Spicy Soba Salad

IMG_9621This is very much one of our family’s “go-to” recipes. Slightly spicy, with a good mix of interesting flavours, it’s great on it’s own for lunch, or as a side dish for supper. Soba noodles have an earthiness that plain wheat noodles just don’t deliver. Combined with the soy based dressing, they create a dish that totally satisfies. Try serving it with some sliced, grilled chicken, and some steamed vegetables. This little noodle salad lasts well in the fridge for up to five days. Just think, five whole days of lunches prepared in one go! Our family usually doubles this recipe; consequently all the photos show the double portions. Continue reading

Coconut Chicken Stew with Basil & Lime

IMG_9606There is something incredibly satisfying about stews, regardless of their country of origin. Pieces of vegetables nestled in a rich sauce, sometimes with meat, sometimes without. Once I discovered the wonderful aspects of Thai red & green curry pastes, I started playing with different versions of stews using coconut milk as a base. I remember a surprise visit of a large family, and making enough vegetable stew to feed us all easily, using a mixture of just the vegetables I had on hand, along with coconut milk and some curry paste. We served it over mounds of rice in large bowls while we got caught up on each other’s lives.

However, a day came when I didn’t have any curry paste in the pantry, so needed to go it alone. Often now, I tend to make this coconut based stew without the curry paste, and have sorted the ingredients out to make a wonderfully flavoured stew.   I’ve shown it here with chicken, but as the option that follows shows, it is completely wonderful as a meatless stew (although it does use fish sauce, so not completely vegetarian). Continue reading

Fried Rice ~ Basic Recipe

IMG_9565_2For several months one year, we had two young women staying with us through the Canada World Youth Program; one was a Canadian university student from Sherbrooke, Quebec, and the other, an economics student from Jakarta, Indonesia. Language was one of the key components to their stay here, as well as volunteering in the community. While I struggled with Indonesian, finding it difficult to separate the words, as the language is so fluid, I did find my high school French coming back to me so quickly. The three of us would laugh, quite often pointing, or drawing pictures to communicate. But slowly it all started to happen. Often just a quick sentence, but the intent was picked up on.

Besides language, food was a huge part of us getting to know each other and our cultures. Our household became used to the scent of rice in all its cooked forms. During Ramadan, the two of them would get up before dawn, and start cooking the early meal. Usually it was a simple assembly of fried rice. A few pieces of garlic, onions, and hot peppers, fried with leftover rice from the evening meal. Other bits of vegetables or meats would be added, and served with sambal oelek and ketjap bentang. This meal would last them right through until the late meal. Our Quebec guest found it very hard to manage the long days of fasting, but did it to experience her counterpart’s religion. Our tiny, Indonesian friend explained to me, that if you eat less, it is far easier to make it through the day, as she watched with glee as our young Canadian friend wolfed down a bagel with cream cheese following her fried rice.

Frying the rice before cooking it (instead of frying leftover rice) gives it a nuttier flavour. The recipe still uses small amounts of vegetable, meats, and egg to make it a complete meal. Be creative with this, as it is a very simple meal, using what is at hand. It can easily be fully vegetarian, or just use the egg if you like. Continue reading

Hot & Sour Soup

IMG_8778One of our family’s favourite soups is Hot & Sour Soup, slightly spicy, sweet & sour with just a few ingredients; this is perfect for a light meal. There are some additions that do make it more authentic, but even this very basic version makes for a very happy meal. I can remember many busy school nights when this was served, always leaving us satisfied! Continue reading

Chinese Tea Eggs (Beijing)

IMG_6503We had a lovely little paperback book, from the seventies, with Chinese country recipes.  It was filled with folklore & woodcut images, as well as some pretty amazing recipes.  It certainly helped me when ordering dim sum, as I would be able to recognize many of the little dishes that were being served.  In it we found a recipe for Tea Eggs that is very odd, but was a favourite for our kids to make and eat.  After hard-boiling the eggs, the shell is cracked all over and then let to steep with star anise, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom & black tea.  When the eggs are cool, you peel the egg and reveal a wonderful pattern of the shell’s cracks.  The seasoning from the spices is complex, but perfect with the egg.

It was always a fun to tuck one of these eggs into a school lunch.  Lots of looks of horror from the other kids, quickly followed by a bit of envy.

Anyhow ~ here’s the recipe in a more formal version. Continue reading