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Chicken Katsu (Chicken Cutlet)

I can’t believe it is April already but time flies as cliché as the saying goes. With the weather in Toronto switching between hot/warm/cold, I was craving some comfort food and chicken katsu came to mind. For those that are not aware of what chicken katsu is, it is basically the Japanese version of a chicken cutlet where you are using panko as the breading instead of the typical bread crumbs.

Panko gives the chicken a nice crunch but not overly heavy feeling that you get from cutlets that are more breading than the chicken itself. The sauce itself can be bought or homemade and they are both just as delicious. Check out the recipe. I highly recommend this for an easy weekend meal.


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Japanese Hamburger Stake


Normally I do more baking than cooking but after watching a Japanese cartoon (Chibi Maruko-chan) I was inspired to attempt to make the Hamburger Steak that Maruko-chan’s mom. I am not sure about you guys out there but a lot of my initial exposure from food steamed from cartoons as a kid.

The hamburger steak is a like a hamburger but without the buns and I think the best comparison to it would be the Salisbury steak. Whenever I test out recipes, I often adjust it depending on preference and what ingredients that I have available. For this experience, I referenced a recipe from Just One Cook Book but since I did not have red wine on hand I referenced the sauce portion from Japanese Cooking 101.

One of the troubles that I encountered was making sure that it was thoroughly cooked due to the thickness of the patty. Both recipes mentioned that you need to cover the pan for roughly 5 minutes to make sure that the patties are cooked thoroughly which was something I skipped initially. It was a bad mistake especially when you are trying to make something the first time. It was a lesson learned for sure!


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Onigiri Factory


With the month coming to an end and with a new month beginning, I decided to make an old favourite of mine. For those that aren’t aware of what onigiri is, it is essentially Japanese rice balls with a filling on the inside with a piece of seaweed on the outside. Traditionally, onigiri can be eaten plain with the rice being seasoned by light salt or it can be filled with picked plums. However, as time change there has been more and more different times of fillings such as salmon with mayo, etc.

One of the most common misconception out there is that onigiri is another form of sushi but I can assure you that there are some distinctions. A key point would be the rice being used, in comparison to sushi, Japanese rice balls are made with plain rice without the rice vinegar.


I find onigiri to be a nice alternative to sandwiches because unlike sandwiches that gets soggy quickly. Onigiri has seaweed wrappers available allowing you to keep the seaweed away from the rice before eating thus nothing gets soggy. When it comes to making the filling, I am a non-traditionalist so I like to use crab sticks mixed in kewpie mayo with some masago in it. Since I rarely just make oniguri for myself, I like to make spicy and non-spicy onigiris. How do I make spicy onigiris? I like to add chilli garlic sauce into the mayo instead of sriracha because I find that it gives you more of a kick.


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Chez Ashton


For those that have no idea what a poutine is, I can honestly say that you are missing out. It is the ultimate comfort food and for me it ranks above mac and cheese. Poutine is a beautiful marriage of fries, cheese and gravy and don’t be fooled by the simplicity of the ingredients because the taste is out of the world. I have seriously lost count of the amount of poutines that I have had since I arrived but can you blame me? There are a variation of poutines but I normally go for the classic and prior to my arrival I had asked the same friend who recommended La Caisse-Crêpe Brenton as to where it would be a good place to go. Chez Ashton, a local fast food chain was recommended to me and since then I have made several visits and based on my observation, it might actually be more popular than McDonald’s here. A lot of people go there for poutine but they also offer burgers and hotdogs too. I always like to see what the local fast-food chain offers during my travels and I can say that Chez Ashton is up there in terms of places to go.

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Cut the Cheese

Cut the Cheese

How do you end of the last week of the month? Answer: Mac & Cheese

Classic Mac & Cheese

With the weather being unbelievably cold the last several weeks, a friend of mine recommended “Cut the Cheese” located in the west end of Toronto where they make some awesome comfort food. They have a wide range/combinations from grilled cheese to mac & cheese. I decided to opt for the classic mac & cheese because that is the essence of comfort food for me going back to days as a kid. I think the next time I visit, I will opt for a more adventurous combination.

For more information, please see: http://www.cutthecheese.ca