Monday, June 18, 2012

Turon (Filipino Banana Lumpia/Egg Roll)

I must confess, even though I'm a foodie, I am a picky one at that. There are just certain foods that I can't stand. One of them that is at the top of my list is Bananas. I don't know what it is about Bananas but there is something about the skinny grocery store bananas that I don't like. However, if you're like me, I have the answer for you. Throw away those skinny grocery store bananas and listen to what I have to say. 

While growing up, the only time I would eat a banana was when it was in the form of a Turon which is a Filipino banana lumpia/egg roll. They are so addictive it's not even funny. I can eat four of these no problem. 

Let me tell you, Filipino's don't use any ordinary skinny grocery bananas. We use the Saba Banana which is fatter and so much sweeter. It doesn't have the intense banana flavor like the traditional banana which is why I believe makes it appealing to the banana hater in me.

This is the Saba Banana. See how much fatter and shorter it is?! The trick here is you do not want to use Saba Bananas that are completely yellow. You want one that has tons of brown/black marks on it, because otherwise, they are not ripe enough to work with. Even the one in the picture is not that ripe enough! 

Now, the most important part of the Turon in my opinion has to be the Jackfruit. It adds more flavor to the dish that it is just not the same without it. You may search "Jackfruit"and see that it kind of looks like the famously stinky Durian, but no they are not the same. The Jackfruit is very tropical in flavor.

So, if you're a hater of the banana, the Turon will change your life!

Turon (Filipino Banana Egg Rolls)
Recipe by Me
Makes 12

4 Saba Bananas (You can substitute regular bananas if you can't find Saba)
3/4 cup Dark Brown Sugar
1-12 oz jar Jackfruit in syrup, 6 pieces drained
12 Egg Roll Wrappers

Begin to heat up a pan with about 1/4 inch of vegetable oil on medium-low heat. In the mean time, take a plate and spread the brown sugar on the plate evenly, set aside. Begin to peel the Saba Bananas and slice them lengthwise about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick.

Take the slices of Saba and coat them each in the brown sugar then place one slice on an egg roll wrapper. Take about 1/2 of a Jackfruit piece and make strips of it to run down the length of the Saba. Now roll the egg roll exactly like rolling a burrito.  Repeat for all the Saba pieces.

When the oil is hot, add in the finished egg rolls seam side down into the pan. You should see a light sizzle but nothing too intense. Keep the heat at medium low to prevent the sugar from burning. Fry until golden brown on each side which usually takes about 4 minutes per side. Patience is key! Cool on a cooling rack and serve!

-Aaron John

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Spaghetti w/ Meat Sauce

Well, that's it. I've finished my third year of college! This has been one of the hardest years by far and I'm just glad that it's over. I have so much to look forward to this Summer. It will be filled with job hunting, barbecues, my 21st birthday, a trip to California and so much more!

This Summer will also be filled with more blogging! A lot of recipe testing, some croissant making, some cake making, cookies of course and whatever I feel like creating. First up, another savory post. I've noticed when I cook savory food for my family, I end up focusing on Italian food a lot. Well, we can always use another Italian recipe right?


This recipe I came up with uses a jarred Marinara sauce as it's base. These days, they have some great quality Marinara Sauces out there and sure you can make your own, but this makes things much simpler!

Spaghetti Sauce
Recipe by Me

3 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, sliced
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 lbs ground beef
1-32 ounce jar of Marinara Sauce (I used Clasico Tomato and Basil Sauce)
16 oz Tomato Sauce
1 ½ tbsp of Worcestershire Sauce
3 tbsp Ketchup
2 tsp salt
2 teaspoon sugar
1 ½ teaspoon Italian Seasoning (Optional)
Pepper to taste
2 cups water

In a pot, heat up the olive oil. Once hot, add sliced onions and cook until soft, about 4-5 min. Add garlic and cook for an additional minute. Add ground beef and cook until browned and you hear the beef start to sizzle in it’s own fat. Discard any fat that renders from the ground beef, a little fat left in the pan is fine.

After removing some of the fat, add in 1 jar of Clasico Tomato and Basil Sauce, tomato sauce, worcestershire sauce, ketchup, salt, sugar, pepper and 2 cups of water. You may also add in the Italian seasoning if you have it on hand. I've made it without it, and it's still great because of the flavor from the Marinara sauce. Cook for 1 1/2 hrs, with a lid semi-on, stirring every 10 min to prevent burning on the bottom of the pan.

If the sauce it too acidic after the 1 ½ hrs, add a bit more sugar. Other than that, I made this recipe by taste so the measurements are rough estimates.

-Aaron John

Friday, June 1, 2012

Orange Chicken

Ever have that feeling where you want to buy food that you haven't had in a long time but simply don't want to buy it? You know, the feeling where you just need that Americanized Chinese Food that you find at the Mall? Not catching on? Well, how about the Americanized Chinese Food from a certain Panda who serves some delicious Orange Chicken? How about now?

As I was headed home from my last day of class this quarter, I knew I had the full capabilities to go and buy Orange Chicken but why not make it? It may not be the same exact thing but if I can somehow manage to have all the flavors of Orange Chicken and yet still have a fat wallet, I think that is a good day's work.

Thus, I combined a couple of recipes on Orange Chicken, such as one from Sunny Anderson, and came up with this one. It is sweet, salty, somewhat tangy, a little spicy and of course, it tasted like orange. That Panda isn't going to be eating more of my money.

Orange Chicken
Recipe adapted by Me

Vegetable oil, for frying
2 chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
2 eggs
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cornstarch

1 1/2 cups orange juice
1/3 cup golden brown sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon Soy Sauce
Pinch of Red Pepper Flakes
1 tsp cornstarch

In a pot or a fryer, heat the oil to 350 degrees F.

In a saucepan, combine the orange juice, brown sugar, worcestershire sauce and soy sauce together and heat it on the stove. Bring it to a boil and continue to boil it until is is reduced and has become slightly thicker, about 8-10 minutes. Add in red pepper flakes to taste. In a small cup combine the cornstarch with about 1 tbsp of water to make a slurry. Add the slurry into the sauce while whisking and cook for another minute or two. Set aside and keep warm.

Using a medium sized bowl, combine the flour and cornstarch. Then in another bowl, whisk together the eggs, salt and pepper. Add in the chicken to the egg and mix until everything is coated. Next, take the chicken pieces only and coat them in the flour mixture. Add the coated chicken to the oil and cook for about 5 minutes until the chicken is golden brown and crispy. Remove from the oil and place on a wire rack to cool.

When all the chicken pieces are cooked, add the pieces to the sauce and mix thoroughly. Cook them together on medium heat for about 2 to 3 minutes so that the chicken has a chance to absorb the sauce.  Remove from the pot and serve with rice.

-Aaron John


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