March 31st, 2016
You may have tasted lomi sea asparagus from the farmers market and wondered how to make it at home.
Thankfully the grower of the briny greens, Kahuku-based Marine Agrifuture LLC which does business as Olakai Hawaii, has a recipe posted on its website. It's super-easy to make and the only cooking involved is boiling water, if you choose to blanch the sea asparagus. However, you don't even have to do that, a rinse or soak also is sufficient. The longer you cold-water rinse or soak (changing the water occasionally), the less salty your sea asparagus will become. A word of caution for water-boilers: If you blanch it long enough to remove the briny taste, you will ruin the color and the texture.
The version I have been making, as pictured, is an adaptation and is 100-percent local starting with the star of the show, Kahuku sea asparagus. It includes Ho Farms grape tomatoes, Ewa sweet onion from Aloun Farm and a firm block of Aloha Tofu. No dressing is needed. The briny flavor of the sea asparagus coupled with the sweet-yet-peppery onion, the sweet-yet-bright flavor of the tomatoes and the neutral but protein-packed tofu combines beautifully and feels like the "clean eating" people keep talking about.
If, after tasting the dish, you still want to add your favorite dressing, a drizzle of sesame oil, chili pepper water, chili oil, or whatever, nobody is going to call the home-cooking police.
For light eaters the dish could be a "Meatless Monday" dinner in itself with rice, somen noodles, or other carb of choice. This week at my house, the sea asparagus salad, which could almost be referred to as a tofu poke, was served alongside rice and Crock Pot Kalua pork rubbed with locally made Kiawe-flavored liquid smoke and alaea salt.
The sea asparagus is purchased from Foodland when it's on sale, usually on one of its Buy Local Tuesdays which you can learn about by signing up for emails from the store. This dish became part of the family menu plan on Sunday when the email arrived. Any creative help one can get with meal-planning is welcome, lest one fall into a predictable rut.
There's also hope for those whose kitchens don't see much action in terms of food prep. If a recent poke-stop in Mililani Mauka is any indication, you might find that some poke purveyors offer Kahuku sea asparagus as a by-request, if not a regular option. Chef Elmer Guzman's Poke Stop crew had some fresh sea asparagus on the day I asked if they offered the ingredient in any of its poke preparations, and half a pound of luscious red ahi cubes, briny sea asparagus and other ingredients made its way back home with me to the Windward side.
Lomi Kahuku Sea Asparagus
For a large family, or a potluck:
2 4-ounce containers of Kahuku sea asparagus, quick-blanched, dunked into an ice bath, drained and cut into roughly 1-inch lengths
1/2 a large Ewa sweet onion, halved horizontally and thinly sliced vertically into roughly 1-inch lengths
1 container Ho Farms grape tomatoes, washed and halved (or your choice of tomato, diced)
1 20-ounce block Aloha Tofu, cubed and drained of excess liquid (or more, or less, or omit)
Place ingredients in a large bowl and gently toss until combined.
Sit back and await the compliments, but don't forget to serve yourself a portion as well.
On the 'Net:
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