07 July


Peruvian Roast Chicken

July 28: Independence Day of Peru

Happy Independence Day to the people of Peru! We work with a Peruvian family foundation based in the Midwest to raise funds and supplies (school and medical) to provide food and basic necessities and services to impoverished villages across the South American nation. Someday we hope to go to Peru and help with their missions as well as visit the ancient ruins of Machu Picchu.

We get a literal taste of Peruvian cuisine and culture when we visit and stay at our friends’ Guillermo and Tina’s home. We help them and their family prepare for their charity fundraiser by assembling raffle prize packages, picking up orders, designing ads, decorating the venue, cleaning up, etc.

While volunteers are working hard to prepare for the event, Guillermo and his sister-in-law Odilia make sure we are nourished. They set out a buffet on their kitchen island with salads, fresh fruits, rice, spicy sauces, snacks, sweets and roast chicken. The main meat is tender, succulent, flavorful and filling—adding to the festive mood of family and friendship. Tina’s brother, Pastor Juan, would give thanks to God that we are blessed with a bounty in America that others in their country do not have, but God sends those with grateful hearts to help communities in need. Simple acts of kindness make the world a better place—and we need more compassion and understanding especially nowadays!

We roast a chicken Peruvian style once in a while at home. We save some of the meat to make other dishes (soups, sandwiches or salads) so nothing is ever wasted. The seasoning paste and green sauce (salsa verde) may be made ahead so preparation is faster. Below is a recipe post for Peru’s Independence Day.

Recipe

From by Guillermo L.

Ingredients

  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon salt (plus a few more sprinkles for the chicken)
  • ½ teaspoon pepper (plus a few more sprinkles for the chicken)
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2-3 limes (1 zested, 2 cut in half)
  • 4 pound whole chicken, giblets removed

Directions

In a bowl, combine the garlic, olive oil, salt, pepper and cumin.

Stir in the paprika and oregano. Add the zest of one lime then cut this lime in half. Squeeze the juice in the bowl. Cut another lime and squeeze the juice in the bowl. Mix until it has a paste-like consistency. Set aside.

Rinse and pat dry the chicken. Use kitchen shears to cut out the backbone of the chicken. Turn it around on press down to flatten (spatchcock). Rub some lime on the inside and outside of the chicken. Salt and pepper to taste. Turn the chicken breast-side down. Use a knife to loosen the skin but be careful not to tear it.

Spread half the marinade mixture underneath the chicken skin. Place on a foil lined roasting pan. Bake in a preheated oven at 400 degrees F for half an hour. Remove from the oven and smear the remainder of the marinade on the skin.

Bake for another 15 minutes. Periodically baste the chicken with pan juices. Bake for another 15 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. Remove from the oven. Let the chicken rest for 10 minutes before slicing into pieces. Serve with a side of green sauce (salsa verde).

Bonus Recipe: Green Sauce (Salsa Verde)

Ingredients

  • Handful of cilantro (about a cup)
  • 1-2 small jalapeño peppers, de-seeded and sliced
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise

Directions

In a blender container, place the cilantro, sliced peppers, garlic clove, olive oil and lime juice.

Add the mayonnaise. Blend well, shaking the container until everything is mixed and pureed. Pour into a bowl and serve on the side with the Peruvian roast chicken.

Notes

  • Muchas gracias to Guillermo y familia for this recipe, their hospitality and world vision to help the less fortunate in both the Midwest American city in which they live now and in their home country.
  • Peruse our blog for more Peruvian recipe posts.

Taiwanese Popcorn Chicken

(Yan Su Ji 鹽酥)

taiwanesepopcornchicken

July 6: National Fried Chicken Day

McDonald’s has chicken nuggets. KFC has popcorn chicken. Taiwan’s night markets have yan su ji—flavorful, seasoned bite-sized pieces of crispy fried chicken.

Ling-Chen (Monica) C., Islander’s roommate from our college alma mater, took us to the Night Market in Hualien when we visited her and her family in Taiwan. We went from stall to stall tasting popular foods like coffin bread, scallion pancakes, lu rou fan (braised minced pork over rice), pineapple cakes, soup dumplings, beef noodles in a cup, boba tea and fried chicken pieces on wooden skewers (also known as salt crisp chicken or popcorn chicken).

Some boba tea places in North America sell Taiwanese popcorn chicken as a snack, too. But Islander’s former ESL student, YaJu Y., also from Taiwan, taught us how to cook it, so we can enjoy it whenever we crave it. Garnished with crisp, flash-fried basil leaves, and this food is a surefire favorite when we gather with friends—everyone takes a toothpick and eats it hot as soon as it comes out of the deep fryer!

For National Fried Chicken Day, try a Taiwanese style treat: popcorn chicken.

Recipe

(From YaJu Y.)

Ingredients

  • 4-5 chicken thighs, boneless and skinless
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ tablespoon ginger, grated
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon Chinese five spice powder
  • ½ teaspoon white pepper
  • 1 tablespoon rice cooking wine or sherry
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • Sweet potato flour (see Notes)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • Oil for frying
  • Salt to sprinkle (traditional but optional)
  • Fresh Thai basil, washed with leaves trimmed

Directions

Trim fat from the chicken and dice into bite-sized pieces. In a separate bowl, mix together the minced garlic and grated ginger.

Mix in the sugar, five spice powder, white pepper, wine and soy sauce.

Toss the chicken in the marinade and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes (better if overnight for more intense flavor). Beat the egg with the baking soda. Then coat the chicken pieces in a dish of sweet potato flour.

Deep fry in small batches for 2-3 minutes. Drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with salt (optional). Carefully fry the basil leaves for 30 seconds (beware of hot oil  splatters). Drain on paper towels. Mix with the popcorn chicken. Serve hot with toothpicks or skewers. May serve with a chili dipping sauce.

Notes

  • Sweet potato flour may be found at Asian grocery stores. Use the flour instead of the powder variety to give the popcorn chicken a coarser and crunchier texture. Instead of sweet potato flour or starch, other substitutions may include tapioca starch, corn starch or rice flour.
  • YaJu likes to marinate the chicken overnight for a more intense flavor. But even when we chilled the mixture for an hour, the flavor was still good. We did not sprinkle additional salt after frying since there is already a lot of sodium in the soy sauce. YaJu says others like to sprinkle more five spice powder and pepper as well.

Blueberry Scones

July 8: National Blueberry Day

Our love for scones is reflected in our blog, as we have a separate section just for the many scones recipes under our Theme Menus. We even got our Hawaii expatriate friends Pat and Phyllis S. into scones. They love them just as much as we do now. We used to just buy the scone mixes at the store but they are better made “from scratch”, especially if it is blueberry scones. The mix contains the dried fruit but nothing can beat the fresh fruit in these scones that literally burst with flavor!

When we visit and stay with Pat and Phyllis in San Antonio, Texas, they serve scones for snacks or breakfast. Our favorite was their blueberry scones—so much so that Phyllis had to bake another batch! Because we don’t get to see them as often as we’d like, they gave us blueberry scones to eat on the long drive back to the Gulf Coast. And they also gave us the recipe so we can make them at home and share with our blog readers on National Blueberry Day and throughout July—National Blueberry Month.

Recipe

(From Phyllis S.)

Ingredients

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/3 – ½ cup sugar, granulated white
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • zest from one orange
  • ½ cup salted butter, cold and cut into small pieces
  • 1 egg
  • ½+ cup heavy whipping cream, cold (reserve about 1-2 tablespoons for brushing on top)
  • 1 cup blueberries, fresh
  • coarse/turbinado sugar (optional topping)

Directions

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, sugar, salt and orange zest.

Cut in the cold butter pieces. Mix until it resembles coarse crumbs. Beat in the eggs and cream until a sticky dough is formed.

Transfer the dough onto a clean, floured surface. Fold in the blueberries. Shape into a round disc about 1-inch thick. Cut into 8 wedges and separate them. Place onto a lightly greased baking sheet. Brush a little bit of the remaining cream on top.

Sprinkle with coarse/turbinado sugar (optional). Bake in a preheated oven at 400 degrees F for around 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven. Serve warm.

Notes

  • Substitute the citrus and use lemon instead of orange zest.
  • If the dough is too dry, add a little bit of cream. If the dough is too wet, add a little bit of flour.
  • Avoid overmixing the dough or the scones will get too hard.
  • Search our blog for more scones and blueberry recipes.

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