Friday, August 31, 2007

Hoisin-braised Pork, Mushrooms and Green Beans on Noodles

I got two cheques in the past two days and decided to celebrate ... by eating meat! Oooorrrrr, you could argue that it took me about two weeks to work up the courage to cook with meat. Who knows? Who cares? Look at the lovely chunks of pork in the picture!

Anyways, I was basically following this recipe that I found on Epicurious, modified, of course, according to what I had in my fridge : ) And according to the simple fact that I'm too lazy to do imperial/metric conversions. Epicurious calls it 'asian-style' but I've tagged this post as ' chinese' since it uses chinese ingredients

Basically the recipe involves rolling chunks of pork around in chinese 5-spice, adding salt and pepper, then tossing the pork in flour followed by frying the pork in a pot. Afterwards chicken stock, sliced mushrooms, chopped green onions, hoisin sauce, soy sauce and some ginger is added, and everything is brought to a boil. The pot is then left to simmer for approximately 50 minutes, until the pork is tender. Then green beans are added, and the pot simmers for 5 minutes covered, and then 5 minutes uncovered. Noodles are boiled during this time, drained, and then tossed with sesame oil. After all that is done, the noodles are topped with the hoisin pork, and then more chopped green onions. My substitutions were as follows: I didn't want to buy green onions, since I already had so much stuff I don't know how I'll use in my fridge, so I just used onions instead. I also had a bunch of zucchini and green chilies in my fridge, so I added a zucchini along with the green-beans, and put in one diced green chili (seeds removed of course) near the very end of the simmering process. The recipe also called for egg linguine, but I decided to go for some noodles I found in chinatown instead, since I was already there to get the chinese 5-spice[1]. The package says 'ho fun' on it, but it didn't seem quite like the ho fun I'm used to - maybe it isn't rice-based or something. Above is what the package looks like, and below is what the noodles looked like (after having tossed them with some sesame oil)
All in all, I thought it tasted pretty good! The sauce was sweet, rich and savoury, while the green beans were crunchy and refreshing. And the noodles were smooth and a little resistant, not too soft. I probably could have put in another green chili though, to kick it up another notch, but I was very satisfied with what I made. My only regret is that I didn't pull the fat off the pork first (I bought the pork already in chunks, the package said "for stew") since I had to pull it off while I was eating, and it's not like the sauce lacked for flavour.

As for how cooking it went - it all went pretty smoothly, except for the fact that I lack kitchen tools. First of all, I didn't have a bowl big enough to toss the meat with the spices and flour in...until I realized I that the inside of the rice-cooker would suffice. I also realized that those awesome ziplock tupperwares that mom gave me, the cylindrical ones, actually have both metric and imperial measurements on them! Yes! No more guessing what 350 ml is! I also had to borrow a pot from my suitemate, to boil the noodles in, since my pot was occupied with the pork. But in the end....Yay! I cooked with meat and nothing went wrong! And I managed to use up all of my zucchini! Although it doesn't look like I've even made a dent in my chilies...

[1] I also ended up buying tofu-fish (which I'll keep in the freezer for later) along with 1kg of Milo. Muahahahha. I could pretend I bought it for the iron-content, but one could also make an argument that I just like chocolate milk the way, chinatown is no better than koreatown with respect to buying green chilies. They only had the massive packs at the chinatown grocery storry too...

Thursday, August 30, 2007


So I went for Korean last night with my Palo Alto friends and it was pretty good. We went to the Royal Seoul House that is on Broadway..... their BBQ is only ok.. but their other dishes were pretty good. They made a different kind of rice cake with just kimchee and pork.... pretty good!

Ok... that's all I wanted to say....

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Doenjangjjigae - Tofu Soybean Paste Stew

Ok, I faked you out. I didn't make MaPo Tofu, because I was watching korean drama[1] last night, and started craving korean stew. So instead I made Doenjangjjigae, following (somewhat) this recipe from My Korean Kitchen.

I say that I only followed it "somewhat" because

i) I didn't quite get the right ingredients (is anchovy soup stock the same thing as anchovy powder?), and

ii) I realized I don't have liquid (or dry, for that matter) measures, so I had guess how much 350mL of water was. Ahahahah, I think I overgauged it, and so had to add an extra tsp of anchovy stock, so it wouldn't be too bland. (Or maybe anchovy powder is more potent than anchovy stock?)
Shopping for the ingredients was an interesting experience - the recipe calls for half of one green chili and half of one red chili. Now, I don't know if it's just because I was shopping in Koreatown, but I went to three different places, and at none of these places can you buy chili peppers in quantity less than about TWENTY chili peppers. They seem to only come prepackaged in amounts of 20 (or 40 if you want the big package). I couldn't find a lone chili pepper anywhere! And I'd be damned if I bought one package of 20 green chili peppers, and another package of 20 red chili peppers. So I just bought one package of green chili peppers, and used one whole green chili. I'll be eating chili peppers in my food for probably the next two weeks as it is[2].
Oh, but I'm so glad I didn't skip out on the chili pepper. The stew was so satisfyingly savoury, with the wonderful kick of spiciness that I was missing so much when I had my Blackbean Tofu. And one chili pepper was just right for me and my weak-sauce threshold for spiciness. I had the stew ladled over rice[3]. Mmmmm, so good. It doesn't look as good as the picture on My Korean Kitchen, but it tasted good : )

Up next: Whatever I can make using up the leftover chili peppers, zucchini, onion, carrot and green beans...
[1] Incidentally, I have only two more episodes of Coffee Prince to go...
[2] And I'll be having a lot of zucchini and shiitake mushroom while I'm at it. Along with trying to finish the giant bag of green beans I'm slowly working away at - they only had one size of bag at the chinatown market!
[3] I'm still trying to figure out the rice-cooker and rice/water ratio though. The rice was too wet - it wasn't mushy, but it was kind of wet. Luckily I was having it with soup anyways.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Whoa... so fancy!

Black BeanTofu on Rice

[My dinner: Blackbean Tofu on rice, with steamed green beans and a white peach for dessert]

Blackbean Tofu was my first attempt at cooking for myself in Toronto - I chopped up a potato and a carrot, started, er, cooking them in a pan, and then I added in a chopped onion and garlic clove. I wasn't quite sure if I was supposed to put the things in according to a certain order, but I figured potatoes and carrots take a longer time to cook...

Anyways, I added in two teaspoonfuls of garlic blackbean sauce, and then added in the extra-firm tofu, which I had chopped up into cubes. Then I mixed some cornstarch into cold water and poured it over the mixture, then cooked while stirring until the sauce thickened. I tasted it, and then added in another teaspoon of garlic blackbean sauce because I liked it saltier :) Especially if I'm going to have it over white rice.

It tasted okay, although I think that since I'm so used to eating korean food, it felt a little off because it was neither sweet nor spicy!

So, did I forget anything vital? I wish I had bought pepper before I made it - I think a little spiciness would have given it a nice kick : )

Next up: MaPo Tofu...I'm going to cook with MEAT!!!!!

The Canyon Creek Chophouse in Toronto

For the first post, I'll talk about our dining experience at the Canyon Creek Chophouse on Front Street in downtown Toronto [1]! We were there on 2007-08-23 [2].

First came the appetizers - the garlic bread and bacon-wrapped scallops. The garlic bread was so good - it was soft and warm, while still being crusty on the outside, and there were 3/4 cuts all along the top of the bread. The slits were filled with a lovely, gooey, melty cheese and the whole thing was topped off with nice garlic-y bruschetta.
I don't know how good the scallops were, since I don't eat seafood - but Mom and Michael seemed to enjoy them.

We really enjoyed the entrées too. Notice I didn't manage to get a picture of our entrées before they were gobbled up. The descriptions from the menu will have to do : ) Between four of us we ordered:

i) the Double-bone Pork Chop (with side vegetables and rice pilaf)

"Lightly spiced, slow roasted and grilled to order. Served with lingonberry sauce."

ii) the Filet-mignon (with side vegetables and a baked potato), and

" Centre-cut filet wrapped in Applewood-smoked bacon, grilled to order and brushed with butter."

iii) the Broiled Lamb Chops (with rice pilaf and mashed potatoes - Michael likes his carbs)

"3 thick double-boned chops marinated in herb oil and served with fresh mint jus."

[attempt at taking picture of entrées: failed!]

I was a bit more successful with the desserts: pecan pie and cheesecake - although I only managed to snap a picture half-way through the dessert. The pecan pie was delicious - smooth, buttery and sweet, and topped with whipped cream. Gah, my mouth is watering just thinking about it. The cheesecake was just your average cheesecake [3] - it was also covered in a seasonal-berry icewine compote.

[attempt at taking picture of dessert: good effort]

All in all, a very satisfying dining experience. I think we would definitely go back.
[1] Because I already have pictures, since I had planned to torture Kristal and Dad with the pictures...
[2] "We" being me, Mom, Kim and Michael.
[3] i.e. Kim's homemade blueberry cheesecake, and Kristal's homemade eggnog cheesecake are better...