Category Archives: Recipes

Balsamic Foil Packed Chicken

Balsamic Foil Packed Chicken

Verdict: This recipe creates chicken that is extremely moist and bursting with the complex flavours of the sweet soya sauce and balsamic vinegar. An easy and elegant weeknight dinner.

This original recipe came together from my sister’s obsession with balsamic glazed asparagus and our obsession with the Singaporean instant fried noodles brand called Mi Goreng. These instant noodles make the perfect late night snack and with a little bit of effort, the perfect quick dinner. In an effort to make these instant noodles healthier (we know, it’s a stretch), we investigated what goes into real Singaporean noodles and how best to incorporate fresh vegetables into the dish. It turns out, the secret ingredient is sweet soya sauce. It is sweeter than regular soya sauce and significantly thicker, like a reduced balsamic vinegar, with some varieties mirroring the viscosity and appearance of molasses.

Shallots and garlic Shallots, the sweet cousin of onions.

I decided to use sweet soya sauce to create a recipe for balsamic glazed chicken. The foil packets cooking method ensures the chicken will be cooked to tender perfection.

Sweating shallots and garlic in butter Cooking the shallots and garlic over low heat until they’re soft and translucent.

This is the kind of dish that immediately makes it into your cooking rotation. The flavours are complex and full bodied, the chicken tender and moist. The shallots and sweet soya sauce impart sweetness, while the twang from balsamic vinegar keeps the sweetness from being overpowering. The sauce is so incredible on rice, this will be your new chicken and rice dish standard.

Balsamic chicken with rice and asparagus

The toughest ingredient to find will be the sweet soya sauce, found at Asian supermarkets or the ethnic aisle of your grocery store. We’ve tried three to four different brands and found the Lee Kum Kee Sweet Soy Sauce to be the best performer: mellow kind of sweetness with right consistency: thicker than regular soya sauce but not as thick as honey or molasses. Regardless of the brand you find, please ensure you use sweet soya sauce. I’ve tried this with regular soya sauce and the flavour combination simply did not work; the resulting sauce was too tart.

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“Healthy” Instant Fried Noodles

Healthy Mi Goreng fried noodles with egg

Verdict: These simple addition of veggies and protein to instant noodles makes it a meal so good, you’ll crave it, whether you are a penniless student or you are just looking for a quick, rounded meal.

Healthy instant noodles? It sounds impossible, given a package of noodles provides not much more than a bunch of empty carbs, and some fat. However, adding a dose of fresh vegetables and a protein source such as a fried egg will turn this empty junk food dish into something much more well rounded.

Mi Goreng fried noodles

If you haven’t eaten Mi Goreng’s instant fried noodles before, you are in for a treat! It’s a different kind of instant noodle, one that does not produce broth. Instead, it is coated in sweet soya sauce, chili oil and topped with fried onions. When you’re strapped for time and/or cash, this dish is a great alternative to fast food or take out. It’s quick, easy and there’s only a pot and a skillet to clean at the end.

The healthy part Large pieces of broccoli and large match stick sized carrots and red pepper.

My cousin introduced this to me a few years ago when we were recovering from hangovers. Instead of veggies, she added cooked chicken and a lot of hot sauce. The dried onions coated in the sweet and spicy sauce with the crispy fried onions won me over instantly; I’ve been hooked ever since. The craving was so deeply seated that, for a time, my mission was to introduce these instant noodle to as many people as possible.

Instant noodle tipTip: Use scissors to open up the sauce packages, otherwise, you’ll be fumbling to open them with greasy fingers.

Flash boiled carrots and broccoli

Times when Mi Goreng is most helpful:

  • quick dinner, minimal clean up
  • snack for a friend that’s dropping by to catch up
  • after the bar food (you don’t have to be functioning at full capacity to make it)
  • it’s cheap and doesn’t go bad, very good for students and those living away from home

Stir veggies into noodle

You can find Mi Goreng at Asian Supermarkets or the ethnic aisle of your grocery store. You will find the sweet soya sauce near by. We’ve tried three to four different brands and found the Lee Kum Kee Sweet Soy Sauce brand to be the best performer. It has a mellow kind of sweetness and the right consistency: thicker than regular soya sauce but not as thick as honey or molasses.

Instant fried noodles with a fried egg

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Japanese Curry

IMG_9196

Verdict: This dish brings the complexity of a curry to the comfort of a stew. A perfect addition to your winter cooking rotation.

Curries are a mainstay in our house because they are healthy, easy to make, and complex in flavours. Although there are a few recipes that don’t include vegetables, curry recipes tend to fit the bill in healthiness and striking deliciousness. Curries are also very easy to make but can require more time to cook (with the exception of Thai curry). The extra wait is worth it though – over time, the spices and broth break down and dramatically change the cheapest cuts of meat into the most tender and flavourful morsels.

Caramelized onions

A new curry recipe can mean a new world of unfathomable flavour combinations. Each country and region has a unique take on curry, and so, preparing a curry from Japan one night, and one from India the next feels like an entirely new cooking experience. Often with curry recipes, the first time I try a curry recipe is the first time I eat that kind of recipe, for example, this Japanese curry.

Carrot and chicken thighs

I was intrigued by the use of garam masala which is usually associated with Indian cooking. A typical Indian version of garam masala includes peppercorns, cloves, cumin, cardamon, star anise and coriander seeds. I find garam masala softer and more wholesome than regular curry powders; it’s the cloves that warm up the recipe. The lack of chili powder also makes it milder and more approachable to eat. If the spice and heat experience in eating curry is like riding a bike, garam masala based curries are the bikes with training wheels while vindaloos are the down hilll mountain variety – best saved for the veterans or the adventurous. You won’t have to stray too far from your grocery routine for this recipe. You can find the garam masala in the international Foods aisle of your super market; you can make homemade garam masala as well. Use whole spices and grind them up in the mortar and pestle or food processor.

Crumbly roux Japanese curry roux with broth - voluptuous

During the cooking process, the carrots sweeten slightly, complimenting the garam masala’s clove and cardomon notes. The tender pieces of chicken are also a delight. The caramelized onions, hearty potato, and carrot result in a dish that looks like a stew with the surprising taste of a softly seasoned curry. We served this with brown rice and it was perfect for the minus 40 winter day, like curling up on the couch with a warm blanket and great book.

Hearty Japanese curry

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Momofuku Steak Ssäm (Lettuce Wraps)

Steak ssam lettuce wrap

Verdict: This was an incredible dish, like nothing I have ever cooked or tasted. The preparation was easy and the flavour combinations of apple juice marinated beef, ginger, scallions and kimchi cannot be beat.

When I saw this recipe on Serious Eats, I knew I had to try it, like walking by  a house with a pie cooling on an open window sill or walking pass a shoe store in the middle of winter and seeing soft leather boots.

Apple juice marinated flank steak Magical scallion-ginger mixture

Although I have yet to experience the award winning Momofuku restaurants, I had a feeling that any recipe from David Chang (owner and chef) would produce incredible results. Apple juice in a marinade? That would be a first! A dish that requires kimchi, the tangy and spicy Korean pickled cabbage? Hot white rice? Sweet and savoury grilled steak? All wrapped in a crunchy lettuce leaf? I don’t think I could ask for more in a recipe.

Flank steak with new friends

I have never eaten anything like this before, so incredible and novel, it encourages you to swear out in delight. The recipe produces a complex and inviting mixture of flavours and textures: the sweet steak, spicy kimchi, and the sherry infused ginger-scallion mixture, alongside the soft rice and crunchy lettuce. I loved the sweetness imparted by the apple juice with the mellow but savoury umami flavour of the soya sauce and sesame oil.

Steak ssam lettuce wrapped

The taste combination was so delicious, we couldn’t stop thinking about this meal for weeks. We could be brushing our teeth or walking into work, innocent and mundane activities, when the memory of this taste experience would assault us. It would stop us in our tracks and cause our mouths to salivate instantly.

Prepare this dish. You and your guests will not regret nor forget it.

Flank steak with kimchi, rice and scallion-ginger

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Green Thai Curry – Chicken with Broccoli

Thai green curry.

Verdict: This is the only recipe you will ever need for Thai curry. Once you are comfortable with how to prepare the dish, there are unlimited combinations of curry, meat and veggie to try.

Hey everyone! For my first post, I wanted to share a recipe we turn to often. We used it a lot when I first moved to Calgary from Vancouver in March 2010. It encompasses the elements that I love about home cooking: simple, hearty and healthy. Under time pressure I’ve been able to make this, from start to finish, in 20 minutes flat.

Growing up, I learned to associate food with spending quality time with loved ones. Regardless of how busy things got, our family always tried to have dinner together. When I first moved to Calgary (marking my first time living away), I tried to recreate that tradition with Sunday “family dinners” with my new roommates.  I’ll admit, I was also trying to woo them into thinking I was a worthy roommate. I would later need their adoration to get away with listening to music too loudly – at all hours.

Among the meals we cooked on Sunday nights, I remember the Thai curries the most vividly. The sweet and spicy curry paste, the fragrance of simmering coconut milk, the fresh cooked rice.  My roommates, who weren’t crazy about cooking, asked for lessons on how to make this dish and soon after, not a month went by without one of us making Thai curry. At first, we went crazy with the ingredients. Being health conscious, we used to overload the curry with as many different vegetables as we could. Over time, I’ve learned that the curry really shines when you have one meat item and a maximum of four vegetables.

Thai green curry ingredients.

We’ve made many different Thai curries over the years and I find the green curry with chicken and broccoli the easiest and most approachable. You’ll only need to stray from your regular grocery shopping routine for the Thai curry pastes, coconut milk and fish sauce which can be found in the International (Asian/Indian) aisle in most grocery stores. I’ve yet to find kaffir lime leaves in Calgary though. To get started, I recommend buying the red and green curry pastes first. They last over a year in the fridge and make for a quick weeknight dinner.

Note that the following recipe is a basic guide for making Thai curries. In the future, you’ll see many more permutations of this recipe as we always have a few jars of Thai curry pastes in the fridge. If you make this only once, you’ll be surprised how quick and delicious it is to make home made curries. If you’re like us, you may love making homemade Thai curries so much, you lose interest in restaurant varieties completely.

Pot full of curry.

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