Category: food


One thing about growing up in Hawaii — I never had to think about the changing of the seasons.  Sure, there was the “rainy season” and summer (aka “tourist season”) but nothing like the changes here, where it can reach over 100 degrees in the height of summer time, to dropping down into the 30s — and snowing! — in the winter.  So I never really thought about what it would take to pursue my new gardening hobby all year round.

My attempts at winter gardening outdoors were only slightly less than pathetic, despite the advice I found online.  I live in USDA zone 8, so I supposedly can grow certain things in late fall, but it didn’t quite work out that way.  The only thing that grew semi-decently was the romaine lettuce.  The snow peas only produced 5 full-sized pods before the frost, and the grasshoppers took a big hit out of my cabbage.

So I decided to try something indoors.  I ordered a seed sprouter from Burpee, and Mung bean sprouting seeds.  I like bean sprouts in stir-fries and other Chinese dishes, but they’re almost impossible to find fresh ones here, unless I want to drive more than 40 minutes to go to the Commissary.  The sprouter came with some directions, but didn’t specify how much seed to leave in each compartment.  Not taking into account the difference in size between seed and sprout, I definitely added too much for the container:

The top tray contained broccoli sprouts, the bottom bunch were the bean sprouts.  From that tiny tray, I pulled out more than 10 ounces of sprouts.  Then the question was, what to do with them?   I decided to make a version of lumpia — which could best be described as a Filipino spring rolls.  I can’t find patis here though, so this is my plainer version, using ground turkey instead of beef.

1-lb ground turkey

10 oz. bean sprouts

1 medium onion, chopped

1 garlic clove

salt and pepper to taste

1 package spring roll wrappers

1)  Brown ground turkey with onion and garlic.

2)  Add bean sprouts, salt and pepper.  Cook 2 minutes.  Drain and let cool.

3)  Spoon enough of turkey mixture onto wrapper to make a line approximately an inch wide, and an inch high.  See diagram below for guidelines.  Fold the bottom corner of the wrapper over filling [1], then fold in sides [2] and [3].  Roll upward, and seal with water if using regular spring roll wrappers.  If using lumpia wrappers, you will need a mix of flour and water to seal them.  They should look like thick cigars.

4)  Heat oil in frying pan over medium heat.  You don’t need much, maybe only 1-2 Tbsp. at a time.  Place rolls, seam side down, and fry on each side until brown.

My husband likes to have these with Sweet Chili Sauce, that you can buy by the bottle from the Asian food department of stores.  I like to have these with the following Sweet & Sour Sauce, from the Pearl City High School “Project Graduation 2007” cookbook:

3/4 c. water

1-1/2 Tbsp. cornstarch

2 Tbsp. rice vinegar (unseasoned)

3 Tbsp. catsup

2/3 c. sugar

Dash of soy sauce

Mix together all ingredients in order.  Cook and stir until sauce comes to a full boil.

I love cooking, and my husband loves fried foods.  Unfortunately, our waistlines don’t agree.   And being constantly surrounded by people half my age (thanks to my husband’s job) tends to make me really conscious about gaining weight.   Not to mention, having to worry about all the potential health issues.

I’ve been trying to modify some of our favorite recipes so we can still indulge once in a while without feeling too guilty.  I actually came up with this recipe by combining and modifying a Chicken Karaage recipe and a Baked Buffalo wings recipe, both of which I found through internet searches.  I’m pretty pleased with how it came out, it reminds me of the fried chicken I used to eat at Shirokiya in Ala Moana Center, back when I lived in Hawaii.  Not quite as crispy, though.  I used 1 lb of boneless skinless chicken breast, cut up into bite-sized chunks.

Marinade:

3 Tbsp. soy sauce

1 Tbsp. sake

1/4 tsp. fresh grated ginger

1/2 tsp. chili sauce (I like sirracha, but you can probably substitute others)

Chicken Coating:

1/2 c. cornstarch

1/2 tsp. black pepper

1/2 tsp. garlic

1/8 tsp. cayenne (red)  pepper

How to make the chicken:

1. Mix marinade ingredients together and add chicken.  Let sit  for half an hour.

2.  Combine cornstarch and other chicken coating ingredients together in a resealable plastic bag.

3. Drain chicken, add to bag, and shake to coat.  Spread coated chicken pieces onto a cookie sheet sprayed with cooking spray, let sit for 1 hour in refrigerator for the coating to set.

4. Preheat oven to 425.  If your chili sauce is on the thick side, dilute with equal parts water.  I use about 3 Tbsp sauce/ 3Tbsp water for the next step.

5.  Dip chicken pieces in chili sauce or chili sauce/water combo.  You may want to re-spray the cookie sheet or use parchment paper for the actual cooking.  Line the chicken pieces on the pan and spray lightly with cooking spray.

6.  Bake for 10 minutes.  Flip chicken, coat again with cooking spray.  Bake for another 10 minutes or until done.

If you would like to check out the original recipes I used to come up with this one:

Chicken Karaage: http://www.justhungry.com/2004/04/karaage_japanes.html

Baked Buffalo Wings: http://allrecipes.com//Recipe/baked-buffalo-wings/Detail.aspx

Now, if only I could figure out a healthier version of my grandmother’s Sesame Chicken recipe, I would be extremely happy!