Recipe: Chicken Karaage

Chicken_karaage_by hiratakeChicken karaage is a popular Japanese izakaya (pub) food. This recipe comes from our customer and pal Mason, who spent several years living in Japan. Shichimi Togarashi, which translates to “seven spice,” is a blend of chiles, citrus and sesame commonly used as a condiment for soups and noodle dishes. It adds great, spicy, citrusy flavour to the karaage coating. Mason recommends serving this with lemon and Japanese mayo (sometimes called “kewpie mayo”) for dipping.


750 g chicken thighs, boneless and skinless
2 Tbsp soy sauce or tamari
3 oz sake
2 Tbsp fresh ginger, finely chopped
2 tsp sesame oil
Shichimi Togarashi


  • With a sharp knife, lightly score chicken thighs, or poke each thigh several times with a fork. Pound meat lightly with a mallet or the blunt side of of knife. Place thighs in a bowl.
  • In a blender, combine soy sauce, sake, ginger and sesame oil, blending until smooth. Pour marinade over thighs and let rest 1 hour in the fridge.
  • Remove chicken from marinade and pat dry. Heat a good amount of oil in a deep pan.
  • Combine a bunch of cornstarch and Shichimi Togarashi on a plate (around 4:1 starch to spices). Coat chicken pieces in cornstarch mixture and fry, a few pieces at a time, turning as needed, until chicken is browned and cooked through.

Photo by Japanese Wikipedia user Hiratake


Stampeding with The Silk Road

Posted by Claire

Howdy, folks.

For our non-Calgarian readers, today is the first day of the 2015 Calgary Stampede, which is a 10-day celebration of everything Western. If the hot weather didn’t already have us dreaming about backyard barbeques and summer drinks, this definitely moved those things to the top of our priority list. In honour of that, we’ve released two videos showcasing easy ways to incorporate spices and bitters into your summer entertaining.


The first video addresses a common question we get at the Calgary shop — namely, how to use our steak spices (or any dry rub) to season a steak.


The second demonstrates a Silk Road twist on the classic Caesar, Calgary’s most iconic cocktail. It’s called the “Hell and High Water” as a nod to the 2013 floods that inundated both the Stampede grounds and our neighbourhood, and we’ve played on the name by enhancing the seafood elements of the drink.


If you’d like to read up on the spices we use in the videos, here are the links to their descriptions on our website:

Have a safe Stampede, everyone. Yeehaw!


Tomato Chutney

One of our staffers in Edmonton, Linda, made this delicious chutney to go with some pakoras she whipped up. It was so popular with the rest of the team that we just had to share. It goes well not just with pakoras, but also with mild curries, other snacks and even fancy macaroni and cheese.


1-inch piece of fresh ginger, finely minced
2 Tbsp oil or ghee
1 tsp Panch Poran
4-6 cloves garlic-finely minced
1 lb fresh tomatoes-peeled or 1 lg can peeled tomatoes
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup sugar
4-5 dried apricots, finely diced
2 whole fresh serrano chiles, finely diced


Heat the oil or ghee, then add the Panch Poran and fry for a few seconds. Add the Red Chile Flakes, ginger and garlic. Sauté for a few minutes, then add the rest of the ingredients except apricots and serranos. Cook until the chutney begins to thicken (15-20 mins), then add apricots and serranos. Lower the heat and simmer for another 10-15 mins or until thick and glazed-looking. Serve at room temperature for best flavor.

Recipe: Ratatouille


Submitted by Claire

Ratatouille is one of my favourite things to make. It’s wonderful in late summer and early fall, when you can get great vegetables that haven’t travelled thousands of kilometres in the back of a truck, and it’s the perfect thing for a cold, winter evening (just use canned tomatoes). It’s vegan, gluten-free, flavourful, healthy, low-effort, infinitely scalable, and it freezes reasonably well. It works as a side dish, or as a main course, served over rice, quinoa, couscous, or just with a slice of really great bread. Add some cooked lentils if you want to up the protein content. I’ve adapted my recipe over the years, stealing bits and pieces of other people’s ideas. Here’s the most recent incarnation.



1 red onion
2-3 bell peppers (at least one red)
1 medium-to-large eggplant
2 medium zucchini
2-3 garlic cloves, sliced thin
1 large can good-quality tomatoes OR
5-6 nice plum tomatoes (canned if not in season)
Olive oil
Herbes de Provence
Sel de Provence or coarse sea salt


  • Chop all vegetables into a rough, 1-inch dice.
  • Toss onion, peppers, eggplant and zucchini with a good drizzle of olive oil, some Sel de Provence (or sea salt) and a good grinding of pepper. Spread the vegetables on a sheet pan, or in a shallow dish, and roast at 400 F for 20 minutes to half an hour, or until they have softened and the edges are browned.
  • When the vegetables are ready, heat about a tablespoon of olive oil in a large soup pot. Add garlic and cook, stirring, until garlic is just golden.
  • Add roasted vegetables, tomatoes (with liquid, if canned), and a few teaspoons of Herbes de Provence. Bring to a simmer, cover and cook about 20 minutes. Uncover and stir in more herbs, salt and pepper, to taste.


Photo by Benoit5656 on Wikipedia.

Recipe: Summer Peach Cupcakes

2014-08-17 15.16.05

Submitted by Claire

Spices seem somehow out of place in summer baking. Maybe it’s because traditional baking spices – cloves, cinnamon, ginger – with their spicy, warming aromas, conjure up thoughts of fall and winter. Maybe it’s because summer baking often involves fruit, and in Canada, it’s a shame to do too much to fresh fruit when it’s in season.

But our wonderful summer staff member Andrea was heading back to Montreal, and since she’s an avid baker, I wanted to make some interesting, spiced baked goods for her last shift. I found a recipe for peach cupcakes with touches of nutmeg and vanilla that satisfied my requirements. But I didn’t need almost 30 cupcakes, so I halved the recipe, and instead of the pinch of nutmeg that the original recipe called for, grated a good amount of fresh nutmeg into the dry ingredients. The result is a super-moist cupcake with lots of chunks of fresh peach and a nice kick of spice from the nutmeg. You’ll have lots of the brown sugar-cream cheese frosting, so it can be applied liberally. All in all, a perfectly worthy fate for summer peaches.


Summer Peach Cupcakes with Brown Sugar-Cream Cheese Frosting (adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

Makes 14 cupcakes


For cake

1 ½ cups cake flour
¾ tsp baking powder
¾ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1/8 tsp fresh-grated nutmeg
6 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
6 Tbsp granulated sugar
6 Tbsp light brown sugar, packed
1 large egg, lightly beaten
½ tsp Madagascar Bourbon vanilla extract
¾ cup light sour cream
1 ½ large, ripe but firm peaches, pitted, peeled and chopped

For frosting

10 Tbsp (½ cup plus 2 Tbsp) light brown sugar
2 Tbsp cornstarch
¼ cup icing sugar
1 250-g package cream cheese, softened
¼ cup unsalted butter, softened
½ tsp Madagascar Bourbon vanilla extract



For cake

  • Preheat oven to 350 F, and line a muffin tin with cupcake papers.
  • Combine dry ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.
  • Cream butter and sugars together in a large bowl until fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. Mix in sour cream.
  • Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and combine, but do not overmix. Gently fold in peaches.
  • Fill liners with batter until almost full. Bake cupcakes for about 20 minutes, or until tops are golden brown and a tester inserted into one cupcake comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before frosting.

For frosting

  • Whisk cornstarch and sugars together in a small bowl until fully mixed.
  • Cream butter and cream cheese together in a large bowl. Beat in sugar mixture. Add vanilla and beat gently until mixed through.
  • Cover bowl with plastic wrap and chill for about 30 minutes, to allow the frosting to set up.
Recipe: Labneh (Yogurt cheese)

Recipe: Labneh (Yogurt cheese)


Submitted by Claire


Like tzatziki, but easier, labneh is another fabulous, summery thing to do with yogurt. Drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with Za’atar, this Lebanese yogurt cheese makes an easy snack for lazy days in the backyard.



1 750-gram tub of plain full-fat yogurt
½ tsp kosher salt
Olive oil, to serve
Za’atar Seasoning, to serve


  • Mix salt into yogurt.
  • Line a mesh sieve with cheesecloth and place the sieve over a bowl. Pour salted yogurt into cheesecloth. Pull edges of cheesecloth together and twist to create a tight package.
  • Let the cheesecloth-wrapped yogurt rest in the sieve in the fridge for at least 12 hours (the longer you let it sit, the drier your labneh will be). Discard the whey that drips into the bowl, or save it for another purpose.
  • Scrape the labneh from the cheesecloth onto a plate and use a spatula to form it into a round. Drizzle olive oil over labneh and sprinkle with Za’atar, to taste. Serve with flatbread, crackers or vegetables.

Chilly Outside? Have Some Chili Inside.

Submitted by Vanessa Gillard

Chili con carne, or just plain old “chili” if you like, is the absolute perfect meal to dig into after nestling into your scarf and heading out for a walk as the days get shorter and the temperatures lower. Throw all your favourite ingredients into your slow cooker in the morning and like magic you have a steamy bowl of comfort awaiting your arrival. But if you want to stay within the parameters of classic chili con carne then make sure you add chiles “chili” and meat “carne.” Many people include beans, though some chili purists insist that’s a travesty.

Chili as we know it originated in Mexico but was popularized in the States as early as 1863 at The Chicago World’s Fair where The San Antonio Chili Stand debuted this humble dish to enthusiastic Northerners. Chili is the official food of the state of Texas. Around the turn of the last century, Texans discovered it by way of “chili queens,” Mexican women who would build cooking fires at dawn and cook giant pots of chili to sell to hungry passersby.

You can make chili from scratch with whatever chiles and spices you have around, but a pre-mixed chili powder will get you to the same place. The Silk Road has three varieties of chili powder: mild, hot and Mayan, plus a huge variety of whole and ground chiles.

Chili has so many incarnations that almost everyone has a recipe they prefer and gosh if it isn’t good on just about anything, right? We at the shop had been throwing around the idea of a chili cook-off for quite some time, so a couple weeks ago, a few people brought in their favourites and we had ourselves a chili feast. We didn’t declare a winner, but the recipes are below.


This lamb chili has a savoury almost gravy- like texture to it. Delicious!

This lamb chili has a savoury almost gravy-like texture to it. Delicious!

Lamb Chili with Masa Harina Dumplings

Submitted by Jess

Adapted from Gourmet Magazine

Makes 6 to 8 servings


For the chili:
10 dried New Mexico chiles
3¼ lb boneless lamb shoulder, trimmed and cut into 1½-inch pieces
½ tsp black pepper
1¼ tsp salt
3 Tbsp canola oil
1 large onion, chopped (around 2 cups)
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 bay leaves
2 tsp ground cumin
1½ tsp dried oregano
3 Tbsp finely chopped chipotle chiles in adobo
6 cups water
28 oz can of black beans

For the dumplings:
¾ cup masa harina (corn flour)
¼ cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
¼ cup cold lard or unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
¾ cup well-shaken buttermilk
2 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro

  • Simmer dried chiles in 2 cups water, covered, until very soft (about 20 minutes). Reserve ¾ cup cooking liquid, and then drain in a colander. Stem the chiles (do not remove seeds), then purée in a blender with reserved cooking liquid until smooth. Force the purée through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl.
  • Pat the lamb dry, then sprinkle with pepper and 1 tsp salt. Heat 2 Tbsp oil  in a big, heavy pot, then brown lamb in 4 batches (without crowding), turning occasionally (about 5 minutes per batch). Transfer to a bowl.
  • Add remaining Tbsp oil to pot, then cook onion, garlic, bay leaves, and remaining ¼ teaspoon salt over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened (4 to 5 minutes). Add cumin and oregano and cook, stirring frequently, 1 minute.
  • Stir in reserved chile purée and chipotles and simmer, stirring frequently and scraping up brown bits from bottom of pot, 5 minutes. Add the beans and lamb along with any juices accumulated in bowl and the remaining 4 cups water, then bring to a boil.
  • Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until lamb is tender (about 2½ hours).
  • For the dumplings, stir together masa harina, flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl. Blend in lard or butter with a pastry blender or your fingertips until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add buttermilk, stirring just until dough is moistened (do not overmix).
  • Skim the fat off the chili and discard the bay leaves. Drop 8 or 9 heaping Tbsp of dough onto the simmering chili, about 2 inches apart. Reduce heat to low and gently simmer, covered, until tops of dumplings are dry to the touch (15 to 20 minutes). Sprinkle with cilantro and serve.
mexi white bean pork belly

The addition of cilantro and sour cream give this chili recipe a nice rounded flavour.

Mexican White Bean Chili with Pork Belly and Prosciutto

Submitted by Jenny

**This is a very free-style recipe. All ingredient quantities are approximate.
2 cups dry white beans
3-4 cups chicken stock
1 medium or 2 small zuccinnis
2 cups chopped celery
1 whole onion
1 cup chopped green onion
3 Tbsp ground aji amarillo
3 Tbsp ground ancho chiles
1 Tbsp ground coriander
6 oz pork belly
3-4 Tbsp Mexican oregano
5 pieces of chopped prosciutto
2 cups canned corn
¼ cup lime juice
½ tsp sea salt
½ tsp cracked black pepper

  • Whether using a slow cooker or the stovetop, you’ll need to soak the beans overnight. After soaking, rinse the beans then cook them in the chicken stock on medium heat for at least an hour until they’re soft.
  • Sear the pork belly in oil. Add the Mexican oregano and lime juice.
  • Add the pork to the pot of beans along with all the other ingredients.
  • Simmer on low heat for 4-6 hours.
  • Serve with fresh cilantro, sour cream and corn chips or tortillas.


A more traditional take of chili this recipe showcases the chiles and the roasted cumin creme fraiche is the perfect topper.

A more traditional take on chili than the others, this recipe showcases the chiles and the roasted cumin creme fraiche is the perfect topper.

Smoky Bison and Black Bean Chili

Submitted by Colin

Makes 6 to 8 servings

Colin’s Intro:

Until recently, every time I’ve thought about making chili, I’ve cast around for the perfect recipe. I can never remember which recipe of the 15 I can find in my various books is the one I like. I read them all, and end up using bits and pieces of each of them. The next time, it’s the same story all over again. Was it the “Beef and Vegetable Chili”  or the “Hearty Beef Chili?” Did I prefer kidney beans or black beans?

I finally decided to get down on paper the approximate formula for the way I’ve made it the last few times. This recipe, to me, brings together all the good things about the infinite possibilities of chili-making. Bison instead of beef (leaner, healthier, greener). Whole chiles. Dark beer. Black beans. Chipotles.

The great thing about chili is that you can do whatever you like. Add corn. Substitute your favourite beans. Make it hotter…or milder. There’s nothing more forgiving than a pot of chili.

I consider this a recipe-in-progress. It’s adapted from about five other recipes, and I’ll probably make it differently next time.


For the chili:

2 lbs ground bison (or, okay, beef. But come on.)
¼ cup olive oil (bison is so lean that a bit of oil is necessary for browning)
1 large onion, diced (doesn’t really matter what colour. Red are nice.)
4 cloves garlic, minced (non-negotiable)
½ of a red pepper
½ of a green pepper
2 whole ancho chiles
1 whole pasilla chile
½ can chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tsp Mexican oregano
1 bottle dark ale (I won’t insist on a brand)
1 litre good chicken stock
2 large cans diced tomatoes (including the juice)
2 tbsp honey
2 cans black beans, rinsed well (or a good double handful of dried beans, soaked overnight)
2 tbsp fresh lime juice
Salt and pepper

  • Tear the stems off the whole ancho and pasilla chiles and shake out most of the seeds. The more seeds you leave in, the hotter the chili will be. In a dry pan, sear the chiles on high heat for 3 mintues, pressing down on both sides with a spatula. Toss them in a blender with the chipotles in adobo sauce, the beer and just enough of the chicken stock so that they blend well. Blend to a smooth consistency.
  • Heat the oil in a large heavy pot or Dutch oven. Season the bison with salt and pepper and brown. Set aside.
  • Add the onions to the pan and cook slowly until soft (add a bit more oil if necessary). Add garlic for one minute and then red and green peppers. Sauté slowly for 5 minutes or so. Add the cumin and Mexican oregano, then the blended chile sauce and cook for another 5 minutes. Add the bison, the rest of the stock, the tomatoes and the honey. If you are using soaked dried beans, add them at this point, too. Bring to a boil and reduce to low. Simmer for a good hour (by the way, this isn’t a good recipe for quick-dinner nights) with the lid on. This step is key: it takes at least an hour for all the ingredients to come together and turn into chili. Up until that point (and you’ll know when it happens) it will look too soupy . If it’s taking too long, you can take off the lid, turn up the heat and boil it down to a good consistency. When you feel like you’re getting there, add in the black beans for the final 10 minutes. Stir in the lime juice just before serving. Season with salt and pepper if needed.
  • I like to eat this with sour cream that has toasted cumin seeds stirred into it. And tortillas. And maybe some fresh avocado slices. Cilantro? Your call.