Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Recipe: Huli Huli Burger Wraps

A friend of mine is in love with Hawai'i. She and her husband head there nearly every year, sometimes twice. They take their kids, their grandkids, their friends, and pretty much anyone they meet because they both love it so much. If they had it their way, they'd retire right on the beach of some lagoon in the Hawaiian islands.

Beyond the beauty of the Pacific, one of her favorite things about Hawai'i is the food.

Hawaiian food has lots of specialties and their own unique cuisine. From spam musubi to Kalua pork, Lau Lau to chicken katsu, and of course, their infamous Hawaiian BBQ.

Spam Musubi and Kalua Pork
What is Hawaiian BBQ, you ask? It's a fabulous blend of Asian and American flavors, a bit more on the sweet side (as most Hawaiian food tends to be), but marvelous. Traditional Hawaiian plates come with two perfectly rounded scoops of rice, a heaping side of macaroni salad, and whatever entree is being served. It's not a lunch or dinner for the weak - most of the time, there's plenty for the next meal or two. Or maybe three.

For those of us who live on the mainland, a family-run chain of restaurants has brought all those flavors to shore. L&L Hawaiian BBQ has brought us fresh varieties of some of the most famous Hawaiian dishes. It's a great way to experience some of the food right where you live until you can catch that cruise or plane ride to your vacation getaway.

My friend and I were talking about Hawai'i, as we often do while we are busy making cookies. She raved and raved about one of her favorite sauces - Huli Huli sauce. Huli Huli Sauce was the invention of an islander, Ernest Morgado, who needed to marinate and baste his chicken in a teriyaki sauce while he was grilling for a farmer's meeting. He used his mother's teriyaki sauce recipe and the chicken became an instant hit. After nearly 30 years of competitions and fund-raisers, he began bottling his special sauce. You can buy it in most stores, but homemade is the way to go, especially if you can't eat soy or gluten. It can be used as a marinade, a basting sauce, a dipping sauce, or pretty much any way you can think of. Burgers, chicken, kabobs - you name it. Delish.
Huli Huli Chicken

This sweet, tangy, slightly spicy sauce, is a perfect family pleaser.

A week after my friend gave me her recipe, she asked excitedly, "Have you tried it yet?"

I hadn't.

And part of the reason I hadn't was the addition of soy sauce to the recipe. I don't eat much soy sauce due to the wheat content, as well as the soy. Neither does well in my body, so I had to find an alternative. So, I headed to the kitchen and decided to try it with my No Soy Soy Sauce.

And it is as wonderful as she claims. Sweet, tangy, slightly spicy from the ginger. All the sugars caramelize into the most amazing crusty sauce. It's fantastic, as well as versatile.

I think Ernest would be proud.

Happy eating!

Huli Huli Burger Wraps

Recipe collaboration: Sauce by L. Dolan (with my adaptation); the rest of the deliciousness by Michelle L. Hankes
Serves 4 hungry people (can be easily doubled, tripled, quadrupled, or quintupled)

For the Huli Huli Sauce:
(makes about 2 - 2 1/2 cups of sauce)

1 cup packed brown sugar or vegan cane sugar
3/4 cup ketchup (organic preferred)
3/4 cup soy sauce or No Soy Soy Sauce (just triple the recipe)
1/3 cup chicken broth, veggie broth, or warm water with two large pinches of sea salt
2 1/2 tsp fresh minced ginger root
1 1/2 tsp fresh minced garlic

Pour all ingredients into a medium bowl, then whisk to combine. Reserve 1 cup for the burgers. Place remainder in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days or freeze for later use, up to 2 months.

For the burgers: 

1 1/2 lbs. good-quality ground beef
sea salt, to taste
8 lettuce leaves, rinsed and patted dry
1 cup Huli Huli Sauce, divided

1. Place ground beef in a medium bowl, add a bit of sea salt (to taste), then mix with fingers just until combined. Divide the beef into 8 equal portions. Form each portion into a flat log-shape so they will fit easily into the lettuce leaves. (Don't put them in the lettuce leaves, yet!) Set aside.

2. Heat a cast-iron skillet on medium (or grill, if you prefer).

3. While the pan is heating, place 1/4 cup of the Huli Huli sauce in a small bowl and set aside.

4. When the pan is hot, place the "burgers" on the skillet (or grill) and allow to fully cook on one side about 2-3 minutes to get a good sear. Flip; then using the remaining 3/4 cup of Huli Huli sauce, baste the burgers either using a basting brush or a small spoon. Let cook for a minute or two, then repeat allowing to cook for another minute. This should create a lovely caramelized sauce on the burgers. Yum. (For safety, discard the rest of the basting sauce.)

5. Remove from pan when cooked to your liking and place in the lettuce leaves. Using the Huli Huli sauce that was first set aside (in step 3), drizzle a small amount over the burgers. If there's any left, save for a further use or use for dipping (it also makes an awesome Huli Huli mayo).

6. Serve with two scoops of rice, macaroni salad, and/or a green salad! Enjoy!

Monday, July 20, 2015

No Soy Soy Sauce

Ah, soy sauce...

Delicious, tangy, salty, briney. All the things you want to add some oomph to chicken, fish, burgers, sauces, and pretty much any dish that resembles something derived from an Asian culture.

But, soy sauce does not work for every body. Sometimes, it's the soy; sometimes, it's the wheat (although, you can now find wheat-free soy sauce in many stores or online). But either way, if soy sauce does not make you sing with delight, there aren't many alternatives to get the same flavor.

Until now.

That's right. I take credit for this delicious concoction created out of necessity.

Okay, nobody needs soy sauce, for the most part. But fried rice without soy sauce or teriyaki without soy sauce?? How bland! How boring! How, un-umami.

But, soy sauce in both components is not body-friendly for me. So, what's an umami-loving girl to do?

Create her own.

Happy Umami Eating!

No Soy Soy Sauce

Easy-peasy recipe by Michelle L. Hankes
Makes scant 1/4 cup


1/4 cup lukewarm water
1 tsp tamarind concentrate*
2 generous pinches of sea salt (or to taste)


Add all ingredients to a small bowl and whisk until combined. 

Use immediately one-for-one in any recipe needing soy sauce or as a dipping sauce. Store in an airtight container, refrigerated, for a week. Can be frozen for up to 3 months. 

*Tamarind concentrate is made from the tamarind fruit. It has a lovely tangy, kinda sweet, and definitely sour flavor that when added with salt makes a wonderful substitute for soy sauce. It is used in many traditional Asian dishes, including Pad Thai. I use Tamicon that can be purchased at Whole Foods or most grocery stores in the Asian food section or Hispanic food section. I use the concentrate version because it's smooth and intense in flavor, but it also comes in paste form and blocks of concentrate. I haven't tried those, but I'm sure they would work equally well.