Tuna Avocado Sandwich

The weather has been sweltering the past couple of days with temperatures rising to 99F yesterday. When it is this hot I am not inclined to stay in the kitchen too long to cook. I don’t even want to stay outside to grill. The solution make a salad or a cold sandwich for dinner.

After looking at my pantry and fridge, I decided to make Tuna Avocado sandwich. I adapted the recipe from this site. I made some modifications like omitting the 1 tsp. lemon juice it called for since I used a Filipino brand canned tuna which already has Calamansi our native lime and adding more cilantro and avocado than what the recipe called for.

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I think this is a healthier version since it does not use mayonnaise. It is just perfect if you a looking for something light for dinner during this lazy Summer nights.

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Chicken Inasal (Bacolod style grilled chicken)

Inasal means to roast in the Visayan dialect of the Philippines. It is also derived from the Spanish word asar meaning to grill. Chicken inasal was popularized in Bacolod city the capital of Negros Occidental located in the central part of the country. What differentiates it from other barbecued meats is the use cane or coconut vinegar in the marinade and annatto oil giving it the orange hue its known for.

We were first introduced to this dish in 2006 when we visited Manila and ate at the chain restaurant Bacolod Chicken Inasal. I believe we ate there three times during our stay. Upon our return to the Northeast I searched the web for recipes of chicken inasal and tried recreate this dish. This is I what came up with. I’ve been making this every Summer which is grill season for us.

First, make the annatto oil by placing in a saucepan the following 1/2 cup vegetable oil, 2 tbsp. annatto seeds, a clove of garlic and a bay leaf. Place this over medium heat and wait until the oil changes to a deep orange color. Strain the oil and set aside to cool.

Prepare your marinade by combining the following in a bowl : 5 garlic cloves minced, thumb sized ginger cut into slivers, 2 lemongrass stalks smashed and sliced into 1 inch lengths, 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup cane or coconut vinegar, 1 tbsp. kosher salt and 1tsp. ground pepper. Place 2 lbs. chicken thighs (rinsed and patted dry) in a freezer bag and pour in your marinade plus 4 tbsp of the annatto oil that you prepared. Place this in the refrigerator and allow to marinate overnight.

Take the chicken out of the refrigerator and prepare your grill. Once it’s ready grill your chicken skin side up for 20 minutes under indirect heat. Then baste it with your annatto oil and turn over and grill for another 15 minutes. Baste again before it’s done to make sure you get the deep orange color.

Serve your chicken with steamed white rice and a dipping sauce of white vinegar and chili flakes.

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Soba Noodle Salad

One other family favorite that I serve during Summer is cold Soba. I usually serve cold soba with just a dipping sauce of Mentsuyu which I buy pre-made in a bottle. I blogged about this here. You can also make a salad out of cold soba noodles.

To make, cook your soba according to package directions. You can buy soba in any Asian store or you can find this in the international food aisle of your grocery store.

You can add any kind of vegetable you want, I chose cucumber, carrots and yellow squash to add to my salad. I just washed it then made long strips by using my julienne peeler. Prepare your dressing by mixing 1/4 cup rice vinegar, 1 tbsp soy sauce, 1 tbsp canola oil, 1 tsp sesame oil and 1 tbsp sugar.

Place your soba and vegetables in a bowl. Add your dressing and toss everything to combine. Sprinkle some sesame seeds before serving.

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Zucchini Fritters

Zucchini and Summer/Yellow squash are a plenty during the Summer months. I usually grab a couple during my Saturday trip to our local farmers market. We usually just eat it grilled with a touch of olive oil or raw in salads.

This time around I decided to make fritters with it. I adapted the recipe from Epicurious but I added a small amount of minced onion in mine. This recipe reminded me a bit of the Filipino vegetable fritter Okoy also known as Ukoy which is made up of bean sprouts, grated squash or sweet potato and shrimps.

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To make, grate a combination of zucchini and summer squash (3-4 pieces) and gently toss this with 1/2 tsp of kosher salt. Let this stand for about 30 minutes in a colander. Then squeeze out as much liquid as you can out of it by placing it in a clean kitchen towel or cheese cloth. Then add 1 large egg, 1/4 cup all purpose flour, 1 tbsp. cornstarch, 1/4 of a medium onion minced and salt and pepper to taste. Gently mix everything until well combined.

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Take a non stick pan and heat around 1/3 cup of oil. Then by using a 1/4 cup measure drop your zucchini batter in the hot oil and cook until brown and crisp. Make sure to flatten your fritter or patty a bit to ensure a nice crisp texture. Place cooked fritter in a paper towel lined plate to remove excess oil.

Serve with a soy dipping sauce. Just combine 3 tbsp. rice vinegar, 1 tbsp light soy sauce and a dash or ground pepper or red pepper flakes.

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Blueberry Lemon Pancakes

Did you know that blueberry is the state fruit of New Jersey ?! It officially became the state fruit in 2003. New Jersey is known to be the “blueberry capital of the nation”. Summer is berry season, specifically blueberry which is at it’s peak between July 5 – August 10 according to Jersey Fresh/Department of Agriculture.

So what do you do when you have too much blueberries on hand ? Make pancakes !!! I did initially made a batch of muffins but had some kitchen mishaps along the way so I decided to redeem myself and make blueberry lemon pancakes the following day.

To make I used this recipe after doing research and comparison on the web. I did not have brown sugar and I just substituted organic sugar which I always have on hand. I used a lemon to make the zest and it’s just enough to add the tartness and flavor to your pancake. One of the easiest and best pancake recipe I have used so far.

You may serve this with a dusting of powdered sugar or a drizzle of maple syrup on top.

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Hamburger Steak

This is my take on the Japanese style hamburger steak known as “Hambagu”. It is referred to as “Yoshoku” or western influenced cooking which dates back to the Meiji period or restoration. This is the time when Japan opened it’s doors to the western world. Part of the reforms made by the emperor was the promotion or introduction of western cuisine where meat is the main ingredient. This dish was believed to have been first served in Yokohama during the Meiji period according to wikipedia.

This dish is very similar to what we know as Salisbury Steak. To make this dish you will need 1-1.5 lb ground beef, 1 egg, 1/4-1/2 cup bread crumbs, 1 medium sized finely chopped onion, 1/4 cup worcestershire sauce, 1 tsp. salt and 1 tsp ground black pepper. Place all your ingredients in a bowl and with your hands using food safe gloves mix well to combine.

Divide your meat mixture into four equal parts. Take one portion of your meat and form it into a ball or patty then toss this back and forth in your hands like a baseball. Do this repeatedly about 5-8 times to ensure that there will be no air inside the patty, thus avoiding cracks while cooking.

Heat a non-stick pan and add 1-2 tbsp. vegetable oil. Then place your patties and cook for 5-6 minutes on medium to low heat until a nice brown crust is formed. Then flip your patties and cook for an additional 5-6 minutes. Combine in a small cup 1/4 cup ponzu sauce and 1 tsp sugar, pour this onto your pan and cover. Let the patties simmer in the sauce for 2 minutes under low heat. Remove from heat and transfer patties to a serving plate. Pour a little of the sauce onto your patty and serve with rice.

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I also served this with a side dish of mango slaw. To make, thinly slice a quarter of white cabbage and 1 quarter of red cabbage, rinse well and soak in ice cold water for 30 minutes then drain. Take a ripe mango, peel and cut the flesh into thin strips. Combine your cabbage and mango and add a handful of chopped cilantro. You can dress this with a couple of tablespoons of roasted sesame dressing. I dressed our salad with the “House Dressing” from The Cheese Shop which I bought during a trip to Colonial Williamsburg.

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