Gung hay fat choy! It’s Chinese New Year… but it’s not just Chinese New Year. It’s also lunar New Year in many other countries including Singapore and Malaysia, which inspired tonight’s meal.
Beef rendang has always seemed a bit intimidating for me to make, because recipes usually call for a bunch of ingredients that are difficult for me to obtain, such as candlenuts and kaffir lime leaves, and call for the cook to grind their own spice paste and braise the beef for as long as four hours. However, I really wanted beef rendang, so after consulting a bunch of recipes, I figured it wouldn’t be too hard to make a rendang with the ingredients in my kitchen, in a lot less time. The result was truly delicious and tasted just like the rendang I’ve had in restaurants. I served it with steamed rice and yu sheng (Singapoean New Year salad) – and my husband declared it probably his favourite meal ever and half-jokingly asked me to make it once a week. Continue reading →
My husband and I now have a new favourite salad to which all other salads will henceforth be compared – and inevitably, they will fail to measure up, because yu sheng has got to be the king of all salads. It’s the perfect marriage of fresh, crunchy, tart and sweet, and it features smoked salmon, which is one of my favourite things in the world. And yet I’d never even heard of it until a few days ago, when I started researching lunar New Year dishes of Singapore and Malaysia. Continue reading →
I love to travel and, with very few exceptions, I would love to visit every country in the world. However, I feel my failure to visit Laos is one of the saddest of my missed opportunities. When I was travelling in Asia, pre-kids, I managed to get to Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia, and Indonesia – why didn’t I go to Laos? (Or Vietnam, for that matter?) I hope I will indeed get there one day.
My failure to visit Laos means I don’t know a lot about Lao food. However, since I don’t believe there’s a Lao restaurant in town, never mind one that can cater for gluten-free and low-FODMAP, I figure the only way to learn is to try. So I picked what the interwebs said was one of the defining dishes of Laos and decided to try to make it. Continue reading →
Inspiration for this nominally Korean dish comes not from Seoul but from the streets of Los Angeles, where apparently the popular Kogi BBQ truck has spawned a number of imitators around the U.S.
I’ve never been to Los Angeles and have never had Korean tacos made by anyone other than myself but I liked the sound of the idea and wanted to create my own version, gluten-free and low-FODMAP, of course. They came out delicious, a fusion of different flavours into a perfect marriage. (I don’t think the fact I’m in a mixed marriage myself is influencing me.) Continue reading →
Bibimbap is one of those beautiful dishes to which you can add almost anything, substitute almost anything, and still end up with something delicious. Basically, you need a bowl of hot rice, some toppings, and a spicy sauce. You mix it all up at the table and you have a bellyful of Korean comfort food. Depending somewhat on the toppings you use, it’s a relatively healthy dish, and because it’s improvisational by nature, you don’t really have to measure anything. It’s a good way to use up leftovers too. And did I mention it tastes great? It’s a real family favourite around here.
Jap chae is one of those dishes for which I like to keep the ingredients in the pantry/fridge/freezer at all times. Then, on those days when I’m lacking a plan but need something quick and tasty, I can just whip it up. The only problem is, I always underestimate how much everybody will gobble up. What looks like a generous amount of noodles in the wok always gets eaten up and I don’t end up with leftovers (I love leftovers). Oh well – I can’t complain too much about my kids eating healthy food without the usual whining.
Jap chae is made with Korean sweet potato noodles, which look like thick, brownish glass noodles. (This is the brand I used.) They have a slightly sticky, chewy consistency that I really like – though this is decidedly not a dish for which you want a gluey sauce. They’re naturally gluten-free. I can’t scientifically say whether they’re low-FODMAP but I can say I’ve never had a problem with them. Although sweet potatoes are moderate in FODMAPs I would suspect making them into starch, then noodles, would probably eliminate most of the FODMAPs. Again, this is speculation. Continue reading →
Curry is one of Japan’s great comfort foods. Does that sound strange? I know curry is normally associated with South and Southeast Asia. Japanese cuisine, by contrast, doesn’t tend to use a lot of spices, especially not curry-like spices. Also, while I love Indian brinjal curry, red Thai curry, Malaysian penang curry, etc., they’re not foods I would want to curl up with on the couch on a cold winter’s day or eat by a campfire while camping.
Japanese curry is different. In fact, you might not want to consider it curry at all. It’s more of a hearty beef and potato stew that happens to be curry flavoured. Some Japanese curries contain ingredients that would make any self-respecting Indian or Thai chef want to cry. Ketchup, soy sauce, dashi, yogurt, honey, apples, raisins… Sound gross? You’re wrong. Virtually every Japanese person, from toddler to centenarian, loves karei. And so will you if you forget your ideas about what a proper curry should be and think of Japanese curry as another beast altogether. Continue reading →
It was ‘Pancake Day’ on Tuesday, which I’d never even heard of before coming to England. I’d vaguely heard of Shrove Tuesday but thought of it as an uninteresting religious day. Pancake Day sounded much better, especially because I decided it was going to be an excuse to make okonomiyaki for dinner during our Japanese-themed week.
Okonomiyaki means “as you like it cooked” and really, you can make it with just about anything you like. It’s one of those brilliant recipes in which you really don’t have to measure anything. I’ll give you some rough quantities but feel free to estimate, substitute and generally do what you want with this recipe. That’s the spirit of okonomiyaki.
I used to make okonomiyaki a lot but I hadn’t since I discovered the low-FODMAP diet. The reason? One of the main ingredients is cabbage, which is high-FODMAP. However, up to a cup of savoy cabbage is considered low-FODMAP. I wasn’t very familiar with savoy cabbage, as it’s not common in Canada, and I wasn’t sure how it would work in okonomiyaki, since it’s not what’s normally used. I’m now happy to report it works great. Continue reading →
For a long time I thought there was nothing better than strawberries dipped in chocolate. I was wrong. Because now I know there are strawberries dipped in chocolate and wrapped in mochi. The succulence of the strawberry and the sweetness of the chocolate combine perfectly with the chewiness of the mochi to create a taste and texture experience like no other.
Ichigo daifuku (“strawberry great fortune,” which I think is the perfect name) is often eaten in spring in Japan and is particularly associated with Hinamatsuri (Girls’ Festival). Normally people use sweet bean paste as the middle layer, not chocolate. However, to be honest, I don’t much like sweet bean paste. Besides, it’s high in FODMAPs, so now I have an excuse not to eat it. It’s not very often that low-FODMAP is convenient, so I’ll take it!
Mochi is normally pounded glutinous rice, AKA sweet rice, AKA sticky rice. (“Glutinous” does not mean it contains gluten; don’t worry.) Traditionally, people put a lot of sticky rice (which is not the same thing as the slightly sticky short-grained rice eaten with most meals in Japan) into an usu, which is a huge wooden platform of sorts with a depression on top. Then they take big wooden mallets and pound the heck out of it. (You can see a dramatic rice-pounding performance here. The men in the video are making a coloured mochi.) Don’t worry; I’m not going to make you do that. Continue reading →
Hinamatsuri, or Girls’ Festival, is in Japan something of a spring festival as well as a celebration of girls. Though I know my friends in Canada are still shivering and shovelling, spring is starting to show its face here in England. I saw my first open daffodil today as well as a bunch of little white blossoms, so I’ve been getting into the mood for some springy food.
Chirashi sushi (translates as “scattered sushi;” it’s pronounced chirashi zushi in Japanese) is basically just a layer of vinegared rice with toppings. The toppings generally include sashimi, though it’s certainly possible to make an all-cooked version. Chirashi sushi is one of the traditional foods of Hinamatsuri. These are others too, but clam soup is out in my family because my husband is allergic to shellfish, and I didn’t think it was realistic to obtain the ingredients for sakura mochi (pounded rice cakes coloured pink and wrapped in pickled cherry leaves). Chirashi sushi, however, I could do, and easily.
Chirashi sushi is, in my mind, one of the world’s most perfect dishes. It’s super easy, healthy and incredibly delicious. It’s impressive enough to be used for entertaining or just to make a family dinner feel like a special occasion. The possibilities are endless in terms of exactly what ingredients you use and how. It’s virtually impossible to screw up. Continue reading →