colour in the world. this slaw uses one of my favourite citrus fruits - pomelo! it’s a sweeter, milder grapefruit that’s less bitter. combine that with easily available winter veg and a dressing that’s shelf stable for a week, and you’ve got an easy, healthy option for lunch or dinner. for added protein, toss in some cooked chicken.
corn tortillas are the best! everyone should make corn tortillas! they could not be easier to make and there’s absolutely no question that they taste and hold together better compared to the store-bought refrigerated ones. all you need is masa harina, a.k.a. corn flour, a staple ingredient from latin america. add some water and bam! you’ve got corn tortillas. we use maseca which can be found at most major grocery stores near the crispy, crunchy, old del paso tex-mex shells. those are a guilty pleasure and have a different purpose of their own, but about that another time…if you’ve got a mexican store in your area, maseca is 100% sold there. consume with any of your favourite taco fillings or as a vessel for your breakfast!
the other day, we found some frozen beef cheek at our fav new neighbourhood butcher (shout out to fore quarter!) and decided to experiment with it. beef cheeks are amazingly tender and delicious when cooked down, but feel free to use beef chuck or any other braisable cut with this recipe too!
we were craving something braised and something asian, and that of course led to…korean beef tacos!!! spicy and savory, tangy and sweet, these are sure to satisfy any taco craving you may have (reid gets them A LOT). if you don’t have a pressure cooker, braise for about 2 hours at 250 F in a dutch oven or oven proof pot. serve with fresh homemade corn tortillas, kimchi, lightly pickled cucumbers, and cilantro.
we first had rice soup for breakfast in chiang mai, thailand with a lady named we. before starting the day cooking with her, she fed us this beautifully simple and nourishing bowl of rice soup that kept us going for the rest of the afternoon. it made me wonder why I didn’t always have rice soup for breakfast since it’s super easy to make, eat, and heat up again for more than one occasion. toss a few eggs in for some added protein and you’re set for the day. her version had ground pork and chilis, but I’ll recreate that another time.
the next time you go to a pho restaurant, look for this hidden gem on the menu. it’s probably past #20 of all the potential meat combos you can get in your pho. compared to pho, bo kho has a deeper umami taste, due to the tomatoes and fish sauce in the broth. it’s almost like the vietnamese version of beef bourguignon, but this time served on rice noodles! you can either cook this low and slow, sans agression (thanks ludo lefebvre for the best way to describe gentle cooking), or the process can be expedited with a pressure cooker or instant pot.
my fav butter chicken will always be from bombay mahal on st. laurent in montreal. that might be the case until I go to india, but I heard the dish is rather north american, just like general tso’s. still great in its own way, just a different category all on its own.
bombay mahal was the best place to go when you didn’t want to cook or just got in from a long travel day. be sure to try their delicious baingan bharta too - no where else I’ve been does it better! anyway, my excitement put me off track and I’m really here to tell you that this butter chicken is pretty damn good.
the amount of butter might be alarming, but I’ve already it cut down from a lot of other recipes. butter is in the name for a reason! and it’s so luscious and creamy because of it. serve with basmati rice and naan.
粥／congee/ juk/ zhou is amazing soul food that can be eaten for breakfast, lunch or dinner. it’s a bit like chicken noodle soup for asia: whenever you’re feeling sick or sad it gives your body and soul a pick me up. it’s also incredibly easy to make and it’s a great way to use up leftover rice and/or bones! we like to buy the ducks hanging in the windows of Chinese markets and restaurants and throw all the leftover bones into a pot with leftover rice to make it. try to reserve some of the duck meat to toss in the pot at the very end before serving.
to me, winter means chili. imagine: a warm bowl of chili after shoveling the snow in -15 degree (celsius) weather outside. a warm bowl of chili after pulling off your oh-so stiff ski boots and wiggling your toes for the first time in hours. a warm bowl of chili on a lazy couch-potato-afternoon catching up on all the whose line is it anyway? episodes (yes, they are making new ones. no, it’s no longer drew. and yes, it’s still wayne, colin, and ryan +1!!)
this version of laksa is one of my favourite noodle soups in the world. my day is instantly better with a bowl of this laksa in front of my face. it’s like a hug for your soul, and belly! traditionally made with fish stock, some versions can be quite fishy. I tried to find a balance of just the right amount of fishiness (from the shrimp paste) with just enough spice, tang, and richness. once you have this laksa, you won’t be able to live without it. I definitely wouldn’t want to. even if we are just 2 people, I usually make the full batch for 4 since you can freeze the leftover broth for a quick meal!