Tag Archives: Foodie

Shabu Shabu, Swish Swish (Day 9)

I pSwish by Han 016ersonally never heard the sound — the onomatopoeically-named “swish swish” sound that the thinly sliced pieces of fresh, red ribeye steak are supposed to make when they’re stirred in their fragrant broth. The broth I’d just made. At the table. In my brass hot pot on the portable gas-burning stove. Awesome.1

My first time eating Korean food was an event in and of itself. It was a UYE, which, for those of you out there who are not in the know2, UYE is Yelp code for “Unofficial Yelp Event”. What this means is that a bunch of cool Toronto foodie-types (usually the Elites such as yours truly) get together at non-Yelp sanctioned events and basically eat and imbibe until our little hearts (and stomachs) are content. When I saw that the event was Korean, I nearly blew out my keyboard RSVP’ing so furiously.

Swish by Han is a tapas-style Korean fusion restaurant that recently opened in the turning-swanky lower Toronto financial district. JamesJT over at Compendium Daily did a most excellent roundup of the resto. I’m sure you’re thinking “oh, hell naw, she did not just link us through to another site”, but fret not — his photos of Swish by Han are fierce, not to mention he has a scan of le menu which allows you to see Korean fusion in action for yourself. It’ll just happen this once — promise!

The interior of Swish by Han was pleasantly pleasing. Large, rustic wooden tables line one side of the space with tables just opposite;

Swish by Han 006


 contemporary art from friends and family members hanging throughout; an almost out-of-place chandelier at the rear; and my personal favourite, tons3 of candles burning. Most importantly, the washroom was hip, large, and clean, and since y’all know how much I appreciate a good washroom, I’ll add simply that it may not be the cushiest washroom, but it has plenty o’space to do whatever you need to do. 😉

Let’s get to the good stuff — the food. Food I consumed included:

  • Jellyfish — no longer being a jellyfish virgin, I can say that it’s actually quite tasty. It was vinegary and tart, and delicious!
  • Pork dumplings — not overly greasy, but with an excellent flavour
  • Purple yam fries — wrapped in Korean newspaper, presented in a glass vase, and served with a spicy house-made mayo. Killer.
  • Kimchee — I finally had kimchi!! It wasn’t what I expected, but it was good. I expected more of a warm cabbage instead of a cold pickled cabbage in a red sauce. I’ll definitely try it again, though.
  • Shabu Shabu, Swish Swish — the reason to go. We shared three different swishes: beef, seafood, and vegetarian. A brass pot is brought out to you with a portable gas-burning stove. You are then brought a plate of perfectly-sliced beef and another plate of various vegetables. The pot is turned on to boil, you add the herbs and vegetables to flavour the water, and once it’s boiling, you add your beef and “swish” it around for just a few minutes until it’s cooked! It was served with a sweet and sour sauce that was good, although my dinner partners informed me that you are usually given a sesame soy-type sauce with Korean food as well. Of course, what did I know.  Once you are finished with your dish, you are allowed to choose from either rice or noodles; your leftover broth is used to cook either starch and you finish off the Shabu Shabu this way.
  • Soju — a very strong drink made in South Korea. Traditional soju was distilled from fermented grains, a method that was prohibited during the rice Swish by Han 005shortages that began in 1965 and lasting more than three decades. Instead, they began using ethanol (yes, the same ethanol that we use to fuel our cars) to dilute the soju. Although the ban has been lifted, cheap soju is apparently still made this way. Its alcohol content is between 20-45%. Swish by Han’s soju was served in flavours including ginger, which is what we had. It’s traditionally shared by the table and served in shot glasses. I had a very tiny sip and practically grew a patch of hair on my chest. Pretty!

The service was excellent! Granted, we were there early on a Tuesday night, so they weren’t packed, but our server was patient and attentive with our large group.

My first time eating (sort-of) Korean was seriously good. And of course, I’ll become a shabu shabu prophet to all those whom I feel need a little spice in their life. Not to mention, it’s just fun to say to shabu shabu, swish swish. It’s some serious rhymoflavin’, nón?

1 I think I use this word far, far too much. I will try to use it less. Try, being the operative word, naturally.
2 By which I mean totally uncool.
3 Or “tonnes” if you’re Canadian.


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Feast Your Eyes (And Your Stomach)

Risotto 007As some of you^ may know, Fall is upon us. Fall happens to be my favourite season of the year, for several reasons: trees that begin turning hues of bright orange, yellow and red; weather that begins to cool down*; days that begin to shorten**; and, since my birthday is close to Christmas, the beginning of Fall means I’m closer to finally getting some presents! 🙂 Fall also means that I get to break out my stylish winter garb without risking a quick death from heat stroke, as would likely happen if you tried to pair cashmere and Ugg boots in the nearly year-round tropical climate that is Houston. Although some of you may argue ;-), I personally believe I look far better in jeans, cashmere sweaters, and 4″ black leather boots than I do in Daisy Dukes, sleeveless tops and flip flops. A “summer body”, God did not give me.

Fall is the time of year that, most importantly, marks the beginning of the winter food season and all of its deliciousness. Chilis, soups, stews, braised meats, paellas, and my personal favourite, risottos, are the hearty, “stick to your ribs” kinds of foods that make -30C weather bearable. That, and wearing seventy-two layers of Patagonia. Anyway. The overnight lows in Toronto last week hit 4C/37F, so I happily spent two hours making my first risotto of the season! It turned out fabulously, if I do say so myself’ and, as a matter of fact, my description of it on Facebook was apparently so appealing that it garnered scores of requests*** from far and wide to post it.  Since my motto is “ask and you shall receive”, you can now enjoy the recipe**** for Shrimp, Asparagus and Dill Risotto!

Shrimp, Asparagus and Dill Risotto

1 lb. asparagus
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup water
Salt and pepper

1 L chicken stock (I used the low-sodium boxed kind)
3 tbsp butter
1 small onion, minced
1 shallot, minced (optional) 
1 cup risotto
1/2 cup dry white wine
Zest of one lemon
1/3 cup grated Parmesean cheese (I prefer to use real Parmesean cheese rather than Kraft shredded…it makes a big difference, but can be expensive)

1 lb large raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 tbsp fresh dill, minced

1. Use a sauté pan other than the one you’ll use to cook the risotto. Cut off the asparagus tops and reserve. Snap off the woody ends from asparagus and discard. Cut the remaining stems into 1-inch pieces. Heat the oil and butter in a sauté pan. Add the stem pieces and cook five minutes. Add the garlic and the asparagus tips. Pour the water over the asparagus, season with salt and pepper (I also used Tony Cachere’s), and cook until tender, 5 to 15 minutes, depending on the asparagus. (If you like, you can add a sprig of rosemary to the dish with the garlic and tips, then remove it at the end).

1. Bring the stock to a simmer and set aside. Heat 2 tablespoons of the butter in a saucepan and cook the onion and shallot until soft, stirring with a wooden spoon. Add the rice and stir until translucent, about four minutes. Stir in the wine and reduce until almost dry. Add a ladle of stock and cook, stirring, until it disappears. Continue, one ladle at a time, until the rice is tender and creamy, about half an hour.

2. Stir the shrimp and asparagus into risotto, add the remaining tablespoon of butter, lemon zest, and cheese; cover and reduce heat to low; simmer, stirring once, for approximately ten minutes. Stir in dill. 

Spoon into bowls, serve, and enjoy!



^ By which I mean not my Texas readers
* In a normal year; Toronto had a cooler-than-normal summer, so we’ve basically had winter for the last 18 months 😉
** Which I love because I am a complete night owl, so the longer it is darker, the happier I am
*** By which I mean four
**** I actually blended two recipes together to make this dish, because I like to pretend I’m crafty that way

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