Sesame Dressings: Korean and Japanese Style

Store bought dressings are typically and unfortunately the unhealthy part of the salad, because of the amount of additives that are usually in. Here are 2 types of sesame dressings that many people have enjoyed when I make them. Traditionally, these “dressings” are both used for marinating lightly cooked or steamed vegetables, but you can also use as a regular dressing on top of fresh vegetables. The key to the great aroma is to use the roasted sesame which you can easily make and store them or you can purchase at Asian grocery stores. 

1) Japanese Sesame Dressing 

This is called, “goma-ae” in Japanese. You can really enjoy the taste of roasted sesame with this dressing. This is more like  a paste then a dressing, so it is much easier to use with cooked vegetables (see below for instruction)

Ingredients 

  • 3-4 tbsp Roasted sesame, grounded (or little different version, you can use tahini instead)
  • 1 tbsp Soy source 
  • 1 tbsp or less honey, maple syrup, molasses, or any natural sweetener

Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl, add vegetables (see below) mixed well

1) Korean Sesame Dressing 

This is called, “Namul” in Korean. It has a well balanced spice of garlic & ginger, and goes really well with rice!

Ingredients 

  • 2 tbsp Roasted sesame
  • 1 tbsp Soy source 
  • 1 tbsp Rice vinegar
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped finely
  • 2 tsp ginger, chopped finely
  • 1 tbsp roasted sesame oil

Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl, add vegetables (see below) mixed well

Tips: Vegetables typically used are such as spinach, beans, carrots and/or bean sprouts. Boil water in a large pot with a pinch of salt, then boil vegetable lightly (vegetables are tender enough, but still has little crunchiness). Take the vegetable out when it is ready, and cool it down with a cold running water. Drain exsess water well from the vegetables and mix/marinate with either of dressings above.

Sesame is a great source of fiber and minerals such as calcium, magnesium, iron, and copper, also is high in amino acid, tryptophan.

Spring Celebration: Fiddlehead & Asparagus Soup

Spring equinox is quickly approaching, so I wanted to share something to celebrate this wonderful weather we have been having! It is still early for our regular fiddlehe

ad season, but most likely we will be having early fiddlehead season this year.

Fiddleheads are the tops of baby ostrich ferns. They are great source of antioxidants, high in iron, magnesium and other minerals. They are also a source of omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids. When you buy fiddleheads, look for a tight coil with only an inch or two of stem beyond the coil.

Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch of asparagus
  • 2 tbsp of butter or coconut oil
  • 3 green onion or a bunch of chive, chopped finely
  • 3 tbsp flour (or brown rice flour to make it gluten free)
  • 3 cup chicken stock or vegetable stock
  • 20 fiddleheads, cleaned well
  • 1 parsnips, chopped in pieces
  • 2 stalk of celery, chopped
  • natural salt and peppers for taste
  • freshly graded nutmeg for taste
  • 1.5 to 2 cup of milk or any substitute
  • OPTIONAL: a bunch of young nettle leaves, chopped
  • OPTIONAL: fresh Ontario goat cheese for a topping
Direction:
  1. Preparing asparagus by snapping off the ends. Place asparagus in ovenware, sprinkle natural salt and pepper, covered with top or with foil. Grill asparagus in 475F for 5-10 min until tender, set aside.
  2. Melt butter (or coconut oil) in large soup pot at low heat. Add green onion and cook until tender. Blend in flour to make a roux; cooking for 2 minutes at low hear. 
  3. Whisk in stock in batches. Add oven grilled asparagus, fiddleheads, parnsips and celery (and nettle) to pot. Bring to boil on med-high heat and stir occasionally. Once it boils, bring down  to low-medium heat, cover, simmer for 20 minutes.
  4. Puree soup in blender then return to pot. Stir in milk and seasonings.
  5. Optional: for a decoration, top with fresh goat cheese and a boiled fiddlehead on soup  

NOTE: Fiddleheads contain natural substance that can cause gastric irritation, so take the brown fussy covering with your fingers and wash well before cooking, and make sure to cook well!

 

“Simple is The Best” Salad

This is really a simple easy salad with full of antioxidant-rich vegetables! Also this salad uses root vegetables which is tend to be yang to neutral in nature, so it does not cool your body down like salad with tomato and cucumber, and it is a good winter fresh salad!

Ingredients (for a medium bowl of salad)

  • 4 large leaves of kale
  • 2 medium beets
  • 2 medium carrots (you can use different colours of carrots)
  • 1 tablespoon ginger
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 1/2 tbsp apple cider vinegar (or lemon juice)
  • 2-3 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 anchovy fillet (or sea salt for taste)

Direction

  1. Chop kale into thin strips (thinner the easier to eat!) put them into a salad bowl
  2. Grade beets, carrots and ginger on top of kale
  3. Mince or crash garlic, and mix with vinegar, oil, finely chopped anchovy (or salt) and use as a dressing.

Because his is so simple, you can add any extra vegetables, nuts & seeds, and/or fresh goat cheese (which goes really well together!) to have a variation!

Nutrients

  • Kale: high in vitamin K, C and A, fiber, and manganese. Rich in nutrients for antioxidants, anti-inflammation, and anti-cancer effects.
  • Beets: high in folate, manganese, fiber, potassium, tryptophan, and vitamin C. Rich in nutrients for antioxidants, promoting detoxification, and anti-inflammation
  • Carrot: high in vitamin A, K, C and B6. Supports the healthy vision and the heat.

Miso Soup for anti-radiation

“Miso soup” has been a quite common food in Canada through an introduction of Japanese restaurants. In Japan, miso soup is a daily food which most of people eat at least once a day (it used to be once per meal!). Miso soup has now recognized its health benefit especially as a protection from radiation damage. In fact after the nuclear bomb in Nagasaki, one of the doctor based at a hospital recorded miso soup was very helpful in recovery due to a wide of nutrients which was in a easily assimilated form, also the good bacteria from the fermentation, and seaweed particularly the kelp which is high in minerals and helped remove radioactive metals such as strontium and iodine.

Unfortunately the most of restaurant miso soup uses MSG as a “instant” soup stock. Fortunately miso soup is REALLY easy to make at home! Typical soup stock uses fish as a part, but in this recipe I will introduce vegan ingredients which would be easier to get in Canada.

Miso Soup (for 2)

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cup Filtered water
  • 10 cm x 10 cm square size of Kelp (kombu) (wipe with a dry cloth, do not wash it!)
  • 2 Sun-dried Shiitake mushroom
  • Miso 2-3 table spoon
  • Seasonal vegetables, tofu, wakame, green onion etc your favorite combo.

Direction

  1. In a medium size pot, put water and soak kelp and mushroom in room temperature at least for 30 min.
  2. Place a pot on a high heat, bring the water to boil. When the water reach to boil, take kelp out and bring the heat down to simmer.
  3. Add any hard vegetables (root vegetables etc) and cook them until tender. Add any leafy vegetables, tofu at this point, cook for a minute, and turn off the heat.
  4. In a small soup dish, mix miso with some of hot soup to melt miso, then put this into the pot with the rest of soup
  5. Serve in a soup dish, add fresh green onion or any other fresh herbs for taste.

Beef Stew with Winter Squash

Squash is one of my favorite vegetables, even it does need quite an effort to cut and cook it! So when I finally decide to cut a squash, I usually make a big butch of soup (recipe). But this time, I made a comforting beef stew with winter squash for dinner…and it’s becoming one of our favourite foods!

The day after is always the best for beef stew, so make a big portion and enjoy the left over next day, too.

This beef stew recipe is from my mom’s and I modified over the years, so enjoy and share it with your friends!

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1/2 medium squash (any kind that you like)
  • 1.5 – 2 lb stewing beef, cut in cubes
  • 3 tbsp flour (can be rice flour, buckweat to make it gluten free)
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 3 riped tomatoes or 1 can of whole tomato
  • 3 medium potatoes
  • 2 medium carrots
  • 2 clobes finely chopped garlic
  • 1 table spoon olive oil
  • 4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • a pinch of salt, black pepper
  • 2 Bay leaves
  • Toping: pumpkin seed, roasted with olive oil, salt and pepper in 350F oven for 5-10 min

Direction

  1. Sprinkle salt and pepper onto stewing beef, and add flour (or substitute) to coat the surface (this process makes beef to keep its juice, and makes it so tender). Heat a flying pan on a high heat, put olive oil and place meat. Do not move too much until the surface is cooked well, then turn it to different side, and cook all the surface of cubed meet.
  2. Meanwhile, in a big pot, place olive oil, onion and garlic and saute on medium-low heat until onion becomes golden. Add fresh tomatoes and cook it down or add canned tomato.
  3. When the meat is cooked well, add meet into the pot with onion and tomato. Add some water into a pan, and take as much juice from the pan into the water.
  4. Cut squash, carrot, potato in a one bite size and add all to the pot, stir for 2 minutes.
  5. Add water from the pan, red wine and rest of water in the pot, bring the heat to high and let it boil slowly. Stir the vegetable occasionally. When it starts to boil, add bay leaves and bring the heat down to medium-high and continue cooking vegetables until all the root vegetables are tender.
  6. Season with salt & pepper and stir well.
  7. Serve in a bowl and sprinkle some roasted pumpkin seeds

Vitalize with Change of Season Soup

Last couple of days, the air has been cooling down, and I have noticed many people started to develop some cold symptoms. As we are always in a close relationship to the natural environment, with a change of season our body also goes into a transition. As a result, during this time, we tends to develop cold like symptoms (like fatigue, nasal obstruction, sore throat, headache, etc), or any part of the “weak spot” of the body tend to surface.

“Change of Season Soup” is one of my favourite ways to .support the smooth transition of the immune system. This soup is made of 4 commonly used Chinese herbs, design to enhance the immune system, to prevent a cold and flu, and to resist the body from everyday stress. It can be drink as a tea or soup for about 2 weeks during the change of season (especially from summer to fall). If you already developed a cold, treat the illness first, and drink this when you recovered from it.

Ingredients

Astragalus membranaceus: Helps elevate energy, helps build immune system and blood.

Codonopsis pilosula: Used as a tonic for weakness, fatigue and enhance immune system.

Dioscorea sinensis (Chinese yam): Helps the function of lung by hydrating and improves protective mechanims of the Lung.

Lyciium barbarum (Goji berries): Rich in antioxidants, improve circulations and boost immunity.

For basic stock: In a large pot, add 1-2L of water and about 2 to 3oz each of the herbs avobe. Cover the top and bring to boil, simmer for 4-6 hours. Top the water as necessary.

This basic stock has a mild sweatness and bitterness. For your taste, you can use this as a soup base to make your own chicken soup! Also check here to see herbs for chicken soup that also helps for the infection.

Good quality of self-care is highly recommended this time of the season. Eat well, rest well, and be well!

If you want to prepae for cold season, we offer herbal tincture making workshop on Wednesday Sept. 21, 2011! See detail from the website

Ratatouille from Garden Vegetables

I have my first shared garden this year in Toronto! With a quite bit of rain and sunshine, we have been blessed by the vegetables, now tomatoes, eggplants, and zucchinis are just in season.

With all of these vegetables, I like making Ratatouille, a dish originated in southern France. It’s like a perfect garden vegetable soup for mid to late summer!

I usually love adding some Kabocha squash to add little sweetness in sour taste of tomato. We found a nice fresh Kabocha pumpkin, so we made this:

Ingredients for 4 servings:

  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 large, riped tomatoes, cut in cudes
  • 1 eggplant, cubed
  • 1/2 Kabocha squash, cut in larger cubes
  • 4 baby zucchini, sliced diagonally
  • A handful of string beans, cut in half
  • 2 medium peppers (any colour), coarsely chopped
  • Sea salt and black pepper for taste
  • 1 teaspoon of good quality olive oil for garnish
  • 10 fresh basil leaves, chopped finely for garnish

In a Dutch oven or large saucepan, place olive oil over low-medium heat. Add onion and garlic, stir well until onion becomes golden. Add tomatoes, continue cooking for 10 min. Turn the heat to medium, add eggplant, Kabocha squash and zucchini in to the pot, stir to combine, cover the top and cook for 15 min (stir occationally). Add beans and peppers cook another 10 min then season with sea salt and black pepper. Cook with low medium again until the Kabocha squash gets soft. Serve with basil leaves and olive oil for garnish.

Also read: Nightshade Family and Inflammation

Ontario Lamb with Red Wine & Rhubarb Reduction

Rhubarb is something people love as a desert and pastry in this season, but in Chinese tradition, the root is well known as a medicine for some thousand years to treat many of digestive complaints such as constipation and gastritis. As a food, rhubarb is a good source of vitamin C, fiber and calcium, so it is great for preventing illness like osteoprosis.

I was once at a presentation about local eating in Toronto, and they were suggesting using fresh rhubarb for substitute of lemon (which is not a native plant to northern hemisphere). This gave me the idea of using rhubarb in cooking and made this dish: Ontario lamb with red wine & rhubarb reduction. It has a sweeteness from caramelized onion, and mild sourness from rhubarb that melts in red wine. Yes, it goes just perfect with lamb!
Hope you have a nice celebration with seasonal, local food this month!

NOTE: If you have a chance to harvest fresh rhubarb, remember that the leaves are toxic in large quantity, so do not eat the leaves!

Ontario Lamb with Red Wine & Rhubarb Reduction (for serving of 2)

  • 1/2 lb Ontario lamb chops, rub salt and pepper
  • 2 medium onion, cut in thin slice
  • 2 ripe tomatoes, cut in cubes
  • 3 small to medium stalk of rhubarb, cut in thin slice
  • 1 portobello mushroom, cut in large pieces
  • 2/3 cup red wine (Ontario wine would be lovely!, like Cabernet sauvignon, Merlot… any of your choice)
  • 10-20 Brussel sprouts, cut in half
  • 5 leaves of kale, chopped finely
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp fresh tarragon (or parsley), chopped
  • Sea salt and black pepper
  1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Placelamb in the skillet, panfly for 3-5 min each to reach your desired donenes (or you can use a grill to do this part). Take out the lamb from skillet, and keep warm on a serving platter. Use the same skillet, place onion in, and slowly cook for about 10-15 minutes until it becomes golden brown. Add tomatoes, salt and pepper and continue cooking for another 10 minutes until tomatoes disolve to become like a source.
  2. Add rhubarb and portobello mashroom, Brussel sprouts to the skillet, and cook for a few minutes. Stir in red wine, scraping any bits of lamb from the bottom of the skillet, then continue to cook and stir over medium-high heat for about 10 minutes, until the sauce has reduced by half. Remove from heat, and add kale and fresh tarragon, cover the top until kale becomes temder. Pour over the lamb chops, and serve.

Bon Appétit!

You can add any vegetables that you wish such as green beans, asparagus, zucchini, and/or colourful peppers would mostly goes well together with this dish. I made this in a one-pot, but you can also cook the vegetable separately (like steaming, grilling, boiling etc) and serve as a side.

Cooling Summer Herbal Teas

In Japan, unsweetened iced tea can be said the most popular drink that any soft drink company sell!

Cold Filtered Water is yet the best choice of any drinks available to hydrate and cool you down, but some herbs are naturally cooling. We can certainly use this unique property and wonderful flavour of herbs to make ice-tea. About 2 tsp to 1 tbsp of each herb will be enough to make for 8 oz glass of ice-tea. Put herbs and a cup of water in a source pan, bring it to boil and simmer for 10 min. Let the tae to cool, add ice and water to dilute to taste.

So here are some healthy, easy, cooling herbal teas you can enjoy this summer!

  • Jasmine: it is a cooling and balancing herb for the body especially after too much sun exposure or fevers. Jasmine have a delicate perfume and aroma, and it makes a wonderful tea!
  • Mint: peppermint, spearmint etc are really refreshing just by itself. Adding fresh mint in the end to serve tea would make it pretty and also adds extra freshness!
  • Lemon Balm & Camomile: These herbs both have a cooling effect plus calming, soothing effect on nerves and digestive system.
  • Cornsilk: cornsilk is used as a medicine for treating edema, irritation of urinary system such as UTI, and it is cooling and reduce damps from the body. So it is great for humid summer. Making tea is quite simple, you need a raw corn silk from fresh corn, put them in a jug with water and leave it overnight to extract.

Sweeteners: start to make no sugary cold drink as a habit! You will soon enjoy the taste of actual herbs and your taste buds will start to recognize the flavors more without any sweeteners. But if you really need, some options are raw honey, maple syrup, stevia or molasses are things I tend to use. These are still all sugar (except stevia), but has much more nutritional value compare to any refined sugar. You can also use pure fruits juice as a sweetener/taste for your tea.

Chocolate Desserts

Recently I made chocolate mousse and chocolate pudding using nutrient rich foods. Both has a rich flavour that I believe most of chocolate lovers will approve its taste. So I would like to share these recipes with you!


The first recipe, Avocado Chocolate Mousse, is for people who love dark chocolate; the second recipe, Kudzu Chocolate Pudding, is more for people who loves milky taste. It is a great dessert for kids also for guests! I used stevia as a sweetener for this recipe. I am usually not a big fun of the taste of stevia…but with this recipe, most likely because of the chocolate taste, you will not feel the stevia “aftertaste”. Also I tried to make it with other sweeteners (like maple syrup etc), but it was not as tasty as when I made with stevia.

1. Avocado Chocolate Mousse

Ingredients (serving for 2)

  • 1 ripe avocado
  • a few drops of stevia (liquid form)
  • 1 to 1 1/2 tbsp cocoa powder, unsweetened (use the good quality coco!)
  • 1 tbsp cashew butter
  • a dash of salt

Mush avocado until it gets really smooth or use the blender to make it smooth. Mix the rest of ingredients, and chilled in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours (this makes mousse to harden a bit, and becomes mousse like texture)

2. Kudzu Chocolate Pudding

Ingredients (serving for 2)

  • 1 cup almond milk (or any other nut milk)
  • a few drops of stevia (liquid form)
  • 1 to 1 1/2 tbsp cocoa powder, unsweetened (use the good quality coco!)
  • 1 tbsp Kudzu
  • 2 tbsp water

In a little bowl, place Kudzu powder, add water and mix well until smooth. In a pot, place almond milk, stevia, and cocoa powder and mix well on medium heat. When all the cocoa powder is well mixed in a liquid, add Kudzu mixture in and mix with wooden spoon. As the temperature rise up, the liquid will get thicken, so mix constantly to avoid burning the bottom. When it gets to the desirable texture, turn off the heat, pour them in a small serving bowls. Both warm and chilled are tasty!