Delicious Homemade South West Egg Rolls

Delicious Homemade South West Egg Rolls

South West or Tex Mex Egg Rolls are featured appetizers at many well known restaurant chains.  It’s one of my favorites at Chili’s and Cheesecake Factory where I order them all every time we choose to dine at one of them.  I know they’re considered appetizers but most of the time I order them as my main course, that way I  get a whole plate of them to myself!

I’ve actually seen them frozen and ready to fry at several grocery stores.  They’re marketed as the “original” Chili’s or Cheesecake Factory Egg Rolls.  They also carry a hefty price tag which I’m not willing to pay for something I still have to fry!

But I can definitely make these yummy crunchy rolls of Tex Mex goodness at home.  It’s super easy!  I usually make a big batch and freeze some for later, they freeze very well.

Now there are 2 versions of this Egg Roll, one uses actual Egg Roll wrapper usually found at any Asian Market, and the other rolls the filling in flour tortillas.  The former makes for a delicate crispy egg roll as the wrapper is a thin pastry just like the egg rolls you’ll find at most Asian restaurants.  The latter has a different look and crunch as the tortilla is a much thicker wrapper.  Either way they’re delicious!

I use the frozen grilled chicken strips to make my egg rolls, but you can make your one cooked chicken to use in this recipe.  This recipe makes a large pot, whatever I don’t roll into egg rolls I make into bowls by serving it over a bowl of Mexican Rice and Refried Beans.

To freeze roll the filling in egg roll wrapper or tortillas and place in freezer bags.  Label and freeze for up to 3 months.

These egg rolls are delicious dipped in a Creamy Avocado Sauce or topped with Pico De Gallo.  The recipe for the sauce is included at the bottom of the egg roll recipe.

South West Egg Rolls

Ingredients:

1 Tsp. Olive Oil

1 Pkg. Frozen Grilled Chicken Strips, thawed and diced

1/2 Onion, diced

2 Tbs. Minced Garlic

1 Green Bell Pepper, diced

1 Tomato, diced and patted dry with paper towel.

1 Can Black Beans, drained

1 Can Corn Kernels, drained

1 – 2 Tbs. Cumin, adjust to taste

1 – 2 Tbs. Chili Powder, adjust to taste

1 Tbs. Salt

1 Bunch Fresh Cilantro, coarsely chopped

1 Cup Shredded Cheddar/Jack Cheese

1 Pkg. Frozen Egg Roll Wrappers or 8″ Flour Tortillas

Oil for frying

Directions:

Heat Olive Oil in large pan.

Saute onions about 1 minute or until they start to turn translucent.

Add garlic and continue to saute.

Add peppers and cook until peppers start to get a bit soft.

Add Chicken, beans, and corn.

Add in Cumin, Chili Powder, and Salt.  Mix until well combined.

Add Tomatoes and cook until any liquid in the pan starts to thicken.

Add Cilantro and cook until it starts to wilt.

Remove from heat and stir in cheese until it melts.

Set aside and prepare your wrappers.

Place a heaping tablespoon in the center of your wrapper and spread into a line across.

Roll the filling in the wrapper burrito style.

Heat about 2″ of oil in a frying pan or use a deep fryer if you have one.

Fry rolls in oil until golden brown.

Cut each roll in half diagonally and serve hot with Avocado Dipping Sauce.

Creamy Avocado Dipping Sauce

Ingredients:

1 Cup Whipped Cream Cheese

1/2 Cup Sour Cream

1 Bunch Fresh Cilantro finely chopped

1 Ripe Avocado mashed

1/2 Tsp. Garlic Powder

1/4 Tsp. Chili Powder

Directions:

Mix all ingredients together and refrigerate until ready to serve.


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Tortang Talong  – Filipino Eggplant Omelette

Tortang Talong – Filipino Eggplant Omelette

Italy may have their Eggplant Parmesan but the Philippines has their Tortang Talong or Eggplant Omelette.  The word “torta” has many meanings in the Latin based language.  In Italy and other countries whose language is rooted in latin it usually means cake or pie.  In Mexico it refers to a sandwhich.  In Spain it can mean either a cake or an omelette.

The Philippines was under Spanish rule for about 500 years.  Much of its language, customs, and cuisine is adapted from the Spanish culture.  Hence many favorite Filipino dishes include Arroz Valenciana or Paella,  Arroz Caldo, Pastel de Lengua, Menudo, Chorizo, and Torta, just to name a few.

The word “tortang” is derived from the Spanish word “Torta”.  In the Philippines when they refer to something as “tortang” it means that it is made like a torta, which in this case mean omelette.  So Tortang Talong means Eggplant Omelette since Talong is the Filipino name for Eggplant.

Tortang Talong is a simple yet tasty way to eat eggplant.  It uses the long Asian eggplant instead of the large round eggplant normally used in the Italian Eggplant Parmesan.  The eggplant is cooked, usually over an open fire or grill, flattened, dipped in beaten eggs, then fried.  There are many versions of this Filipino dish, some of which include ground meat.  In my family we usually make it without as it’s pretty filling without meat.  I make it at home for our meatless dinner nights.  Served with a tossed salad and some olives and pickles on the side it’s simply delicious!

You can roast the eggplant up to a day in advance.  Leave the skin on and store in the fridge until ready to use.  Depending on the size of the eggplant you can either make one to share or smaller individual ones.  I usually make 2 and that feeds around 4 people.

Tortang Talong

Ingredients:

1 Asian Long Eggplant

2 Eggs

1/2 Tsp. Minced Garlic

Salt & Pepper to taste

Oil for frying

Directions:

Roast or broil the eggplant with the skin on.  You will know the eggplant is cooked when it is soft and the skin is a bit wrinkled and has turned brownish in color.

Peel cooked eggplant.  You can do this by holding the stem and gently pulling off the skin with your fingers.  The meat may stick to the skin so be careful peeling it so that you don’t take the eggplant meat with the skin.  Do not remove the stem.

Place peeled eggplant on a flat plate and gently flatten with a fork.  You should end up with eggplant meat fanning out from the top stem.

Beat eggs, garlic, salt & pepper together in  a shallow dish.

Place about 1/2 tsp. oil in a large frying pan and heat.

Place eggplant in egg mixture.  Use the fork to gently immerse eggplant (but not the stem) in the egg mixture.  Allow the eggplant to absorb as much of the egg mixture as possible.

Holding the eggplant by the stem gently place it in the hot oil.  You can pour some more egg mixture over the eggplant in the pan so that the eggplant is completely covered.

Cook until the bottom starts to turn golden brown and the egg mixture on the top starts to get a bit dry.

Gently flip the eggplant over and cook until that side turns golden brown.

Slide finished omelette onto a serving dish and serve.

Tortang Talong - Filipino Eggplant Omelette
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Chicken Paella

Chicken Paella

Paella is probably Spain’s most popular dish.  It originated in the Valencia region located in Eastern Spain but can be found worldwide specially in countries that were once part of colonial Spain namely Cuba and the Philippines where it is also call Arroz Valenciana.

The word Paella mean “pan” in the Valencian dialect.  It is usually made and served in a “paella” pan which is basically a somewhat flat shallow skillet with or without a cover.  It is typically made with Bomba rice, a short grain rice variety cultivated in Spain’s eastern region.  Traditional Valencian Paella includes some type of meat such as chicken, duck, or rabbit, and some type of green bean.  It’s iconic yellow colored rice is achieved by adding saffron threads while cooking.

In modern time Paella has been adapted to use ingredients easily found in different areas of the country.  One of the most popular, an my favorite is Paella de Marisco which is seafood mixed with the rice.  This usually has shrimp, mussels or clams, squid, and sometimes lobster; is usually omits the vegetables.  Then there’s Paella Mixta which combines meats including Chorizo (Spanish pork sausage), seafood, and vegetables.  In short these days you can pretty much put whatever you want in a pealla.  My husband prefers chicken or vegetarian Paella.

When I was growing up surrounded by grandmothers, aunts, and uncles many of whom were fantastic cooks, Arroz Valenciana or Paella was a treat.  It would certainly be on a party menu, specially at Christmas.  These days I usually have to get my Paella fix in Spain.  It’s always one of our favorites when we’re in Barcelona, Majorca, or any part of Spain.

But since our yearly visits to Spain will not be possible this year we’ve found ourselves missing our favorite Spanish foods.  That’s why I’ve been making tapas boards lately.  I’ve also been making Paella.  In fact I’ve been making it often enough that’s I’ve recently decided to order a paella pan.

Today I’ll share my recipe for Chicken Paella because it’s ingredients are probably the easiest to find.  In fact you may already have it in your kitchen pantry.  I mentioned that Paellas are typically made with Bomba rice, but it’s not always easy to find in the US, at least in Hawaii.  I usually use Japanese short grain rice, the type you use to make sushi which is always found at any Asian market.  Saffron is not easily found in regular supermarkets  because it’s pretty expensive.  I usually buy Saffron when I’m in Turkey or the Middle East where it’s readily available at the local spice markets at a reasonably lower price.  If you don’t have Saffron you can use ground Turmeric to tint the rice yellow, but don’t use too much as it will leave a different flavor than what you want to achieve.  I’d use no more than a teaspoon of turmeric powder dissolved in a cup of chicken stock.

Chicken Paella

Ingredients:

1/2 Tsp. Crushed Saffron Threads

1/2 Cup White Wine

1/8 Cup Olive Oil

6-8 Chicken Thighs Bone-In with Skin

1 Tsp. Salt

1 Tsp. Ground Black Pepper

1 Onion Chopped

2 Tbl. Minced Garlic

1 Tbs. Fresh Thyme chopped

1 1/2 Cup uncooked Bomba or other short grain rice

3 Cups Chicken Stock

Juice of 1 Lemon

1 Small Bag Frozen Peas

1 Red Pepper cut into strips

American Parsley – chopped (optional)

Lemon Wedges (optional)

Directions:

Stir Saffron into wine and set aside.

Heat Olive Oil in Paella pan or large skillet.

Season chicken thighs with salt and pepper.

Place thighs in heated oil skin side down and cook until golden brown, about 6-7 minutes.

Turn over and cook another 4-5 minutes.

Remove chicken from pan and set aside.  (You may have to cook chicken in batches depending on how big your pan is and how many thighs you are using.)

Add onions, garlic, and thyme to pan.  Cook for about 2 minutes, stir constantly to keep it from burning.

Add Rice and cook another 2 minutes while stirring constantly.

Add wine and cook until liquid is reduced by half.

Stir in lemon juice and chicken stock.

Place chicken skin side  up on top of rice, cover, reduce heat to medium.

Simmer about 18 minutes until rice is almost cooked, it should be “al dente”.

Remove cover and add peas and pepper evenly over the pan.

Turn up heat to medium high and cook another 5 minutes or until rice begins to brown on the bottom and sides.

Remove from heat and sprinkle with parsley.

Serve hot with lemon wedges.

This dish pairs well with a pitcher of Sangria or a nice bottle of fruity red wine or a Chardonnay for white wine lovers.


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Korean Fried Chicken Recipe

Korean Fried Chicken Recipe

Asian restaurants specializing in Korean Fried Chicken seem to be popular these days.  Bonchon Chicken, a franchise from South Korea has opened over 100 restaurants around the country.

So what is Korean Fried Chicken and how does it differ from other fried chicken?  Korean Fried Chicken or KFC as it’s known to some is chicken that’s crispy on the outside and tender on the inside.  But what sets it apart is that sticky sweet and spicy sauce it’s dipped in.  It really is delicious!

If one were to travel to South Korea you’d find many fast food joints dedicated to this dish; each one touting their own special sauce.  But traveling to South Korea, or just about anywhere right now, doesn’t seem to be a realistic option for many of us.  So as I’ve been sharing some of my favorite foods from all over the world.  In short bringing home the flavors and memories of my travels.  Today I’ll share a recipe for Korean Fried Chicken, my family says it tastes just like the real stuff!

This recipe takes a bit more effort to make and probably a trip to the Asian Market for a couple of the ingredients, but believe me it’s well worth the effort.  In an absolute pinch if you can’t find Goochujang Paste, the Korean Chili Paste, you can substitute Sriracha chili sauce or a Thai Chili Paste, it will be close but not the same.

The recipe is divided in 4 stages; the marinade, the coating, the sauce, and the garnish.  You can make the sauce ahead of time and reheat just before serving.  To maintain the crispiness chicken should be served as soon as it’s fried, it looses the crispness as it cools.  I prefer to use boneless skinless chicken thighs, but boneless skinless breasts can be used as well.

Korean Fried Chicken

Ingredients:
The Marinade:

6 Boneless Skinless Chicken Thighs cut into bite size chunks

1 Cup Buttermilk

1 Tsp. Salt

1/2 Tsp. White Pepper

1 Tsp. Garlic Powder

The Coating:

1 1/2 Cup flour

1 Tsp. Salt

1 Tsp. Black Pepper

1 Tsp. Garlic Powder

1 Tsp. Smoked Paprika

1 Tsp. Chili Flakes

Oil for frying

The Sauce:

2 Tbs. Gochujang Paste

2 Tbs. Honey

4 Tbs. Brown Sugar

4 Tbs. Soy Sauce

1 Tbs. Minced Garlic

2 Tsp. Minced Giner

1 Tbs. Vegetable Oil

1 Tbs. Sesame Oil

Garnish:

1/4 Cup chopped fresh cilantro

1 Tbs. White Sesame Seeds

1 Tbs. Black Sesame Seeds

1/2 Small onion thinly sliced

Directions:

Mix Marinade ingredients together and pour into a Ziplock bag.

Add chicken and coat with the marinade.

Place in the refrigerator and marinate for at least 1 hour.

Heat a large pan of vegetable oil, make sure you have about 2 inches of oil in the pan.

Mix the coating in a bowl.

Lift pieces of chicken from the marinade and let the excess drip off.

Drop into the hot oil until it’s cooked.  Coating should be deep golden brown and if you cut a piece of chicken in half the meat should not be pink.

Drain cooked pieces of chicken on paper towels and keep warm until all the chicken has been fried and the sauce is done.

Place all the sauce ingredients into a saucepan and stir.

Bring to a boil and simmer for about 5 minutes or until sauce has thickened.

Place cooked chicken into a large bowl, pour sauce over it and gently tossed until all chicken pieces are coated with sauce.

Move to serving dish and garnish with cilantro, onions, and sesame seeds.

Served with steamed white rice and Stir Fried Baby Bok Choi this dish is amazing!

 

 

 

Korean Fried Chicken Recipe
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Easy Fried Rice

Easy Fried Rice

I’m a Filipina who grew up in NYC and now lives in Hawaii.  Growing up rice was always part of the breakfast menu, actually it was part of every meal.  This my have been considered weird back in the 60’s in NYC, but when my family moved to Hawaii in the late 70’s we fit right in.

Growing up we always had an electric rice cooker filled with rice in the kitchen.  Left over or day old rice was fried with garlic for breakfast the next morning, we called it “Sinangag”.  These days Filipino restaurants call it “Garlic Fried Rice”.  Whatever you call it Filipino fried rice is delicious with fried eggs and breakfast meats, preferably Filipino cured meats like Tocino or Tapa.

My grandmothers would make fried rice every morning adding their own twist.  Traditionally I think it was made by stir frying left over rice with garlic.  My family added soy sauce and green onions to this mix, so that’s pretty much how we make it today.

In Hawaii which is a melting pot of different cultures the Filipino garlic fried rice has melded with other Asian versions of fried rice.  On the islands an order of Fried Rice is a meal by itself covering most of the basic food groups; dairy, grains, meats, and veggies, depending on what you put in it.

I look at making fried rice like I do making Lumpia or Eggrolls; you toss in whatever you find in the fridge and call it a day.  I simply build ingredients around day old rice (using fresh rice isn’t recommended as it can get too mushy).  Fried Rice can be as simple as stir frying garlic and rice or as elaborate as tossing in seafood, meat, and vegetables, like what you’d find on a Chinese Restaurant menu.

If I’m serving it as a side dish then the simpler version usually works best, but if I intend for it to be a complete meal then of course I add more “stuff” in it.  So today I’ll share my “recipe” for easy fried rice.  Measurements really aren’t that important because it pretty much depends on how much day old rice you have.  If you do decide to make it using fresh cooked rice then decrease the water when cooking so that the rice is drier and not mushy; it helps to make fresh rice in the morning and letting it “dry” a bit before making fried rice for lunch or dinner.

Easy Fried Rice

Ingredients:

Cooked White Rice – preferably day old rice

1-2 Tsp. Minced Garlic – adjust to taste

1/4  Cup Soy Sauce – adjust to taste and the amount of rice you have

Scrambled Egg chopped into pieces

Meat – I use canned Spam or Portuguese Sausage but you can use any type of breakfast meat you want like bacon or sausage – cooked and diced

2-4 Stalks Green Onions Chopped

1/2 Cup Frozen Green Peas (Optional)

2 Tbl. Oil

Directions:

Cook and dice your Egg and Meat – set aside.

Heat Oil in Wok or Frying Pan

Stir in garlic and cook about 45 seconds.  Don’t let it burn – lower heat if you have to.

Add cooked rice and mix well with garlic.  Break up any large clumps of rice.

Drizzle soy sauce over rice and stir in making sure it is evenly distributed.  Add more a little at a time if needed.  Don’t over do the soy sauce as your fried rice will be too salty.

Add in the rest of the ingredients and mix in to the rice evenly.

Garnish with extra green onions if desired.  Serve hot.

 

 

 

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