Sundubu-jjigae (Korean Spicy Tofu Stew)

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.

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5-Ingredient Coconut Tom Yum Soup

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!

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Miso Tahini Pomelo Slaw

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.

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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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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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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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Tom Yum Coconut Salmon

I have to pay homage to the thai-viet restaurant I worked at in montreal for this one, restaurant hà. this salmon is so damn flavourful, you’ll be shocked at how incredibly simple it is to make. the main ingredient is store bought tom yum paste (yes, I actually cheat sometimes), which you can usually find in the sauce or canned goods section of an asian market, or in the international aisle of a larger grocery chain. the salmon is even a bit forgiving when overcooked (but it won’t be!) as the decadent and luscious coconut sauce pairs beautifully coated on the fish. it’s a stellar contrast between vibrant and delicate flavours all in one bite!

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Mapo Tofu

growing up in canada, I never understood why my friends were disgusted by tofu. but then I realized that their version of tofu was often flavourless, dry, and firm. the tofu I grew up with was always a massive flavour bomb - this silky, soft vessel used for absorbing velvety, meaty sauce, turning any bowl of plain white rice, into the ultimate comfort food. reid was a tofu convert when he first ate this, and I think you will be too. the chili bean paste (doubanjiang) and the black bean paste can be found at your local chinese supermarket in the sauce aisle.

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Chicken and Squash Penang Curry

your mind will be blown the first time you make fresh curry paste. pounding each ingredient in the mortar and pestle and smelling the wafting perfumes that are released is absolutely intoxicating. even if you don’t have a mortar and pestle, the satisfaction of making fresh curry paste from your food processor, blender, whatever it may be, is well worth the effort. your curry will turn out more fragrant, flavourful, and luscious, plus, you can freeze portions of it for a quick weeknight meal! this does require some ingredient hunting, but most of it can be found at your local asian market. if you’re okay with store bought paste, skip to part 2 of the recipe for instructions. serve with steamed white rice, or try our coconut rice for some extra richness.

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Not Quite 'Pad Ka Prao' - Thai Style Minced Pork Stir Fry with Basil

When you ask a local in Thailand what they cook at home, the answer is often some version of Pad Ka Prao. This minced pork stir fry is made with 'holy basil' or ka prao, a peppery cousin of the commonly found sweet basil in North America, but since holy basil is difficult to find, feel free to substitute either Thai or Italian basil -- just don't let a Thai chef catch you calling it "Pad Ka Prao". We love this dish because it's super easy and packed full of flavour. Serve with steamed rice, a crispy fried egg with a yolk that oozes over and some steamed veg, and you've got dinner in under 30 minutes. We make our version farang spicy but if you can handle your chiles like a true Thai you can toss in a few more. 

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Sai Ua Falafels (Northern Thai Falafels)

We’re always looking for new ways to integrate vegetarian meals into our diets, and as much as we love tofu we’re eager to explore some more imaginative alternate proteins. Lately, that has meant pulse-patties, from black bean burgers to falafels. We love falafels for transforming relatively-boring-but-packed-with-nutrients chickpeas into crisp-on-the-outside-moist-on-the-inside flavour bombs that add substance to rice bowls and keep us full for hours after a meal. They’re traditionally spiced with cumin, coriander, mint and cilantro, but we wondered if they could be done using the same blend of aromatics as our favourite Thai sausage, Sai Ua. The answer is a resounding yes. Full of lemongrass, turmeric, chilies, kaffir lime leaves and galangal, these Thai inspired falafels have a bold flavour that keeps you going back for more. For strict vegetarians, we use powdered dry mushrooms for umami, but if you’re more lenient we recommend a healthy dose of fish sauce.

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Coconut Chia Pudding

Coconut chia pudding is excellent either as a delicious dessert to cap off a nice meal, or as a beautiful breakfast to start your day. You can even use it as a dairy free yogurt to top off some granola if you reduce the chia seeds to 3 tbsp! This recipe is super easy, but that doesn't mean you won't be blown away by the results. It's sweet and rich, pairing perfectly with fresh seasonal fruit.

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Buddha Bowl

I first made this for the family I've been personal chefing for the summer. I drew inspiration from multiple recipes online and combined them to achieve the ultimate buddha bowl! If you're body is craving a hearty and healthy meal, this is a great option. If you care for more protein, sautéed shrimp is a nice addition. 
 

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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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