Friday, 4 January 2013

Chinatown Adventure: Kowloon Market and Spicy Peanut Quinoa Salad with Dark Soy Marinated Tofu

Chinatown Adventure: Kowloon Market

For the first blog post, I thought I would write about a Chinatown food adventure that Alex and I shared and some recipes that I created with inspiration from the shopping trip! 

After a week of temperatures hovering around -38 Celsius with the windchill, this Saturday it finally warmed up to -18 C! Comparatively, it felt like spring outside! Well, okay, that is a bit of an exaggeration, but it was at least bearable to walk outside for more than five minutes. We decided it would be a great day to get lunch in Chinatown and then head over to Kowloon Market on Somerset. With our guys in tow, we bundled up and headed out to grab some steaming hot pho at Pho Bo Ga 2. A big bowl of soup hit the spot and warmed our bellies enough to head back out into the cold and up the street to the grocery store.

Kowloon Market is a wonderful place which seems to transport you away from Ottawa as soon as you walk in the door. Not only do they have some great and varied produce, they also have a selection of unusual ingredients, a fresh meat and fish section as well as a bakery. This visit to the store was especially fun as they had a whole host of Chinese New Year delicacies.  We picked up some fresh wheat noodles, frozen dumplings and bbq pork steam buns, sesame cookies and peanut crisps (little peanut brittle-like candies), hoisin sauce, red chilies and a new ingredient I have never used before, dark soy sauce. All of these ingredients contributed to a fantastic feast which was had later on that day.  

Whenever I go to Kowloon market I always get inspired. Even a day later, I was inspired by the smells and flavours. Since, on Sundays I often make lunches for my week ahead, I decided I would make an asian inspired dish. I was most intrigued by the dark soy sauce I bought and I used that as my jumping off point. Dark soy sauce has been fermented for a longer period of time. It is thicker than traditional soy sauce, saltier tasting and also has a hint of molasses flavouring, making it very rich - only to be used sparingly. Here is what I came up with: Spicy Peanut Quinoa Salad with Dark Soy Marinated Tofu. I cannot wait to have lunch this week!

Spicy Peanut Quinoa Salad with Dark Soy Marinated Tofu

Dark Soy Marinated Tofu

2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup cubed tofu


3 cups cooked Quinoa
1 cup fresh or frozen peas
1/4 cup diced cucumber
1/4 cup diced green or red pepper
1/4 cup diced carrot
1 small red chili, sliced very thin
2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
2 green onions sliced diagonally
cilantro (to taste)


1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon peanut butter
1 tablespoon water
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon minced or grated garlic
1 teaspoon minced or grated ginger

Add to the cubed tofu, lime juice, black pepper and dark soy sauce in a bowl. Let sit for 15 to 30 minutes. After marinating, heat a small non-stick frying pan and add the tofu. Brown the tofu in the pan under just brown and crispy on the edges. Remove the tofu and while the pan is hot add the sesame seeds to toast them. Allow them to get golden brown, taking approximately 5 minutes. 

While you are waiting for the tofu to marinate, you can get the quinoa and vegetables going for the salad. Cook quinoa according to the packing (type I had called for 15  minutes of cooking time). Once the quinoa is cooking, you can go ahead and begin chopping the cucumber, pepper, carrots, red chili, and green onions. If you are using frozen peas, the last minute of cooking the quinoa add the peas so they defrost. Allow the quinoa and peas to cool slightly before mixing the salad. Once the tofu is cooked, add it to a large bowl along with the quinoa, peas and other vegetables.

For the dressing, grate ginger and garlic into a bowl. Add the dark soy sauce, lime juice, rice vinegar, peanut butter water and olive oil. Mix well and add to the quinoa, tofu and vegetables. Toss the salad together, and finally add cilantro (optional). 

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