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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Adobong Pusit (Squid in Black Ink Sauce)

In the Philippines Adobo is a method of cooking that uses vinegar. Vinegar has and is always been a key ingredient in Philippine cuisine primarily because it helps preserve food. This held specially true during the Spanish colonial times when most do not have access to refrigeration, to make food last longer.

Nowadays, it’s purpose is not only for preservation but more for flavoring. Filipino food is characterized as either salty, sour, bitter or sweet or a combination of these.

The most popular form of adobo is Adobong baboy or Pork Adobo which I blogged about here. Adobo is not only a cooking method for meats but seafood as well.

Adobong pusit (squid) is the second most popular form of adobo. The key to making this dish is getting the freshest squid you could possible. I was finally able to get some while food shopping early morning at an Asian grocer. After living here in the East coast for more than a decade this was the first time I have ever seen fresh squid at a market. I usually only find frozen ones which won’t do for this recipe.

First, clean your squid by gently pulling the head with it’s tentacles from the body.

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The innards which is on the lower part of the head contains the ink sac, gently remove this with your fingertip and place in a small bowl. You will need the ink sacs to flavor your adobo and to achieve the black color you want for this dish.

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Rinse and remove the innards from the head and set aside. Take the body and remove the cartilage from inside by pulling it, don’t worry it will slide out easily. Then rinse the inside of the squid and remove any innards left. Repeat the procedure for the rest of the squid.

To make, heat a medium sized pot and add 2 tablespoons vegetable oil. Then saute until fragrant 2-3 cloves finely chopped garlic. Add your cleaned and prepared squid and stir fry for a bit. Then pour in the ink sacs you have set aside and add about 1/4 cup cane vinegar.

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Add salt and pepper to taste and cover. Cook and simmer for 3-5 minutes. Do not overcook because the squid will get tough and rubbery. Serve with steamed white rice.

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Crispy Anchovies Over Rice (Dilis Rice)

Anchovies or Dilis in Tagalog are usually sold dried. Dried anchovies are widely used in Asia, in Japan and Korea they are used to make stock and as savory snack or appetizer. Southeast Asians on the other hand usually fry these in a little oil until golden brown and crisp. It is commonly eaten with rice but each country in the Southeast has it’s own unique way of serving it.

Malaysia and Singapore has Nasi Lemak a traditional breakfast of rice, sambal, dried anchovies and boiled or fried egg. Indonesia has Nasi Goreng which means fried rice but they have a version with anchovies on it. In the Philippines, Dilis or Dried Anchovies is a typical breakfast fare served with garlic rice and sunny side egg.

To make my Dilis Rice, I heated a non stick pan and added about 1-2 tbsp of vegetable oil. Then placed about a handful of small dried anchovies. I let this cook over medium heat until golden brown and crisp. Make sure to watch it as the small anchovies tend to cook fast and can burn which will make it bitter.

To serve, place your cooked white rice on a plate and top this with some egg crepe strips. Then liberally sprinkle your anchovies on top of your egg. Serve with a couple of tomato slices and chopped cilantro.

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Salt-Broiled Mackerel

The simplest food sometimes is the tastiest. I made this salt broiled mackerel to pair with the chop suey for dinner.

This is very easy to prepare. You will only need three things, fillets from 2 mackarel (I used norwegian mackerel), kosher salt and a little oil.

Rinse your fillet and wipe it dry with paper towel. Make a cross cut on the skin side of your fillet. Liberally sprinkle both sides of your fillet with salt. Let it stand for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, set your oven to broil and line a baking sheet with heavy duty foil. Lightly grease your pan with oil to prevent fish from sticking. Run your fillet under running water to rinse off salt and pat dry with paper towel. Lay your fillet on the baking sheet and broil until golden brown and skin looks nice and crisp. Don’t forget to turn the fish once 3/4 of the way of cooking time. Serve with lemon wedge on the side. You may also use ponzu as dipping sauce.

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Bangus (Milkfish) a la Pobre

A la pobre literally translate to “poor man’s”. In the Philippines however, when a dish is called “a la pobre” it means cooked in lots of garlic and olive oil. One of my favorite dish prepared in this manner is “Blue marlin a la pobre” a specialty of Via Mare catering in the 90s which my mom always include in her menu for our parties at home.

Since I don’t have any access to fresh blue marlin to recreate this dish, I made use of milkfish or bangus in Tagalog which is readily available in any Asian grocer. I asked the fish monger to clean and butterfly my bangus. You can also get frozen boneless bangus if you don’t want to be bothered with fish bones in your food.

To make, liberally season you milkfish with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Then brush your fish with a mixture of 1/4 cup olive oil and 2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce. Set aside and marinate for about an hour in the refrigerator.

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Set your oven to broil. Place your bangus in a baking sheet lined with heavy duty aluminum foil and cook under broiler until golden brown and crisp. Carefully watch and rotate pan while cooking as the fish burns easily. Sprinkle with fried minced garlic before serving.

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Fish Sinigang (Fish in Tamarind Soup)

Sinigang is a Filipino soup flavored with a souring agent. The most commonly used is tamarind or sampalok in Tagalog. Although other fruits such as guava, bilimbi and calamansi are widely used as well. Sinigang can be made with meat such as pork, beef or chicken. Seafood sinigang on the other hand is made using shrimps or fish. When making fish sinigang Milkfish or “bangus” is the most popular choice (pictured above), my personal preference is Tilapia because it’s easier to eat and handle when cooked bone in.

To make place 1 onion and 1-2 medium sized roma tomatoes chopped in a pot. Add about 5-6 cups water or rice wash and let it come to a boil. Rice wash is simply the water saved from the 2nd or 3rd washing of your rice. My late grandmother uses this to make fish based soups. Once the stock is boiling add your tamarind mix and your fish and let simmer. I use tamarind mix since I have no access to fresh tamarind. This mix has become popular among Filipinos because of it’s convenience. Few minutes before your fish is done add in your vegetables such as asian eggplant, long beans and bok choy. Cook your vegetable until crisp tender. Serve with steamed rice.

Sinigang na Tilipia pictured below.

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Pangat na Tilapia (Poached Tilapia in Lemon)

Pangat is poached fish that is cooked with the use of a souring agent.  The most commonly used are Calamansi (Philippine lime), tamarind and kamias (Bilimbi). These fruits are indigenous to the Philippines and Southeast Asia. Calamansi juice or extract are now sold frozen in sachets here in the Northeast. (see photo below).

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This is a simple dish that is fairly easy to make. You just need the following ingredients: tilapia, onions, tomatoes, juice of calamansi, lemon, salt and water. Slice your onions, tomatoes and lemon and layer it into a pan. Place your Tilapia on top of the vegetables. I prefer to use fresh whole tilapia from the Asian store where they can gut, clean and cut it for you. You can add more slices of tomatoes, onions and lemons on top of the fish for added flavor. Sprinkle  kosher salt and pour in your calamansi extract and 1/2 cup of water. Simmer until fish is done and can easily be flaked with a fork.  Do not overcook.

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