Five Territories of New Recipe Tuesday – Week Four – American Samoa – Sapasui

Welcome to week 4 of the Five US Territories of New Recipe Tuesday.  This week, we explore American Samoa, who joined the US as a territory in 1899. United States influence began in 1872 when the United States Navy met with Chief Manuma to establish a harbor in Pago Pago. Up to the end of the century, a power struggle ensued between the US, Germany and Britain.  A civil war in Samoa brought backing of opposite positions from Germany and US, with each side hoping to gain power to use the islands for whaling and as a coal station. It wasn’t until the signing of the Tripartite Convention of 1899 that the Samoan Islands were divided, resulting in the western islands, controlled by Germany, and American Samoa.

Over the years, there have been calls for either independence or autonomy for American Samoa, but as recently as a referendum in 2010, the majority of citizens decided to remain unchanged. Interestingly, Americans need a passport to enter American Samoa, and they have their own immigration.

When I went looking for a recipe to make this week, I found that American Samoa is much like its neighboring islands in the south pacific, having large influences from Asia and the Philippines, while also having a sense of mix from American military and European countries. The most unique dish that I found was called Sapasui, which is the American Samoa version of Chop Suey. It uses ingredients that you would find in the traditional dish, including soy sauce and bean thread noodles, but many of the versions I found included canned or frozen vegetables. This is mainly due to the challenges in getting these ingredients on the islands. I also found that Spam was often used, a nod to the US military influence in the region.

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American Samoa Sapasui

I decided on a version that used chicken, plus carrots, red pepper and edamame. The dish is really simple, but I found that it lacked flavor. I added some fish sauce (my Asian umami magic ingredient), plus a little hot chili sauce, which improved things, but I was still a little disappointed. It was just ok, so I am going to give this one a B+ and move on.

I don’t think this will come into my regular rotation, but it was interesting learning about this far away island.  I shall continue on my journey, and look to next week to round out our US Territory adventure.

Thanks for stopping by! See you next week in the Northern Marianas Islands!

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American Samoa Sapasui

Sapasui

Traditional American Samoa dish; their own version of Chop Suey

Ingredients

  • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 5 oz bean thread vermicelli noodles
  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 teaspoons finely minced ginger
  • 2 carrots, chopped in ¼ inch dice
  • ½ red pepper, chopped in ¼ inch dice
  • 1 cup frozen shelled edamame (you can also use frozen peas)
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons fish sauce (or more, to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon chili paste

Directions

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, and then add the noodles. Turn off the heat, cover and soak noodles for 15 minutes while preparing the rest of the dish.
  2. Add oil to a large lidded wok or pan on medium high heat and stir fry the onions, garlic and ginger for a couple of minutes.
  3. Add the chicken and stir fry until brown. Add half of the soy sauce to the meat, stir and lower the heat, put the lid on the pan and allow to simmer until the meat is tender (about 7 minutes). The meat will start caramelizing and the liquid will reduce. Add a little water if required and stir occasionally.
  4. Add vegetables (carrots, red pepper and beans) to the pan after the meat is tender and increase heat to medium, stir frying until just cooked, about 5 minutes. Season with a little salt.
  5. Drain the noodles using a strainer or colander. Add noodles to the pan and gently fold it in. Stir the remainder of the soy sauce, water, fish sauce and chili paste, put the lid on the wok and allow to cook for 2 minutes.

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American Samoa Sapasui

Five Territories of New Recipe Tuesday – Week Three – US Virgin Islands – Coconut Ginger Shrimp with Mango Salsa and Fungi

Welcome to week 3 of the Five US Territories of New Recipe Tuesday.  This week, we explore the US Virgin Islands, who joined the US as a territory in 1916. Unlike Puerto Rico and Guam, the USVI was purchased from Denmark via the Treaty of the Danish West Indies for $25M in gold. All of this took place prior to the US involvement with WWI, so as to protect Danish neutrality in the war.

The US Virgin Islands are located in the Caribbean, and are only 40 miles east of Puerto Rico. They are the only part of the United States where cars drive on the left, which is doubly strange, as most cars in the USVI are American made.

The 3 primary islands that make up the USVI are St. Thomas, St. John and St. Croix. I have actually been to both St. Thomas and St. John, first when I was working in the travel industry and visited as part of a “get to know us” trip, and then later on a cruise stop. The islands are very developed compared to other islands in the Caribbean, and I loved that St. John is almost entirely a national park. It is easy to get to St. John from St. Thomas by ferry, but St. Croix is further south and can only be reached by plane. What I remember most about the USVI are the beautiful beaches and nice people.

When I went looking for a recipe to make this week, I found that the Virgin Islands are like many other Caribbean islands in their use of fresh seafood and fruit. There is also a side dish that seemed to be quite prominent called Fungi (pronounce Fun Jee) that is a sort of corn meal mush with okra.

So I decided to go with a shrimp dish that incorporated coconut, ginger and lemongrass, along with a mango salsa. And of course, the fungi.

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USVI Coconut Ginger Shrimp with Mango Salsa and Fungi

The results were, sadly, just alright. I though the shrimp was too sweet and lacked overall balance. The fungi was not good at all; way too bland, a bit pasty and the okra added nothing to the flavor or texture. The bright star in all of this was the mango salsa, which was bright and fresh. It was well balanced and pretty  much saved the whole meal from being a total fail.

Overall, I there was not a lot of love for the dishes from the US Virgin Islands. Kind of a bummer, but always an adventure none the less. I shall continue on my journey, and hope that next week’s provides for a more delicious culinary discovery.

Thanks for stopping by! See you next week in American Samoa!

Coconut Ginger Shrimp with Mango Salsa and Fungi

USVI Shrimp served with a Mango Salsa and Island Fungi

Ingredients

Coconut-Ginger Shrimp with Mango Salsa

Mango Salsa

  • 1 green onion, chopped
  • ½ red bell pepper, diced
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, finely minced
  • 1 ripe mango, peeled and diced
  • Salt to taste

Coconut-Ginger Shrimp

  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 2 Tbsp fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lemongrass, finely minced
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • 3 Tbsp canned, unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup shredded coconut, finely chopped
  • White pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined

Fungi

  • 5 ounces frozen cut okra
  • 34 cup fine yellow cornmeal
  • 1 ½ cups water
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • Salt and pepper

Directions

For the Mango Salsa:

  1. Combine all ingredients. Check for salt. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to 4 hours.

For the Coconut-Ginger Shrimp:

  1. Combine all ingredients except the oil and shrimp in a bowl and set aside
  2. Heat the oil in a large sauté pan. Add the shrimp and cook for about 1 minute or until they are about ½ done.
  3. Add coconut mixture, stir to combine and cook about 2 – 3 minutes or until the shrimp are done.

For the Fungi:

  1. In a medium sauce pan, bring the water to a boil and add the frozen okra.
  2. In a separate bowl, blend 2 tbsp of the cornmeal with about 6 tbsp water. Pour into the pot with the boiling water and okra and let cook for one minute.
  3. Slowly pour the rest of the cornmeal into the pan, stirring constantly. Add the butter and salt and pepper, continuing to cook for 5 minutes.

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USVI Coconut-Ginger Shrimp with Mango Salsa and Fungi

Five Territories of New Recipe Tuesday – Week Two – Guam – Kadon Pika with Red Rice

Welcome to week 2 of the Five US Territories of New Recipe Tuesday.  This week, we explore the island of Guam, who joined the US as a territory the same way that Puerto Rico did, when it was ceded to the US at the end of the Spanish-American War. Guam is often called the place where “America Starts Its Day”, because it is located on the other side of the International Date Line from the rest of the US. As I write this on the East Coast of the US, it is already morning on Wednesday in Guam. Good morning!

where-is-guam

Guam is located in the South Pacific and is the southernmost island of the Marianas Archipelago. Its native population is the Chamorro people, who are believed to have come from Southeast Asia before 2000 BC. They are most closely related to people from the Philippines and Taiwan.

An interesting thing about Guam. One of its most visited tourist attractions is Yukoi’s Cave. In 1972, a Japanese soldier from WWII emerged from the jungles of Guam, totally unaware that the war handed ended decades earlier. He became instantly famous, and the hole where is lived is now a popular tourist attraction. And strangely, his story was foretold in an episode of Gilligan’s Island called “So Sorry, My Island Now”, which aired in 1965 and told the story of a Japanese soldier who captures the stranded islanders, thinking the war is still active.

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‘So Sorry, My Island Now’

When I went looking for a recipe to make this week, I focused on this group of native people, as they have a strong culinary profile and there were a number of choices to work with. Because of their early influences from Spain, Japan, the US and Filipino cultures, their food is a mixture of native ingredients mixed with foreign spices.

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Kadon Pika

What I decided on was actually two dishes. The first was a chicken dish called Kadon Pika, which combines soy sauce and vinegar with turmeric and coconut milk to create a really delicious flavor profile. I was a little worried about this one, because it just didn’t sound like it was going to balance out. But let me tell you…this is one of the best New Recipe Tuesday dishes I have EVER made. It is amazingly simple, comes together in about 35 minutes and the taste is incredible. It hits all the flavor points… sweet, savory, spicy and salty. It is in my rotation from this day forward and you should make it tomorrow.

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Guam Red Rice

The other dish is a side called Red Rice. It is a staple in almost all Guam households, and uses an interesting spice called achiote powder, which are ground annatto seeds. It made a nice side to the Kadon Pika, but I didn’t think the achiote did a whole lot to the rice other than make it an interesting color. I am thinking that it if I made it again, I would try another version I saw online that uses the seeds and a soak of several hours to make an ‘annato water’ to cook the rice.

Overall, I loved the dishes from Guam and I am so glad I made them. This tiny island gets a solid A in my culinary cookbook and I think I need to add it to my travel bucket list.

Thanks for stopping by! Seriously, make this chicken dish. It is that good. See you next week in the US Virgin Islands!

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Guam Kadon Pika with Red Rice

Kadon Pika with Red Rice

Turmeric Chicken in Coconut Milk with Red Rice

Ingredients

Kadon Pika

  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • ½ cup soy sauce
  • ½ cup white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 3 red fresno chili peppers, chopped
  • 1 – 15 oz can coconut milk

Red Rice

  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon oil
  • 2 teaspoons achiote (annato) powder (you can find this at latin markets)
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup jasmine rice

Directions

For the chicken:

  1. In a large sauté pan, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and cook until the onion are soft and translucent.
  2. Add the chicken and brown on both sides.
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients, except the coconut milk, and cook for about 20 minutes, turning occasionally until the chicken is cooked through. (while chicken is cooking, make the rice)
  4. Add the coconut milk and cook for another 2 minutes.

For the rice:

  1. In a medium pan with a tight fitting lid, heat canola oil over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until opaque.
  2. Add remaining ingredients, except rice and bring to a boil.
  3. Add rice, stir, cover and simmer for 18 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat, stir and recover for another 2 minutes.

 

 

 

Five US Territories of New Recipe Tuesday – Week One – Puerto Rico – Asopao de Pollo

Welcome to week 1 of the Five US Territories of New Recipe Tuesday.  As you all know, I finished our adventure through the Fifty United States with Hawaii, and it was time to look for something new to do. And although I would love to start off on a new worldly culinary adventure, I felt that I was not doing our fine USA justice without a nod to our outlying land masses, otherwise known as the US Territories.

In actuality, there are 16 American territories worldwide, but only 5 of them are inhabited full time. I am going to try to discover interesting foods from these 5 for the next several weeks, and may even throw in the District of Columbia before moving along to somewhere else. What do you think? I like it, and well, it’s my blog, so that is what I am doing.

My first territory is Puerto Rico. By far the largest US territory, Puerto Rico became part of the US in 1898 with the signing of the Treaty of Paris, which ended the Spanish-American War. If it were a state, it would be 29th in population and land wise would be larger than Rhode Island and Delaware.

Early on, Puerto Rico wanted to be independent, but by the turn of the 21st century, feelings had shifted. By 2012, with many families with members that lived in the US, Puerto Rico actually indicated a desire for statehood. As of right now, there is nothing pending in Congress to allow them to prepare a state constitution and appeal for statehood, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see that happen in the next 20 years. Can you imagine the US with 51 states?

When it comes to food, Puerto Rico has a very distinct culinary identity. Influenced by Spanish and Caribbean flavors, Puerto Rico has developed many dishes that are uniquely their own. I have a brother in law, Ernesto, who is Puerto Rican, so I went to him for advice on what to make. He gave me the suggestion to make Asopao de Pollo, which translated means “Chicken Stew”. Most people think of Puerto Rico as being tropical, but there is actually a mountainous region to the island, and in the winter it can get quite cool. This is a dish that was created for the colder temps and so with fall peaking around the corner here in Philly, this is a perfect dish for this week.

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Puerto Rican Asopao de Pollo

This is really easy to make. It comes together in about 45 minutes, including prep, and you make it all in one pot; a perfect weeknight meal. This recipe uses two ingredients that I have never had before; sofrito and sazon. Both of these are integral to Puerto Rican cooking and there really is no substitute for them. There are recipes on the web for sofroto if you feel up to making your own, but Goya makes a jar version and is readily available in the Latin foods section of most large supermarkets. It was literally right next to the Sazon!

I really liked this. It is mild in flavor yet distinct. The rice gives it a heartiness that makes this an excellent cold weather dish. My son said it needed some texture, but I am not sure what I would add to it to give it some crunch without compromising the original flavor. Maybe just a simple side salad to give it some fresh contrast.

I highly recommend you give this one a try. It is super simple and delicious. If our other four territories are like this one, I think I am going to like this extension of the Fifty States of New Recipe Tuesday.

Thanks for stopping by. See you next week in Guam!

Asopao de Pollo

Chicken and Rice Stew from Puerto Rico

Ingredients

  • 8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into rough 1-inch pieces, seasoned with salt and pepper
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup sofrito (homemade or store-bought)
  • 2 envelopes Goya Sazon sin achiote (without annatto)
  • 1 cup diced tomatoes (fresh or canned)
  • 6-8 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • ½ cup tomato sauce
  • 2 teaspoons capers, chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ¾ cup long-grain rice
  • ½ cup sliced pimento-stuffed green olives
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. In a soup pot, heat oil and brown chicken.
  2. Add the sofrito, sazon, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, capers, bay leaf, and 6 cups of chicken broth. Bring to a low boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and cook uncovered for 15 minutes.
  3. Add rice, bring back up to a simmer, and cook for another 20 minutes or until the rice is tender.  If the stew gets too thick, add more stock.
  4. Add the olives and season with salt and pepper. Serve with cilantro.