Sep 15, 2013

Going TOPLESS... Hawaiian Style

Topless Salmon Ramen Burger
Click on photo to enlarge
By topless, naturally I mean the open faced sandwich... Hawaiian style. The open faced sandwich is popular around the world and is believed to have originated between the 6th and 16th centuries. In those days slices of bread were used as plates, carrying a variety of meats. The food-soaked bread was either eaten by the diner or perhaps fed to the dogs. As our tastes have evolved, as well as the exotic ingredients that are available to us now in specialty shops and local farmer’s markets, the combinations and creations have exploded.

Eggs benedict has been a popular breakfast open faced sandwich in the U.S. for many years, but I would have to give credit to the Scandinavians for their incredible open faced sandwiches. They take one piece of buttered bread and top it with a variety of goodies such as cold steak, shrimps, smoked salmon, caviar, hard boiled eggs, bacon, herring, fish fillets, or liver pate. This is typically complemented by some herbs and vegetables such as parsley, cold salad, thinly sliced cucumber, tomato wedges and/or pickled beets etc., and a condiment such as a mayonnaise-based dressing, all on a slice of bread. Hungry yet?

Naturally Hawaii has a reputation, and a taste for tropical ingredients, as well as seafood, so I've put together a series of recipes for "Going TOPLESS... Hawaiian Style."

Topless Salmon Ramen Burger
The lowly ramen soup mix has come out of the closet. The beef ramen burger is a big hit from New York to Honolulu. I've turned this tasty east meets west dish into an open-faced salmon burger using grilled ramen noodles for a base, topped with fresh local watercress, and salmon cakes topped with a ponzu-wasabi mayonnaise. Great for lunch or dinner, this is island kine grindz at its best!

Ingredients for ponzu-wasabi mayonnaise:
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoons ponzu sauce (citrus-soy sauce)
1 teaspoons wasabi paste or powder

1 pack of dried ramen noodles (shrimp flavored)
1/2 egg, lightly beaten, divided in half
3 tablespoons sesame oil

8 ounces of fresh salmon
1/2 egg, lightly beaten (other half from above)
1 green onion, sliced thin
ponzu sauce (I use Kikkoman brand, or make your own, recipe here)
1/2 cup panko Japanese bread crumbs
4 tablespoons canola oil
salt and pepper to taste

1 1/2 cups watercress (leaves only)
furikake seasoning for garnish
shredded red pickled ginger for garnish
pickled kim chee cucumber
sticky short grain white rice (sushi rice)

To make the ponzu-wasabi mayonnaise, simply stir all ingredients together in a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and chill until ready to use.

Place the ramen noodles in 2 cups of cold water and heat them on high until they begin to boil, but don't put the shrimp flavor packet in yet. When the water comes to a boil, cook for one minute and then the noodles should be done, taste to make sure. Drain the noodles, and transfer them to a bowl, and while they are still warm, mix in 1/2 of the shrimp flavor packet and let the noodles cool. Beat one egg, then gently mix 1/2 of the egg with your noodles. Now separate the noodles equally into two small salad plates. Take two more salad plates and place one on top of each of the plates with the noodles in them, and press down gently to flatten the noodles to about 5 inches round. Refrigerate these for at least 15 minutes, the longer the better.

Put 2 tablespoons of sesame oil in a large fry pan over medium heat. When hot, carefully loosen the noodles from one of the plates with a spatula and transfer to the hot frying pan with a spatula. Grill the noodle cake over medium heat until it is toasted on both sides, about 5 minutes on each side. Add more oil if needed. Remove the grilled noodle cake to a serving plate, cover with foil to keep it warm. Repeat this process with the second noodle cake.

Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Place the salmon on a small foil lined sheet pan, skin side down. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 15 to 20 minutes, until just cooked. Remove salmon to cutting board. Turn the salmon skin side up and peel the skin off. Remove any grey colored flesh and discard with the skin. Now with two forks, flake the salmon into a small bowl. Add the other half of the shrimp flavor packet from the noodles, the sliced green onions, the other half of the beaten egg, and a splash of ponzu sauce. Put 1/2 cup of Panko bread crumbs in with the salmon mixture and gently mix everything together. Place canola oil in a large frying pan over medium high heat. With your hands, form 2, 4" salmon burgers, then grill until cooked to your liking, about 4 minutes on each side, until browned. Sprinkle each with salt and pepper while hot.

Top the center of the ramen cakes with about 3 tablespoons of ponzu-wasabi mayonnaise, then add fresh watercress leaves on top of the mayonnaise. Top the watercress with a grilled salmon patty and a little more ponzu-wasabi mayonnaise (see photo above). Garnish the mayonnaise with shredded red pickled ginger, and furikake seasoning. Serve each with slices of pickled kim chee cucumber and two scoops of sticky rice topped with furikake seasoning. Makes 2 serving.

Topless Grilled Pineapple-Chicken Sandwich
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 (12- to 14-ounce) bottle teriyaki sauce, divided
4 (1 1/2-inch) slices King's Hawaiian Sweet Bread
4 canned pineapple rings, drained
4 leaves green leafy lettuce
8 (1/4-inch) slices red bell pepper rings

Place chicken in self-sealing plastic bag along with half of teriyaki sauce. Seal; marinate at least 1 to 2 hours, turning once or twice. Remove chicken from bag. Discard marinade.

Grill chicken breasts over medium heat about 6 to 8 minutes on each side or until done. Baste with remaining teriyaki sauce while cooking, 2 to 3 times.

Add bread and pineapple slices to grill the last few minutes while cooking chicken, turning once to lightly brown both sides.

Top each bread slice with lettuce, bell pepper, chicken breast that has been sliced thinly, and finally with pineapple. Serve immediately. Makes 4 servings. Makes 4 servings.

Topless Steak Sandwich
Ingredients for steak marinade:
2 to 3 tablespoons dried oregano
2 to 3 tablespoons granulated garlic
2 to 3 tablespoons kosher salt
2 to 3 tablespoons dried parsley
1 to 2 tablespoons dried basil
4 cups vegetable oil
24 ounces rib-eye steak, trimmed of fat

Ingredients for sandwich:
butter, for bread
French bread, sliced diagonally
1 red pepper, seeded and sliced
1 green pepper, seeded and sliced 
sliced mushrooms, 
sliced Maui onions, or red onions
provolone cheese, shredded

Combine the oregano, granulated garlic, kosher salt, parsley, basil, and vegetable oil together in a bowl. Add the rib-eye to the marinade and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for 12 to 18 hours.

Remove the rib-eye from the marinade and cook in a large skillet, over medium-high heat, to preferred doneness. Let rest for 10 minutes, covered with foil. Slice steak thinly.

Butter and toast the bread slices and build sandwiches with the sliced steak, red and green bell peppers, mushrooms, onions, and provolone cheese. Broil sandwiches on a cookie sheet until cheese melts. Serve immediately. Makes 4 servings.

Topless Bacon-Avocado-Tomato Sandwich
4 toasted bread slices (Ciabatta, or any of the Artisan breads)
6 slices bacon, cooked and broken in half
1 large avocado, sliced thinly
1 large tomato, sliced thinly
1/3 cup mayonnaise
garlic salt
black pepper

Before assembling sandwiches, toast bread slightly to take some of the moisture out. Lay bread on a cookie sheet. Spread a generous amount of mayonnaise on each slice of bread. Then put three bacon halves on top. Top with the avocado, and then with the tomato. Sprinkle tomato with garlic salt and pepper. Makes 4 servings.

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