I preface this post to say that I have not been paid or given any free items to make this review. Just my own, honest thoughts about this great product.
Many, many years ago, we came across a drink in Japan that we absolutely loved. Not knowing any Japanese, I copied the Kanji (甘酒) and showed it around to all the super markets, convenience stores, and other shops. I then found out that it was pronounced Amazake and it is a fermented drink that I would need to brew. But finding the ingredients for it would prove to be a challenge at home. Fast forward to this year, my memory of this drink was triggered after watching a travel/food show where the host showcased a sake brewery which also make amazake (in Japan).
Internet searches for amazake led me to a local company called Sveet.ca who offers a number of drink choices from ready made fermented oat mylk to make your own smoothie kits. What's even better is they have the amazake that I was looking for (in frozen form - just add water!). I dont make too many smoothies at home so I decided to just order the fermented oat mylks (plain, matcha, strawberry, and coffee) as well as the frozen amazake mix.
All their fermented oat mylks do not have a strong fermented taste to them. In fact, it just tastes like I'm drinking a regular flavoured oat milk. All their fermented oat mylks do not have added refined sugars and the sugars that are there are usually naturally occuring sugars.
My reviews of the specific flavours that I tasted:
- Matcha: I am a bit of a matcha nut and love matcha in anything. So I was a bit worried that this wouldnt be up to my taste. However, the matcha flavour is strong, there is no doubt that you are drinking matcha without it being overly sweet unlike a certain commercial coffee shop's (sbux) offering. There is a bit of grittiness, which I assume is from the matcha powder, but the texture is similar to regular cow's milk maybe a touch thicker but there is no sliminess. 9/10
- Strawberry: Very similar to a Korean strawberry milk. Chunks of strawberries in their original oat mylk and shake shake shake! The grittiness that I mentioned in the matcha flavour is not present. Again, not overly sweet but it is sweeter than the matcha. Most likely from the strawberries. 8/10
- Coffee: This one let me down a little bit but that may be because Im addicted to coffee. When you drink it, you can tell that it is coffee flavoured but it was a bit too subtle for my liking. I think I would be better off getting the original flavour and adding my own coffee to it. 6/10
I havent had a chance to test out the Amazake yet as I didnt want the oat mylks to spoil. But I will update this post when I have to report back!
If you are interested in getting some to try for yourself, head over to Sveet.ca. If you live in Burnaby, Richmond or Vancouver, they offer free delivery on Saturday and Sunday with a minimum purchase of $36. Otherwise, you are able to go to their shop to pick up your orders on Fridays and Saturdays. Don't forget to sign up to their newsletter to get a 10% coupon code on your first order.
Hong Kong style BBQ meats is one of my favourite comfort foods. But I've eaten it so much that sometimes, it's nice to have some variation. This recipe is similar to my dad's but tweaked a bit for my taste.
1. In a large and deep sauce pan, saute garlic, onions and tomatos until soft. About 5 minutes
2. Add in the char siu and saute for another 5 minutes
3. Pour in the broth, water, soy sauce, and sesame oil. Bring to a boil and adjust seasoning to taste. NOTE: The amount of broth and water you add can vary to your taste and preference. We like it with a lot of sauce so I tend to add in extra liquid so that I have plenty to cover my rice with it!
4. Thicken the sauce with the cornstarch slurry. Again, this part will vary to your preference. Some like it more runny and others will like it quite thick.
5. Add in the cilantro and green onions at the end (when the heat is off)
6. Serve with or on top of steamed white rice.
A traditional Filipino staple with a Taiwanese twist. That's how I would describe this next recipe. Pork Adobo is the lesser known cousin of Chicken Adobo which is a very popular Filipino dish that many people, outside of the Philippines, would recognize. Taiwanese Braised Pork Belly also known as Lu Rou (卤肉) is a similar dish with more spices added. My recipe combines the best of both dishes leading to a very tasty meal. Adding hard boiled eggs and deep fried tofu to this dish brings it up another level.
Some thoughts before you get into the recipe itself. Cutting the pork belly into cubes of about 1 inch makes it not fall apart as fast when simmering. Keep in mind that the meat will shrink about 30-40% in size. Making a bouque garni with the spices (except 5 spice) will make your life a lot easier when plating. There have been many times where I've inadvertently bit into a clove or star anise seed, although I like these flavours, biting into them isn't pleasant.
How to make it:
1. Put the pork belly into a large pot and add enough water to cover it all. Bring to a boil and continue cooking for another 5 to 10 minutes, occasionally stiring to move the meat around. The purpose of this step is to remove some of the excess oil from the fatty pork belly and to remove that scummy part that often comes when boiling meat. Once time is up, remove the meat and place it aside.
2. In a large pot, sweat the onions and garlic until transparent. Add bay leaves, black peppercorn, cloves, and star anise. (OPTIONAL step - make a bouquet garni with the spices so you can easily remove it once the dish is cooked.) Add in the pork belly and sauté for a few minutes.
3. Add the light and dark Soy sauce, vinegar, five spice powder and mix everything around, ensuring the meat is coated with the sauce. Continue sautéing for a few more minutes.
4. Add in the water, enough to just cover the meat. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to low/med. Simmer uncovered for the next 30 minutes.
5. If you have opted to add in the hard boiled eggs and/or deep fried tofu, add them now. If you wish for a thicker and slightly sweet sauce, add the brown sugar now as well and continue to simmer until the meat is fork tender. The eggs and tofu will soak up the sauce and are great to eat on their own!
6. Serve with a side of steamed rice. I sometimes also serve this dish with a side of spicy white vinegar on the side to dip the tofu and pork belly in. It gives it an additional layer of flavour and cuts some of the richness of the sauce. Enjoy!
Shepherd's pie for us North American people usually means some sort of ground beef mixture with gravy and veggies that is topped with a mashed potato topping and baked in the oven. But did you know, to be a real Shepherd's pie, it has to be ground lamb? If the meat base is beef, it's actually called Cottage pie. I love mashed potatoes and am always ready to eat anything that is covered in it. My version of this dish isnt very traditional but works for me and if you really want to cut corners, a bag of frozen mixed veggies works as a substitute for all the veggies I listed above.
1. Peel and cube the russet potatoes. Number of potatoes vary as russet potatoes vary in size. I would recommend against using the yellow Yukon gold or red potatoes as these types of potatoes dont quite mash very well. They become a bit gummy or pastey once mashed and I dont care for that consistency in my mashed potatoes. Boil off until fork tender. usually takes about 10-15 mins depending on the size of your cubes. Drain off and add butter, salt and white pepper and mash. Place to the side.
2. In a large pan, brown off the ground beef. I dont usually add any additional oil when doing this so there usually isnt too much excess oil that I need to drain off. Once browned, add garlic, worchestershire sauce, and cajun seasoning. Toss around to evenly coat the ground meat.
3. Add chopped veggies and the onion soup powder. If you dont have onion soup powder, the canned onion soup also works but I would only add about 3/4 of the can as its often a concentrated mix and can get very salty. If you opted for the frozen veggies, you may also want to add less of the canned soup as there will be extra water coming out of the frozen veggies at this point.
4. Add flour to the meat mixture and mix around, making a semi roux. Add in red wine and water (If you used the canned onion soup, omit water unless necessary) to make the mixture moist. You dont want it to be overly wet like a gravy.
5. Transfer into an oven safe baking dish and spread out evenly. Combine the mashed potatoes on top of the meat mixture in an even layer. Once assembled, you can now keep this in the fridge for 2-3 days until you are ready to bake.
6. Once you are ready to bake, preheat your oven to 365 degrees F. bake the shepherd's pie for 30-45 minutes. Oven times vary depending on the state the pie was in prior to baking (i.e. if it was in the fridge for the last couple days then it'll take longer). You dont want the mashed potato topping to get brown, youre only looking to heat it through and "set" it.
I've been missing Hawaii something fierce these days. If it wasnt for this pandemic, I would have had my Hawaiian fix the first 2 weeks of January 2022. But alas, plans got cancelled and I stayed home, in the snow and all I could do was a virtual vacation by surfing on the internet and watching Youtube videos of paradise. And of course, I started surfing for food recipes. 2 of my favourite dishes from Hawaii are Kalua Pork and Pork Luau.
For those who dont know, Kalua Pork is the dish that is typically cooked in an umu, the pit that the pig is placed in and covered in rocks, leaves, etc. Pork Luau is a taro leaf dish that is very similar to the Filipino Laing dish. There are many ways you can prepare Luau but I made it with pork since I was already making Kalua Pork.
It is a very simple recipe and method, all you need are a few ingredients and a slow cooker.
4-6 pounds of pork butt/shoulder with a healthy amount of fat on it still
1 package of dried taro leaves (dahon ng gabi)
Sea Salt (any type of sea salt will work but better to use rock salt as opposed to fine ground table salt)
6-8 drops of Liquid Smoke
1 chopped small onion (optional)
2 cloves of minced garlic (optional)
Prep time: 20-30 mins
Cook time: around 12-16 hours on low
Pork Luau feeds 4 people
Kalua Pork feeds about 6
1. Soak the dried taro leaves in some water for about 10 mins to rehydrate. It doesnt have to be completely rehydrated but keep in mind that if you dont rehydrate it completely, you will need to use more water in the slow cooker.
2. Rub the pork with liquid smoke & salt it as a whole piece. I find for a 4-6 pound piece of pork, I use about 7-8 drops of liquid smoke. I dont like to use too much because at some point, the liquid smoke will start tasting too artificial. Plus, the dried taro leaves usually add a bit of smokiness to the dish as well.
Also, I dont trim the fat off or cut it into chunks as the fat will drip into the meat to keep it moist and flavour the taro leaves. If the pieces are too small, they will dry out too fast and you'll end up with jerky instead. The fat will be removed at the end before shredding the meat.
3. Place the rehydrated taro leaves in the bottom of the slow cooker. (Some recipes call for the taro leaves to be placed on top of the pork but I like to keep it underneath so it soaks up the juices.) Pour in the water to almost cover the taro leaves (probably no more than 2 cups.) Make a bit of a well to place the pork butt/shoulder on top of the taro leaves fat side down and cover. <Optional: you can add chopped onions and garlic to the taro leaves to give it a bit of extra flavour>
4. Cook on low heat setting for 12 to 16 hours. I know this is a huge range but it all depends on how big your meat is and your slow cooker. Sometime around hour 7 flip the meat so the fat is on the top. This allows the fat to drip into the meat while cooking to keep it moist and dries out the fat a bit.
I recently experimented and shortened the cooking time a bit. The first part of the cook I did it on high for 3 hours, then flipped the meat. I then turned down the heat to low and cooked for an additional 6 hours. I had a smaller piece of pork, about 3-4 pounds so if you have a bigger (and thicker) piece, I would increase the cooking time on the high setting for another hour.
5. Once the cooking is complete, remove the pork and place into a large dish. Remove the fat layer and place into a separate bowl. Using 2 forks, gently shred the pork into bite sized strips. Take about a cup to a cup and a half of the meat and mix it in with the taro leaves. A lot of the salt would have already dripped into the taro leaves so it should be salty enough but adjust as necessary.
6. Because the taro leaves have soaked up all the cooking juices, take some of the fat pieces with the oil and incorporate back into the Kalua pork. Adjust salt levels to taste.
7. Serve with some plain white rice and mac salad of course!
That's it! Hope you all enjoy.
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