Notes in buying and handling fresh tuna

In my previous post, I shared with you a recipe that called for tuna. I decided to share with you a collection of notes when purchasing fresh tuna to avoid from food poisoning. This is not complete and these are just some notes gathered as I learn the process of handling food properly.

Tips when buying fresh tuna:
1. Look for tuna steak with coloring similar to raw beef
2. Avoid with dry or brown spots. There should be no rainbow sheen on the fish.
3. The smell should be "ocean-fresh".
4. If the fish will not be immediately used, quickly store it in the coldest part of the freezer until it is ready to use. Ideal temperature would be -4 degrees F (-20 degrees C).

How to store fresh tuna:
There are several ways to store tuna until it is ready to be used.

a. Prepare a solution made of 1 tablespoon ascorbic acid crystals to 1 quart of water or 1/4 cup salt in 1 quart water. Dip the fish in the solution to firm it up. Seal in plastic wrap and then in a zip-top bag.

b. To store it, pat dry, secure the meat in plastic wrap or foil. Seal in a zip-top bag.

c. Freeze the zip-top bag in a container filled with water. Squeeze out all the air and seal the bag. Freeze this up to three months.

To thaw frozen tuna:
Place the sealed package in a container with cold water. Do not use the microwave to thaw.

Mishandled tuna may lead to histamine poisoning, with symptoms such as tightness in the chest and difficulty breathing, a rash, facial flushing, headaches and a metallic or peppery taste in the mouth.

When you feel confident and comfortable, maybe you can try the Pan-seared Yellowfin Tuna with Wasabi-Parsley Sauce in my previous post.


Spicy Spanish Fetuccini

Iberico mortadella is an Italian-style sausage made of very finely chopped, cured pork and beef with cubes of white fat. The mixture is delicately spiced with garlic and anise. It is smoked at high temperature then air dried.

"Mortadella" is thought to derive from the word "mortaio", which is Italian for "mortar". Before, it is said that the mixture was produced by pounding with a mortar and pestle. Monks in Bologna would grind their meat till it achieved a fine consistency. The grinded meat is then stuffed into a casing and cooked to make sausage.

20 slices Iberico mortadella, cut into julienne strips
10 slices of honey-cured bacon, finely chopped
1/4 cup butter
1 cup button mushrooms, sliced
3 cups of bechamel sauce
2 tbsps. all-purpose cream
1 cup grated cheddar
1/8 tsp. basil leaves
salte and pepper
500 grams fetuccini noodles, cooked according to the package directions

Stir-fry the sausages, bacon and mushrooms in butter and bechamel sauce. Add the cream and half of the grated cheese. Season with bsil, salt and pepper. Simmer for a few minutes. Pour sauce on noodles. Top with the remaining grated cheese. Bake for 10 minutes.

Bechamel Sauce:

1/4 cup butter
1 tbsp. of all-purpose flour
3 cups broth
1 eggyolk
1/4 cup milk
1 1/2 tbsps. white wine, optional
1 1/2 tbsps. all-purpose cream
a dash of nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste

Melt roux out of butter and flour. Gradually add the broth, eggyolk, milk, white wine and cream. Continue stiring until thickened. Add nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste. Turn off the heat at once and set it aside.

Notes: This recipe was made by Senor Anastacio de Alba for Iberico Exclusive meats.



I can't remember when but I know growing up, mom would cook this dish. I remember loved eating this with newly cooked rice and all the meats would be gone in a flash. The vegetables would be left and mom would try to convince us to eat it too. Of course when I grew up, I appreciate it more by eating the vegetables too. Though I have to admit that I am not a fan of sweet potatoes.

1 kilo chicken or pork cut into serving pieces
1 (250 grms.) chorizo, halved
1 (250 grms.) hotdogs/franks, sliced diagonally into 3
1 (390 grms.) pork and beans, drained
3 tbsps. butter
1 medium onion, quartered
1 tbsp. flour
3 cups beef broth
1 tbsp. sugar
1/4 cup tomato paste
2-3 banana (saba), cut into 3 portions diagonally, fried
2 sweet potatoes, quartered
2 bunch pechay tagalog, washed and cut
1 medium cabbage, quartered

Stir fry chorizo and beef franks. Set aside. Into the remaining fat, saute onion and add flour. Gradually pour in broth and pork and beans sauce, sugar and tomato paste. Season well. Add fried bananas, sweet potatoes, vegetables, chorizo, franks, pork and beans. Cover and simmer for 1 minute. Serve while hot.


Chicken Tinola - stew great for rainy days

Whenever I feel sick or the rainy days would set in, this soup helps calm the nerves and sooth the throat because of the presence of ginger in this dish. The young chilli pepper gives a light pepper taste to the dish too. The gizzard and liver may be omitted in this dish if desired. If young or green papaya is not available, this can be replaced with chayote.

1 kilo chicken, cut into serving pieces
chicken gizzard, cooked and cut into strips
chicken liver, whole
1 tsp. garlic, chopped
1/4 cup white onions, cut into 1/2" strips
1 small ginger, julienne
10 cups chicken stock
1 kilo green papaya, peeled and sliced
5 pcs. young chili pepper leaves
salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil and saute garlic, onions and ginger. Add the chicken liver and stir until cooked. Set aside liver. In the same pan, stir the giblet and chicken pieces. Add the stock and simmer until the chicken is cooked. Put in to green papaya and boil until done. Add the chili pepper leaves and cooked liver. Remove from heat and serve with fish sauce and dayap juice.


Mapo Tofu

The first time I tried this, it wasn't one of my favorite dishes. But when we had the chance to eat in an authenitic (almost authentic) Chinese restaurant, I was hooked. I searched for the recipe and this is what I found and tried. It wasn't the same so my search is still on.

2 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, chopped
150 grams chicken, ground
1 1/2 tbsps. soy sauce
1/3 cup water
200 grams tomato sauce
2 1/2 tbsp. dried mushrooms (tenga ng daga), soaked then sliced
1 3/4 tsp. hot chili sauce
1 3/4 tsp. sugar
150 grams firm tofu, sliced

Saute garlic, onions and chicken in oil. Add soy sauce, tomato sauce, water, mushrooms, chili sauce and sugar. Simmer for 3 minutes. Add diced tofu and gently blend with the meat mixture. Simmmer for another 5 minutes. Serve hot.


Pan-Seared Yellowfin Tuna with Wasabi-Parsley Sauce

My aunt came to visit us and I decided to prepare a seafood dish for her. I saw a recipe in one of the cook books my sister bought but never used :D. I have been wanting to try this ever since I saw this and this was the best opportunity to test my skills. I have succeeded so far by not overcooking the fish and the sauce came out well with a few adjustments in the recipe. The original recipe called for dill for the sauce, but I couldn't find any after scouting numerous groceries. So I decided to replace it with the herbs I have and that would be parsley. (The second time I made this with dill, my brother wasn't a fan. He preferred the first batch.)

Let me know what you think is better?

750 grams yellowfin fresh tuna, sliced into 1/3" thick fillets
salt and pepper
1/2 lemon
olive oil or canola oil

For the sauce:
1 small container for the yoghurt
2 tbsps. full cream milk
2 tsps. wasabi paste
2 tbsps. chopped parsley
a pinch of pepper
1/4 - 1/2 tsp. salt

Mix all the ingredients for the sauce very well until all ingredients are well blended. Store the sauce in the refrigerator until we are ready to serve.

Season the tuna fillets with salt and pepper on both sides. Sprinkle with lemon juice and let it sit for about 3 - 4 minutes. Heat a flat pan and place about 2 tbsps. of oil. Once the oil is hot, pan sear on side of fillets until slightly brown but not cooked through, roughly a minute will do). Flip the fish and sear the other side for another minute. Try not to cook the fish through else it may be over cooked. The center should remain redish-pink. Quickly transfer the fish to a serving plate and serve the sauce on the side. (You may pour the sauce over the fish but with respect for others who are not fond with wasabi, I opt to serve the sauce on the side and let them get as much sauce they want.)


First Aid # 1 - cuts, wound

I know this is a blog that contains recipes that I have tried, tested and cherished to share with you. But I think as part of the theme of treasures that one can find in the kitchen, that would be the knowledge on how to take care of one's self when an accident happens. I will be sharing with you in some tips and knowledge on how to handle accidents that may happen at home (or anywhere for that matter).

It is important to know what to do when one accidentally gets cut to prevent from infection.

For Cuts and Abrasions:

1. Never put the part of the wounded area in the mouth. The mouth harbors germs that could infect the wound.
2. Do not breathe on the wound.
3. Do not allow fingers, used handerchiefs, or other soild materla to touch the wound.
4. Do not use an antiseptic on the wound.
5. Immediately clean the wound and surrounding skin with soap and water.
6. Hold a sterile pad firmly over the wound until the bleeding stops. Then change pad, and bandage loosely with a triangular or roller bandage.
7. Replace sterile pad and bandage as necessary to keep them clean and dry.


Ox Tongue in Creamy Mushroom Sauce

During the summers of my younger years, I would spend it in the province with my mom's sister. She loves to cook and bake. She would prepare kilawin, hardinera, baked chicken, humba, and many delicious main dishes. For dessert, I remember the logs of brazo de mercedes and custard rolls. One of the dishes we would request her prepare is Lengua or ox tongue. I would help her prepare the tongue, which I am grateful. I ask my mom and she said she didn't know how to cook the dish. So here is my version which my brother raved :D.

1 (850 - 950 grams) ox tongue
2 tsps. salt
1 head of garlic, 1/2 of the head is crushed and the other half is minced
2 tbsp. olive oil or butter
1 medium onion, chopped
1 (284 ml) can cream of mushroom soup
1 - 1 1/2 cup beef stock
2- 3 potatoes sliced into 1/4" thick rounds
1/3 cup sliced mushrooms
1/4 cup all-purpose cream
salt and pepper to taste

Wash the tongue well. Place enough water to cover meat in a pot and 2 tsps. salt. Boil the tongue for about 40 minutes. Let it cool then remove the tough skin. Boil the tongue in a fresh batch of water with 1/2 head of garlic, crushed. Continue to boil until it is fork tender. Slice the meat to 1/3" thick. Set aside. Reserve the stock for later use.
Saute the remaining garlic in olive oil. Add the onions and saute until tender and caramelized. Pour in the cream of mushroom and beef stock. Add the potatoes. Let the sauce simmer until the potatoes are cooked. Add the sliced mushrooms and the all purpose cream. Simmer for about 3-5 minutes then add the meat. Season to taste. Simmer again until the sauce thickens to the desired consistency. If the sauce is too thick, add more beef stock. If the sauce is too thin, allow it to simmer until the excess liquid has evaporated.


Much Creamier Corn Soup with a Twist

When we head home to the province, we would find stalls scattered by the road selling all sorts of vegetables and fruits. We would buy to bring back home because some of the items would be cheaper and definitely fresher from the ones sold in the grocery.
One of the things we would buy is Japanese corn which is harvested from Los Banos.
We would either boil it or mix it with our meals as soup, main dish, condiment or dessert.

I posted an entry before for corn soup. That is one of regular dishes we would prepare. My sister-in-law's family does their version differently. They mentioned that to make the soup more creamier, the corn is finely grated. The grated corn is then pounded or fed to a food processor to make it finer.

I did try their advice, and true enough the soup was thicker that just scraping the kernels from the cob with a knife. To have more texture to it, I added 1/4 cup whole kernels.

To experiment further, I saw a bunch of left over basil leaves that my brother used for his pasta dish. I didn't have any your pepper leaves or spinach, so I chopped a few leaves (about 2 tablespoons) and added to the soup. I didn't want to add the rest because of its strong herb taste and I thought that I would be best to just have only a hint of basil to it. And I have to admit that it was a good judgment call. Instead of overpowering, it complimented the corn.

I really suggest that you try using a few chopped leaves of basil for a different twist.


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