Pollo Panam√°

Panam√°, being the proverbial melting pot, has an incredibly abundant Chinese presence. You can’t walk more than a few yards before stumbling into a Chinese restaurant or a corner tienda, a little neighborhood store where you can buy everything from fresh bread to pigs feet and a hammer. That means Chinese food has been influenced by the local’s taste buds and available produce. Chinese food in Panama is completely different from Chinese food in Houston and Houston’s is nothing like Chinese food in NYC. Adaptability. I often wonder if I would enjoy Chinese food in China. But I digress.

I’ve shared with you a recipe for roast¬†chicken¬†very popular in Latin America. This is pretty much the same thing with¬†a few changes and the addition of¬†this ketchupy¬†sauce added to chicken in Panam√°. I don’t know what it is about this simple sauce, but it would probably fall under the Chino-Latino category. Almost every Chinese restaurant in Panama will offer some version of this rotisserie chicken and BBQ pork, which is absolutely divine.

The chicken is seasoned pretty much the same, then¬†roasted to golden perfection and served with the yummy sauce all over it. To ensure¬†the chicken is super juicy, I brined it for just over an hour, ideally, I would’ve allowed it to brine longer, but it was still delicious. It occurs to me that this would also work brilliantly with turkey, I¬† may just give it a try. Here’s what you’re looking for.

Pollo Panamá

1 whole chicken, approx 4-6 lbs

For the brine:
2 Sazón packets
4 garlic cloves, crushed
4 tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp sea salt
2 tbsp Italian seasoning
2 tbsp sugar

Chino-Latino Ketchup
1/2 cp ketchup
1-1/2 tbsp soy sauce
1-2 tsp sugar
1/4 cp water
Habanero hot sauce, to taste
1 garlic clove, halved
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil

For the chicken: Heat about 1/2 cp of water and add the garlic, salt, Italian seasoning  and sugar for the brine, allow it to come to a quick boil, then turn off and transfer to a bowl large enough to submerge the chicken. Or you can use a large ziploc bag. Give it just a couple of minutes to cool, then add the rest of the brine ingredients.

In the meantime, remove the giblets from the chicken’s cavity and rinse the chicken under cool water. Drain and place the chicken in the bowl with the brine concentrate and fill the bowl with enough water to submerge the chicken. Allow the chicken to marinate in the brine for about an hour, longer if you have the time.

Preheat oven to 350¬į. Prepare a roasting pan and rack large enough to hold the chicken. Drain the chicken and pat it dry. Rub it with extra virgin olive oil and place on the rack breast side down. I prefer to roast whole chickens and turkeys with the breast down to make sure it is juicy, since breast isn’t my favorite meat. If you’d rather have pretty skin on the breast, then roast it breast side up. Place the chicken in the preheated oven and allow it to roast for about 20 minutes per pound, for a 5-pounder, you’re looking at just under 2 hours.

Note: I will usually roast the chicken or turkey at 375¬į for about 10 minutes, then lower the temperature to 350¬į for the remainder¬†of the roasting time, but I was being very lazy with this chickie. You know what? It was still perfect!

Once the internal temperature reads somewhere around 180¬į-185¬į, remove the chicken from the oven and cover loosely with foil. Allow it to rest to allow the juices to redistribute and make Ms. Chickie very happy. This is a good time to put the sauce together if you haven’t already.

In a small saucepan, heat a bit of olive oil and add the garlic halves allowing them to permeate the oil for a minute or two. Add the rest of the ingredients, tasting it after the first teaspoon of sugar, this should be to your taste. Adjust the seasoning with salt, if necessary, but the soy should take care of it. Bring it to a slow simmer for 5 minutes or so, keep it warm and spoon over the chicken to plate.

Check out the photo set for more juicy shots.

Cookingly yours,


Leftover saga – Fried Rice

Leftovers are like Tuesdays, inevitable. Sometimes you have a full meal left behind, that one is easy. Next day’s lunch. Other times you end up with parts of the meal. For this recipe I’m referring to the former.

Remember that yummy ham I made? Well, we ate it for a couple of days, but it kept showing up. Add to that some cooked white rice and a new meal was born!

This time I will not give you a precise recipe. It isn’t necessary. Think about ingredients you like in fried rice, then raid your fridge and make happy. All you need is the rice, a meat, the veggies you like and soy sauce. Honestly, there’s no science to this one.

Ham Fried Rice

Cooked rice (I had about 4 cps)
Ham, chopped (about 2 cps of the protein you’ll use)
Bacon, diced (2 slices)
1 large onion, chopped
3 eggs, beaten
Soy sauce
Garlic powder
Most veggies you like will work here

To your wok or skillet, add the bacon and cook until lightly golden. If not using bacon, add oil to the wok and go to the next step.

Add the veggies–this time I only had onions and scallions.

Add the meat/protein you’re using and cook until heated through. Remove from wok and set aside.

Add a few drops of oil (if needed), then add eggs. Swirl eggs around the wok, scrape them around in the same way you would make an omelette. Mix into the meat/veggie mixture and set aside.

Make sure the wok is quite hot, add 1 tbsp oil then the rice. Fry and stir constantly to coat rice well. Add soy sauce, for this amount I used about 2-3 tbsps. Stir it in and continue to cook and allow the soy sauce to evaporate.

Sprinkle some garlic powder…this is where I channel the artful BeniHanna chefs, and this step is optional. Again, make sure to stir it all in and well.

Now add the meat/veggie mixture. Stir it in and serve.

shrimp toast

Maybe I was going through an Asian kick or maybe I just love Chinese appetizers, I don’t know. But this past Friday I made 2 different appetizers including this one. You can see the post for Scallion Pancakes–those are awesome too!

I don’t know when was the first time I had these little toasts, but I’ve been in love with them since. They’re shrimpy, toasty and¬†soft. I know I’m not really doing them justice, but they are to die for. Again, I adapted them from a recipe I found over at Use Real Butter; you need to check Jen’s blog out, she’s quite fantastic.¬†

Shrimp Toast
1/2 lb raw shrimp
1 egg white
2 tbsp butter, cold
1 tsp sesame oil
2 tsps soy sauce
2-3 green onions, minced
2 tbsps ginger, minced
1/3 cp panko breadcrumbs
Sesame seeds
6 slices of bread, crusts removed
Vegetable oil for frying

Peel and devein the shrimp. If you have a food processor, use it to mix all the ingredients. I don’t own one, so instead I minced the shrimp by hand and mixed everything in my mixer using the egg beater.

Add all the ingredients: shrimp, egg white, sesame oil, butter, soy, onions, ginger and breadcrumbs. If you use the mixer, chances are you’ll have some larger bits of shrimp, that’s ok, trust me.

I bought a little loaf of white bread from the Asian market and sliced it to about 1/4-inch thickness, trimmed the crusts, then cut them on a diagonal. I ended up with 12 cute little triangles.

Now spread the shrimp mixture on each slice of bread: about 1/2-inch thick. Then sprinkle with sesame seeds. Set aside.

Heat enough oil to cover the bottom of a frying pan, it should be¬†about 1/2-inch deep. You don’t want the temperature to be too high, bring it to medium high.

Drop the toasts, bread side down; this way the butter begins to melt into the filling. The bread will brown rather quickly, so don’t go too far from the pan. Once the edges of the toast begin to turn golden brown, flip them and cook the shrimpy side until golden brown about 2-3 minutes.¬†

Remove from the oil and allow it to drain, toast-side down on paper towels before serving. Serve warm just as they are or with the sauce below.


Dipping sauce
1 tbsp ginger, slivers
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp honey

Put the whole thing in a microwave-safe bowl and heat it up for 2-3 minutes. Allow the ginger to seep for a couple of minutes before serving.

Cookingly yours,

Scallion pancakes

I still remember the first time I had these. My good friendster AJ took me to a little whole-in-the-wall Chinese restaurant for lunch and, there, she opened my eyes to the delicious beauty and simplicity that is the scallion pancake.

How would I describe these? Kinda like having scallions/green onions and butter sandwiched between 2 thick flour tortillas. They’re awesome. They rock. They are SO hard to find. I’ve only come across one other restaurant i Houston that serves them, so, I went on a recipe search to make them whenever the whim hit me. I found a few different recipes but settled on this one by Jen from Use Real Butter. I’ve made them a few times since, and tweaked at will. Without further ado, I bring you:

Chinese Scallion Pancakes


1 cp all-purpose flour
1 cp self-rising flour
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 Р2/3 cp warm water
3-4 scallions, finely chopped
Sesame and vegetable oil

To make the dough:
I used my mixer with the dough hook, but you could use a food processor.

Add the flour and salt¬†¬†in the bowl, get the mixer going and slowly add the water.¬†I used a full 1/2 cp plus about another 1/8 cp. You want to add water¬†until all the flour is incorporated and the dough is wrapping itself around the hook and isn’t sticking to the sides of the bowl. Continue to beat for about 3-4 minutes, to develop the gluten.

You’re looking for dough that is firm and silky without being sticky. Remove from the bowl and turn onto your counter and knead the dough a few times.¬†Form it into a ball, return it to the bowl and allow it to rest for at least¬†¬†15 minutes covered with a damp towel.

To roll the dough:
Pretend you’re back in kindergarten and roll out the dough into a long cylinder¬†on the countertop. The roll should be about 1-inch in diameter; cut into 12¬†pieces that are about 1-1/2 inch long and roll them into balls, just smaller than golf balls.

Flour your countertop and roll out one of the balls¬†into a circle (or as close to a circle as you can get, I know I can’t roll a circle to save my life, but it doesn’t matter). Roll it pretty thin, about 1/16th inch).

Drop sesame oil onto the center, a drop about the size of a nickel. Spread the oil evenly over the pancake (use vegetable oil if you can’t find/use sesame). Sprinkle with scallions.

To roll the  pancakes:
It’s time to make a cigar and pretend you’re a kindergartener¬†again. Fold in the edge closest to you, then roll it like a cigar until you reach the other end. Pinch the seams a bit, then curl it onto itself and into a spiral. Pinch that end again,¬†otherwise you’ll end up with a little handle when you fry it. Set it aside and roll the rest of the dough.

Let them rest for another 15 minutes, before doing this part. It’s time to make them into pancakes. Again, make sure your work surface is well floured. Take one of the rolls and flatten it a bit with your hand. Roll it into a pancake about 1/8th inch thick. Set it aside and work your way through, separating each pancake with wax paper.

To fry the pancakes:
Add enough oil to cover the bottom of a frying pan and heat it up over medium high temperature. Carefully slide one pancake in the oil and fry it until it is golden brown before flipping it. Remove from the oil and drain on paper towels.

Serve immediately.

PS: I have to admit it. I added about 1 tbsp of butter to the hot oil before frying, the drawback to this method is that the butter inevitable burns and the pancakes are slightly darker when done. But for the buttery taste, it’s worth it!

Cooking is natural, cooking is good, not everybody does it, but everybody should.

I do love me some George Michael! Are you ready for our first cooking adventure?

Hubby and I love Chinese food. We also love Japanese food, oh and Thai. Well, we have this thing for Asian food. A few months back a coworker of his invited him over for a home-cooked meal. Linz came back telling me all about the delicious lunch he’d had. About how his coworker’s wife had done her best to explain to him the different sauces and condiments she used. And so, we’ve tried our hand at making some stir fry, fried rice and other Asian inspired dishes.

This is my version of  Shrimp and Pork in Pepper Sauce. Here I joined the concepts behind Pork and String Beans and served it with Bok Choy and Mushrooms.

Makes 4 small portions

For the Shrimp
Mix the next 4 ingredients and set aside
¬Ĺ lb. large shrimp (about 8), halved
2 tsp. light soy sauce
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tbsp. sesame oil

In a small bowl mix the next 3 ingredients and set aside:
3 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tbsp. oyster sauce
Dash of fish sauce (optional)

For the pork and sauce
1-2 tbsp. sesame oil
¬Ĺ lb ground pork
1 large yellow onion, sliced
4 green onions, chopped (separate tops from stems)
3 tbsp. cilantro stems, finely chopped
1 tsp. red chili flakes (optional)
¬ľ cup vermouth / broth OR water
3 pieces of rock sugar OR 2 tsp. granulated sugar

Heat up a wok or frying pan over high heat; add sesame oil and pork stirring until it browns. Make sure you break the pork into tiny crumbles, add yellow onions and cook until they begin to soften. Add garlic, cilantro, green onion stems and chili flakes. Cook until the onions are translucent.

Now add the soy and oyster sauce mixture, sugar and stir. If you used rock sugar, make sure it has dissolved before adding the vermouth or broth. After adding the liquid , cover and reduce the heat to medium low for another 4-5 minutes. At this point the pork will be completely cooked and tender‚ÄĒbe sure to check it; if it‚Äôs undercooked it can take on the consistency of day old taco meat.

Add the shrimp halves, stir and cook shrimp until it just loses its translucency, about 3-4 minutes. Cover and turn off the heat. This should be the last thing you do before serving. This would be wonderful over white rice, we served it with bok choy, see that recipe below. Enjoy!

For the side dish…
Bok Choy with Mushrooms

Originally I planned on giving the bok choy a typical Asian flavor, but the mushrooms I had were not what I think of when cooking that type of cuisine so I made a last-minute change. I ended up with a simple and subtle side dish.

3 1‚ÄĚ-pieces of ginger, peeled
A few cilantro strands
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
4 bok choy heads(?), washed
1 portabella mushroom, sliced
5-8 crimini mushrooms, sliced
Salt and pepper to taste





Put the oil in a pan over medium-low heat, add the ginger and cilantro, and allow it to infuse the oil for a few minutes. You won’t need to do much to this, just make sure the heat is low enough to avoid scorching it. In the meantime, prep the veggies.

Make sure you wash the bok choy, separate the stalks and rinse under running water. Chop them into pieces about 2‚ÄĚ-long, slice the mushrooms.

 Remove the ginger and cilantro from the oil, raise the temperature to medium-high. Once hot, add the mushrooms stirring constantly. Season with salt and pepper. Add the bok choy and toss to incorporate the mushrooms. Cover and reduce heat to medium low. I like my veggies with a bite, so I cooked the bok choy for 5 minutes.

I hope you like it as much as my husband did!