Posts Tagged ‘canada’


Well its been a long time since I wrote anything on my blog.  It’s a lot harder to keep up with the little bits of writing and photos when you have a full time job.  but try to keep it up I must – especially with my impending north American adventure just about to start and the opportunities that will bring for random things to write about – well I’m hoping so anyway.  So with this new found verve I’ve decided to tell you about my adventure in Kimchee creation.

I have to say I’ve a little passion for this spicy salted cabbage, not quite the three times a day passion that most Koreans do, but a little.  i really like it, and being here in Vancouver with its large Korean population i thought i should give it a go.  So Napa cabbage in hand (Chinese cabbage in the UK), and under the instruction of my Korean friend a co-worker and Kimchee mentor, Issac Ko (or Lee Sakk Ggo!!), I began.

napaAs with cured/pickled/salted things the end product is really influenced by the quality of the ingredients, so hoping that they were going to be the best I popped down to the Korean supermarket to get my ingredients – 2 large Napa cabbage, rock salt, 2 apples, 2 Asian pears, 2 onions, 4 whole garlic bulbs, a Korean daikon and a 1kg bag – a lot of chilli I know.

napa cutFirst step is to cut, wash and salt the cabbage.  its important to really give the cabbage a good clean to get rid of anything that might impair the flavour.  I cut the cabbage into 1/4 pieces and soaked for 10 minutes.  Next i shook it off and gave it a good coating of rock salt, weighted the top of it with some plates, and left it for 4 hours, till it became soft and kind of a bit rubbery.

spicemixWhile the cabbage was salting I made the spice mix. Pears, apples, onion, garlic, I grated together and mixed with loads of chilli, some fish sauce, and a little sesame oil – pretty straight forward really.  I just tasted this and decided when I liked it pretty much.

napa saltedNext I rinsed the salt off the cabbage and began to coat the cabbage leaf by leaf until it was covered.  i placed this in a large cupboard and waited for 2 days for bubbles to appear, the tell tale sign that fermentation has started.

photo (1)photoAfter this its ready to eat.  It needs to be refrigerated to stop the fermentation and keeps for about a month after that.  Eat it as a side, add it to noodle soup, add it to stews – its really handy to have in the fridge, adds a spicy edge to any meal – and its super healthy.  Give it a go – or buy it at an Asian supermarket – but remember no self respecting Korean would ever do that!!

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Gad. Gad Gad, Gad. GAAAAD. Fizzy, yeasty, Sour, drink.  Why? Please tell me why?  I tried my hardest to like it, I drank a whole bottle.  now I ask myself why, why, why did i drink It?

Buy it. Try for yourself – you’ll see.

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So i’m at work the other day and we’re doing steak tartare for our monthly Market monday thing, and all of a sudden I get a craving for more raw meat specifically what is problably Ethiopias most famous dish – Kitfo,  not quite like your average steak tartare.

So after a morning looking at cars in second hand yards I head down to commercial drive, Vancouver’s multicultural melting pot, to Harambe.  A local Ethiopian joint with lots of praise.  Inside the whole place is  covered in kitschy, colorfully dyed cotton, and surprisingly catchy Ethiopian Reggae is playing on the radio.  The waitress, the only other whitey there, brings the menu – but I already know what I want.

Kitfo is made from freshly chopped beef mixed with warm butter and an Ethiopian dried chilli powder called mitmita.  A little cardamon and seasoning and its good to go.  The main issue people have with this dish is the warmth of the Raw beef.   It really is a strange feeling in your mouth – I love it.

This is served with the traditional Injera pancake – with its distinct metallic flavour, bit like indian iddly – also a small side of greens and some of the sour/salty Ethiopian cottage cheese.   I washed all this down with a cup of spiced tea – which surprisingly had a sign reminding people to use fresh water.

After barely finishing I’m surprised how filling a plate of (warm) raw meat can be.  I only wonder if it’s as safe to eat in Ethiopia.  Can’t wait to try!

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Chips and cheese, I love it.  When I was a student, I was munching on this pretty much every two or three days – if not more, who am I kidding.  And it wasn’t long before I moved on to chips and cheese AND gravy.  A pretty intense combination and one enjoyed by many of my contemporaries at Glasgow College of Food Technology.  It all ended after too many gratinated chips, cheese and pepper sauce sandwiches at the restaurant I was working at – too much of a good thing is always a bad thing, especially if your pilling on the serious pounds.

In Canada though, they’ve changed what is essentially one of the worst for you dishes – think saturated fat, salt, loads of carbs-  into a national dish to be proud of.  Obviously its a little different over here with well made fries, peppery gravy and the big difference – fresh cheese curds.  They’ve even got a name for it – Poutine, not “chipsncheesengravy”.  Sophistication, no?  And I have to admit that it’s pretty damn good.

Obviously, it all depends on where you go to get your poutine.  You can get it everywhere from diners, to pubs, to pizza places.  But it’s the specialist places that really shine – If your going to open a shop specialising in something you need to do it properly.

So off I went to Fritz on davie street today where I had my best portion so far.  The chips – hand cut, crispy, skin on; the gravy – salty, peppery, a little spicy and just the right saltiness; The cheese curds – fresh, soft and not unlike fresh buffalo motz, the best part of the dish.  The cons – $4.50, come on.  Thats £3!  Why so expensive?  And this is a small, very small.  This is Vancouver I suppose.

The other stand out poutines for me have been at the Dover pub – Poutine with pulled pork, OMG, and any time your up the mountain snowboarding.

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Japanese hot dogs – what will they think of next.  Maybe this is what they mean by fusion food.  It sounds like a really strange concept, but actually they’re a super popular snack on the corner of Burrard and Smithe in Vancouver.

This is my spicy cheese terimayo hot dog, a pretty tasty option with a jalapeno and cheese dog, teriyaki sauce, spicy mayo and topped with shredded nori.  Awesome, I think, is the word to describe it.  They should be available everywhere.

check them out here

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Oh! Henry

Yes, this is a real chocolate bar – What they were  doing with it when they came up with the name I can only imagine.

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So here in Vancouver they have the second biggest Chinatown in North America.  Quite a claim to fame.  But this one is a little different.  It’s more functional rather than touristy and the restaurants here are catering pretty much solely to local Asians.  There’s less of the back to back cantonese restos you find elsewhre and more shops selling speciality foods and roast meats.

And being skint, now I’m not living in a tenner a day Thailand, this is where were eating our meals.  And no meal is better – or cheaper – than the $1 BBQ pork bun.  Freshly steamed every morning, and available at one of the many Chinese bakeries, this is my highlight of the day. The sticky,  sweet spiced pork inside gives you a nice warm cosy feeling that makes you forget the never ending rain outside – if only for five minutes.

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So I’m here finally after all that travelling in Asia – And it’s strange.  going from the structured chaos of BKK, to the calm, organised – even slightly sanitised – big city of western Canada.  It’s going to take a bit of getting used to.  But really it’s a nice place, sitting out on a coastline of peninsulas and looking over to Vancouver island.

The only real issue I’ve got is the rain.  It rains all the time.  And when I say all the time, I mean everyday, and most of the day.  And it doesn’t rain hard – just long miserable slow, soaking rain.  You cant hide from it, it gets round corners.  And where’s all the snow?  I was told it snows all the time in Canada, and I look on the TV and it’s all at home.  Nobody mentioned that Vancouver is in the warmest part of Canada.  Somebody told me that they give flights to homeless people to get to Vancouver because they wont die of exposure here – It makes sense, but i’m not sure it really true.

Anyway, apart from the rain it’s awesome – Bring on the snow…or the summer. Once it stops pissing it down I’ll take a few photos

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