Archive for March, 2016

Sea asparagus makes for bright, briny dishes

By
March 31st, 2016



Kahuku sea asparagus adds a briny brightness to this dish, balanced with local sweet onion and local tomatoes and tofu. Photo by Erika Engle.

Kahuku sea asparagus adds a briny brightness to this dish, balanced with local sweet onion and local tomatoes and tofu.
Photo by Erika Engle.

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:

http://olakaihawaii.com/

http://www.seaoflifeusa.com/Olakai/recipes.html

http://www.aloha-tofu.com/

http://alounfarms.com/

http://www.foodland.com/

http://www.hofarms.com/index.html

http://poke-stop.com/

# # #

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Seattle Sam's

By
March 30th, 2016



A sampling of the food truck fare from Sam Choy's Poke to da Max at Occidental Square Park in downtown Seattle.

A sampling of the food truck fare from Sam Choy's Poke to da Max in downtown Seattle.

It's a sunny day in Seattle, following several days of gloom, and the food trucks are a popular destination at Occidental Park downtown, with the longest line at Sam Choy's Poke to da Max.

Those poised to buy the poke bowls and wraps, garlic fried chicken plates and Spam musubi easily outnumber patrons at trucks selling Cuban fare, Native American plates and gourmet sausages.

 

How a food shot is made, by a professional. That's Matt McNight behind the camera and holding the sun guard, Max Hight, Sam Choy's partner in the Seattle business.

How a food shot is made, by a professional. That's Matt McNight behind the camera and, holding the sun guard, Max Heigh, Sam Choy's partner in the Seattle business.

Choy and his partner, Max Heigh, have three trucks and a food cart that move throughout the Seattle area. Hight says since the first truck opened about 2-1/2 years ago, the customer base has grown, and lines are common, even in the rain.

Cross section of a Spam musubi.

Cross section of a Spam musubi.

Some compromises had to be made, though. Consider the Spam musubi, perhaps the easiest grab-and-go meal in Hawaii. On Choy's trucks the musubi (pronounced mu-SU-bi here) have to be made to order, as the health department will not allow them to be pre-rolled.

So the layers of nori, rice, egg, Spam and various sauces are rolled right in their to-go containers. Hight says it takes longer to serve up one of these than anything else on the menu. "But we couldn't NOT have musubi."

For more on Sam Choy's Seattle enterprise -- and other eateries with Hawaii ties
-- see the Honolulu Star-Advertiser's new Crave section on April 13.

 

 

 

Easter dishes great all year

By
March 29th, 2016



With an eye toward healthfulness and a love of cooking and baking, Corri Lee Kojima devised her own spring fruit trifle, assembled with homemade vanilla pudding, whipped cream from scratch, fresh bananas and strawberries, and Nilla Wafers. Kojima's creation was part of the Easter potluck table on Sunday.

With an eye toward healthfulness and a love of cooking and baking, Corri Lee Kojima devised her own spring fruit trifle, assembled with homemade vanilla pudding, whipped cream made from scratch, fresh bananas and strawberries, and Nilla Wafers. Kojima's creation was part of a casual Easter potluck table on Sunday.

Though some families fix a proper meal for Easter Sunday, serving a baked ham or leg of lamb at a prettily set dining table, my family is all about casual. Priority No. 1 is getting our dozens of eggs boiled and the kids to the dyeing table at a reasonable time. After that, we've still got egg fights to brave, egg to hunts to navigate, egg salads to mix (from all those eggs that lose the battle). You get the picture.

That means whatever goes on the food table either has to be made well in advance or  be relatively easy to execute. Most of us pick the latter.

My sister, Jo Ann Kimura, who's slowly but surely building her kitchen chops, contributed a salsa that's absolutely delicious. Whenever she shares some with me, I take it home, put it down, turn my attention to a quick task — and find that I'm out of luck. Hubby and daughter make quick work of making it disappear.

It's a recipe that's as good for Jo Ann as it is the taste buds because it doesn't require turning on the stove. All that's necessary is chopping, measuring and running a blender.

And what made it even better this holiday was that she used tomatoes straight from the  backyard garden of her daughter, Dara Ann. Talk about farm to table.

At the other end of the spectrum is my cousin Corri Lee Kojima, who loves all things cooking, from Food Network to Mark Bittman to experimenting at the stove. For this gathering, she created her own version of a trifle, light and relatively healthy with fresh fruit, homemade pudding and whipped cream from scratch.

"That way, at least you know what's in it," she said about the extra effort of whipping her own cream, to which the rest of us could only respond, "Wow."

Her dessert was inspired by a rumor that Magnolia Bakery uses Nilla Wafers. If they could turn to such a thing, she reasoned, so could she.

I've included both their recipes here. If you're not of Corri's ilk, use instant pudding and Cool Whip. That's my plan.

Quick blending of fresh tomatoes, cilantro, onions and lemon juice, plus a jalapeño if you like spice, make for a delicious homemade salsa.

Quick blending of fresh tomatoes, cilantro, onions and lemon juice, plus a jalapeño if you like spice, make for a delicious homemade salsa.

California Salsa
Adapted from a Vitamix recipe
1/2 medium onion, peeled and halved
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and membranes removed (optional)
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt

6 ripe Roma tomatoes, quartered and divided (substitute with favorite tomato)

Place onion, jalapeño if using, cilantro, lemon juice, salt and 6 pieces tomato into blender. Secure lid and start blending on medium, gradually increasing to high, about 20 seconds.

Remove lid and push ingredients down from sides of blender, then continue blending about 20 seconds, or until ingredients are roughly processed.

Remove lid, add remaining tomato pieces and pulse to desired consistency. Do not over mix; tomatoes should be chunky.
Depending on size of tomatoes, makes 2 to 4 cups.

Spring Fruit Trifle
Courtesy Corri Lee Kojima
1 box Nilla Wafers
3 cups vanilla pudding
4 cups whipped cream
5 bananas, sliced into coins
2 baskets strawberries, cleaned and sliced

In bowl, layer ingredients, starting with a little bit of pudding to hold a layer of wafers, followed by bananas, pudding, strawberries and whipped cream. Repeat.

Place cookies and fruit along the side of the bowl if you like. End with whipped cream and top with fruit. Serves 12 to 15.

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Tasty seafood event focuses on sustainable ag

By
March 28th, 2016



The Whole Keahole Lobster dish served at Rays on the Bay. It includes garlic kale, lemongrass aioli, lup cheong sausage, shaoxing (Chinese rice wine) and sesame-soy fried rice.  Photo courtesy Rays on the Bay, Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa.

The Whole Keahole Lobster dish served at Rays on the Bay. It includes garlic kale, lemongrass aioli, lup cheong sausage, shaoxing (Chinese rice wine) and sesame-soy fried rice.
Photo courtesy Rays on the Bay, Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa.

The hard-working hands of Hawaii island’s agricultural community and what they grow and raise will be highlighted by Rays on the Bay at the Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa.
The second phase of the resort’s INGREDIENTS culinary series will unfold Friday through Sunday at Rays on The Bay restaurant with a five-course dinner, a chef cooking demonstration, clambake and local farm tour.
“The vision of Rays on the Bay is to provide fresh coastal cuisine while being sustainable,” said Executive Chef George Gomes Jr., in a statement. The Big Island “has an expansive range of diverse climate zones making it a perfect place for sustainable agriculture,” adding that “it’s my job as a chef to support local products in our cuisine and take advantage of the fresh produce our island offers.”
The series was designed by Gomes and resort General Manager Keith Mallini to offer a combination of food and education to guests and kamaaina.
Friday’s seafood-themed five-course dinner will include Smoked Baby Kona Abalone; Keahole Clam Salad with Hawaiian Kampachi Belly “Bacalao;” Kiawe Grilled Kona Cold Lobster; Hawaiian Kampachi “Mi Cuit,” a classic French-style presentation, all with a wide assortment of locally grown produce, as well as dessert showcasing locally sourced ingredients.
From 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, guests will travel to the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii, or NELHA, to tour the Big Island Abalone, Kampachi Farms and Kona Cold Lobster operations. The tour will be followed by a clambake that will include a variety of locally sourced seafood items.
Sunday’s attendees will learn how to properly cook seafood from Ray’s on the Bay culinary staff.
Depending on which events are chosen, tickets range in price from $95 to $175 per person. Transportation to the resort can be arranged upon request. Reservations can be made online.

 

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Sansei Seattle settles in

By
March 27th, 2016



Dishes special to the menu at Sansei in Seattle include cobra, top left, sockeye salmon sashimi, ramen using Dungeness and king crab instead of the usual snow crab and the Grizzly Bear Buffet sushi roll.

Dishes special to the menu at Sansei in Seattle include cobia, a local fish, top left, sockeye salmon sashimi, ramen using Dungeness and king crab instead of the usual snow crab, and the Grizzly Bear Buffet sushi roll.

 

Customers who visited Sansei Seafood Restaurant & Sushi Bar in Hawaii were the first patrons of Sansei's first mainland outpost, in downtown Seattle.

Chef Scott Lutey says business is steadily ramping up as word of the new restaurant spreads. Half-off happy hour specials on Sundays and Mondays are gradually approaching the levels he was used to at Sansei's Waikoloa location, 350 per night.

Meanwhile he's acclimating to different seafood products available in the Pacific Northwest, including fish species with a milder flavor profile than he's used to. Cobia, for example, which he describes as like kampachi, but firmer, halibut and fresh black cod (butterfish), which is normally found frozen in Hawaii.

Many varieties of salmon are available and very popular with diners, including the bright red sockeye that looks like ahi. And a classic Sansei dish, crab ramen, can be made with Dungeness and King crab instead of the usual snow crab.

"We're still going through a learning curve," Lutey says.

Seattle restaurant strong in isle spirit

By
March 26th, 2016



Shoyu ahi poke, served at Super Six in Seattle.

Shoyu ahi poke, served at Super Six in Seattle.

"Poke rhyme with okay,” reads the menu at Super Six,” a new restaurant in the Seattle township of Columbia City. Just so the uninitiated know that the house specialties made with salt-cured salmon, shoyu ahi, chili tofu and kim chee shrimp are nouns, not verbs.

Kamala Saxton has been teaching such local-speak to Seattlites since 2007, when she and her partner Roz Edison opened their Marination food truck, offering such Korean-Hawaiian-American fusion as Spam sliders and spicy pork tacos.
The decor at Seattle's Super Six recreates the building's previous life as an auto body shop.

The decor at Seattle's Super Six recreates the building's previous life as an auto body shop.

The truck grew into the first Marination restaurant, followed by a second, a catering business, cocktail lounge and now Super Six, opened in a repurposed auto body shop in September. The name comes from the Hudson Motor Co.’s Super Six, the first American car designed by a woman, Saxton says.
Pork belly musubi.

Pork belly musubi.

The new location showcases a menu a cut above the plate-lunch fare typical of Hawaiian-style restaurants in these parts. The musubi, for example, is topped with kalbi pork belly. The ahi poke comes with a brown rice cracker, macadamia nuts, wakame powder, and tri-color dots of sauce made of egg yolk, green onion and kim chee base.

You can also get your basic loco moco.
A chocolate cream-filled malasada.

A chocolate cream-filled malasada.

It's a phenomenal growth for less than a decade, which Saxton attributes to luck, but you know has to come from more than equal parts guts and brains. And that old chestnut, the aloha spirit.
Saxton was born on Oahu, and although she moved to Palo Alto while in elementary school, she grew up spending summers with her grandparents in Halawa Heights. She's been in Seattle for 20 years, but when she uses the word “local” she means Hawaii; “us” means the people of home.
From that comes the way she defines her business: hospitality. “It's all a part of Day 1 for us, it's all a part of our culture.”

 

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Time to get your last fix of Shirokiya treats

By
March 25th, 2016



Shirokiya will close in a week, on Thursday, to prepare for its move to a new space at Ala Moana Center.

An artist's rendering of the interior of the new Shirokiya, to open in the Ewa Wing at Ala Moana Center in June.  Image courtesy Shirokiya.

An artist's rendering of the interior of the new Shirokiya, to open in the Ewa Wing at Ala Moana Center in June.
Image courtesy Shirokiya.

You actually have only six days to stock up on your favorite treats from the retail store and stoke up on your favorite ramen, tonkatsu or other dishes from the famed Japanese retailer's food court.
The company that dates back more than 350 years will reopen in June in a 44,680 square-foot ground-floor space in the new Ewa Wing, so the closure will last about two months.

The new Shirokiya will offer an expanded “Yataimura” or street food court as well as a “Gourmet Plaza” featuring a total of some 50 food vendors; Japanese traditional product shops called “Nippon Komachi;” five stations offering $1 beer, seating for 800 customers and other features.
Through Thursday, the hours of operation will be from 9:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. on the Mall Level, while the Yataimura will operate from 9:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.
Most Shirokiya tenants will be operating through closing day.
Meanwhile, the store is offering a sale on some items on the Mall Level, and on the same level, customers are invited to review the store’s historical timeline exhibit.

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Do some grocery shopping and support youth mentorship

By
March 23rd, 2016



If you're short on flour or it's time to go marketing, take a trip today to Whole Foods Market Kailua, or Kahului if you're on Maui. When you make a purchase, 5 percent of what you spend will be set aside for Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Hawaii.
If you miss today's opportunity, the Kahala store will support the youth mentorship program on March 30 with the same deal.
The store's Community Support Day program devotes the 5-percent profits from a day's sales to a single organization. It's the first time all the Hawaii stores are benefiting one organization.
Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Hawaii matches keiki with mentors for one-on-one friendships. Big brothers and sisters offer encouragement, modeling and support in making good decisions and maintaining good behaviors.
Whole Foods Market Kahala is in Kahala Mall, call 738-0820; the Kailua market is at 629 Kailua Road, 263-6800; the Kahului location is in Maui Mall, 808-872-3310.

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Cooking up a big future

By
March 21st, 2016



PHOTO BY KAT WADE / SPECIAL TO THE HONOLULU STAR-ADVERTISER Pili Group's Kelley Pittman is headed to Boston where she will hone her craft, thanks to the James Beard Foundation's Women in Culinary Leadership intern program.

PHOTO BY KAT WADE / SPECIAL TO THE HONOLULU STAR-ADVERTISER
Pili Group's Kelley Pittman is headed to Boston where she will hone her craft, thanks to the James Beard Foundation's Women in Culinary Leadership intern program.

 

It was 4:13 p.m. and chef Mark Noguchi probably couldn't wait any longer. "Let me know when your article drops," said his text.

I've been working all day on a write-up about one of his Lunch Box cooks, Kelley Pittman, who found out today she was selected for an internship via the James Beard Foundation’s Women in Culinary Leadership program. He had been nearly bursting with pride this morning when I interviewed him for the article.

“With some people, you know immediately — they exude that energy that makes them stand out,” he said. "Kelley exhibits the ability to always push herself a little more, and she thinks about her actions. Fast cooks are a dime a dozen, but smart cooks are priceless. Plus, she has an empathy within her. You can't teach that."

Noguchi met Pittman in 2011, when Ma'o Organic Farms was celebrating its 10th anniversary. Pittman, a farmworker, assisted him in breaking down a 300-pound marlin — and she didn't want to stop working. Today, she brings that same work ethic to the Lunch Box kitchen, prompting Noguchi to urge her to apply for the internship.

“I didn’t really expect anything,” she said of her hopes when she filled out the application. “But I'm excited to move forward, explore, get off this rock.”

Pittman, 22, will do just that when she spends six months in Boston, working and learning from chef Matt Jennings of Townsman restaurant. She said she'll learn about working both the front and the back of the house.

She is filling one of 22 positions offered by 19 mentors. The program provides paid internships to help aspiring women chefs build leadership and management skills in the kitchen and in restaurant management and entrepreneurship.

COURTESY PILI GROUP Pittman, harvesting calamansi at Hirabara Farm, does it all. The cook was once was a farmworker at Ma‘o Organic Farms.

COURTESY PILI GROUP
Pittman, harvesting calamansi at Hirabara Farm, does it all. The cook was once was a farmworker at Ma‘o Organic Farms.

 

Pittman says cooking has been a lifelong passion, and at Lunch Box, her enthusiasm for her work shows. She's in charge of feeding the corporate offices, and she takes requests.

So what does she cook?

Her menu features items such as beef and luau stews and loco mocos for the local workers, kelaguen for folks hailing from Guam and salads for the “urbanized retro people.”

“What don’t I cook?” she quipped.

Pittman, who grew up in Waianae, says she’s had a lifelong passion for cooking. “It started with the Easy Bake, and being in the kitchen with Grandma. Working on the farm took me beyond just appreciating food, it helped me to know where it comes from — and that can benefit the way I cook.”

Pittman's attitude fits in well with Pili Group's — the company owned and run by Noguchi and his wife, Amanda, which oversees Lunch Box and other venues — corporate culture, which is: "You must be a good human being to be a good chef."

"If you look at Kelley's family, you can see why she is the way she is," said Noguchi. "If someone has a softball game, EVERYONE'S at the softball game. Kelley is very mature. She looks after her sisters; she's like the matriarch of the family.

"I think Kelley will get far. She's too young for us to see where her creativity will take her, but she will be instrumental to culinary in Hawaii. She will be inspiring to women in the field."

Read more about Pittman on Wednesday in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser food section.

Posted in Eating Out, Education, Farming, Food | Comments Off on Cooking up a big future

Raise a glass to function, beauty

By
March 20th, 2016



Georg Riedel, 10th-generation owner of Riedel crystal glassware, will host the Riedel Veritas Red Wine & Coca-Cola tasting seminar, a wine tasting and chocolate pairing, at the Halekulani on March 25.

Guests will try three varietals of red wine, Lindt white chocolates and Coca-Cola. The event will feature the company’s new grape varietal-specific glassware collection that’s designed to enhance the enjoyment of wine. Riedel is an industry expert in the importance of the glass to the wine experience.

The seminar runs 6 to 7:30 p.m. in the Halekulani Ballroom. Tickets are $95. The hotel is at 2199 Kalia Road. For more details and to reserve a seat, call 923-2311.

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