Jun 27, 2016

Chicken & Rice My Way

Hawaiians love rice, they also love chicken, usually chicken thighs because they are cheap and in my opinion better than breast, which have a tendency to be dry without as much flavor. My mother used to make chicken & rice for my father, brother, sister and I when we were growing up. Naturally being a lover of foods of all kinds, I have improved on her recipe over the years. My current recipe is similar to chicken & rice recipes found in many parts of the world, but with fewer spices, and is very easy to make. The result is rice that is fluffy rice that is full of flavor, moist dark meat chicken that falls off the bone, and vegetables that are sweet and tasty!  

Give it a try, I think you'll love it too:

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Chicken & Rice My Way
4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning
1 cup of long-grain rice, toasted
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, sliced
1 small red bell pepper, diced
3 cloves of fresh garlic, finely diced
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups low-salt chicken stock
1 cup of frozen peas

Rinse thawed chicken thighs and pat dry with paper towels. Season them with salt, pepper, and Cajun seasoning, set aside.

Toasted long grain rice
Using a 10-inch dry cast iron skillet, or whatever you've got, toast the rice over medium heat until it just starts to get that toasty color, don't overcook it, (toasting the rice is the key to this recipe, it gives the rice a wonderful flavor). When toasted, pour the rice into a plate or small bowl and set aside.

Sauted onions, red bell pepper, and garlic

Now using the same skillet, add the oil, onions, red bell pepper, garlic, and about 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Saute until the onion is transparent and starting to get a little caramelized. Remove the onion mixture to a small bowl or plate.

Juicy bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, skillet fried

Now put the seasoned chicken thighs in the skillet and brown over medium-high heat, but don't cook completely (add a little more oil if needed, but not too much).

In a medium pot, add the toasted rice, chicken stock, 1 teaspoon of salt, and the browned chicken thighs. Cover and bring to a low simmer. At this point cook for 20 minutes, covered, checking after 15 minutes to make sure that the rice is not burning.

Now using the same skillet, combine the cooked chicken and rice with the onions, peppers and garlic. Now add the thawed green peas, and gently mix everything together. You just need to let the heat of the rice to warm the peas. Taste the rice for additional seasoning if needed. Makes 2 large servings.

Note: You can double or triple this recipe depending on how many mouths you have to feed.

Jun 9, 2016

Smoked Salmon Maki Rolls

Sushi is very popular in Hawaii, probably because Hawaiians love to eat raw fish, and it also helps that the Japanese visit the islands and they also love sushi. Maki rolls, or 'makizushi' in Japanese, are what many non-Japanese people think of as sushi. To me maki rolls are for beginners who are afraid to eat raw fish, but they are delicious. This recipe shows you how to make basic maki rolls with smoked salmon. Naturally you can fill a maki with whatever fillings you desire, but this is a winner recipe.

Brining and smoking salmon yourself is a simple process. All you need is make up a brining solution, buy a stovetop smoker for about $50, 2 pounds of fresh salmon, and alder wood chips. I have been using a Cameron stainless steal stovetop smoker for years and have been very happy with the results. They make a couple of sizes which can be purchased on Amazon.com. They also sell a variety of types of wood chips for smoking. For my brining recipe and how to smoke salmon, click here.

Smoked Salmon Maki Rolls
2 cups Japanese sushi rice
6 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon salt
6 sheets "toasted" nori (dry seaweed), available in the Asian section of most grocery stores
1 avocado - peeled, pitted and sliced
8 ounces smoked salmon, cut into long strips
2 tablespoons wasabi paste
roasted white sesame seeds (optional)
sushi ginger (pickled ginger found in the Asian section of most grocery stores

bamboo sushi mat, available in the Asian section of most grocery stores

Boil rice with 4 cups of water, and no salt. When rice comes to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and cover with a lid. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes until all liquid has gone away.

Immediately after rice is cooked, mix rice vinegar with brown sugar and salt. Heat mixture in microwave for 30 seconds. Now mix heated vinegar mixture into the hot rice. Spread rice in a shallow bowl or casserole dish until completely cool, about 1 hour. Cover bowl of rice with a clean dish towel while cooling.

Place 1 sheet of nori on bamboo sushi mat, shiny-side down. Press a thin layer of cool rice on the seaweed. Leave at least 1/2 inch top and bottom edge of the seaweed uncovered. This is for easier sealing later. Dot some wasabi on the rice. Arrange smoked salmon and avocado in a line on top of the rice in the center, then sprinkle the salmon and avocado with roasted white sesame seeds. Position them about 1 inch away from the bottom edge of the seaweed.

Slightly wet the top edge of the seaweed. Roll from bottom to the top edge with the help of the bamboo mat, rolling tightly. With a sharp knife that has been dipped in water, cut the maki roll into 8 equal pieces. Repeat this process with the rest of the maki rolls, cleaning the sticky rice from the knife blade with cold water. Serve with a soy sauce based dipping sauce mixed with a little wasabi.

— Toasted nori seaweed sheets are thin, dried seaweed wrappers used for maki rolls. Be sure to choose nori that is labeled “toasted” when making rolls—un-toasted nori is too chewy. 
— It's a good idea to have a bowl of water next to you when you are making maki as it is important to keep your fingers wet so that the rice doesn’t stick to them. It is also a good idea to keep the knife wet when you cut it to guarantee that you get a clean cut.
—You can make what’s called an Uramaki roll, or an inside out roll. This is made with the nori on the inside and the rice on the outside of the roll. Uramaki is great sprinkled with roasted white sesame seeds.
— I usually smoke 2 pounds of fresh salmon at a time and use it for a variety of recipes found on this site.

Makes 6 servings.