Lime Leaf Smoothie Bowl

there are millions of smoothie bowls out there and I could probably spend the rest of my days eating a different variation (I love froot so much), but the addition of a single lime leaf to this one makes it exceptional. I have to give reid credit for first adding it to our smoothies. if it’s not in your freezer (ahem), go track some down for the 2nd time you make this smoothie bowl ;) and you’ll see the difference that it makes. you also won’t be sad to have it on hand to add to your curries, stews and soups.

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Vegan Asian Caesar Dressing

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 ;)

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Sautéed Chili Jam Kale with Crispy Fried Egg

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.

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Homemade Chili Jam

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!

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Thai Green Apple Salad

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.

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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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The Real Deal Kung Pao Chicken

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

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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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Flavour Bomb Edamame

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.

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Banana Fiber Muffins

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.

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Simple Chinese Sausage and Dried Shrimp Fried Rice (JLo's 糯米飯)

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.

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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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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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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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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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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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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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