Today’s food: char-siu rice bowl lunchbox

lunch box: Char-siu pork rice bowl

This char-siu was initially made for my ramen. Japanese style char-siu is deceptively simple, and involves simply tying up a hunk of pork (loin or belly) and stew the pork in a mixture of water, soy sauce, sake, and sugar, while staying somewhat vigilant to scoop up any gunk that floats around. The soy sauce mixture used to stew the pork can later be boiled down and reused for stewing other bits of pork, or as a savory, porky alternative to soy sauce. In the case of this rice bowl, the reduced sauce was poured on top. Wonderful stuff served with some stir-fried bok choy.

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Filed under faux chinese, Japanese, ramen

Today’s food: Steamed eggplant pasta with Chinese chives

pasta: steamed eggplants, anchovies, chopped chinese chives

Sauteed garlic and anchovies mixed with steamed eggplants and pasta. My intense love for the strange aroma of Chinese chives lead me to dump a whole bunch of them, raw, on top of my creation. Raw Chinese chives are also a great topping for abura-soba and other Japanese maze-men dishes.

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Today’s food: roasted miso mushroom pasta


Miso roasted under the broiler, enoki mushrooms, oyster mushrooms, grated parmesan, olive oil.

Little nubbins of toasted miso in a cheesy miso sauce. Miso and dairy cannot go wrong.

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Today’s food: green curry with sômen noodles

Green curry and somen noodles

This derives from a recent trend in Japan of dumping canned ready-made green curry onto sômen noodles. My green curry somen deviates from the original by mixing in some fish broth and kaeshi (mixture of mirin, sugar, soy sauce) into the green curry to temper the heat and to increase the amount of the very little green curry that I had left. However, if you have enough green curry, you can also just dump it on the boiled sômen noodles.

Strange as it seems, it’s a pretty marvelous combination. The fish broth and kaeshi actually works well with the fish sauce that’s already present in the curry.

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Breweries and tasting rooms in GVRD (weird locations outside of Vancouver)

It’s been an year and a bit since I’ve moved to Vancouver, and during that time, the beer scene has just exploded. Now, there’s quite a few numbers of breweries dispersed within the GVRD area, which is a wonderful thing for people who don’t want to ride the bus or skytrain down to Steamworks or Brassneck or Main Street Brewery, and spend an hour sobering up on public transportation.

Now there’s a lot of really good Vancouver based beer blogs out there, so the information here might be pretty redundant. However, I’m going to write it down anyway, more for notekeeping purposes than anything. I didn’t include places east of Surrey, since I haven’t been able to visit them yet. I didn’t include Central City, because I’m lazy.

By the way, I’m in no way qualified to write on something like this. Despite the fact that I consume an ungodly amount of beer, I am by no means a beer snob. I love my craft beers, I have my favorite breweries and yearly releases, but I would happily drink down piss yellow beer. I’m not a critical beer drinker. I love just about anything that’s fizzy and alcoholic.


Steel and Oak (Oatmeal Stout and Roggen-weizen from my most recent trip)

1319 Third Ave, New Westminster, BC V3M 1R2

Steel and Oak


This place rivals in hipness with Brassneck. Everything looks shiny, or old in the right way, or scuffed in the right way. The owners look hip, the customers look hip, the people working in the tasting room look hip. A meticulously clothed guy got up from his beer every half hour to change the record.

There are no excessive flavors in their beer, no mountains of hops, no overwhelming smokiness, no double-something or imperial-things. However, their beers taste very clean, not muddled, so it’s very easy to pick out the various flavor components that make their beer.

Also, they consistently produce lagers, which is not always the case with Vancouver breweries. It’s a good place to go when you want to drink some lagers, while basking in the pourover-to-order type coffeehouse atmosphere.

Steel and Oak: Oatmeal stout and Roggen-weizen

Four Winds (everything on that board in the picture)

7355 72 St, Delta, BC V4G 1L5Four winds: flights

Four Winds: On tap

This day I waited 30 min to get into a ramen place in Richmond, got a parking ticket, and spent another 10 minutes trying to find my way out of the packed parking area, so going down to Delta to Four Winds was a great relief. Also, you get astonished by how the ration of Asian people suddenly declines as you step outside of Richmond. Except for myself, there were no Asians in Four Winds. I’m still fascinated by the distribution of races within the various areas of GVRD.

Not much to say except that I have yet to hear anyone talk negatively (or even neutrally) about Four Winds. Everybody seems to love it, for good reason. The standards are good (IPA seems to be everybody’s favorite) but I got quite infatuated with the gose and nectarous (sour beer) that day. The space of the tasting room is fairly large (for a tasting room) and the composition of the room makes it feel more like a saloon than a tasting room. That might have been because of the guy playing piano in the corner, though. My opinions and impressions are very easily swayed by singular elements.

Yellow Dog (a flight of all their beers and a glass of Alt)

1-2817 Murray St, Port Moody, BC V3H 1X3

Altbier, Yellow Dog Brewery


1. You get to drink inside the brewery. You can eye the fermenters while sipping their beer.

2. The brewery name derives from an animal, and the bone shaped boards for the flights are adorable.

3. Their smoked porter won an award this year, but my favorite is the altbier. Great blend of fruity, yeastiness and malty flavors. It’s also a great beer to drink when you can’t decide if you want a lager or an ale.

Moody Ales (Smoked Porter)

2601 Murray St, Port Moody, BC V3H 3R5


Their tasting room also shares space with the brewery, so on brewing days, you can smell the grains mashing, or the hops boiling in the kettle. The beer styles they offer are pretty standard (IPA, brown ale, and blonde) but the balanced flavors of their beers are quite astonishing. They live up to their name by serving beers that are easily identifiable as ales, with a subtle fruity, yeasty flavor. The highly aromatic (and none too bitter) IPA’s great, the brown is comforting with a bit of a bite from dark grains, but my favorite is the blonde. I know that blondes aren’t the kind of style that you go crazy over, but the complexity that they pack into their blonde while retaining the crispness is just wonderful. This is a great place to get growlers, since it’s hard to get tired or overwhelmed by their beer. Also, they usually have a cask conditioned beer lying around, which gets me always excited.

By the way, Yellow Dog and Moody Ales are about a 5 minute walk from each other. Plan on visiting both.

Dageraad Brewing (Wet hopped blonde, amber, burnabarian, blonde)

3191 Thunderbird Crescent #114, Burnaby, BC V5A 3G1

Dageraad Wet hopped Blonde

Tiny, minuscule tasting room that fits about five people. However, the tasting room is definitely worth visiting, since their burnabarian (Belgian table beer) is only available on draft. The blonde is great (the wet hopped blonde is sublime) and the amber is tasty, but the idea of a not commonly distributed style of table beer on draft just appeals to the geek in me. The small space is also great for the person who demands constant attention. The guys serving there were extremely pleasant, and didn’t tire of my constant questions about bottle conditioning, secondary fermentation, hop use and other stuff.


Anyway, visiting the new breweries and tasting rooms around Vancouver, you get the impression that there’s already a regional style taking place despite the newness of the breweries. The beers in Vancouver seem to be much more muted than the bold, hoppy flavors associated with the beers of the Pacific Northwest. The emphasis seems to rest on subtlety, drinkability (possibly since the emergence of the beer scene coincided with the popularity of sessional beers) and tinkering with old styles rather than gutting them out.



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Today’s food: Simple noodles topped with mapo nappa

Nappa mapo on noodles


I’m still mortified that I used the word “overload” in my earlier post. It’s just one of those words like “explosion” that immediately discredits the dish by its name. However, I am going to keep that word there to remind myself of what a humiliating being I can be.

Noodle soup topped with simplified mapo. Instead of sweet black bean sauce (ten men jian), I season the mapo with only do ban jian (hot bean sauce), garlic (which are sauteed in oil before everything else is thrown in), soy sauce, wine, and sugar. The nappa doesn’t have an assertive texture, but blends in and adds some heft to the mapo sauce.
The simple noodle soup is just my leftover turkey broth seasoned with soy sauce and rice wine.

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Today’s food: Mushroom overload with hot and sour noodles

Mushroom hot and sour soup with noodles

The only thing more comforting than hot and sour soup is hot and sour soup noodles. Since the soup only requires dumping in chicken stock, cooking wine and soy sauce in a pan with ingredients, and finishing it up with white pepper, cornstarch mixed with a bit of water, and black vinegar, its an ideal dish to make when your head is pounding with residual beer from last night.

In this version, in lieu of the traditional ingredients, I dumped in any mushroom I can find in my house. Dried wood ear, dried shiitake, enoki, and whatever else was rolling around in my crisper drawer. Stuck a heap of homemade chili oil on top.

It was glorious.

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Using up the turkey: Chiayi turkey rice and khao soi

So in the last thing I wrote, I noted that I used the turkey breast for turkey porchetta char-siu, and the turkey back and carcass for ramen broth. I was stuck with the remaining wings and thighs, and I was coming down with a fever and a hangover, so I decided to do the easiest thing possible and just throw them in a pressure cooker, cover them with the least amount of water possible (to produce a concentrated broth) and left it on the stove until the meat were falling off the bones (about 20 min). I separated the meat from the bones, and the broth from whatever was left in the liquid.

The first batch I used to make khao soi. I combined Andy Ricker’s recipe from Pok Pok and Kenji Lopez’s recipe from Serious Eats.

Khao soi

And yes, I did not have any cilantro on hand, so I sprinkled some green onions. I regret that part, but that’s what home cooking is like. It’s balancing out the ideals represented in the cookbook with the realities of your pantry.

The second part I used to make Chiayi style turkey rice. It’s one of those extremely homey dishes that you get for dirt cheap, but is somehow memorable. It’s also the easiest dish to make if you already have some poached turkey and turkey broth on hand.

Taiwan chicken rice

The turkey rice actually doesn’t have that much turkey on it. A lot of the flavor comes from the turkey fat (that you can get by skimming the broth after it congeals) and the oil from the fried shallots.

So you start out by either frying up some shallots and garlic in a pool of oil until they become brown and crisp, or purchase some fried shallots from an Asian supermarket. They are sometimes called fried onions. It’s all the same. I think. I actually can’t tell the difference between shallots and onions sometimes. I personally think that this fact disqualifies me from writing about food at all.

Reserve the oil. Put shredded turkey in a pot and cover with very little amount of turkey broth. Salt and pepper. Throw in an awful lot of fried shallots/onions and stew on low for five minutes. Add some of the oil, enough so that the dish would be a bit too oily for your liking. Dump the whole thing onto some rice, and the oily-ness will become balanced.

If you have one of those artificially sweetened, artificially yellowed radish pickles they sell in Asian markets, garnish the dish with those.

Excellent with tofu mixed with preserved duck eggs, or clear broth with Chinese chives and congealed pig blood.

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Turkey ramen with turkey porchetta char-siu

I’m still taking my time getting used to the early Canadian Thanksgiving. Actually, I don’t have too much to get used to, since being a foreigner, Thanksgiving doesn’t mean too much to me except holiday TV episodes, friends coming home with depressing family stories, and cheap turkey.

Anyway, I grabbed a bag of cheap turkey a couple days before Thanksgiving day. Since I was going to a friend’s house to indulge in the beauty of traditional Thanksgiving day fare, I decided to use up my turkey for a completely Asian fare.

First, I made turkey char-siu with the breast. I created a turkey porchetta (as described on Serious Eats), but instead of the herb mixture, I rubbed in a thoroughly pounded mixture of green onion/ginger/garlic. Afterwards, I stewed the whole thing in a sugar/water/sake/mirin/soy sauce mixture with kombu (dried kelp) on low heat, until the insides were 150f.

Turkey breast char siu

I decided to boil down the remaining sauce to use it for the basic seasoning of the ramen, for brining the eggs, and for future char-siu making sessions. The boiled down braising liquid keeps well in the fridge, and the flavor improves as you keep using it and topping it off. The meaty goodness of the sauce improves any dish that it’s added to. So don’t throw away the braising liquid.

I made the ramen stock with the turkey back, neck, and other leftover parts. I just used my regular method of parboiling briefly, washing, and then throwing it in the pressure cooker with some green onions and ginger slices for 30-40 minutes.

The result:

Turykey shoyu ramen

Turkey porchetta char-siu, broth seasoned with braising liquid, eggs pickled in the same sauce, green onions, scallion oil, and some crushed garlic to top it off.

This turned out as a very comforting old-school shoyu ramen, despite the unorthodox use of turkey. The turkey porchetta char-siu was undoubtedly the highlight of the dish. And the char-siu braising liquid that I ended up with is being poured into my dishes every chance I get.

Now I’m left with the drumstick and thighs. I’m going to try to replicate the experience of eating Taiwanese turkey rice that I ate obsessively in Chiayi. My god I love Thanksgiving for its discounted poultry.

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Filed under Japanese noodles, ramen

Today’s food: sesame leaf pasta with pork and enoki

Ground pork, enoki in sweet soy sauce with sesame leaves

I bought a big bag of sesame leaves for making gamjatang. And now I’m stuck with a bunch of these things. It seems like there’s a conflation of sesame leaves and perilla leaves in English websites, but from my experience, there is a difference between the two, albeit in subtle ways.

Anyway, I decided to use them interchangeably. Otherwise, they’ll just wilt in my crisper drawer.

So this pasta dish is made by sautéing ground pork and enoki and adding a soy sauce-rice wine (or mirin)-sugar mixture, adding the pasta, and topping everything with a generous heap of sesame leaves cut into ribbons. Good stuff.


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