Gochujang Braised Beef Tacos

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.

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Turmeric and Ginger Rice Soup with Chicken

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.

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Bo Kho (Vietnamese Beef Stew)

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.

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Butter Chicken

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.

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Congee(粥)

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.

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Chili (With Chocolate!)

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!!)

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Laksa

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!

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Chicken Adobo

I didn’t grow up eating chicken adobo, but it feels like I’ve been eating it forever. there’s just nothing like a bowl of tangy, soy-saucy chicken on a bed of white rice. adobo is traditionally made with vinegar and soy sauce, but the added coconut milk in this version gives it a rich, southeast asian twist. with just a handful of ingredients, you’ll be able to whip this one up in no time - all you really need is to buy the chicken. feel free to sub the chicken with fried eggplant or tofu for a vegetarian version. must serve with white rice.

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Mouth-watering Tomato Soup

This is definitely our favourite tomato soup recipe ever! It's buttery, velvety, tangy, sweet and the perfect accompaniment for crisp and gooey grilled cheese. The key is letting your onions cook down so that the natural sweetness of them balance out the tartness of the canned tomatoes. Simple and delicious, this is an effortless recipe to add to your repertoire.

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Massaman Curry

Massaman curry is one of my personal favourites. It's a go-to recipe when I host private dinners for larger groups, or have a free Sunday to spend cooking. It is rich, complex, and packed with SO much flavour, and I get giddy when I smell the paste frying. The aroma that fills the room is INCREDIBLE. After leaving it for a while to bathe and bubble in its own deliciousness, you're left with a magical, golden curry with beautifully tender chicken or beef. Damn, I'm mouthwatering again. This recipe definitely takes time 'sans aggression', but trust me, it is well worth it. 

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Cochinitas Pibil (Mexican Citrus Braised Pork)

There's something incredibly satisfying about eating with your hands, but sometimes it seems like everything in the world is held by the glutens. Pizza, burgers, wraps, sandwiches - gluten makes an excellent handle. But then there are tacos. I drive Jannell nuts trying to turn everything I can into tacos. Breakfast-tacos, stupid-fusion-tacos-that-should-just-unfuse-and-be-served-on-rice tacos, vegetarian-tacos, and these. These are my favourite tacos ever, modelled after a taco stand at Jean Talon market in Montreal that sells exactly one type of taco: cochinitas pibil. They start with the meat - pork shoulder slowly braised in achiote paste, garlic and orange juice. Then you add some refried beans for a nice soft texture to round out the pork. Throw some pickled onions, hot sauce and cilantro into the mix and you're done. 

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Pho Broth

Making pho broth is not as intimidating as you think. You throw a bunch of ingredients into a pot, let it make magic for a couple of hours, and voila - you've got pho broth!  If I can't convince you of how painless it is, the latest issue of Lucky Peach might be able to. Part of the reason for starting this blog was to help make Asian food more approachable to everyone. This recipe might not be your Vietnamese grandmom's, but it does the trick. We add Japanese kombu as an umami booster rather than MSG. 

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Ragu Bolognese

Whenever someone asks me what my favourite thing is to cook, this is my answer. I've cooked this countless times since a family friend in Bologna gave us his simple recipe, and I will never get tired of it. I've tried a few recipes from different sources over the years with varying degrees of complexity; some had chicken liver added, many had a mixture of pork, veal and beef, while others required you to render the fat from lardons at the start. For my money, this is the best balance of simple and delicious. For best results, dice all of the vegetables extremely finely (brunoise if you will) and try to break up the meat into the smallest possible pieces while it's browning.

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Kecap Beef

This is one of the courses that we served when we hosted a supperclub at Toronto's Depanneur recently. It's inspired by a dish we tried on an island in Malaysia a couple of years ago. This island had absolutely awful food. Every restaurant had the exact same menu and none of the options were great. But! Every day, this family of women from a neighbouring island would boat over with a few giant tupperwares of home cooked food that they'd sell on the beach. One of the recurring dishes was called kecap beef (pronounced "ketchup"), named after the kecap manis, or sweet soy, that was in the dish. This recipe is our best attempt at recreating their kecap beef. It's sweet, savoury, a bit spicy and incredibly rich. To balance the richness and to complement the soft texture, we recommend serving it with a side of either pickled vegetables or a vinegar-based slaw as well as topped with something crispy - fried shallots, fried potato, peanuts, whatever you want. 

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