Saturday, June 1, 2024

Let's Hear It For May Asian Heritage Month...


Proudly celebrating Asian Heritage Month has everything to do with my roots... a background story and then my food adventure romps in May.

Maybe 6, shyly taking a photo in front of my father's delivery car at his first Chinese Canadian dine-in and take out restaurant Jade East in rural town Barrie, Ontario. He was there, and we were here in Toronto.


Yeah, those early days in Canada were hard for my immigrant parents. My dad working long hours while my young mother took care of us three was exceptionally trying. His 'not being there and always at work' became the worse point of contention for ma when he wasn't present at my birth. These memories flooded back as I watched Woking Phoenix in the Spring at Theatre Passe Muraille with my husband. Landing front row seats, we really got to see and connect with the passion in the actors' performances as each of the talented quartet came into character.


It was an epic exploration and a rollercoaster of emotions highlighting two decades of a family’s survival. Woking Phoenix tells the story of three siblings, their mother, and their restaurant as they seek to find belonging within small-town Ontario. An intergenerational Chinese love story about creating community and the food that reminds us of home. 


For us, Jade East was sold by the time I was 10, then six years later in my teens my father did it again. He opened another Chinese Canadian takeout counter in North York with his younger brother called K Brothers Chinese Food (my father Ki, my uncle King). This time, my brother and I were old enough to help-- taking phone orders, packaging and organizing inventory. I learned so much about food, working hard and running a family business, but the biggest take away was understanding the sacrifice my father took in those early years of our lives for us, and that love and taking care of his family were not simply expressed in words but by doing and providing. Thank you ba, for everything. We ❤ you!!!

Now onto the food magic... 😍 Rediscovered a nostalgic Cantonese treasure this May and returned already three times! Oh and did I mention, I am in ❤ with their old school vibes πŸ€™...


Flashback 25 years ago, they were my family's go-to Chinese restaurant in Scarborough for a decade (when my grandma was still alive and my husband and I were just dating!) Little did I know they relocated not too far from OG... they just dropped the Seafood from their Royal Chinese name and was operating this whole entire missed times 😲! Never too late... It was all smiles, visiting with my boyz and the entire family for banquet style dinner to celeb Mother's Day and my parents anniversary too! 



Some of my faves- their deep fried shrimp crab claws, salt and pepper fried squid, HK Style chili garlic and pork clam stir fry, salted egg yolk coated shrimps with broccoli, pork loins and onions with maggi sauce and Yang chow fried rice. Their generous dinner for 10 menu $368 is incredibly priced and so delicious! Bet you can't find this anywhere else πŸ™


Another AmaZing thing... I still recognize three of their servers... older and grey but still warm with great auntie and uncle table service. Nostalgic comfort just like old times 😊😊😊🍚πŸ₯’ #sicfanla


Momos! Who can resist??! πŸ₯ŸπŸ₯ŸπŸ₯Ÿ

Cute and busy hidden gem on a lower level restaurant in Cabbagetown happily patroned by two Friday night celebrating a birthday at Momo Ghar with @lisaeatsπŸ˜‹. Momos are made fresh daily, and pumped out of this kitchen until they sell out with a steady coming in and out for dine in and takeout.

Deep-fried, pan-fried, steamed, or served sizzling on a skillet with accompanying sauces such as achar, you can choose from pork, chicken, beef, cabbage, paneer, potato which presents like art on a plate.

Their cold Laping hand-rolled starch appetizer wraps a medley of garlic, chillies, tomato, red onion, cilantro, fine potato bits and alfalfa sprouts served in a tasty chilli-soy sesame oil emulsion, was our fave for its burst of flavours and textures! #24hourstarchgame We also shared steamed cabbage momos, pan fried chicken momos and crunchy deep fried breaded beef momos alongside refreshing mango lassi perfumed with cardamom to counter the spicy πŸ₯­πŸ₯€.

The owner hails from Tibet, and extends his love for Himalayan cuisine at their newest spot on 2392 Bloor Street West. Check them out πŸ“£❤

Momo Ghar in Cabbagetown

Yet another celebration-- Oguz Uyghur Cuisine (a wonderful blend of Asian and Turkish cuisines) for our 21st Anniversary with the kids! Xinjiang, an autonomous territory in northwest China, is a vast region of deserts and mountains and is home to many ethnic minority groups, including the Turkic Uyghur people.


Delicious refreshing homemade yogurt for app dressed with honey, pomegranate seeds and golden raisins.


Their flavourful hand pulled noodles stir-fried with fresh veggies, dried chili peppers and beef.


Their main event with an aromatic array of meat kebabs served with palau and grilled tomatoes.


Finished with Turkish coffee and these baklava beauties with pistachios.


Beautiful Friday 🌞 entertaining friends, with take-out Korean and homestyle Chinese dishes to celebrate the last day in Asian Heritage Month. But the truth in the matter is, we celebrate Asianness everyday!



On The Menu: Delicious Korean Kimbap- beef bulgogi and shredded crab surimi sans rice (egg strips instead) and Korean boneless fried chicken- spicy and sweet gangjeon and honey soy from K-Food Kitchen

Shanghai fried noodles stir fried with pork, shrimp, cabbage and bak choy

Pang Pang Chicken noodle salad- shredded chicken, chopped garlic, and cilantro in a tangy sesame sauce served on top of green bean noodles

It is also Dragon Boat festival soon (June 10th) and my mom has already made steamed Sticky Rice in Bamboo Leaves Parcels (Zong Zi) as a traditional celebratory food. Happy to share a bit of Chinese culture with my non-Asian friendsπŸ€—

Dessert: refreshing Coconut Jackfruit Tapioca with gels (not shown)


Saving the best of all visuals last, and this time, it's not food-related lol. 

Not quite cherry blossoms in my yard but I'll take it 🌸😎

Not quite fully bloomed, but give and take 2 weeks before they cascade into my pool... Their delicate and short visit reminds us of how precious and brief life is and why we need to live to the fullest and savour every moment. And so embrace the fleeting beauty of life just like cherry blossoms do... 🌸🌸🌸 

Here's looking at you kid... for one more week... Kanpai! 🌸🌸🌸🍢 #fullybloomed #beautybush





#savourthemoment #sakura #hinami #mylittleoasis #enjoylifesbeauty #arigatougozaimasuπŸ’•


Sunday, April 28, 2024

Homemade Cocktail Sausage Rolls...

 
Good ol' oven-baked sausage rolls without any sausage. Homemade meat filling with ground chicken, minced onions and celery, garlic, salt and pepper, Kashmiri chili spice and a few dollops of my favourite Polish hot mustard by Babci (I get it at Freshco near me). So savoury flavourful and gives more than a spicy kick added to the filling and as the dip! This is the secret to a lot of my marinades and sauces πŸ€—. I made it super easy by using ready prepared puff pastry and brushing the tops with beaten egg, sprinkling sesame seeds and dried parsley before baking.


Homemade Cocktail Sausage Rolls 
Makes 24 bites

1/2 Tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 celery stalk , finely chopped
1 lb ground chicken, or ground pork (medium)
2 Tbsp. Dijon or other mustard
1/2 tsp salt
Ground black pepper, to taste
1/4 tsp. cayenne or kashmiri chili
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
1 egg, beaten and divided
2 sheets puff pastry , thawed then each cut into half
Sesame seeds or chopped parsley for sprinkling

Super flavourful and gives a good kick!

Heat oil in a non stick fry pan over medium high heat. SautΓ© garlic, onion & celery for two minutes.

Transfer to a bowl and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Add pork and remaining ingredients; mix well.

Lay out a rectangle of pastry, long edge closest to you. Brush egg along one long edge. Take 1/4 of the filling and shape into a long log shape down the middle of the pastry. Ensure the meat is tight and compact, without gaps.

Brush edge of pastry with egg. Then roll up, finishing with the seam side down.


Preheat oven to 350F. 

Cut each log into 6 or 4 equal lengths, depending if you want cocktail or regular size. Brush with remaining beaten egg and sprinkle with sesame seeds or finely chopped parsley.

Place on a baking tray lined with baking paper (or sprayed with oil). Bake for 30 - 35 minutes or until the pastry is deep golden brown. 

Cool slightly on trays. Serve hot or warm.


Just the perfect little flaky tender snack anytime!
We served it with more Babci mustard as a dip.

Crispy flaky exterior, tender flavourful interior


Homemade Cocktail Sausage Rolls (full recipe)
Makes 24 bites

1/2 Tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 celery stalk , finely chopped
1 lb ground chicken, or ground pork (medium)
2 Tbsp. Dijon or other mustard
1/2 tsp salt
Ground black pepper, to taste
1/4 tsp. cayenne or kashmiri chili
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
1 egg, beaten and divided
2 sheets puff pastry , thawed then each cut into half
Sesame seeds or chopped parsley for sprinkling

Heat oil in a non stick fry pan over medium high heat. SautΓ© garlic, onion & celery for two minutes.

Transfer to a bowl and allow to cool for 10 minutes.
Add pork and remaining ingredients; mix well.

Lay out a rectangle of pastry, long edge closest to you. Brush egg along one long edge. Take 1/4 of the filling and shape into a long log shape down the middle of the pastry. Ensure the meat is tight and compact, without gaps.

Brush edge of pastry with egg. Then roll up, finishing with the seam side down.

Preheat oven to 350F. 

Cut each log into 6 or 4 equal lengths, depending if you want cocktail or regular size. Brush with remaining beaten egg and sprinkle with sesame seeds or finely chopped parsley.

Place on a baking tray lined with baking paper (or sprayed with oil). Bake for 30 - 35 minutes or until the pastry is deep golden brown. 

Cool slightly on trays. Serve hot or warm.

TIP: add chopped bacon to cook with the onion, garlic and celery mixture, for smokiness and extra flavour.


Friday, April 19, 2024

Newcomer Kitchen and The Depanneur Connection...

 
Beautiful Open House event with The Depanneur on March 27th inaugurating Len Senater's new office/event space @csitoronto Spadina down the hall from us at Newcomer Kitchen and to celebrate the launch of his new cookbook! #neighbours 


"In one small, beautiful place, The Depanneur captured the soul of Toronto. Diversity. Surprise. Openness. Randomness. Deliciousness. And fun."-- David Sax


Ditto!! Three years in the making and the cookbook is finally published (100 recipes, 100 cooks) and getting into the hot hands of foodies, chefs and the like as one of most anticipated cookbooks this year! Congrats Len @thedepanneur and cofounder of @newcomerkitchen, it is evident you poured your heart and soul into it πŸ’ž. Partly because he didn't want to miss out on anyone's contribution in creating the lifelong memories at the little corner store that could- The Dep. 


Flashback to 2016: Len Senater heard that many Syrian refugees who came to Canada were living in hotels and had no kitchens to make their own food. He did have a kitchen and wanted to provide a space where Syrian refugee women could cook. Read about Newcomer Kitchen's humble beginnings here.


Accolades to everyone involved including the lovelies in this contribution gallery @maryfreij @chefdorisfin @mamashack @queenkeisha_luke @chefsangkim @manningcanning @newcomerkitchen @cheferikaaraujo πŸ™ŒπŸ™ŒπŸ™Œ! Stunning photography, captivating storytelling and mouthwatering recipes! Can't wait to dig into it all πŸ’ž Buy @indigo @amazonca


I got my copy personally autographed at Len's cookbook launch reception I catered for with the women in my daytime program @newcomerkitchen Cuisine Connections. It was an E.P.I.C interesting learning experience for the group πŸ₯³πŸŽŠπŸŽ‰πŸ»

The contents in this book is "a powerful reminder that food is our common ground" πŸ‘ŠπŸ₯„πŸ’₯


A gorgeous menu of mixed cultural appetizers welcomed the crowd who also came to celebrate and pick up Len's newly launched cookbook "The Depanneur" with a lovely Moroccan and Nigerian sit down dinner menu to follow. The women from our W2W daytime food business program collaborated with a few from the XP program to cater a wonderful experience that night ⭐!



Nigerian chicken sausage rolls, kala chana chaat on endive leaves
and Moroccan roasted red pepper dip with toasted pita chips




The deliciousness of the sit down dinner catered by the XP Program women were Moroccan roasted chicken with preserved lemons and olives, beet salad, Indian corn chaat salad with Moroccan orange cake and Nigerian upside down pineapple cake (not shown) for serve yourself desserts.






Yayyyy! Another term under our belts, another sense of accomplishment! My last teaching group for now as I pursue other challenges within our organization. Congrats Cuisine Connections and Seven Senses Kitchen @newcomerkitchen #winterterm for 14 weeks of fun, learning and achievement together πŸ’«! 



I wish you each all the best in your endeavours as I will work with some of you again while continuing your entrepreneurship journey with us in our next XP Program! Cheers πŸ™Œ!!





Sunday, March 3, 2024

Happy Korean Pork Belly Day With Jjajangmyeon...


Cookin' Korean Jjajangmyeon πŸ‡°πŸ‡·πŸœ to celebrate 03.03 National Pork Belly Day in Korea and after being inspired and drooling watching new Netflix food series Jjajangmyeon Rhapsody. It traces the flavourful evolution from its Chinese origins to being South Korea's most beloved comfort foods with chef, restauranteur and food researcher Paik (Baek Jong-Won).

Fun Food Fact: Koreans celebrate this day with pork belly dishes because the first part of its Korean word for pork belly is "sam" in Samgyeopsal, which means three (sam; μ‚Ό), and the rest of its word, layered (gyeop; κ²Ή) and flesh (sal;μ‚΄). Paying homage to this special cut of pork on the third day of the third month is brilliant! Popular in Chinese and Korean butcher shops resembling bacon, samgyeopsal has three visible layers: the outer skin, then a two-inch layer of thick fat and attached to that two to three inches of lean meat. You can get them with or without skin-on.


As you might have seen on Korean dramas πŸ‡°πŸ‡·πŸ“½, it’s also the most popular dish for home delivery especially on a move day πŸ’¨. A more recent phenomena, jajangmyeon has become a symbolic dish that single people eat with their friends on Black Day (April 14) to commiserate with each other over black noodles for lacking a romantic relationship. The sauce is made with chunjang (좘μž₯), which is a Korean-style black bean paste made with fermented wheat flour, soybeans and caramel sauce. Chunjang must first be fried in oil to become a jjajang sauce to remove the bitter and sour taste of the bean paste.


A humble and affordable dish, tonight, I added cabbage, potatoes and zucchinis on hand cooked with chopped pork belly and shoulder. But the allure of the dish is the aromatic onions- lots of it cooked in water thickened with cornstarch slurry! Served with chewy fresh wheat noodles, a side of prepared fried chicken (a perfect pair) and my home pickled radishes, it was an acceptable slurpeable messy mouth mess πŸ˜‹ . Or make it another popular version- black bean sauce over rice called jjajangbap πŸ–€πŸšπŸ₯„ Next time I will try it with bacon for that smokey flavour to enhance the earthy rich jjajang further πŸ‘!

Leftovers for lunch the next day


Check out the step-by-step recipe:

Korean Jjajangmyeon (Black Bean Sauce Noodles)
Serves 6 (adapted from Koreanbapsang.com)

6 servings of fresh Korean wheat noodles (refrigerated)

For the Sauce:
7 tablespoons Chunjang (좘μž₯), Korean black bean paste some may be labelled as jjajang (짜μž₯)
3 tablespoons cooking oil
1.5 tablespoons sugar
1.5 tablespoons oyster sauce - optional
1.5 cups chicken stock or water. You can add 1/2 cup more for thinner, more liquidy/watery sauce 
1.5 tablespoons cornstarch dissolved in 1/4 cup of chicken stock or water

Meat:
1/2 lb. pork belly and 1/2 lb. pork shoulder (preferably with some visible fat, pork butt, etc.)
1 teaspoon grated ginger
1 tablespoon rice wine (or mirin)
⅛ teaspoon each salt and pepper
2 tablespoons cooking oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce

Vegetables:
2 large onions, diced
2 medium potatoes, small diced
3 cups chopped green cabbage
1 medium zucchini, diced
1 small cucumber, shredded (topping)
Green onion, slivered (topping)
 

Have a pot of water ready to cook the noodles. Turn the heat on when you start cooking the meat. This way you will have the boiling water ready, for cooking the noodles, by the time the sauce is done.

Cut the pork into 1/2 - 3/4 inch cubes. Marinate the pork with rice wine (or mirin), ginger, salt and pepper while preparing the vegetables in same dice size.


In order to get chunjang into a jjajang which means fried sauce, you must first fry it. Add the black bean paste to a small saucepan with the oil, sugar, and the optional oyster sauce. Fry it over medium heat for 2 - 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Set aside in a bowl.


Heat a large pan with 2 tablespoons of cooking oil over medium high heat. Add the pork and stir fry until no longer pink, adding a tablespoon of soy sauce half way through. Add the onion and potatoes; cook until soft, stirring occasionally. Add the cabbage and zucchini and continue to stir fry until vegetables are softened.


Stir in the black bean paste and mix everything together until all the meat and vegetables are coated well with the paste.
 

Pour in the stock (or water) and bring it to a boil. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the cornstarch slurry and cook briefly until the sauce is thickened. Add more sugar if desired to taste.


Add the noodles in the boiling water. Cook according to the package instructions and drain. Do not overcook. The noodles should have a firm bite to them (al dente). If the noodles are very starchy you may want to rinse slightly and drain well.


Place a serving size of noodles in each bowl. If you want the noodles hot, microwave it first. I find that in restaurants, the noodles is often served warm with the black bean sauce warm to hot. Spoon the sauce over the noodles and garnish with the optional cucumber matchsticks, green onion slivers and a sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds. Alternatively, you can serve sauce over cooked rice- jjajangbap 🍚πŸ₯„.


Stir well to coat, pull up and slurp. Keep napkins nearby :)



Chef Paik's affordable and casual specialty restaurant has opened in North York @paiksnoodle_canada serving flavoursome jjamppong (spicy seafood noodle soup) and jajangmyeon alongside delicious crunchy tangsuyuk- deep fried pork with assorted vegetables in a tangy sweet sauce. Check it out 🀀πŸ’₯!