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On the heels of reading the Hippo book, I was inspired to go old school… that is… until I realized I hadn’t quite mastered what to do with some of the products I would preserve.
My thought was if I knew what to do with them first and if I liked what I tasted, I would embark on trying to preserve and can them. If I didn’t like how they turned out, then no harm no foul. If I succeeded, then there’s a greater certainty that they will be used.
Did you buy that rationalization?
There is a vast world of canned proteins - roast beef, chicken, clams, shrimp, etc. - that I have avoided most of my life. In preparation for our voyaging life, I have decided to explore this world of pantry proteins now, beginning with…
Canned Chicken Salad
After the 3rd straight meal of homemade Korean jap chae, I was desperate for something new. I was inspired by a filipino chicken salad sandwich that my friend Helen would bring to me from time to time. It’s a perfect blend of savory with a hint of sweet, creamy tender chicken with some crunch, and place it in a Hawaiian roll, and you have a addicting meal ahead of you.
This chicken salad recipe is inspired by whatever was in my house at the time and so it consists of the following:
- 1 (10 oz) can chicken breast
- 2 stalks of celery, 1/4” dices
- 1 cup chopped green onions
- 1/3 cup Kewpie mayonaise (Japanese)
1 tbl agave
1 pkg Hawaiian rolls (1 dozen)
- Furikake to taste
Combine first 5 ingredients in a mixing bowl. Slice Hawaiian rolls in half. With a sharp bread knife, I can slice all 12 in one go so you create a sheet of bread, top and bottom.
Spread all of the chicken salad mixture evenly over the bottom sheet of rolls, and sprinkle furikake to taste. Layer top half of Hawaiian rolls.
Serve as pull-apart sandwiches which are perfect for lunch or snacks while on passage.
Naturally, you may not have the same ingredients on hand. To riff on this recipe, think about proportions of wet to dry, soft to crunch, and savory vs sweet. And since everything is cooked or edible raw, taste along the way and adjust the seasoning. Substitutions can certainly work; if you don’t have agave, use honey. No Kewpie mayonaise? Cut out the agave, and use Miracle Whip instead.
In retrospect, this sandwich was a bit on the wet side and I should have drained the chicken a bit more. I wasn’t sure how dry the meat would be, so I erred on more moisture than not. I can easily envision adding a binding element like a couple hard boiled eggs chopped to make the spread more cohesive.
Canned Roast Beef Cheung Fun
Cheung fun is one of my favorite dim sum dishes. I decided rather than braising beef for hours, I could quickly marinate and season this pre-cooked beef, throw in some fresh cilantro, roll it up in vietnamese rice sheet and top it with scallions and Furikake.
- 1 (12 oz) can roast beef
- 1 tsp rice vinegar
- 2 tsp fish sauce
- 2 tbl sesame oil
- 1 tsp agave
- 1/4 tsp ginger powder
1 cup chopped scallions
- 2 cups cooked jasmine rice
- 1 bunch fresh cilantro leaves
10-12 sheets of vietnamese rice paper (or bánh tráng)
- Furikake to taste
Combine first seven ingredients and warm through in a pan stove-top and then set aside.
Place hot water in a wide bowl. This will be used to soften the rice sheets. Working one at a time, assemble the ingredients following these steps:
- Soak rice sheet for 10-15 seconds until it softens. Place on a flat service.
- Select 2-3 springs of cilantro leaves and lay them flat in the center.
- Spoon 2-3 tablespoons of the seasoned beef and scallions and spread evenly on the cilantro.
- Spoon 3 tablespoons of rice and spread evenly.
- Sprinkle furikake on the rice.
- Fold the rice sheet over the filling burrito style.
Repeat until you have run out of any one of the ingredients first. This dish is best when served right away.
The challenge with this recipe is that the beef stew is already seasoned. So instead of starting with a blank canvas for flavors, you start with something that skews American/British in terms of flavor profile.
In order to steer towards an Asian palate, you need to neutralize what is already there, which is done with rice. Finally, to enhance the fish sauce, ginger and sesame flavors, you’ll need to amp up the herbs (scallions and cilantro).
As with all of these suggested recipes, sample as you go so you’ll achieve your desired taste.
Canned Corn Beef Impossible Pie
Earlier this year, I discovered a recipe from the Kitchen Magpie, and since then I’ve experimented with all sorts of variations on a theme creating impossible pie with chorizo, bacon and goulda and now the latest… corned beef! Here’s the recipe.
- 1 carrot, diced
- 2 stalks of celery, diced
4 stalks of scallions, diced
- 2/3 cup of Bisquick
- 2 cups of milk
4 eggs whisked
- 1 (12 oz) can of canned corn beef
- 1 cup of cheddar cheese
Saute first three ingredients in a pan with olive oil until carmelized. Add pinch of salt toward the end to bring out the flavors of the vegetables. Allow the vegetables to cool to above room temperature. The key here is you don’t want to melt the cheese or cook the eggs, so you don’t want to have a high contrast in temperature.
In a bowl, whisk eggs and then combine milk and Bisquick until there are no lumps.
In a pyrex pie plate, spread cooked vegetables, then sprinkle corned beef and cheese on top, spreading evenly. Pour Bisquick milk mixture and place pie in a 400 degree pre-heated oven.
Bake for 25-35 minutes until puffed golden brown and custard is set. Cool for 10-15 minutes before serving.
The canned corn beef can be overwhelming in these proportions. In the next iteration of this, I would halve the amount of corn beef for this recipe and save half of it for a corn beef hash with a fried eggs.
For passage-making, you can reduce the cooking time by portioning this recipe in muffin tins. Baking time is halved and individual servings can be stored or served on napkins, thus reducing water use for washing dishes.
Canned Creole Crabcakes
Based on the success of the creole salmon cakes, I thought I would try my hand again at a creole crabcake. Here’s the recipe, but substitute salmon for crab.
- 1/2 cup Japanese mayonnaise (Kewpie)
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup of celery, minced
- 1/2 cup spring onion, minced
- 1/2 cup cilantro, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon Sunny Caribbee Jerk spice seasoning
- 1 (8 oz) can crab
- 1 cup panko bread crumbs
Drain crab and set aside. In a large bowl add minced vegetables, all the spices, mayonnaise and eggs, mix well. Fold in crab and panko bread crumbs.
Form into 4 patties or you could make appetizer size if desired.
Heat about 4 tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat, add patties in brown for about 4-5 minutes per side until nice and golden brown.
Finish in the oven 350 degrees for 10 minutes.
Canned Clam Chowder
3 strips of bacon, chopped
- 1 clove garlic, minced
2 tbl butter
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 5 stalks of celery, chopped
- 2 cups of young gold potatoes
2 cups shitake mushrooms
- 1/4 tsp white pepper
1/2 tsp dried thyme
3 cups of chicken broth
- 1 can (6.5 oz) chopped clams with juice
1 can (10 oz) whole clams with juice
- 1/3 cup AP flour
- 2 cups half-and-half divided
Vegeta or salt to taste
- In a Dutch oven, cook bacon over medium heat until crisp. Remove to paper towels to drain; set aside.
- Add butter and garlic to the drippings. Then saute onions, celery and mushrooms until tender.
- Stir in potatoes, chicken broth, clam juice, pepper, thyme and vegeta. Bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat and simmer uncovered until potatoes are tender 15-20 minutes.
- In a small bowl, combine flour and 1 cup of half-and-half until smooth. Gradually stir into soup. Bring to a boil; cook and stir until thickened, 1-2 minutes.
- Stir in clams and remaining half-and-half; heath through (do not boil).
- Serve in bowl with crumbled bacon sprinkled on top and side of crusty garlic bread.
Be sure to whisk the flour and half-and-half slurry so there are no lumps. Add vegeta or salt at the end to taste, since the introduction of the clam juice also adds seasoning of its own. In retrospect, I also preferred the whole clams to the chopped clams. Andrew liked the consistency of this chowder, however I would add more flour to create a thicker soup. Otherwise, deelish!
Canned Spam Musubi
On the eve of moving all our items into the PODS, it seems fitting to try to deplete as much of our provisions. This recipe numbers among Andrew’s favorite, and he devoured each of them hungrily after a productive day of packing.
This is Hawaii’s go-to, all-season snack. It’s an all-pantry recipe as you can see from the ingredient list, and incredibly delicious. It’s perfect for passage-making or taking ashore while exploring. The recipe is quite simple and easy to find online. I referred to Bon Appetit and Serious Eats.
- 1 can (12 oz) low-sodium Spam
- 2-3 cups cooked white rice
- 2-3 tbl soy sauce (my favorite is Wuan Chuang which is made in Taiwan)
- 1 tbl brown sugar
- Furikake to taste
- Nori sheets
Slice Spam in 8 rectangular pieces. Sprinkle sugar on each side of spam and place in non-stick frying pan and fry on each side 1-2 minutes. Add soy sauce and continue to braise until each side is carmelized and you reach your desired level of crispness.
Using the can of Spam as a mold (be sure each ends are removed), assemble quickly as follows: on a sheet of nori cut to the same length as the spam, place 3 tablespoons of rice and form in the same shape as the spam using the can. Sprinkle furikake on top of rice and place spam on top. Add another layer of rice on top and square off once again using the can. With a firm press, unmold the can and wrap the nori around the musubi.
If preparing ahead, wrap in plastic and store in the refrigerator. To reheat, spam musubi can be microwaved or pan fry on all sides on low heat.
Years ago, I would watch The Rachel Zoe Project and in episode 8 of Season 4, she prepared this dish for her entourage. The recipe is dead simple and is pantry friendly, which makes it perfect for boat life.
Since 2011, there are variations of this recipe floating around the internet. Here’s mine:
- 1 cup spicy brown mustard
1 cup apricot preserves
- 2 lbs Hebrew National Beef Salami
Preheat oven to 350.
Combine mustard and preserves in a dish until well blended. I usually have a partially open jar of either, and so I will use this as my mixing bowl which cuts down on doing dishes and is great for storing leftover sauce for next time.
Slice the summer sausage anywhere from 1/8 to 1/4” thick, however do not slice all the way through. You pretty much want to stop 1/4” from the end. When I first started, I would place a knife at the end, to stop the slice. Once you get used to it, you can eyeball when to stop.
Fan the summer sausage roll as you spoon mustard-preserve sauce between each slice. Slather on the outside and arrange in a foil-lined baking dish.
Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. You may want to baste the sausage with the drippings a few times during the hour.
If you prefer more char, you can place it under a broiler for a couple minutes.
Serve while hot with and extra sauce for dipping. Great with some crusty bread or crackers. It’s also a delicious snack to nosh on throughout the day.
This is a pretty forgiving recipe. If you can’t find Hebrew National Beef Salami, I have often used beef summer sausage in a pinch.
Your mustard choices can also vary from yellow mustard, brown mustard, spicy brown mustard and dijon mustard. If you don’t have apricot preserves, feel free to substitute with honey, agave or any sweet jam/jelly. Basically, you want to arrive at a consistency of baby food.
If you want more caramelization, then go heavier on the preserves. If you prefer Carolina BBQ flavors, then go heavier on the mustard.
We were telling our friend Lydia about this culinary adventure in pantry proteins, and she chimed in, “Wait until you get to powdered peanut butter!” Sounds like we’re in for another culinary adventure.
Thanks for reading!
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