Saturday, March 26, 2011


What will I do with all the salmon I bought plus extra sushi rice and other sushi roll ingredients I always have on hand? I think that the decision was made for me, as usual. This time I wanted to add pickled ginger to the roll and in the process I forgot to use Tobiko or Flying Fish Roe. They give the sushi such a nice crunch. Oh, well, next roll. Pieces of Makizushi with a soy sauce in a bowl and some pickled ginger on side is such a nice snack!
Here is my process I did today (it will not be the same next time):

Tuna and Salmon Sashimi

Yesterday morning we went to Zehrs to get some salmon portions that were on special. As I was talking to fish counter manager I asked what the tuna looks like. To my delight they have just received it but she didn’t open the box yet. When she showed me I was so delighted! The freshest looking and smelling tuna I have seen since moving out of Toronto 6 years ago! So, I bought a nice chunk and the meal for a day was decided.
All I had to do is to steam some rice, make a wasabi, get gari, slice cucumber, cut the fish, heat up sake and serve. It was the best we had in years. It is nice to know that I can get high quality tuna in this town!
Nice dining experience.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Wonton Soup with Enokitake Mushrooms.

What a great soup this was. This was strictly do-once improvisation driven by available ingredients. I had a Vietnamese Pho stock, I had my own wontons and there was coriander and Enokitake mushrooms that I bought last Sunday on a trip to London (London, Ontario, that is). Since everything was on my mise-en-place table it took just 15 minutes from start to plating. Nothing wrong with this type of “cooking from scratch”, if you ask me. After all, I did make the stock, I did make the dough for wontons and I did make the filling. Not at the same time, but I did make it from scratch.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Yakitori Chicken – My Way

For a while now I was craving Yakitori Chicken after reading about this traditional
Japanese street
food. If done right, the meat is tender, juicy, sweet and salty with crunchy green onions.  When Yakitori is eaten with rice and cucumber salad on side, it turns the street food into good dining. Since I was at Poultry Specialties two days ago I picked up some chicken thighs, besides couple of bags of chicken feet for my Ultimate Stock that I have posted earlier.
Unfortunately, when I have decided to finally make it, the BBQ was out of question because of 40km/hour wind and I didn’t want to use broiler for 6 short skewers. Then it hit me: I’ll do it just like duck breast in cold skillet. If it works for duck with skin then why not for chicken thighs? The meat was already cut into strips and lightly marinated (just a 1 Tbs. of Yakitori sauce for 4 thighs). I coated bottom of a skillet with 1/2 tsp. of peanut oil with few drops of sesame oil, put the thigh strips skin side down in a skillet, placed the pan on my large gas burner and turned the heat on medium high. I shook the pan almost continuously to make sure that the skin doesn’t stick to bottom. If it does, just move it with spatula.

When the skin got nice color, turn over and cook for another 4 – 5 minutes. Pour in 1/2 cup of Yakitori sauce, move the meat around and reduce the sauce until it is thick.  Never raise the heat above medium hot. Remove to serving plate and enjoy.

Yup, it was that good!

Yakitori Sauce

1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup Mirin
1/4 cup sake
1 garlic cloves, crushed
1 slice fresh ginger, peeled (1/8 inch thick)
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon cornstarch
In a small saucepan, combine soy sauce, sugar, Mirin, sake, garlic and gingerroot.
Cook over medium high heat 3 to 4 minutes.
In a small bowl, blend water and cornstarch.
Stir cornstarch mixture into soy sauce mixture.
Cook until thickened, stirring constantly.
Strain sauce.
Keep at room temperature for up to 24 hours.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Ultimate Chicken Stock

I might shock few readers but there is no better chicken stock then one made with chicken feet. Yes, the feet, not foot-less legs or any other part. If done right, the stock is super rich with incredible mouth feel and so gelatinous that after cooling it will have a consistency of cold aspic.

Chicken Feet Stock at room temperature.

The secret to very clear stock is always to blanch the meat for couple minutes, drain and wash the meat under running hot water to remove rest of the scum and fat and only then put it in stock pot and simmer on low heat for hours. Never let the stock boil or the fat in stock will emulsify and will be cloudy with an off taste. Since I was making Chinese stock I used just green onions, ginger and garlic and for aromatics I used little bit of soy sauce, star of anise and cassia bark. Since I used slow cooker it was completely trouble free. Six hours on low and I had incredible stock.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Spicy Beef & Broccoli with Rice Noodles

What a nice and relatively easy meal this is. Just marinade the beef and prepare vegetables, soak rice noodles and you are on your way. I can publish detailed recipe if you ask for it. We just love anything that has rice noodles in it. I just wish I had access to fresh rice noodles like I had back in High Park area in Toronto.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Pacific Cod Tempura

I know, it looks just like ordinary fried fish with potatoes and Tartar sauce, which it is but, since I used Panko instead of some sore bought regular stale bread crumbs, I have decided to call it Tempura. I call it tempura despite the fact that I did use the regular 3 layer method of seasoning with flour (flour, salt, chili powder, white pepper), egg wash and Panko and fried in 350 °F oil till golden brown on all sides. It wasn’t oily at all and as you can see on the picture, very, very crispy. I have served it with Tartar sauce made from scratch with mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, Wasabi and chopped capers, gherkins and pinch of sugar. On side I had boiled potatoes with caraway seeds.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Crockpot Beef Goulash

If it wouldn’t be for me on insisting on completely caramelizing 3 large onions, this meal would need only about 10 minutes of work before slow cooker takes over. To slowly caramelize that many onions takes about half an hour but, is it ever worth it! This recipe is quite simple.
Since I was planning on leftovers for freezing I used:
3 Lb of beef shank with bones and marrow
3 large or 5 medium onions, roughly chopped
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
5 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 Tbs. sweet Hungarian paprika
1 Tbs. hot Hungarian paprika
1 cup dry red wine
1 24 oz. can crushed tomatoes
2 Tbs. oil
Flour for dusting beef
Salt and pepper
Coat beef in flour, salt and pepper.
Put 1 cup of crushed tomatoes in Crockpot and turn on High - 4 hours.
Heat a heavy frying pan with 1 Tbs. of oil on medium high heat.
Brown the beef pieces on all sides in batches and move them to Crockpot.
When all the meat is browned remove oil leaving only thin film.
Add 1 Tbs. of oil and return to heat
Cook onions on medium heat till golden brown, about 30 minutes.
Add sweet and hot paprika and cook till fragrant, about 3 minutes.
Add carrots and cook till soft.
Scrape content of frying pan into Crockpot.
Deglaze the pan with wine and reduce until only about 2 Tbs. of liquid remains.
Scrape into Crock pot.
Reheat the frying pan again and bring tomatoes to boil.
Transfer tomatoes to Crockpot, turn the heat control to low 8 hours and relax.
When done, remove the bones.
As with almost any other stew, this one is better next day.
Serve with potatoes, pasta or dumplings (my preference).
Note: For richer taste you can add chopped green and red peppers and sliced cremini mushrooms about an hour before the end of cooking time.

Friday, March 11, 2011


Made with No-Cook Noodles

I didn’t bake Lasagna for at least 4 years! I don’t know why, but I just didn’t. We both love lasagna but I guess that with only two people at the table it is a bit too much. So, I got a smaller Pyrex pan and made one. I bought No-cook lasagna noodles to make it a bit easier but then made meat sauce and béchamel sauce from scratch. For meat sauce I used ground veal because that’s what I had in freezer. I also used my own frozen tomato sauce and four-cheeses shredded cheese mix. It turned out really well and I am glad that there are leftovers! As a bonus, I ended up with a lot of meat sauce that we had next day with spaghettini.
One note: If you use no-cook noodles make the sauce little bit thinner because the noodles need it. They will soak it up like a sponge and are much better then noodles cooked in plain, salted water. I will never use regular dry pasta again but I will use fresh pasta, of course. Also, for diet’s sake I had only one layer of cheese – on the top – instead my usual 3 layers and we didn’t miss it one bit.
Recipe is quite simple. For 9-1/2” X 6” X 2” deep baking pan you will need:

9 no-boil 2” wide lasagna noodles
1/2 cup thin tomato sauce
1-1/2 cups meat sauce of your choice mixed with 1/2 cup thin tomato sauce
1-1/2 cups shredded melting cheese (Mozzarella, Provolone, Swiss etc.)

Preheat oven to 350 °F.
Butter or spray the bottom and sides of baking pan with cooking oil.
Put down thin layer of tomato sauce then noodles. Layer of meat sauce topped with Béchamel sauce. Repeat with noodle/meat sauce/Béchamel sauce and again noodle/meat sauce/Béchamel sauce and topped with cheese.
Cover loosely with aluminum foil making sure it doesn’t touch the cheese and bake on middle rack in oven for 45 minutes.
Remove foil and bake another 20 – 30 minutes or till sauce is bubbling and cheese is golden brown.
Let rest for 10 minutes and serve with lettuce salad and garlic bread.

Bolognese Sauce (Meat Sauce)

2 medium onions, finely chopped
4 celery ribs, finely chopped
2 medium carrots, finely chopped
5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 pound chopped bacon
1 pound ground veal
1 pound ground pork (not lean)
1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
1 cup whole milk
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup water
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Cook onions, celery, carrot, and garlic in oil in a 6 to 8 quart heavy pot over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes.
Add bacon, veal, and pork and cook over moderately high heat, stirring and breaking up lumps, until no longer pink, about 6 minutes.
Stir in tomato paste, milk, wine, water, and thyme and gently simmer, partially covered, until sauce is thickened, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Add salt and pepper and remove from heat.
Sauce may be made 2 days ahead and cooled, uncovered, before chilling, covered. Frozen, it keeps for 1 month.

Based on recipe from

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


Emergency Kimchi by Maangchi

Kimchi is an absolute must at Korean table, be it at home or in a restaurant, breakfast, lunch or dinner. There is Museum of Kimchi in Seoul, South Korea, that lists over 150 types of kimchi. Check this video, it is quite interesting.

This recipe is based on Emergency Kimchi developed by Maangchi, author of one of the blogs that I follow. I am also subscriber to her website. Video of how to make her Emergency Kimchi (that I call Simple Kimchi) is on her website as well as almost 100 videos on YouTube channel.
This is the best kimchi I had in long time. What is really nice about making your own is that you can control how much garlic and pepper flakes you use. As you can see at bottom of this post, I like it hot and Marjo’s is on milder side. In Korea, kimchi in North is mild and farther South you go, spicier it gets.

Note: I used traditional Napa Cabbage since I didn’t have any emergency. The Napa cabbage was in refrigerator J.

1 Cabbage
1/4 cup salt
1/3 cup hot pepper flakes, or to taste
1/4 cup fish sauce
1 Tbs. sugar
1/4 cup garlic, chopped
4 green onions, chopped
1 small carrot, julienned

Cut 2 pounds of cabbage into thin strips about 2-3 inches in length and ¼ inch wide. Place into a large bowl.
Add 1 cup cold water and ¼ cup kosher salt. Mix it well with your hands to properly salt the cabbage.
Set aside for 10 minutes.
Make kimchi paste by mixing these ingredients in a bowl:
1/3 cup hot pepper flakes, 1 tbs sugar, ¼ cup fish sauce, ¼ cup minced garlic, 3-4 stalks of chopped green onion (1/3 cup worth), ¼ cup’s worth of julienned carrot.
Wash and rinse the salted cabbage in cold water a couple of times. Drain the water.
Mix the kimchi paste into the cabbage thoroughly.
Put the kimchi into a container, jar, or plastic bag.
Press the top of the kimchi down with your hands to protect your kimchi from being exposed to too much air.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Roasted Duck with Red Cabbage & Dumplings.

This is not a new recipe, just one interesting experience. The recipe is basically same as the one for Roasted Duck Legs.
I must have roasted at least 100 ducks, either whole, split or just legs or breasts but I have never come across such a lean, and on first try, tough duck. I say first try because I had to have a second go it. The duck was too tough after 2-1/2 hours of roasting at 350 °F and another 30 minutes at 375 °F. Not only that, but there was hardly any fat rendered at all. Usually I would have at least 1-1/2 cups of fat but this time I had one measly tablespoon. Makes you wonder if they were chasing the duck around or racing her/him on some duck race track. Anyway, nothing was lost, except I had to scramble to prepare emergency super. I just put the 2 halves back in roasting pan with a cup of water, covered the pan tight and basically steamed it in oven at 350 °F for another hour and half. Then uncovered the pan, raised heat to 375 °F and roasted half an hour more. It came out with nice crispy skin and moist meat that was falling of the bone. That bird spend as much time in the oven as barbecued pulled pork! Lesson learned: Check for amount of fat and adjust the cooking time accordingly.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Chicken Fried Rice

Another fried rice recipe, this time chicken tenders (part of chicken breast) being main ingredient. This is very similar to Fried Rice with Char Siu recipe posted last February. Major difference is omission of shrimps and use of chicken tenders in place of Char Siu.

Here is my version of this dish.
1 cup chicken tender strips, cut in half lengthwise
1 carrot, julienned
3 Chinese mushrooms
2 green onions, chopped
1/2 cup green peas
1” piece ginger, chopped
Garlic, 1 clove chopped
2 eggs
3 cups leftover and refrigerated rice
2 Tbs. peanut oil
1 tsp. sesame oil
1/2 tsp. white pepper

Preparation (mise en place):
§    Soak mushrooms in a 1:1mixture of hot water and dark soy sauce, for at least 1/2 hour. Remove stems and cut into 1/4” slices. Reserve 1/4 cup of the water.
§    Marinate chicken strips, in 1 Tbs. of rice wine, 1 Tbs. dark soy sauce,1/2 tsp. salt, 2 tsp. sugar and 1/2 tsp. white pepper.
§    Peel and julienne carrots into 1/4” pieces. Parboil for 1 minute in boiling salted water. Drain and plunge into cold water. Drain again and set aside.
§    Cut green onions diagonally into 1” pieces and separate white and green parts.
§    Soak frozen green peas in salted hot water for 1/2 hour, drain and set aside.
§    Beat eggs in a bowl with fork, add salt and white pepper and set aside.
§    Crush and chop ginger and garlic and set aside.
§    Break up clumps of cold rice till you have individual grains. Set aside.
1/4 cup mushroom soaking water
1 Tbs. of Oyster sauce
1 Tbs. of Hoisin sauce
Stir together all ingredients till well combined.

§    Heat a wok and add 1 tsp. of oil and spread with steel spatula till sides are well coated. When wok is very hot add eggs and scramble lightly. Remove to preheated bowl, break up the eggs, set aside and keep warm.
§    Wipe the wok clean, add 1 tsp. of oil and spread with steel spatula till sides are well coated. Sprinkle 1 tsp. of salt and drop in the rice. Stir till rice is evenly coated and grains are separated. Remove to bowl with eggs.
§    Wipe the wok clean, add 1 tsp. of oil and spread with steel spatula till sides are well coated. Add chicken with marinade and stir-fry for 2 minutes or till cooked through. Remove to bowl with rice and eggs and keep warm.
§    Wipe the wok clean, add 1 tsp. of oil and spread with steel spatula till sides are well coated. Add garlic and ginger and stir-fry for few seconds then add mushrooms and stir.
§    Add previously prepared green peas, carrots and white parts of green onions. Stir-fry till well combined.
§    Add reserved rice, shrimps and eggs and mix well till all ingredients are very hot.
§    Pour sauce on side of wok and stir.
§    Serve immediately in individual preheated bowls and garnish with green parts of onions and coriander (optional).

Friday, March 4, 2011

Salted Cod with Potatoes, Tomatoes and Olives.

Patate e Baccalà
This is another comfort food. Again, this is not a dish you decide on in the afternoon for that night’s super. Salted cod takes time to soak and remove most of the salt. First day change water every 4 hours or so and next day after 36 hour soak rinse under running water and boil for 20 minutes. Rinse again, then remove all traces of bones and skin. Some bones will be very short. Regardless of how careful I was in removing the bones and then double checking I have always found 1 or 2 on my plate. This is very tasty meal and worth the extra effort.

1 medium-large onion, thinly sliced
1 large clove garlic, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound salt cod, weighed after it has soaked for 36 hours, and cut into
1/2-inch thick slices
3/4 pound red potatoes, cut into 1/4-inch thick slices
2 canned peeled plum tomatoes, with their interior juices
12 black olives, pitted and halved
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 cup white wine
1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

§    Preheat oven to 350 °F.
§    In a 10-inch Dutch oven or stove-top proof ceramic baker, sauté the onion and the garlic in the olive oil until the onion is golden, about 10 minutes. Remove and reserve about half the onion and garlic mixture.
§    Place layer of salt cod over the onions remaining in the pan, then arrange sliced potato in a ring with potato slices overlapping. Spread around the reserved onion mixture in centre. Cut or crush the tomatoes directly into the pan and spread them in centre. Spread the olives over tomatoes and pour the wine over all, then drizzle with the additional tablespoon of olive oil.
§    Cover and bring to a simmer over medium heat, then place on middle rack in oven and bake for 45 minutes.
§    Let stand, covered, for 10 minutes, during which time the potatoes will become softer, absorbing some of the juices; the juices left in the pan, although reduced in volume, will become a rosy colored sauce. For maximum visual effect, bring the pan to the table undisturbed and serve, hot or warm, directly from the pan.


Loosely based on Sicilian classic.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Stir Fried Beef with Peppers

This must be one of the tastiest flank steak recipes that I have come up with. Originally I wanted to do my version of Mongolian Beef but somehow it evolved into this lightly spiced Hoisin sauce based stir fry. The meat was very tender due to fact that it was thinly sliced across the grain and marinated overnight in mix of Hoisin and Oyster sauce, garlic, ginger, sugar, Sake and white parts of green onions.
Half an hour before serving this meal I cooked the rice in rice cooker and prepared garlic, 1” chopped ginger, julienned 1/2 red pepper, sliced 1/2 onion, 3 sliced water chestnuts and chopped green tops of scallions.
 Heat up wok, add 1 tsp. peanut oil, 1/2 tsp. sesame oil and when hot add garlic and ginger and stir fry for 1/2 minute. Add pepper, onions and water chestnuts and cook for another 1/2 minute then add the beef with marinade and stir fry till beef is slightly caramelized, about 1 minute. Serve on preheated individual plate, garnished with green tops of scallions and with steamed rice on side.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Singapore Noodles with Seafood Mix

This was my third experiment with frozen seafood mix and again it worked out great. This was basically version of Singapore Noodles recipe that I have posted  while ago.  Basically, I have just replaced the pork with seafood mix and added steamed Chinese sausage (Lap Chong).  Also, I have marinated the seafood mix in the sauce with the curry powder. One benefit was that since the curry never touched hot dry wok our house didn’t smell curry for hours like it does when I pass the curry in over high heat.
It is a definite repeat.