Friday, June 27, 2014

Tuna Salad

Copyright 2014 LtDan'sKitchen blogs
A favorite of mine since college, this is one of my favorite sandwich filling since Dunkin Donuts introduced the Tuna Sandwich melt back in the 90s. They still do serve this sandwich but I must say, I now prefer my version over the DD version. Now, one thing I love about my country is that we have this brand of canned tuna which is Century Tuna. They have both the solid and chunk tuna in oil so what you end up getting is a really creamy tuna that has been soaked in olive oil. Once you drain the liquid off the can, you are left with a wonderful tasting tuna that is perfect for this type of preparation. 

Tuna Salad

3 -184 g cans Century Tuna solid in vegetable oil
2 medium carrots, grated on medium grate
1 onion, diced finely
1 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup pickle relish
1/4 cup celery, diced finely
salt and pepper

1. To prepare the salad, drain the canned tuna and combine with the onions,
    pickle relish, carrots and celery. 

2. Add enough mayonnaise until the salad comes together. Season with salt 
    and pepper. You may not need the whole cup.

3. Store in the fridge covered for at least 2 hours before serving. I like it 
    best as a sandwich filling but it also goes well with celery sticks and 
    Romaine lettuce leaves.

Adobo - Iloilo Version

Copyright 2014 LtDan'sKitchen blogs
This is yet another version of the national dish of the country. I did not know there was actually a second version to the dish in the western visayan region. I always thought that the one version I cook is representative of the region but I was proven wrong. Anyway, the main difference between the two dishes is really not that significant although this minor change will render the dish a bit different in terms of how it looks and very slightly on how it tastes. Overall, the dish is still very delicious. 

To make the switch, all you need really is annatto powder. Traditionally, you extract the annatto color from the actual seeds which you can still do. However, with the wonders of large supermarkets, you can now buy annatto powder and they work the same way without all the mess. 

Adobo - Iloilo Version

1 lb chicken pieces (about 8 pieces)
4-6 garlic cloves, crushed
1 onion, sliced
3 dried bay leaves
1 tbsp annatto powder
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 cup white vinegar
3 tbsp oil
salt and pepper

1. Heat the oil in a deep pot over medium high heat. Once hot, saute the
    onions with the garlic until softened. Season with salt and pepper. Add
    the bay leaves. 

2. Add the chicken to the pan in one layer and season with salt and pepper.
    Brown on both sides. Once browned, add the vinegar. 

3. Bring to a boil and lower the heat to medium low. Simmer covered for 
    about 20 minutes. 

4. Add the annatto powder and brown sugar and mix well into the vinegar 
    sauce. Bring to a simmer and cook covered for another 15 minutes. If it 
    starts to dry up, add a bit of water. 

5. Check for seasoning and adjust accordingly. There should be a good 
    balance between sweet, sour and salty. If you prefer it a bit sweeter, add
    more sugar. If you want it a bit drier, just continue to simmer uncovered 
    until you reach the desired consistency. Serve with steamed rice.   

Pan-seared Tuna

Copyright 2014 LtDan'sKitchen blogs
What I'm presenting is a real treat. I'm one of those people who love sashimi which is basically raw fish dipped in soy sauce with a bit of wasabi. Nothing is more simple and yet nourishing than this exquisite Japanese dish.The inspiration to prepare this dish came to me when I went to the market one morning and they laid out freshly cut tuna. My mind suddenly thought of sashimi and tuna rolls but try as I might, there is a shortage of Japanese rice at the moment in my hometown. So with a heavy heart, I had no choice but to freeze the most wonderful and freshly cut slabs of tuna meat until I can get hold of the things I will need to prepare an authentic Japanese meal.

Two weeks have passed and there is still no Japanese rice to be bought in the market and grocery stores so I have decided to cook the tuna a bit differently. I'm glad I sliced the tuna slab into large portions that I can actually prepare it pan-seared with the middle part still gloriously reddish pink. The question is, how do I season it? Well, after some research, I came up with the prefect marinade and coating to prepare my lovely tuna. 

Pan-seared Tuna

6-8 oz sushi grade tuna steaks (at least 1-inch thick)
3 tbsp dark sesame oil
3 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp fresh ginger, grated
2 cloves garlic, grated
dash or two of black pepper
juice of 1/2 lemon
3 stalks spring onions, chopped finely
1/3 cup sesame seeds
2 tbsp olive oil

1. To marinade the steaks, combine in a shallow bowl the sesame oil, soy
    sauce, ginger, garlic, spring onions, lemon juice and season with the 
    black pepper. 

2. Arrange the tune steaks so that they are laid flat in the bowl and marinate
    for about 30 minutes turning them halfway. 

3. When ready to sear, heat the olive oil in a non-stick pan over medium 
    heat. Dredge the tuna steaks with the sesame seeds on the top and the 

4. Sear the tuna steaks for about 1 1/2 minute on each side. Remove from 
    the pan and let cool for a minute. Slice into the desired thickness and 
    serve with a side of soy sauce and wasabi.  

Gelato Ice Candy - 3 Flavors

Copyright 2014 LtDan'sKitchen blogs
Summer time in the Philippines is quite hot and humid. I remember growing up that we used to snack on ice candy that we would either buy from the neighbors or ones that we made ourselves. Now, Ice candy in the simplest terms is a poor man's ice cream frozen in little plastic bags so you end up with a tube-like ice treat in various flavors ranging from mango, avocado, cantaloupe, coconut or even just simply, milk. It was always fun preparing them to eat or to sell. However, what is even more fun is eating them on a hot summer day. 

This summer, I decided to revisit this childhood memory by recreating this wonderful treat but in a more adult version. I used to make gelato while living in the US and I figured, how about I make a gelato base and add three different kinds of fruits. The gelato base will create a much more creamy consistency that will result to an ice candy that melts in your mouth just like any regular ice cream would. Since it was the height of summer, I decided to make use of the abundant supply of mangoes, avocados, and cantaloupe. Because the avocados have a tendency to turn brown when exposed to air, the mashed avocados were mixed with the juice of 1 lemon. 

Gelato Ice Candy, Three Flavors

2 cup fresh milk (full fat)
1 cup cream
1 cup granulated sugar
4 egg yolks
2 tbsp corn starch
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups of mashed fruit (avocado, mango or cantaloupe)
20 ice candy wrappers 

1. In a small pot, warm the milk over medium low heat. When almost boiling,
    simmer for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and let cool for about 5 minutes. 

2. In a small bowl, combine the corn starch with the sugar and egg yolks. Mix 
    well with a fork. Add to the cooled milk and stir well. 

3. Turn on the heat at medium low and cook the egg milk mixture until it 
    thickens. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla. Set aside until it 
    cools to room temperature. 

4. Once the gelato base is cool, add your choice of fruit and the cream. Stir 
    well and pour into the little bags and tie the ends tightly. Freeze overnight 
    or until the ice candy is set. 

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Herbed Cheese Sticks

Copyright 2014 LtDan'sKitchen blogs
This very simple dish is a favorite of mine since I first tasted it a long time ago. I can't think of the reason why but I seldom make it until I moved to the US for graduate school. I used to make this for potluck parties especially for a picnic in the park or just as a snack really. The reason being is that there are only two ingredients to this wonderful treat which are cheese and a spring roll wrapper. The trick to making these bad boys is to make sure that your oil is very hot when you start frying them. The wrappers have to crisp up to a golden hue before the cheese filling melts and starts to ooze out. 

My cousin makes this a bit differently for two reasons. One, we buy our spring roll wrappers fresh off the wet market so they are round instead of square. The wrappers come in various sizes so we usually go for the medium or the smaller ones for this treat. Two, she slices the cheese thinly and rolls the wrapper without folding the sides so it becomes almost like a fried cheese roll. It is delicious. Now, since I like to push a simple recipe into something more complicated, I actually took it one step further and decided to soak these wrapped cheese delights in an eggwash onto an herbed bread crumb mix before frying them. The result is similar to a mozzarella stick that I tasted in one of the local restaurants here in town. This is definitely worth a try.

Herbed Cheese Sticks

1 lb Cheddar or Mozzarella cheese - 2 to 3 inches long and 1/4 inch thick
40 round spring roll wrappers, about 6 inches in diameter
1 cups bread crumbs - Japanese style
1 tsp Herbes de Provence
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp dried thyme
salt and pepper
2 eggs
oil for frying

1. To make the cheese sticks, place one slice of cheese about a third from 
    the edge of a wrapper and fold the edge over it. Tuck in the sides 
    towards the center and roll forward tightly to seal. Wet the edge with 
    water to ensure it stays put.

2. In a shallow bowl, whisk the eggs with 2 tablespoons of water. Set aside. 

3. To prepare the breading mix, combine the dried herbs with the bread
    crumbs in a shallow bowl. Season with salt and pepper. 

4. To fry, heat enough oil at medium high heat. Dip the cheese sticks in the 
    egg wash and quickly dredge with the breading mix. Fry in batches of 5 
    so that they fry quickly. Turn them once and continue to fry until it is 
    evenly golden brown in color. 

5. Serve immediately with your choice of condiment. Marinara sauce, tomato 
    ketchup or sweet chili sauce are perfect choices for this treat.