Tojo’s (Vancouver, BC)

Tucked into an unassuming block of office buildings on Broadway, one of Vancouver’s busiest thoroughfares is a Tardis-like temple of Japanese gastronomy run by one of the planet’s most famous sushi chefs. This itamae titan is Hidekazu Tojo and unlike a lot of chefs with half a century of experience tucked under his apron he can be counted on to be at his restaurant nearly every day with a big smile to greet guests.  

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Spot Prawn Tempura

After getting completely trounced in the first round of last week’s Shellfish Festival competition, I’ve been thinking a lot about simplicity. One of my many mistakes during those surreal 45 minutes was going in too many directions at once instead of focusing on a single, well crafted dish. So yeah, fourteen years experience and I still have to go back and work on fundamentals! *laughs*

I’ve still got bags of Calvin’s freshly-caught Spot Prawns in my freezer and the whole family is home today for one reason or another. I think it’s time I channel my fryer days at Wasabiya and bang out some simple, perfect prawn tempura. (more…)

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Soy-Braised Pork Loin

If you’ve ever been to a real Chinese market, have a Chinatown near you, or hell… If you’ve been to China you’ve seen and hopefully tasted Siu Mei in all of its barbecued, glistening glory. It’s a take-out tradition that goes back to Guangzhou in the days when every neighbourhood had a local “oven master” that would roast various animals in special sauce to perfection and sell them to their neighbours to eat with a bit of rice and pickles. (more…)

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Sesame-Pickled Burdock Root

New ingredients are like amphetamines for kitchen creativity. From the moment I get home from a farmer’s market or an afternoon of foraging or hell, just back from a regular ‘ol grocery shopping run I’m jacked up! What is this crazy looking-stuff? Where did it come from? How do I process it and what can I do with all the bits? My mind is vibrating in a million different directions at once!

Last week I got a hold of some burdock root at the market in Courtenay and had just such a moment. These rough-looking tubers looked more like something dug out of a cat box than anything I’d serve for dinner, but The lady I bought ‘em from was insistent that they were a delicious spring delicacy! So yeah, I got ‘em home, mind ablaze and immediately starting hunting through my cookbooks for more info. (more…)

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Miso-Roasted Oysters

Oyster MotoyakiI know it seems like I throw miso in everything – like Jamie Oliver with all that damned rosemary – but if you’re a fan of oysters stay with me. If you have friends and family that are a little oyster-phobic this is the recipe that will turn ’em around. It’s that damned good!

And that’s impressive because there aren’t many things that people eat more polarizing than oysters. Shuck a couple and half the people at your dinner party will gag while the other half dig in with wild abandon.  My wife was one of the former (an unrepentant hater of oysters and most other bivalve mollusks) up until only recently. Now she tolerates a few raw oysters now and then but only if they’re the size of a dime and the larger ones get only scornful looks unless they arrive slathered in miso mayonnaise.

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