May 31, 2014

Doing Without SALT?

Cottage Cheese Shrimp Salad (recipe below)
Click on photo to view larger
It's not very likely that a chef will say "we will do without salt", because like fat, salt is flavor, and flavor is what attracts people to food. Actually doing without salt is not an option anyway, because small amounts of sodium - the element that makes up 40 per cent of salt - are essential for the transmission of nerve impulses, the contraction of muscles and to maintain the body's fluid balance. But excessive amounts over many years can lead to several health problems, like high blood pressure, which can lead to heart disease and stroke. Too much salt can contribute to high blood pressure by causing the body to hold on to water, which increases the volume of the blood. So the heart has to work harder to push the blood through the arteries. I know because I have high blood pressure and it's a pain in the you know what to take pills everyday, twice a day, not to mention the cost of the medication.

There are many products that we love that contain high levels of salt like Spam and soy sauce here in Hawaii, but here's a look at some of the saltiest foods we eat, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention... called "The Salty Six". Some on the list might surprise you.

1. Breads and rolls. We all know breads add carbohydrates and calories, but salt, too? It may not seem like it because a lot of bread doesn’t even taste salty, but one piece can have as much as 230 milligrams of sodium. That’s 15 percent of the recommended amount from only one slice, and it adds up quickly. Have a sandwich and muffin in one day? The bread alone could put you at about 1,000 milligrams of salt – or two-thirds of the American Heart Association’s recommended daily sodium limit of 1,500 milligrams. Be sure to check the nutrition label as different brands of the same foods may have differing sodium levels.

2. Cold cuts and cured meats. Even foods that would otherwise be considered healthy may have high levels of sodium. Deli or pre-packaged turkey can contain as much as 1,050 milligrams of sodium. They have so much because most cooked meats would spoil in only a few days without the added sodium solution. Look for lower sodium varieties.

3. Pizza. OK, everybody knows pizza’s not exactly a health food. But you’re probably thinking the big concerns are cholesterol, fat and calories. But pizza’s plenty salty, too. One slice can contain up to 760 milligrams of sodium. It doesn’t take a whole lot of math to realize two or three slices alone can send you way over the daily sodium recommendation. You may want to have fewer slices of pizza topped with vegetables and less cheese.

4. Poultry. Surely chicken can’t be bad for you, right? Well, it depends on how the chicken is prepared. Reasonable portions of lean, skinless grilled chicken are great. But when you start serving up the chicken nuggets or poultry injected with added sodium solutions/marinades, the sodium starts adding up. Just 3 ounces of frozen and breaded nuggets can add nearly 600 milligrams of sodium. (And most kids probably aren’t stopping at 3 ounces.) Check labels to be sure you are selecting the lower sodium version and that there are no added sodium solutions.

5. Soup. This is another one of those foods that seems perfectly healthy. It can’t be bad if Mom gave it to you for the sniffles, right? But when you take a look at the nutrition label for some products, though, it’s easy to see how too much soup can quickly turn into a sodium overload. One cup of canned chicken noodle soup can have up to 940 milligrams of sodium. Look for lower sodium options that taste just as great!

6. Sandwiches. This covers everything from grilled cheese to hamburgers. We already know that breads and cured meats are heavy on the sodium. Add them together, and you can pretty easily surpass 1,500 milligrams of sodium in one sitting. Top sandwiches with plenty of vegetables, such as lettuce, tomato and cucumbers.

Ok, so listen to this... the American Heart Association recommends consuming less than 1500 mg of sodium a day, which is a little more than 1/2 teaspoon of salt a day. Ouch! you say, so what do we do? First we need to retrain our taste buds to go without salt, use garlic, lemon herbs and spices instead. Your tastes will adapt within to to three weeks. Another solution if you can't cut down on salt, switch to a salt replacement product like Mrs. Dash, or make your own, see the salt free seasoning recipe below. Being conscious of food labeling in the grocery store is a good start to reducing the amount of sodium in your diet. Eat more fresh foods like produce, fresh meats and fish. Be sure to look for the American Heart Association's Heart-Check mark – when you see it on a product, you know the food has been certified to meet nutritional criteria for heart-healthy foods. Avoid the prepackaged foods isles in your grocery store, when you buy things that come in boxes, cans and frozen meals that is where the sodium has been added.

Other ideas from the American Heart Association:
•  Marinate chicken breasts or pork chops in lemon juice, orange juice, or wine.
•  Roll fish in sesame seeds before baking.
•  Spice up beef with a mixture of onion, peppers, sage, and thyme.
•  Toss in a few fruits and vegetables, such as dried apricots, raisins, red pepper, or yellow pepper for extra flavor.
•  Simmer carrots in cinnamon and nutmeg.
•  Sprinkle some dill and parsley onto potatoes before roasting.
•  Add a dash of chili powder to corn.
•  Toss your pasta with fresh chopped garlic.
•  Replace salted butter with unsalted butter.
•  When cooking with cheese, opt for fresh mozzarella or cheeses labeled "low-sodium."

All I am saying is that everyone can cut down on their salt intake for the sake of their own health, and the health of their family. Remember, most sodium in the diet comes from packaged, processed foods, so try some of these low-salt recipes from the American Heart Association, who knows you may like them and live longer. Low Salt Recipes

One final note: there's almost always no difference between sea salt and table salt. Read this.

Here are a few recipes that I like that are low-salt and delicious:

Make Your Own "Salt Free Seasoning"
This recipe comes from the American Heart Association.
I order most of my spices from Penzeys Spices, I highly recommend them, or try their blend of salt free seasoning called "Penzeys Forward."

Ingredients:
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper 
1 teaspoon mace, ground
1 teaspoon dried basil, ground 
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 tablespoon garlic powder 
1 teaspoon black pepper, ground
1 teaspoon thyme, ground 
1 teaspoon sage, ground
1 teaspoon parsley, dry flakes 
1 teaspoon marjoram
1 teaspoon savory, ground

Mix together and place in salt shaker.

Cottage Cheese Shrimp Salad
This is a low calorie, low salt salad combination that is great as a healthy lunch salad.

Ingredients:
1 (8 ounce) package of small curd cottage cheese
1 pound of small shrimp, boiled, and chopped
2 eggs, boiled
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
a pinch of salt and pepper to taste

1/4 cup seasoned rice vinegar
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon olive oil
lettuce leaves (leafy lettuce)
2 Roma tomatoes, sliced
1/2 Japanese cucumber, sliced

paprika and fresh dill for garnish
Ak-Mack crackers on the side

Procedure:
Mix together cottage cheese and cold chopped cooked shrimp. Peel eggs and chop. Mix with the cottage cheese and shrimp. Add cayenne pepper and a pinch of salt and pepper to taste.

Mix the seasoned rice vinegar, lemon juice and olive oil together. To serve, place lettuce leaves on a salad plate, place the tomato and cucumber slices on the lettuce and sprinkle with dressing mixture. Top each serving with shrimp mixture, then sprinkle with paprika and garnish with a sprig of fresh dill. Serve with a no salt cracker, like Ak-Mack crackers. Makes 2 large servings.

Note: Serving fresh grapes or slices of mango, papaya, cantaloupe on the side would also be a good thing.

Broiled Salmon Summer Salad
What a great way to enjoy a summer salad, and it's so good for you.

Ingredients:
1-1/2 pound salmon filet, cut into 4 pieces, skin and bones removed
1 tablespoon fresh lemon or lime juice
1/4 teaspoons each of salt and cracked black pepper
1 large cucumber, cut in half lengthwise, seeds scooped out, diced into 1/2 inch cubes
1 large ripe fresh tomato, diced
1 medium ripe, but firm avocado, diced in 1/2-inch cubes
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives or finely chopped scallion
3 medium cloves garlic, pressed
1-1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
2 tablespoons of seasoned rice vinegar
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 tablespoon honey

Procedure:
Press garlic and let sit. Preheat broiler on high and place a cast iron pan under the heat for about 10 minutes to get it very hot. The pan should be 5 to 7 inches from the heat source. Rub salmon with 1 tablespoon fresh lemon or lime juice, salt, and pepper. While pan is heating, mix together cucumber, tomato, avocado, chives, garlic, and dill in a bowl and set aside. Whisk together 2 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar, olive oil, and another pinch of salt and pepper, in a separate bowl. Toss with cucumber mix when ready to serve. Place salmon on the hot iron pan and cook for about 7 minutes under the broiler, depending upon thickness (keep an eye on it so that it doesn't burn.) Combine honey and mustard and coat salmon during last 2 minutes of cooking. Divide cucumber mixture between 4 plates and serve with salmon. Makes 4 servings.

Fresh Vegetable Soup
This soup is full of flavor because of all of the fresh vegetables. To make it even more of a meal, add little shell pasta to the mix.

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 medium onion, chopped fine
6 medium sized cloves garlic, chopped
5 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
1/2 cup celery, diced
1 cup carrots, peeled and diced into 1/2-inch pieces
1-1/2 cups finely chopped kale
1/4 cup diced portabello mushrooms, black gills cut out and discarded
1 15 ounce can diced tomatoes
1 tablespoon dried Italian herbs
2 cups or 1 15 ounce can navy beans, drained
a pinch of salt and black pepper to taste

Procedure:
Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a medium soup pot. Sauté onion in oil over medium heat for 5 minutes stirring frequently. Add garlic and continue to sauté for another minute. Add broth and the rest of the ingredients except beans and salt and pepper. Bring to a boil on high heat, reduce heat to low and continue cooking, uncovered for 30 to 45 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Add beans, cook for another couple minutes, season with salt and pepper, and serve. Makes 6 servings.

Tropical Mahi-Mahi Sandwich
Mahi-mahi is a very popular fish in Hawaii, and this healthy tropical sandwich 
is the reason why. 

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons low-fat mayonnaise
2 tablespoons nonfat plain yogurt
2 teaspoons rice vinegar
1/8-1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 8-ounce can pineapple chunks or rings, drained and coarsely chopped
2 cups coleslaw mix (thinly sliced cabbage and shredded carrots) or make you own
1/4 cup cornmeal
1 1/4 pounds mahi-mahi, haddock or cod, skinned and cut into 4 portions
1/2 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons canola oil, divided
8 slices whole-wheat country bread, toasted

Procedure:
Whisk mayonnaise, yogurt, vinegar and crushed red pepper to taste in a medium bowl. Add pineapple and coleslaw mix and stir to combine.

Place cornmeal in a shallow dish. Sprinkle both sides of fish with Cajun seasoning and salt. Dredge the fish in the cornmeal.

Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add half the fish and cook until golden, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate and repeat with the remaining 2 teaspoons oil and fish, adjusting heat as needed to prevent burning.

Top toasted bread with the fish and pineapple slaw to make sandwiches. Serve immediately. Makes 4 servings.

Tuna & Bean Salad Sandwich
Tuna mixed with beans makes a delicious combination that is high in protein 
and low in salt.

Ingredients:
1 clove garlic, crushed and peeled
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 15-ounce can great northern beans, rinsed
1 3-ounce can tuna packed in water, drained and flaked
1 cup arugula leaves, coarsely chopped
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
2 6-inch whole-wheat pita breads
2-4 large lettuce leaves
1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion

Procedure:
With a chef’s knife, mash garlic and salt into a paste. Transfer to a bowl. Whisk in lemon juice, oil and crushed red pepper. Add beans, tuna and arugula; toss to mix. Season with pepper.

Cut a quarter off each pita to open the pocket. (Save the trimmings to make pita crisps.) Line the centers with lettuce. Fill with tuna & bean salad and red onion slices. Makes 2 sandwiches.

Grilled Asian Flank Steak
This flank steak gets its flavor from the marinade. It looks spicy, but not really... Very Tasty, and the salt gets rinsed off after an hour!

Ingredients:
1-1/2-pound flank steak
kosher salt (do not use table salt)

For marinade:
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
2 tablespoons finely chopped scallions (about 1)
1 jalapeño pepper, finely chopped
2 large cloves garlic, minced
zest of 1 lime
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 tablespoon fish sauce (available in Asian markets and many supermarkets)
2 teaspoons Sriracha hot sauce
2 tablespoons olive oil

Procedure:
Pat steak dry with paper towels. Season on both sides with kosher salt and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Let it rest on counter for 1 hour.

Meanwhile, make marinade. Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and set aside. After steak has been coated with salt for 1 hour, unwrap it and rinse thoroughly under cold running water. Pat dry with paper towels and place in a large zippered plastic bag. Add marinade to bag, being careful to coat steak on both sides. Seal bag, forcing out most of the air inside and, manipulating bag from the outside, work rub marinade against surfaces of the steak. Refrigerate at least 6 hours and preferably overnight.

Grill steak. About 1/2 hour before the grill is ready for cooking, remove steak from fridge to bring it to room temperature. Prepare grill for direct grilling and medium-high heat. Remove steak from zippered bag and scrape off excess marinade (I used the back edge of a table knife). Discard marinade.

Brush grill grate with a little oil and place steak directly over coals (or gas heat source). Close grill and cook for about 4 minutes. Turn and cook other side for about 4 minutes, with grill lid closed. If first side isn’t sufficiently browned, flip and cook for maybe another minute. Steak should be medium-rare to medium at this point. Do not cook more than than 10 minutes; when flank steak is overcooked it becomes tough.

Transfer to cutting board or platter and tent with foil. Let steak rest for 5 minutes, then slice into 1/4- to 1/2-inch thick slices—the thinner, the better—across the grain. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Grilled Asian Chicken
Grilling is all about flavor. Add an apricot spicy glaze and you can forget about the salt.

Ingredients:
4 each, bone-in, skin-on chicken drumsticks and thighs
1/2 cup apricot preserves
3 tablespoons Sriracha hot sauce
1 tablespoon hot chili sauce (optional depending on your heat tolerance)
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
5 teaspoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons finely chopped chives
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Prepare your grill for both indirect and direct grilling. Remove chicken from fridge about 1/2 hour before you’re ready to cook and trim excess skin and fat. Set aside on counter. If you’re using charcoal, you can do this when you start the coals.

Combine preserves, Sriracha, rice vinegar and fish sauce in a medium bowl, mashing out any lumps in the preserves with the tines of a fork. Stir in the chives. Taste and if it isn't to hot for your taste, add the chili sauce to the mix.

When the grill is ready, pat chicken dry with paper towels and season with black pepper, and lightly with salt. Brush the grill rack lightly with oil and place chicken skin side up on the side of the grill away from the heat source. Cover the grill and cook chicken for about 5 minutes; this will render some of the fat. Move chicken directly over the coals skin side down, cover grill and cook until skin begins to crisp and brown, about 5 minutes (or longer, if needed).

Move chicken away from heat and turn skin side up. Brush with basting sauce, cover grill and cook, turning every few minutes and basting, until chicken is cooked through, another 10 to 15 minutes. An instant-read thermometer should register 165ºF when inserted in the thickest part. Transfer chicken to platter and let it rest for 5 minutes or so, then serve. Makes 4 servings.

Hawaii Banana Cake
This is a low sodium cake with lots of Hawaii flavor.

Ingredients:
1/2 cup Crisco shortening
1 3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 egg white
1/2 cup skim milk
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup mashed banana
1 can (8 oz.) crushed pineapple in unsweetened pineapple juice, undrained
3 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)
1 tablespoon finely chopped macadamia nuts

Procedure:
Heat oven to 350˚F. Grease and flour 10 inch tube cake pan.

For cake: Combine Crisco and sugar in large bowl. Beat at medium speed of electric mixer until blended. Add eggs and egg white. Beat until light and fluffy. Add milk, vanilla, banana and pineapple with juice. Beat at low speed until mixed (batter may appear slightly curdled).

Combine flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt (if used) in separate bowl. Gradually add to creamed mixture. Beat at low speed until mixed. Pour into pan. Sprinkle with nuts.

Bake at 350˚F. for 1 hour 10 minutes, or until wooden pick inserted near center comes out clean. Cool in pan 25 minutes. Remove form pan. Cool completely on wire rack. Serve with a dollop of sweetened whipped cream (recipe below). Makes 16 servings.

Too Simple To Be True... Angel Food Cake
My wife loves angel food cake so I had to try this simple recipe I found online. 
Adapted from a recipe found on Nancygirl.

Ingredients:
18 ounces angel food cake mix
20 ounces DOLE Pineapple, crushed
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 cup whipping cream or heavy cream
2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Procedure:
In a large bowl mix cake mix with undrained pineapple and lemon juice. Pour into an ungreased 9x13 inch cake pan. Bake 40 minutes at 350˚F. Cool completely. Meanwhile, make the sweetened whipped cream. Pour the cream, sugar, and vanilla into a well-chilled bowl and whip for 7 or 8 minutes on medium speed until firm peeks form when beaters are lifted. Makes about 2 cups of whipped cream for 8 servings of cake.

May 30, 2014

America Loves BACON!

This slice of Bacon, "L'o pua'a uahi" in Hawaiian,
is similar in shape to the island of Moloka'i
Bacon, "L'o pua'a uahi" in Hawaiian, is alive and well all over the U.S., including in the 50th state. From food trucks to the ohana kitchen, the people of Hawaii love bacon. 

One of my favorites is "Bacon and egg SPAM musubi", built with a chunk of sticky rice, a slice of grilled Spam, a rectangle of scrambled egg cake, topped with a slice of crispy bacon, all wrapped up with a strip of nori (seaweed), like a symphony of flavors all complementing each other for the perfect handheld breakfast. Price $2.48 at Iyasume Musubi - Waikiki, Honolulu, phone # 921-0168. 

Another one of my favorite sandwiches is toasted wheat bread with spicy mustard, roast turkey slices topped with watercress, tomato slices, avocado, and crispy bacon. Great for those Thanksgiving leftovers. Here are a few more of my favorite bacon recipes:

Baked Eggs and Spinach with Bacon
Ingredients:
6 slices bacon
1 5-ounce bag baby spinach
2 whole wheat or sourdough English muffins, split horizontally, well toasted
4 large eggs
4 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
Special equipment: 4 1-cup ramekins

Procedure:
Preheat oven to 400°F. Cook bacon in large skillet over medium heat until crisp; transfer to paper towels. Pour off drippings from skillet; reserve drippings. Add spinach to pan, sprinkle with pepper, and toss over medium heat, 1 minute. Transfer to strainer set over bowl to drain. Brush four 1-cup ramekins with drippings. Crumble bacon.

Place 1 toasted English muffin half, split side up, in each ramekin. Divide spinach among ramekins, then sprinkle bacon over, dividing equally. With back of spoon, shape well in center of each ramekin. Gently crack 1 egg into well in each ramekin, keeping yolk intact. Drizzle 1 tablespoon cream over each egg. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Bake eggs until whites are just set but yolks are still runny, 14 to 16 minutes. Makes 4 servings.

Bacon & Egg Foo Yung
Ingredients:
6 slices bacon, fried and chopped
1/2 cup onion, chopped fine
4 large fresh button mushrooms, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 teaspoon instant beef bouillon granules
1 teaspoon molasses
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1 cup of water
2 tablespoons cold water
1 tablespoon cornstarch
5 eggs
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
4 large cooked shrimp, chopped
1 cup bean sprouts
canola oil for frying

Procedure:
In a large skillet or wok, fry bacon until crisp, then set aside to cool on paper towel. Using 1 tablespoon of the bacon grease, sauté the chopped onion, mushrooms, and garlic for 2 or 3 minutes, then chop up the bacon and add it to the onion and garlic mixture. Set aside.

To prepare sauce, in a small saucepan combine the oyster sauce, beef bouillon granules, molasses, soy sauce, sugar, and 1 cup of water. Bring to a boil. Blend 2 tablespoons of cold water with the cornstarch, stir into hot sauce mixture. Cook and stir till thickened and bubbly. Turn to low heat and keep warm.

To make bacon & egg foo yung, beat together eggs, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, and the vegetable/bacon mixture. Stir in the chopped shrimp, and bean sprouts, mix well. In a skillet or wok, heat 2 tablespoons of canola oil till hot. Using about 1/4 cup of the mixture for each patty, fry patties in hot oil about 1 minute per side or till golden. (Spread the meat mixture to cover egg as the egg spreads slightly.) Keep warm. Repeat till all the mixture is used, stirring each time; add more oil as needed. Serve sauce with bacon & egg foo yung. Serve with Asian vegetables, like snow peas or bok choy (see recipe index for recipes.) Makes 4 servings.

Bacon Fried Rice
Ingredients:
4 cups cooked jasmine rice
6 slices bacon, diced
1/2 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
4 green onions, thinly sliced plus more for topping
3 cloves minced garlic
1 tablespoon finely grated ginger (from about a 1-inch piece)
1 cup frozen peas
4 large eggs, beaten
2 tablespoons canola oil
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil (optional)
1 carrot, thinly sliced or ribboned using a vegetable peeler, for topping

Procedure:
In a large non-stick skillet or wok over medium-high heat, cook diced bacon until it is browned and fat is rendered, about 10 minutes. Drain any excess fat from pan (you still want a thin layer coating the bottom) and push bacon pieces to sides of pan. In the center of the pan, add onions and cook until softened, about 2 minutes. Stir in green onions, garlic, and ginger and cook for 3 minutes, taking care not to let the garlic brown. Stir in peas and cook for 2 minutes, or until warm. Transfer the mixture to a medium bowl.

Lower heat to medium, add eggs and scramble for 2-3 minutes or until fully cooked. Add eggs to bacon mixture. Wipe out skillet (careful as it may be hot), add canola oil, and return to medium-high heat. When oil is hot but not smoking, add cooked rice and spread in an even layer. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes, or until rice is heated through and slightly crispy. Stir in bacon-egg mixture. Season to taste with soy sauce and sesame oil. Top with green onions and carrots and serve hot. Makes 4-6 servings.

Note: Pre-cooked jasmine rice for this recipe a day in advance. It’s always best to make fried rice with leftover rice because fresh rice gets gummy & sticky. Two cups of uncooked rice yields about 4-4 1/2 cups cooked rice.

Chicken Livers with Bacon & Mushrooms
Ingredients:
4 slices of fried bacon
2 cups chicken livers
2 cups mushrooms
1/2 cup thinly sliced medium sized onion
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/3 cup tomato sauce
sprinkle of chopped parsley
salt and pepper to taste

Procedure:
In a large sauté pan, over medium heat, fry bacon until crisp. Remove from pan and set aside. Once the bacon is cooled, break apart into small pieces. Meanwhile over high heat, sauté in bacon grease: 2 cups chicken livers with 2 cups of sliced mushrooms, half of a thinly sliced, medium-sized onion, and 1 tablespoon minced garlic. When the chopped livers are cooked halfway (about 5 minutes), add 1/4 cup red wine vinegar, 1/2 cup chicken broth, and 1/3 cup of tomato sauce. Reduce the liquid, sprinkle with bacon pieces and parsley. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve with a side of white rice. Makes 1 serving.

Bacon & Potato Frittata
Ingredients:
8 large eggs
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil, parsley, or tarragon
3 tablespoons grated parmesan
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 slices bacon, chopped
1 pound potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 small onion, or more to taste, chopped
2 garlic cloves, or more to taste, chopped
2 to 3 cups spinach or arugula, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup chopped roasted red bell peppers, or to taste
3 ounces sliced Provolone (5 to 6 slices), optional
Special equipment: 10-inch heavy ovenproof skillet, preferably nonstick or cast-iron; heat-proof rubber spatula

Procedure:
Preheat broiler. Whisk together eggs, basil, parmesan, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a large bowl.

Cook bacon in a 10-inch heavy skillet over medium heat, stirring, until crisp. Transfer bacon with a slotted spoon to a large bowl then pour off all but 2 tablespoons fat.

Add potatoes and 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper to skillet, and sauté over medium-high heat until golden, about 3 minutes. Cover skillet and continue to cook over medium-low heat, stirring a few times, until potatoes are just tender, about 3 minutes more. Transfer the potatoes with a slotted spoon to bowl containing the bacon.

Add 1 tablespoon oil to skillet and sauté onion and garlic over medium-high heat until pale golden, about 4 minutes, then add spinach and sauté until just wilted.

Gently add the potatoes and bacon, the roasted peppers, and remaining tablespoon oil into onion mixture, spreading it evenly.

Pour egg mixture evenly over vegetables and cook over medium-high heat, lifting up cooked egg around edges with a heat-proof rubber spatula to let uncooked egg flow underneath, 2 to 3 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and cook, covered, until it appears mostly set, with a moist top and center, 3 to 5 minutes more.

Remove lid. If using Provolone, broil frittata 5 to 7 inches from heat until set, but not browned, 1 to 2 minutes, then top with an even layer of cheese and continue to broil until browned and bubbling, 1 to 3 minutes (watch carefully).

If skipping the cheese, broil frittata until the top is lightly browned, 1 to 3 minutes (making sure it doesn't burn).

If using a nonstick skillet, slide the frittata onto a serving plate. If using a cast-iron skillet, cut and serve wedges directly from the skillet. Makes 4 servings.

Bacon-Cornbread Stuffing
Ingredients:
1/2 cup pecan halves
4 ounces bacon, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1 cup diced onions
1 cup diced carrots
1 cup diced celery
4 green onions, chopped
Cornbread, crumbled (about 6 1/2 cups)
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
2 teaspoons chopped fresh marjoram
6 tablespoons butter, melted
3/4 cup chicken broth
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Procedure:
Preheat oven to 325°F. Bake pecans in a single layer in a shallow pan 10 minutes or until toasted and fragrant, stirring halfway through. Remove from oven. Increase oven temperature to 375°.

Cook bacon in a Dutch oven over medium heat 5 to 6 minutes. (Do not crisp.) Remove bacon, and drain on paper towels, reserving drippings in Dutch oven. Sauté diced onion and next 2 ingredients in hot drippings 8 minutes or until tender. Stir in green onions; sauté 1 minute. Remove from heat.
Add bacon, cornbread, and next 3 ingredients. Stir together melted butter and broth, and stir into cornbread mixture. Add salt and pepper. Fold in pecans. Spoon dressing into a buttered, shallow 2-qt. baking dish; cover with aluminum foil.

Bake, covered, at 375°F for 25 minutes. Remove from oven, and uncover. Transfer oven rack to highest position. Bake dressing, uncovered, 12 minutes or until top is crusty. Makes 8 servings.

Bacon Potato Salad
Ingredients:
8 medium potatoes (about 3 pounds), peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
10 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled
5 hard cooked eggs, peeled and chopped
6 green onions, chopped
2 celery ribs, finely chopped
2 tablespoons diced red bell pepper
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons yellow mustard

Garnishes: parsley, chopped, plus a sprinkle of paprika on top

Procedure:
Cook potatoes in boiling water to cover in a large pot over medium heat 15 to 18 minutes or until tender. Drain and let cool slightly.

Place potatoes in a large bowl. Add bacon, eggs, chopped green onions, and next 4 ingredients. Stir together mayonnaise, sour cream and mustard until blended. Pour over potato mixture, tossing gently to coat. Cover and chill at least 1 hour. Garnish, if desired.

Makes 8 to 10 servings.

OMG Bacon Cheddar Biscuits!
Ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup vegetable shortening (Crisco)
10 tablespoons whole milk
4 tablespoons canola oil
1 whole egg
10 slices thick cut bacon, fried and crumbled
1 cup finely diced onion
1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese

Procedure:
Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Using a pastry cutter, cut in shortening until all combined.

Combine milk, oil, and egg in a separate bowl. Whisk together.

Combine flour mixture, milk mixture, bacon, onions, and cheddar cheese in a large bowl. Stir gently until all combined.

Spoon batter into heavily greased muffin tins. Bake for 20 to 22 minutes on 375˚F until golden. Remove from pan and serve warm. Makes 12 biscuits.

Mango Spinach Salad 
with Warm Bacon Vinaigrette
Ingredients:
4 thick bacon slices, diced
1/2 medium-size red onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 tablespoon honey
1 (9-oz.) package fresh spinach
1 mango, peeled and diced
1/3 cup crumbled feta or blue cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

Procedure:
Cook bacon in a skillet over medium-high heat 6 to 8 minutes or until crisp; remove bacon, and drain on paper towels, reserving 1 tablespoon drippings in skillet.
Sauté onion in hot drippings 2 to 3 minutes or until soft. Add vinegar, lime juice, and honey; cook 2 minutes, stirring to loosen particles from bottom of skillet.
Place spinach in a serving bowl. Add warm vinaigrette, and toss to coat. Top with mango, crumbled cheese, and bacon; season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately. Makes 4 servings.

Peanut Butter Cookies...with Bacon!
Ingredients:
1 cup all-natural chunky or smooth peanut butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon baking soda
about 6 slices of bacon, cooked, cooled and diced
1/4 cup white sugar

parchment paper
large cookie sheet

Procedure:
In a skillet over medium high heat, fry up bacon until cooked through and let cool on paper towels until cool enough to dice. Dice up and set aside.

Preheat oven to 350˚F.

Line a cookie sheet with parchment & set aside. In a mixer combine peanut butter and sugars until well combined, about 2 minutes. Add egg and baking soda and mix for another 2 minutes. Fold in cooked bacon. Roll into large walnut sized balls and roll in granulated sugar, then create a criss-cross pattern on top of each cookie with a fork. Bake for 10 minutes, until lightly browned. Makes 24 cookies.

May 24, 2014

Hawaii BARBECUE

The word "barbecue" was derived from the word "barbacoa",
a word used for a wooden rack used as a cooking device
by ancient natives in Brazil in 1547.
It's always summer in Hawaii, so grilling is an everyday event here. Barbecue is about as red, white and blue as American cuisine gets. Hawaii is no different than the rest of the states, or are we? Hawaii has been cooking underground in an "imu" oven ever since the ancient Hawaiians arrived on the islands. While this method of cooking involved steam, my guess is that this method led to wooden frames being built over fires to keep the wood from burning, which resulted in the meat cooking slowly and absorbing more smoke. Smoking, drying, and salting allowed food to be kept longer. Thanks to the iron age, the metal grate was developed which let to grilling and barbecue as we know it today.

The kiawe tree was introduced to Hawaii in the 1820's for cattle to feed on their leaves. Today Hawaii is fortunate to still have kiawe wood for our barbecue fuel. Kiawe is in the same family as mesquite wood. Just ask any Texan how they feel about mesquite-grilled brisket for their barbecue fuel. And then, depending on what part of the country you live, Memphis, Tennessee; North Carolina; Kansas City, or Texas, barbecuing becomes very personal. The commonality is that real barbecuing is slow indirect cooking (sometimes for as many as 18 hours). The resulting flavor is a combination of smoke, meat juices, fat and whatever spices or rub have been added... and then there is the barbecue sauce. Shame on you if you buy your barbecue sauce out of a bottle from the grocery store. Homemade is much better, and you can adjust it to your own taste, plus it keeps in the refrigerator for weeks.

Grilled Hawaii Spiny Lobster Tails
Hawaii has an abundance of fish, pork, chicken, and venison, so naturally these items are commonly found on the grill here. We also have the best tropical fruit and vegetables in the country, which are perfect for grilling; pineapple, mango, breadfruit, corn, asparagus, etc. Naturally our "mixed plate" here in Hawaii has influenced the taste of our barbecue sauce. Ingredients like soy sauce, sesame oil, oyster sauce, rice vinegar, sake, Sriracha sauce, pepper water, sea salt, pineapple juice, fresh Tahitian lime juice, etc. go into a final Hawaii tropical blend to be mopped onto our local barbecue. Check out these barbecue recipes, and I'll meet you at the grill:

Asian Barbecued Fish Wrap
This barbecued fish wrap recipe is great for a pupu or a light lunch around the grill.

Ingredients:
4-6 fillets fresh 'white' fish, such as opakapaka (snapper), mahi-mahi, etc.
2 heads iceberg lettuce

Marinade For Fish:
4 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
3-4 cloves garlic, minced

Dipping Sauce:
1 cup coconut milk
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 tablespoon lime juice
1/2 tablespoon brown sugar
1 red chili, minced and de-seeded or 1/2 to 3/4 tsp. dried crushed chili
1 thumb-size piece galangal (or ginger), grated
1+1/2 teaspoons cornstarch dissolved in 2 tablespoons water

Topping Suggestions:
2-3 cups bean sprouts
1 cup fresh coriander (cilantro)
1/2 cup roasted peanuts, roughly chopped or ground
1 cup fresh basil
3 spring (green) onions, sliced

Procedure:
Stir marinade ingredients together in a cup or small bowl. Rinse off the fillets and cut them into thirds or quarters (smaller sections, roughly 3 inches long, are good for this dish). Place these sections in a flat-bottomed bowl and pour marinade over fish, making sure all sides of the fish have marinade on them. Allow to marinate in the refrigerator while you make the dipping sauce and prepare the toppings.

Stir all dipping sauce ingredients together in a sauce pan. Place pan over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Taste-test, adding more chili if not spicy enough. If too spicy, add more coconut milk. If too salty, add more lime juice. When the sauce is hot, add the cornstarch-water mixture and stir. When sauce has thickened, remove from heat and set aside until you're ready to eat. This sauce can be served warm, or at room temperature.

Prepare the toppings you have chosen. Place them in separate bowls on the table where you will be eating.

For the lettuce wraps, carefully cut out the core of each head and discard. Now you should be able to carefully peel away the separate leaves. If lettuce is unwashed, carefully rinse under cool water. Pile the leaves back together and place on a plate on the table.

Brush your grill with oil and heat up, then grill the fish until inner flesh is opaque and flakes easily. To serve, place the barbecued fish on a plate and place on the table. Now invite your guests to assemble their own wraps. Start with a leaf of lettuce. Add a small "bed" of bean sprouts, then place 1-2 pieces of fish on top. Add whatever toppings you'd like. Makes 4 servings.

Luau Huli-Huli Chicken
This recipe is very popular in Hawaii and will work well on chicken and pork ribs. It is called Huli-Huli Chicken ("Huli" is the Hawaiian word for "turn").

Ingredients:
2 chickens cut into quarters
1 cup pineapple juice
1 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup ketchup
1/4 cup rice vinegar, or fresh lemon or lime juice
1/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed
4 tablespoons fresh ginger, skinned and grated fine
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 teaspoons Sriracha Sauce or Tabasco sauce
4 medium cloves of garlic, pressed or finely minced

Procedure:
Mix all the ingredients together in a saucepan and simmer gently for about 10 minutes. You can refrigerate it for several weeks. Makes enough for 2 whole chickens cut into quarters.

Marinate the chicken parts in the sauce for at least 3 hours or as long as 24 hours. Preheat your grill to about 325°F. Pour the marinade into a sauce pan and simmer to reduce its volume by 25%. Roast the chicken with the lid down on the indirect side of the grill (not over the fire). "Huli" (turn it) frequently so the sugar in the sauce doesn't blacken. After turning, paint the upper surface with a layer of the sauce.

Take the meat's temp, and as it approaches 150°F, stop basting so you don't contaminate the cooked meat with juices in the marinade from the brush. Discard the sauce. When it hits 150°F, move the meat over the direct heat, skin side down to crisp the skin. Check it every minute or two to make sure it is not burning. When the white meat is 165°F and the dark meat 170°F to 175°F, you're ready for your luau.

Barbecue Sauce for Grilled Fish Steaks
This is a simple butter sauce that's great for grilled fish steaks. Just remember to oil your grate first so the fish doesn't stick.

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon pepper
4 mahi-maui steaks, opakapaka, or even octopus (5 ounces each)

Procedure:
In a small saucepan, combine the first six ingredients. Cook and stir until butter is melted. Remove from the heat; set aside.

Using long-handled tongs, moisten a paper towel with cooking oil and lightly coat the grill rack. Grill fish steaks, covered, over medium-hot heat or broil 4 in. from the heat in your oven for 4-5 minutes on each side or until fish flakes easily with a fork, basting frequently with butter mixture. Makes 4 servings.

Chili Pepper-Honey Barbecue Sauce
Ingredients:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 onion, minced
3 tablespoons chopped garlic
2 tablespoons chopped fresh ginger
1/2 cup honey
1-10 ounce jar chili sauce
1 cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
4 tablespoons Garlic Chili Pepper Sauce
2 tablespoons Red Curry Paste
Juice of 1 lime

Procedure:
In a sauce pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion. Saute until soft, about 2-3 minutes. Add garlic and ginger. Saute for 1 minute, making sure not to brown garlic. Add honey, chili sauce, chicken broth, vinegar, Worcestershire, garlic chili pepper sauce, red curry paste, and lime. Simmer until thick, about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Makes about 2 cups.

Sweet Glazed Soy Pork Ribs
These sweet glazed soy sauce ribs are similar to "kalbi", a Korean grilled beef short rib dish. This recipe cooks the ribs in the oven, however they can be finished off on the barbecue grill for added flavor.

Ingredients:
1 1⁄4 cups light brown sugar
1 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon Asian sesame oil
1⁄4 teaspoon crushed red chile flakes
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1- 2" piece peeled fresh ginger, finely chopped
3 pounds pork baby back ribs
3 scallions, thinly sliced

Procedure:
Whisk together brown sugar, soy sauce, sesame oil, chile flakes, garlic, ginger, and 1⁄4 cup water in a large bowl. Add the ribs and toss to coat. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let marinate for at least 1 hour at room temperature, or refrigerate overnight, turning occasionally to coat.

Heat oven to 450°. Remove ribs from marinade and arrange, curved side up, on a rack set over a rimmed foil-lined baking sheet. Roast for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the marinade in a 2-qt. saucepan over medium-high heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thick and syrupy, about 20 minutes.

Using tongs, flip ribs and cook, basting frequently with the reduced marinade, until the ribs are browned, glazed, and tender, 15–20 minutes. Transfer ribs to a platter and garnish with scallions. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Tart & Tangy Lilikoi Pork Ribs
Ingredients for the sauce:
1 1⁄2 cups ketchup
3⁄4 cup fresh lilikoi juice, or frozen lilikoi juice concentrate, thawed
1⁄4 cup lightly packed brown sugar
3 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons light corn syrup
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1⁄4 teaspoon worcestershire
1⁄4 teaspoon Tabasco
1 clove garlic, chopped

Ingredients for the ribs:
1⁄2 cup rice vinegar
1⁄4 cup chopped garlic
1⁄4 cup chopped fresh ginger
1⁄4 cup sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 1⁄2 pounds baby back ribs, cut into 6- or 7-rib portions, slit halfway through between ribs

Sprigs from 1 bunch watercress

Procedure:
For the sauce: Put ketchup, lilikoi juice, sugar, honey, corn syrup, oyster sauce, vinegar, worcestershire, Tabasco, and garlic into a medium pot and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring often, until very thick, about 1 hour.

For the ribs: Meanwhile, put 8 quarts of water into a large pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Add vinegar, garlic, ginger, salt, and pepper, reduce heat to medium, and simmer for 5 minutes. Add ribs and continue to simmer, partially covered, until tender, about 1 hour. Drain ribs, pat dry, and arrange in a single layer on a sheet pan fitted with a rack.

Arrange oven rack 3–4 inches from broiler element and preheat broiler. Generously baste one side of ribs with some of the sauce and broil until sauce dries slightly and begins to bubble, about 2 minutes. Flip ribs, baste generously again, and broil for 2 minutes more. Repeat flipping, basting, and broiling process 3 more times, until ribs are well lacquered and beginning to char slightly. Note: This last step can be done on the barbecue grill for added flavor.

Cut ribs apart, stack evenly on 4 warm plates, and garnish with sprigs of watercress. Serve immediately. Makes 4 serving.

My "Memphis-Style" Hawaii Barbecue Sauce
Chopped Pork Tenderloin Sandwiches
with Sweet Memphis-Style Coleslaw

Click on photo to view larger
I used to live in Memphis, Tennessee when I was in high school. I learned to love the Memphis sweet, tart and tangy style of ketchup based barbecue sauce. After moving to Hawaii I made a few adjustments to my recipe to make it even better. This sauce works best on grilled pork and chicken, especially a Memphis-style pulled pork sandwich piled high with slowly cooked pork shoulder, shredded, then topped with this sauce and Sweet Memphis Style Coleslaw. It makes my mouth water just thinking about it... the best sandwich ever!

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups tomato ketchup
1/2 cup Asian oyster sauce
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup molasses
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon finely ground black pepper
1 tablespoon onion powder
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons celery salt
1/2 teaspoon Sriracha Thai chili pepper sauce
1/2 cup prepared mustard
the zest of 1 thumb-size piece fresh ginger
the zest from1 lemon or lime (use a microplane to zest)
the juice from 1 lemon or lime
2 teaspoons liquid smoke (Wrights brand)
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
honey (optional)

Procedure:
In a medium saucepan, combine all the ingredients. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Reduce the heat and simmer for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. At this point, taste the sauce and adjust it to your liking. If you like it a little sweeter, add a little honey to your taste, or if you like the sauce to be more tart, add more vinegar and or lemon juice. If you want it hotter, add more Sriracha sauce. Makes about 4 cups.

Kentucky Bourbon-Bacon Barbecue Sauce
Ingredients:
1/2 cup small-dice bacon (about 3 ounces)
1/2 cup finely diced red onion (about 1/2 small onion)
2 medium garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 cup ketchup
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons dark molasses
2 teaspoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
1 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoon ground mustard
Kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons bourbon (I use Makers Mark bourbon, use whatever you like)

Procedure:
Place the bacon in a small saucepan over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp, about 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a small bowl; set aside. Reduce the heat to medium low, add the onion to the pan, and cook in the bacon fat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 to 60 seconds.

Whisk in the remaining measured ingredients, except the bourbon, and season with a pinch each of salt and pepper. Stir in the reserved bacon and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has thickened slightly and holds a line on the back of a wooden spoon when you drag a finger through it, about 25 minutes. After the sauce cools, add the bourbon, stir to blend. Season with additional salt and pepper as needed. Store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or in the freezer for up to 1 month. Makes 2 cups. Note: For a smoother sauce, finish the sauce in a blender or food processor.

Taro Tuna Cakes
Ingredients:
1 large taro root
2 tablespoons butter
1 1⁄2 pounds ahi tuna, chopped
1 onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 shallot, diced
1 green onion, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1⁄4 cup cornstarch
1 tablespoon baking powder
1⁄2 cup cream
1⁄4 cup cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Procedure:
Steam taro root in a covered pan, with a bit of water in a 350°F oven until tender, about 1 hour. Cool, peel, and coarsely grate. Set aside.

While taro cooks, melt butter in a sauté pan and sauté tuna with onions, garlic, shallots, and green onions for 7 minutes. Cool.

Add salt, taro, egg, cornstarch, baking powder, cream, cilantro, and lemon juice to tuna mixture. Mix well and shape into cakes. Fry or grill in a little butter until golden brown on both sides. Garnish with cilantro, if you like. Makes 4 servings.

Grilled Garlic Shrimp
I love this recipe for a spicy grilled shrimp, it's all about the paste. Great for pupus, football food, or as a main course, served with rice naturally. 

Brining Solution:
1 cup Hawaiian or Kosher salt
6 tablespoons sugar
2 quarts water

Ingredients:
3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
2 1/2 teaspoons lemon or lime juice
2 pounds large shrimp, with shells left on

Procedure:
Prepare brining solution and brine shrimp for 15 minutes. Remove from brining solution and pat dry, set aside. Using mortar and pestle, smash garlic and salt into a smooth paste. Add cayenne and paprika and mix well. Add olive oil, ginger, and lemon to form a thin paste, making sure the paste isn’t too loose or it will not cling to the shrimp. Toss shrimp with paste until evenly coated. Grill until shells are bright pink, about 2 to 3 minutes per side. Serve hot. Makes 8 servings.

For more "ONO Moloka'i BBQ" recipes, check out this story... click here.

May 10, 2014

Cooking with WONTON WRAPPERS

Wonton Wrappers
Available at Friendly Market on Moloka'i
Click on photo to view larger
Wonton wrappers have a lot of uses in the kitchen. If you haven't seen wonton wrappers, look in the refrigerated section of your grocery store where they keep things like tofu and fresh Asian noodles, or in the frozen section. They look like the photo to the right, a square, or round stack of little thin pasta sheets about 3 1/2 inches square.

Most people just purchase wonton wrappers at their grocery store, however wonton wrappers are simple to make. You need about 1/2 cup of water, 3/4 teaspoon of salt, and one egg for every 2 cups of all-purpose flour. It's no different than making fresh Italian style pasta. Mix everything except the flour, then create a crater with flour and pour in the wet ingredients and then incorporate and knead the dough until it becomes smooth and pliable. Let it rest covered with a damp (not wet) cloth for about 1 hour (this is so the gluten can relax. The longer it sits the easier it will be to roll out). Then divide in quarters (or half) and roll it out on a surface lightly coated with cornstarch (if you use flour it may toughen it up). Roll out as thin as you possibly can. Cut into 3 1/2 inch squares (you should be able to get approximately 12 wonton wrappers out of each half. For spring roll wrappers, it's essentially the same way except you use rice flour (or tapioca, or combo of both) instead of wheat flour.

Most commercial Asian wonton wrappers don’t contain egg. I’ve seen recipes online and elsewhere that incorporate egg into the dough and that’s not necessary for all dumplings, especially popular pot stickers or shumai. Just check packaged wrappers sold at a market and read the ingredient label if you are allergic to eggs. You can seal wonton wrappers without egg by using a mixture of flower and water (make a paste of 1 tablespoon of all-purpose flour with 2 1/4 teaspoon water).


Another good thing about wonton wrappers is that if you don't use them all, you can freeze the leftovers to use for another time. Also, depending on the wonton recipe you want to make, it is a good idea to make more than you need then freeze the wontons after you have stuffed them, then just thaw them and toss them in broth or steam them for a quick meal in the future. If you buy wonton wrappers fresh (or make them) then you can freeze them for up to a year. If you buy them already frozen, check the expiration label and go by that "use by" date.

If you have had Chinese chicken salad (see recipe below) and noticed the crispy stripes on the top, they are nothing but fried or baked wonton wrappers that have been cut into strips. But the best thing to do with them is to stuff them with whatever you like and serve them as appetizers, or as a dumpling in a soup, or as a dessert. It doesn't matter whether you steam them, bake them or fry them. I will give you some examples... read on.

Smoked Salmon Sesame Wontons
This is a beautiful little appetizer using wontons cut into triangles and topped with smoked salmon.

Ingredients:
1/4 cup toasted sesame oil
1 egg whites
8 wonton wrappers
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
2 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar
2 tablespoons chives (chopped)
11/4 tsps wasabi paste
1 tsp peeled fresh ginger (minced)
6 ozs smoked salmon (sliced)
daikon sprouts (or other small sprouts)

Procedure:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Whisk 1/4 cup oil and egg white in small bowl to blend. Place wonton wrappers in single layer on work surface; brush with some of oil mixture and sprinkle with half of the sesame seeds. Fold diagonally in half. Brush with more oil mixture; sprinkle with remaining seeds. Cut each into 2 triangles. Place on baking sheet. Bake until golden, about 13 minutes. Cool.

Whisk vinegar, chives, wasabi, ginger, and 1/2 teaspoon oil in bowl. Cover each wonton with 1 salmon slice, then drizzle with wasabi mixture. Top salmon with sprouts, then fold salmon over sprouts. Top with more sprouts. Makes 16 servings.

Mini Wonton Shrimp Cups
Ingredients:
24 wonton wrappers
1 tablespoon butter, melted
10 ounces shelled, deveined, cooked medium shrimp, divided
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 green onions with tops, finely chopped
1/3 cup grated carrot
4 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese (about 1 cup)

Procedure:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly spray mini-muffin pan with nonstick cooking spray. Brush one side of wontons with butter. Press wontons, buttered side up, into wells of pan. Bake 8 minutes or until edges turn light golden brown. Remove pan from oven.

Reserve 24 shrimp; chop remaining shrimp. In large bowl, whisk cream cheese, garlic and Worcestershire sauce until well blended. Add chopped shrimp, green onions, carrot and mozzarella cheese; mix well.

Fill each wonton cup with about 1 tablespoon of the cream cheese mixture; top with a reserved shrimp. Bake 5 minutes or until wontons are golden brown and the filling is bubbly. Makes 24 appetizers.

Shrimp Fried Wontons
Ingredients:
15 large raw shrimp, tails left on
15 wonton wraps
1-2 cups canola oil for high-heat frying
1 egg, beaten
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup fresh coriander/cilantro leaves and stems, finely chopped
2 teaspoons fish sauce OR soy sauce
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1 red chili, minced, OR 3/4 tsp. dried crushed chili, OR 1-2 tsp. chili sauce

Optional: bottle of Thai sweet chili sauce for serving (available in most supermarkets in the Asian section)
Other: a little cornstarch

Procedure:
Tip: To help shrimp lay flat instead of curled, make a cut along the back of the shrimp (as if you were butter-flying it). This will make wrapping easier.

Place shrimp in a bowl and add the garlic, coriander, fish or soy sauce, oyster sauce, brown sugar, and chili. Be sure the coriander is finely chopped for the best taste.

Toss well and set aside to marinate 10 minutes (or up to 30). Meanwhile, prepare your wok or pan for frying. I like using a wok, as this way less oil is needed (you want oil about 1 inch deep).

Toss the shrimp once again before wrapping. To wrap, lay out the first wonton wrapper on the diagonal. Brush the entire surface with beaten egg, then position the shrimp horizontally across the center (with its tail sticking out past the left corner). Fold the right corner over the bottom of the shrimp, then bring up the bottom and tuck over. Roll quite tightly to finish and press firmly to seal.

Place wrapped shrimp on a plate lightly dusted with cornstartch (to keep wrappers from sticking).

Heat oil over medium-high heat. To test if oil is hot enough, dip one of the wrapped shrimp in - if it starts to sizzle and cook, the oil is ready. Fry the wrapped shrimp about 1 minute per side, or until light golden brown and crunchy. Once your first batch is frying, reduce heat to medium. Drain on paper towels or a clean kitchen towel.

Serve immediately either as is (they're great on their own), OR with Thai sweet chili sauce for dipping. Serve 3-4 as an appetizer.

Pepperoni Pizza Cups
These little pizza wonton cups are enjoyed by kids and adults, and can be tailored to the toppings of your choice. The sky's the limit when it comes to pizza.

Ingredients:
8 ounces cream cheese, light or regular, softened
½ teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon dried basil
½ teaspoon garlic powder or 1 clove fresh minced garlic
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup finely shredded parmesan cheese
1 cup pizza sauce or good marinara sauce (my favorite pizza sauce recipe is here)
3 ounces finely chopped pepperoni
24 square wonton wrappers

Procedure:
Preheat the oven to 350˚ F. In a small bowl, whisk together the cream cheese, oregano, basil and garlic. Lightly grease a mini-muffin tin pan with cooking spray and press one wonton wrapper gently into the muffin tin, carefully but firmly pressing it into the sides of the cups. Bake the wonton wrappers for 4-6 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove the pan from the oven and keep the wonton wrappers in the mini cups.

Dollop a teaspoon or two of the cream cheese mixture into the bottom of each wonton cup. Sprinkle mozzarella cheese over the top of the cream cheese mixture. Top with a teaspoon or so of the pizza sauce. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and chopped pepperoni. Bake for 10 more minutes until the filling is bubbly and wonton edges are golden brown. Serve warm! Makes about 24 pizza cups.

Lasagna Cups
Ingredients:
12 ounces ground beef
1/4 teaspoon salt, divided
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped mushrooms
14.5 oz can crushed tomatoes, or tomato sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 teaspoons dried oregano, divided
2 tablespoons fresh basil leaves, minced, plus more for garnish
1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese
24 square wonton wrappers
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
non-stick cooking spray

Procedure:
Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the ground beef, onions, mushrooms, salt, and pepper. Crumble the meat and sauté the mixture for about 10 minutes, or until the beef is cooked through. Add the garlic and stir constantly for 30 seconds.

Add the crushed tomatoes and 2 teaspoons of oregano. Bring the pan to a gentle boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the ricotta, a pinch of salt and pepper, the remaining teaspoon of oregano, and the basil. Stir to mix well. Set aside.

Coat a 12-cup muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray. Place 1 wonton wrapper into each of the 12 cups, pressing firmly in the bottom of the cup and up the sides.

Using half of the ricotta mixture, divide it among the 12 muffin cups. Next, using half of the beef tomato sauce mixture, spoon it evenly over each of the ricotta filled cups. Sprinkle each with 2 teaspoons of mozzarella cheese.

Gently press another wonton wrapper on top of the mozzarella layer.

Repeat the process by distributing the remaining ricotta cheese, then the remaining tomato sauce, and finally the rest of the shredded mozzarella.

Bake for 10 minutes at 375ºF, or until the cheese has melted.

Let the cups cool, remove them from the pan, garnish each with more minced fresh basil, and serve. Makes 12 servings.

Chinese Chicken Salad
Ingredients:
2 bone-in, skin-on split chicken breasts (about 2-1/4 pounds)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 square wonton wrappers
vegetable oil cooking spray
2/3 cup sliced almonds
2 ounces snow peas, trimmed and cut on the diagonal into thirds (1/2 cup)
1 tablespoon white sesame seeds
1/2 small head napa cabbage, trimmed and cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-wide strips (3 to 3-1/2 cups)
1/2 romaine heart, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-wide strips (1-1/2 to 2 cups)
3 large scallions (white and green parts), thinly sliced on the diagonal (1/2 cup)

Procedure:
Heat the oven to 425°F. Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Roast on a rack set in a rimmed baking sheet or roasting pan until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of a breast registers 165°F, 40 to 45 minutes. Let cool. Remove and discard the skin and then shred the meat. Reduce the oven temperature to 375°F.

Stack the wonton wrappers on a cutting board and cut them into 1/2-inch-wide strips. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray wonton strips lightly with cooking spray. Separate the strips, lay them on the baking sheet, and mist them lightly with the cooking spray. Sprinkle lightly with salt. Scrunch each strip to give it a wavy shape, if you like. Bake at 375°F until golden, 7 to 9 minutes. Reduce the oven heat to 350°F.

Spread the sliced almonds on a baking sheet and toast in the oven until golden, 6 to 8 minutes.

Bring a medium saucepan of salted water to a boil. Have a bowl of ice water ready. Boil the snow peas just until bright green but still crisp, about 20 seconds. Drain and transfer to the ice water to stop the cooking. Drain.

Put the sesame seeds in a dry skillet and shake or stir over medium heat until light golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove them from the hot pan to prevent overcooking.

Ingredients for the dressing:
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1-1/2 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
1 tablespoon sweet Asian chile sauce (I use Mae Ploy brand)
2 medium cloves garlic, finely chopped (2 teaspoons)
2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon hot Asian chile sauce
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup canola oil
1 tablespoon Asian sesame oil

Procedure:
In a medium bowl, combine the vinegar, tamari, sweet chile sauce, garlic, ginger, salt, hot chile sauce, and pepper. Gradually whisk in the canola and sesame oils.

In a large bowl, toss the cabbage, romaine, and snow peas. In another bowl, toss the chicken and scallions with 1/4 cup of the dressing. Add the chicken to the greens, and then add the sesame seeds and almonds. Toss with enough of the remaining dressing to coat well. Garnish each serving with the baked wonton strips. Serve immediately. Serves 4 as a main course.

Pork Wonton Soup
Ingredients for stuffing the wonton wrappers:
1/2 cup finely chopped napa
coarse salt
6 ounces ground pork, not all lean
3 whole green onions, finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1 teaspoon soy sauce or Tamari sauce
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
Twenty Four 3 1/2 by 3-inch rectangular or square wonton wrappers

Ingredients for the soup:
two 14.5-ounce cans reduced-sodium chicken broth
coarse salt
3 whole green onions, thinly sliced on the diagonal
2 to 3 teaspoons rice vinegar
1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

Procedure:
Prepare filling: In a medium bowl, toss cabbage with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Let stand for 10 minutes. Wrap cabbage in a double layer of paper towels; firmly squeeze out excess liquid. Return cabbage to bowl; add pork, green onions, ginger, soy sauce, and sesame oil. Mix well with a fork. Filling may be refrigerated for up to 2 days.

To make the wontons: Work with one wrapper at a time, and keep the rest covered with a damp towel. Spoon one rounded teaspoon of filling in center of wrapper.

With dampened fingers, wet the four edges. To make a triangle, fold wrapper in half over filling, making sure the ends meet and filling is centered; press edges down firmly to seal.

Moisten one tip on long side of triangle. Then bring together both tips on long side, overlapping them slightly; press tips together to seal.

Fold remaining top corner back. Transfer to an oiled plate; cover with a damp towel to keep moist. Repeat with remaining wrappers and filling.

To make the soup: In a large pot, combine broth, 4 cups of water, and 1 teaspoon salt; bring to a boil. Add wontons one at a time; return to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, and simmer until wontons are just cooked through, 4 to 6 minutes. Stir in green onions, vinegar, and sesame oil; season with salt. Makes 4 servings.

Steamed Shrimp & Pork Shumai
Shumai is spelled in different ways, but they are basically Chinese steamed dumplings that are commonly found in dim sum restaurants. You can purchase them frozen here on Moloka'i, but homemade is much better. The mixed ingredients are put into a round wonton wrapper, one teaspoon at a time. The wonton wrapper is then pinched around the filling and garnished with a single green pea on top, or whatever you like, then steamed in an Asian bamboo steamer. Easy to make and delicious served as a pupu for a party, or featured as a main course!

Ingredients:
2 dried shitake mushrooms, rehydrated and minced
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced
1 dozen medium sized shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/2 pound ground pork
1 large clove of garlic, minced
1 large green onion, minced

about 30 large frozen green peas for garnish (see note below)

1 large egg, blended
about 30 wonton wrappers, (round)

Procedure:
Soak dried mushrooms for 1/2 hour to rehydrate. Meanwhile, mix soy sauce, sesame oil, oyster sauce, sugar, salt & pepper and ginger in a medium sized bowl. Separate 5 shrimp from the 12. Roughly chop the 5 shrimp and mince the rest. Add all of the shrimp to the bowl with the ground pork, garlic, and green onions. Mix everything together with your hand until blended. Cover and refrigerate for 1/2 hour.

When ready to assemble, stir egg together in a small bowl with a fork. With a basting brush, brush some of the egg mixture on top of a wonton (this will insure that the wonton sticks together while steaming). Make a circle with your fingers by touching the tips of your thumb and first finger together. Place a egg coated wonton wrapper on top of the circle and gently press the wrapper into the circle, making a small cup. While still holding the wonton in your fingers, with your other hand, place 1 rounded teaspoon of the pork/shrimp mixture into the center of the wonton. Now pinch the wonton together around the mixture, leaving the top open, and press the mixture into the wonton cup. Flatten the bottom of the shumai on the kitchen counter so that it sits flat. Place a single pea in the center of the shrimp/pork mixture for garnish. Repeat this process until the shrimp/pork mixture is gone. Place the uncooked shumai in the steamer, and steam for 15 to 20 minutes. Serve with a soy sauce dipping sauce with a little sesame oil and a squeeze of lime juice. Put in a drop or two of chili oil if you like it spicy. Makes about 30 shumai.

Note: If you can't find the round wonton wrappers, use the square ones and cut the corners off. I use a bamboo steamer and put parchment paper in the bottom so the shumai don't stick to the steamer. Leave room for the steam to come up around the paper. Instead of a pea for garnish you can blanch a carrot and chop it up and place a few pieces on top, or you can garnish each shumai with a cilantro leaf.

Cheese Ravioli with Wonton Wrappers
Wonton wrappers are very similar to little sheets of uncooked pasta. You can easily make ravioli out of them and put in whatever filling you like; cheese and spinach, cheese and crab, salmon, pork, beef, and so on. This recipe calls for a mixture of 3 different cheeses stuffed into wonton wrappers, then boiled and served with a tomato sauce.

Ingredients:
3 cups store bought Italian tomato sauce, or make your own ("Mama Mia" Marinara Sauce)
1/2 cup squeezed, chopped, cooked fresh or frozen spinach
1/2 cup coarsely grated mozzarella
1/2 cup ricotta (whole milk or low fat)
1/2 cup freshly microplane grated Parmigiano-Reggiano plus extra for sprinkling
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
32 square wonton wrappers
shredded basil for garnish (Kumu Farms on Molokai always has it in stock)

Procedure:
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

In a large bowl combine the spinach, mozzarella, ricotta, 1/2 cup parmesan, nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste.

Working with a few wonton skins at a time, keeping the others covered with plastic wrap, moisten the edges with water. Put a level teaspoon of the filling in the center of each wrapper, and put another wonton on top. Press out the air and crimp the edges tightly to seal. As they are filled, transfer the ravioli to a flour dusted sheet pan. Repeat with the remaining wonton wrappers and filling.

Add the ravioli to the pot of boiling water, turn down to a simmer and cook, until just tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the tomato sauce. To serve: divide the ravioli among four shallow soup plates, top with some of the sauce and a sprinkling of the cheese. Garnish with the shredded basil. Makes 4 servings.

Cinnamon Sweet Wontons
Ingredients:
15 wonton wrappers (or more)
2 tablespoons white sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
cooking spray

Procedure:
Preheat oven to 400˚F. Cut the wrappers in four small squares. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place the wrappers in one layer on the sheet. Spray the wrappers with cooking spray.
Combine sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Mix well. Sprinkle generously with the mixture on the wrappers. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the wrappers are crispy and golden brown. Do not overbake or they will burn. Serve with ice-cream or eat them like popcorn. Makes 60 chips. 

Note: You can also cut the wontons into 1/4" strips instead of little squares and follow the same process, then garnish the top of ice-cream or fruit salad with the strips. Or you can press whole wontons into small muffin tens and follow the same process to make sweet little cinnamon cups that you fill with a mixture of fresh fruit and yogurt. Or you can make wonton napoleons, using 3 baked cinnamon/sugar wontons that are layered with frozen whipped topping and fresh fruit, like mango, or strawberries and raspberries.

Chocolate-Banana Wontons
Ingredients:
1 (13 ounce) jar Nutella (chocolate hazelnut spread)
wonton wrappers
2 medium bananas
1 egg beaten
canola oil (for frying)
confectioners sugar (for dusting)

Procedure:
Separate wonton wrappers into individual sheets. In the center of each wrapper, place a small dollop (approximately 1 teaspoon) of Nutella and top with a slice of ripe banana. Use a pastry brush to moisten the edges of the wonton with a beaten egg mixture. Fold the wontons in half to form a triangle. Use your fingers to press the edges of the wonton firmly together to seal completely.

Preheat a deep fryer, or heat two inches of oil in a pan to approximately 350˚F. Drop the wontons in a few at a time and cook, turning them over during the process, until they are lightly browned and cooked through, usually 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from pan and drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar and serve warm.