Thursday, August 25, 2016

Trillium Chefs Canada Quest For Gold at Culinary Olympics...

Last evening, I was honoured to be in the presence of talented Trillium Chefs Canada at a fundraising Canada's Quest for Gold reception dinner held in a local Toronto hotel. My amazing long-time friend Chef Frederick Oh is the team's advisor and his diverse culinary team of renown chefs have competed in competitions around the world and won multiple medals such as at Culinary World Cup, Culinary Olympics and many other international competitions. It is the most prestigious culinary competition in the world and attracts the most talented chefs globally.

This year, they will represent Canada regionally at the 2016 IKA/Culinary Olympics from October 22nd to 25th, 2016 in Erfurt, Germany. The event has been staged at Erfurt every four years since 2000 but originated as early as 1896 in Germany, and held in their other local cities. Trillium Chefs’ long term objective is to groom and develop local, professional and upcoming chefs representing Canada in major world culinary competitions while promoting culinary art and techniques. 
They will compete in ten categories: Team-A, Team-B Individual Entrees and Junior Chefs with each team composing of a team captain, three chefs and a patisserie.

Trillium Chefs will provide a wealth of knowledge to not only the team, but to chefs in training, the culinary industry and the community. You can join this adventure and become a part of the Culinary Olympics Team by supporting the Trillium Chefs with funding and sponsoring the team. Contact Frederick Oh (Team Advisor) or Dilup Attyagalla (Team Captain) at

* A huge thank you to my friend Alvin Hoang who attended the evening with me and came to my rescue as my trusted photographer when I completely forgot to bring my camera! Shout out to you for all the visual credits as this post would not have been without you :D!

The Trillium Chefs Canada Team

In preparation for the Culinary Olympics, the chefs are tirelessly raising funds for the team’s competition expenses. Planning ahead for the competition includes a Canadian-inspired menu, astounding presentation and showcasing exceptional teamwork throughout. Plates must be practical, creative and innovative while demonstrating new techniques and nutritional value. At last night's gala, the food offered at serve-yourself stations and hors d'oeuvres being passed around by team members displayed the team's panache for detailed presentation and combination of wonderful flavours that included Asian and Mediterranean inspirations.

Honeydew melon carving by Chef Frederick Oh

Multi-talented Chef Oh is a master fruit and vegetable carver. It took him less than an hour to carve this watermelon and at his quickest in twenty minutes!

Stunningly beautiful! I love the watermelon skin carved into leaves.

I was Chef Oh's assistant for the night making sure the carving station looked at its best as well as inviting guests to come up to help create a decorative fruit and vegetable centre piece by inserting "flower" carving skewers (beet roses, zucchini lilies, radish flower buds, kale leaves, carrot and celery spikes) into head lettuces.

Which should ultimately look like this immaculate one... See more on Fred's carvings in my post 
The Art of Fruit and Vegetable Carving at a previous event.

Chef Oh at Feast of Fields promoting
local agriculture and organic farming

Niagara Peller Estates sponsored their gorgeous red merlot and white chardonnay wines.

I loved this shrimp and smoked salmon rose skewer with capers and dill-- so pretty and tasty!

The dessert tasting station was right off the venue entrance (on purpose perhaps to tantalize the taste buds)-- and what a delightful spread and presentation it was. From mini portions of crème brûlée, lemon meringue (my favourite), strawberry chocolate tarts, chocolate ganache cake, raspberry mousse with coulis and nitrogen ice cream!!

Canadian Culinary Federation Chef Cornelia Volino and Trillium Chefs Canada Team Captain Chef Dilup Attyagalla delivered their welcome speeches, praise and encouragement and introduced each team member to come up on stage.

Go Canada Go!

Chef Frederick Oh, Chef Dilup Attyagalla and Professor Leo Chan

Aside from a generous silent auction, another activity invited participants to show off their plating skills in an Iron Chef competition. The black box ingredient revealed cooked quail and four participants along with faculty chefs assisted to create their desired plate with their choice of seasonings and prepared ingredients. Judging and deliberation revealed a winner of a gift basket of goodies!

Four corner food stations were served up by Trillium Chef members. 
What a wonderful spread of flavours highlighting our local meats and produce!

Stuffed Supreme of Chicken 

Caprese-Style Bread and Butter Pudding

Roasted Beef Short Ribs in Espresso Balsamic Demi-Glace

Thank you Chef Fred Oh for your warm invite. I wish you and your team every success as you venture to Germany and showcase the talent you guys got! Continue to make Canada proud as you have been doing all these years! 

Trillium Chefs are forging our Canadian heritage cuisine's presence in the international arena of professional chefs and cooks. You can join this adventure and become a part of the Culinary Olympics Team by supporting the Trillium Chefs with funding and team sponsoring. Contact Chef Frederick Oh or Chef Dilup Attyagalla at

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Chillaxin' Weekend with Good Eats and Good Times...

Summer weekends are for relaxin' no doubt... Especially in the company of great friends and family, delicious food (from Vietnamese to Chinese to Korean) and just having a grand ol' time with no cares in the world... to me nothing spells chillaxin' more! A beautiful friday night jump-started an incredible weekend, with my most awesome friend joining the boyz for hang out time and some fun in the kitchen. 

Smiles all around!

Etienne and Shanea wrapping Chinese Dumplings for pan-frying.

First-time dumpling wrapping was successful (teaching and learning new things- Yay!).... I say who cares what it looks like, as long as the seams are sealed and the filling stays in. See here for my post Dumplings 101. Practice, practice, practice makes for ease-ability, speed and perfection overtime, and it starts with initiation :) Shanea tells me in her native Jamaica, their form of dumplings (because every culture has a dumpling) are more like perogies- using a thicker dough of flour and water to encase contents like ackee and salt fish, potatoes or cheese. Mine usually consist of pork and shrimps, and I also make a version of pure minced and chopped shrimp.

The main meal though was a DIY Vietnamese salad rice rolls with a choice of fillings: shrimps, chicken, bean sprouts, cucumber match sticks, fresh herbs: chives, Thai basil, mint and cilantro atop a leaf of lettuce with a small heap of vermicelli all wrapped up in a softened rice paper, and dipped with nuoc mam (seasoned fish sauce) or peanut-hoisin sauce. See my thorough post for how to recreate this fun food experience at your table. Spring rolls are also another wrap favourite for the Vietnamese... encase in a leaf lettuce, dip and crunch it!

Vietnamese Fresh Shrimp and Pork Salad Rolls

Chowing down!

Ending the night with something sweet-- a cold refreshing Coconut Jackfruit Tapioca Dessert mixed with coloured coconut gels for chewy fun! For more on jackfruit, check out my post.

Coconut Jackfruit Tapioca Dessert

My boys duked it out on Wii Dance with Shanea then we went out and karaoke-boxed it! 🎶 🎤 🎤 🎶

Saturday was spent at my parents for dinner (no cooking for me-- Yay!) while checking out my super artist brother Marten Go's Preserved Dragon's product offerings-- posters, prints and Bruce Lee statues-in-the-making. I am so proud of him and thought this is a good opportunity to show off his work to my readers :D. For more see his recently launched Official web-site (* some pages are under construction) and impressive Facebook fan page.

Title: Fight of the Century (Limited Edition)
B/W Vintage Premium Poster by Marten Go

Preserved Dragons

My favourite of all of his nine completed statues has to be none-other-than Conan from Conan The Barbarian. Twelve different materials were used to clothe this immaculate and meticulous hand-sized statuesque. It's even more remarkable up close and personal.

Conan, Jackie Chan & Benny (Meals on Wheels) and Bruce Lee (Way of the Dragon).

A simple Chinese dinner with steamed rice from top left clockwise: Five-Spice Chicken Wings, Jellyfish and Cucumber shreds, Steamed Chinese Greens (Yu choy), Stewed Soy Pig Hocks (pig feet) and Pan-Fried Tofu with Korean dressing.

And Sunday after a good late afternoon chase in our Korean town 'hood for Pokemon, a satisfying Korean Dinner at Nak Won cooking popular DIY BBQ equipped with all the tasty complimentary side dishes (panchan): Chap Chae (glass noodles), seaweed, home-made kimchi, seasoned bean sprouts and spicy fried fish cake. Try Korean BBQ at home-- it is simple to do and so delicious, wrapping up parcels of grilled meats in lettuce, garlic and jalapeno slices and seasoned bean paste... See my Post.

Grilling pork belly!

Grilling marinated kalbi beef ribs!

Finished the meal off with spicy tofu soup (sundubu-jigae)

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Japanese-Inspired Libations for Cool Vibrations...

Sharing Shaken or Stirred feature in the August issue of Bento Box Magazine, a Toronto-based Japanese New Concept Magazine launched in March 2015. The publication strives to provide the latest fresh and exciting news in Toronto, rich content on Japanese culture, and connect readers with good food, travel ideas, shopping, beauty, other cultural products and events going on in the GTA. I absolutely love Japanese culture and food, so much I have a dedicated page on Facebook called Life in Japan 
that celebrates the love for all things Japanese- its multifaceted culture, exquisite places and glorious cuisine! This summer has been especially exceptional as Japanese cool sugoi has been displayed all over our cosmopolitan food life offering a dazzling drool-worthy array of cool desserts and drinks. Check out where some of these Japanese twist on a classic cocktails are being served at a restaurant or bar near you! I must admit, I haven't been keen on cooking in this heat and although downing a beer at home daily has been nice, it be great to treat myself to some solid good eats and a cocktail or two! Who's with me?

If you live in the GTA, pick up Bento Box's monthly issue at the following distributing restaurants and retail shops. Always a fascinating read cover to cover if you are like me-- a Japanese aficionado.


Monday, August 15, 2016

Pang Pang Chicken Noodle Salad...

Sweltering humidity describes this summer to a tee! Who wants to cook in this heat and add more hot with the kitchen elements? My mind has been on cool and this dish leaped to the front instantly-- drool, with all its alluring hearty ingredients, flavours and crunch. Pang pang aka bang bang chicken is a street vendor's cold salad dish (shredded chicken mixed with cucumbers, toppings and sesame sauce) from the Szechuan region of China. Interestingly, the name does not come from its peppery-hot sesame dressing, but from the wooden stick (pang in Mandarin) that is used to beat the chicken (thus bang bang) to tenderize and loosen its fibres. Luckily, we don't have tough chicken here :). 

I've had a similar profile cold dish in Northern-style Chinese restaurants with shredded pork, chopped garlic, and cilantro in a tangy sesame sauce served on top of green bean (mung bean) noodles or Tientsin Fen Pi which literally means skin of flour- thin, clear and flat with nary to chew. Marrying the best of both extraordinary dishes-- chicken with the noodles, I came up with this irresistible combination which is also a crowd-pleaser; a unique potluck dish to bring or serve at the table or picnic buffet-style. Refrigerate for at least an hour to welcome the cold. How's that for beating the heat?

Pang Pang Chicken Noodle Salad
Makes 6 to 8 servings

2 large or 4 regular chicken breasts (1-1/2 lb.)
1 pkg. (250 g) dried green bean noodles or ready prepared green bean noodles

1 English cucumber, thinly sliced into strips
4-5 garlic cloves, minced (I love it extra garlicky)
1 thick slice gingerroot, minced (optional) *serve on the side as it can be too strong and raw for young taste buds
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1 bunch cilantro, stems removed, chopped

Dressing (adjust to your liking- more vinegar for tangy, more sesame paste for nutty):
1/3 cup tahini sesame paste or prepared Chinese sesame paste
3 Tbsp. soy sauce
2 Tbsp. rice vinegar or Chinkiang black vinegar
1/4 cup cold water

a splash of fresh lemon juice
a few dash of ground white pepper
1 tsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. sesame oil

toasted sesame seeds
chili oil with seeds (served at the table)

Bring water in a saucepan to boil to cover the chicken two-inches. Simmer, covered for about five minutes or until thoroughly cooked. Remove from heat and let steep for 15 minutes; remove and let cool. 

Meanwhile, if using dried noodles, soak in hot water 15 minutes or until soft and transluscent. Add to saucepan of boiled chicken water; cook one minute or just until tender. Drain in colander and let cool. 

If using ready prepared green bean noodles (sometimes they call it jelly), unroll the slab of noodle, and cut into long noodles or into square pieces. Place into serving bowl or on platter.

Thinly slice the cucumbers into strips. Sprinkle 1/2 tsp. salt over the cucumber and mix well. Set over a colander so the water could ooze out. After ten minutes, rinse in cold water to rid of the salt and squeeze out excess water. Going against the grain, shred the chicken into strips with your hands. 

Meanwhile, prepare the sauce. Stir the tahini well in its jar or Chinese sesame paste and add amount to mixing bowl. Mix all dressing ingredients together except sesame seeds and chili oil. (Don't worry if the dressing separates- stir well all the ingredients and it'll blend back smoothly). Adjust to your taste preference- more vinegar for tangy, more sesame paste for nutty).

Top noodles with chicken, then drizzle with 1/3 of the sesame sauce. Add cucumbers, garlic and ginger (optional or for the table). Drizzle with 1/3 more of the sauce. Garnish with cilantro and green onions. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Serve remaining dressing and chili oil at the table for people to add themselves. Best to refrigerate salad for an hour for flavours to meld and for dish to cool before serving! Tastes more refreshing that way!

A party of flavours and textures mingling in tangy sesame dressing over refreshing cool noodles!! Ooo!! If you love garlic, this dish is heavenly with loads of it minced!! Crazy good!

Digging in with minced ginger, chili oil and extra sesame dressing at the table to help yourself!

Mix all the goodness up and you are ready to start slurping!

Ha-- exactly two years ago today-- August 15th, 2014, I had posted these following pictures for this very recipe (which I revised and now updated with current photos). It goes to show some food are never far from mind and are revitalized when the proper mood or circumstance arises (even if it took two years). And in this case, the situation is the summer heat. And really what better to cool down the body than with something refreshingly cool that requires minimum cooking (just the chicken) and loaded with crunch and greens/herbs?

Pang Pang Chicken Salad made with dried mung bean noodles.
Love my pretty ceramic plate I picked up in Oporto, Portugal.

Sebastien enjoying noodles today as he did
two years ago in this photo (age 5)!

Make In Advance TIP: This dish can be prepared hours in advance with dressing on the side and refrigerated, covered, until ready to serve.