Aug 5, 2018

Easy Hawaiian Cooking Without Breaking The Bank

If you live in Hawaii then you know that it has the highest cost of living of any state in the union. People work hard to make ends meet, and having a large family makes life in Hawaii even harder. Top that with the fact that more and more people don't have the time or desire to cook for their families. This all may lead to meals that are not beneficial to your families health.

Hawaii is a state with a diverse ethnic groups, Hawaiians, Filipinos, Japanese, Portuguese, etc., most of whom came to Hawaii to improve their lives. They brought their ethnic recipes with them, some good for you and some not so good. So this is a collection of easy recipes to help all of you busy people enjoy cooking without breaking the bank.



Poi... For Hawaiian Baby Food
Wet-land taro field on the Hawaiian island of Moloka'i.
The other day I was sitting in my dentist waiting room. A Hawaiian couple was sitting across from me holding a young baby that looked very healthy. I introduced myself and asked her what she fed him and her husband said poi mixed with sweet potato.

Poi is the pounded root of taro, a sacred plant in Hawaii. The root is high in calories, very easily digestible, an excellent source of calcium and iron, and — that critical factor for infants — hypoallergenic. It turns out that many children in Hawaii are raised on poi and the National Institute of Health has recognized that it just might be the perfect baby food.

Taro, when cooked, takes on the flavor of what it is cooked with, like cooked sweet potatoes. The use of poi as baby food continues to be a popular practice in the islands, and local wisdom has it that "a chubby baby is a poi baby." Check out this website: https://parentinghealthybabies.com/taro-benefits/


Potato-Mac Salad with Surimi and Green Peas
There are many variations to this classic Hawaiian mac salad, but this is my favorite.

Ingredients:
1 pound package elbow macaroni pasta
3 large russet potatoes, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces
1 pound surimi (imitation crab), cut into 1 inch pieces
1 1/2 cups frozen peas (defrosted, no need to cook them)
1 cup celery (finely chopped)
1 cup shredded carrots
6 large hard boiled eggs (chopped)
2 tablespoons sweet relish
1/2 cup red bell pepper, finely chopped
1 teaspoon dried dill or 2 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped
3/4 cup chopped green onions (white and green parts)
3 cups mayonnaise
1 cup sour cream
1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper, or to taste
1 chopped green onion (white and green parts) for garnish

Procedure:
Boil macaroni and potatoes in separate pots, 10 to 12 minutes, or until cooked to your taste, drain & cool 30 minutes. Add all other ingredients to cooled macaroni and potatoes, in a large bowl. Gently stir to mix everything together. Keep cold in the refrigerator until ready to serve. The macaroni and potatoes will absorb the mayo, so you may want to make your salad a day ahead to let the flavors combine. You might also want to add more mayonnaise just before serving. Garnish with more chopped green onion.

Makes 16 generous servings.


Coleslaw with Lemon Dressing
This is a very easy salad to make and works as either a main course or a side salad.

Click on photo to view larger
Ingredients for Coleslaw:
2 cups finely sliced purple cabbage
2 cups finely sliced napa cabbage
2 cups shredded carrots
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
3/4 cup toasted pumpkin or    sunflower seeds

Ingredients for Lemon Dressing:
1/4 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice,
or to taste
1 tablespoon of fresh lemon rind zest
1 large clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup ketchup
1/4 cup honey
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Procedure:
In a medium serving bowl, combine the prepared purple and napa cabbage, carrots and parsley. Set aside.

Toast your seeds in a small skillet, over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the they are fragrant but not burnt.

To make the Lemon Dressing:
In a small bowl, combine everything, then whisk until thoroughly blended.

Drizzle the dressing over the slaw and toss until all of the ingredients are lightly coated. Taste and add an additional tablespoon of lemon juice if needed. Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Makes 4 to 6 side servings.

Note: This recipe makes a beautiful presentation as you can tell from the photo above. It can be served with a number of things, like pan seared salmon, as a side salad with broiled chicken, or barbecued pork ribs... yumm!


Opo Squash Soup  (Tabungao)
Opo - Long Squash
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Opo is a long pale green squash that is grown around the world, and locally grown here on Molokai. When peeled and the seeds removed, it makes a delicious soup. This Filipino recipe is one of the most popular recipes on TastingHawaii.com. Other nationalities also enjoy soups with opo, adding fish, or shrimp instead of pork or chicken, and the addition of lemon grass, sesame oil, and local spices for seasoning.

Ingredients:
Opo Squash Soup

1/4 cup canola oil for frying
1 1/2 pounds fresh boneless, skinless chicken thighs, or pork, sliced thin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
1 whole bay leaf, ripped in half
1/2 yellow onion, sliced thin
6 roma tomatoes, cut into chunks
2-4 cloves of garlic, crushed, peeled,
and minced fine
1 tablespoon minced ginger
4 cups cold water
2 tablespoons white vinegar
3 tablespoons fish sauce (nuoc mam or patis)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1- 2 pound small opo (long squash), peeled, seeded, and cut lengthwise, then cut into 1/4" slices (4 cups of cut squash)
cilantro for garnish (optional)

Procedure:
Heat a 6 quart pot or wok with cover. Add canola oil and heat until almost smoking. Add pork or chicken and stir fry. Brown and cook until medium well done, about 10 minutes on high heat. Season with salt, pepper, and bay leaf while frying. Add onions, tomato, and garlic. Continue to stir fry until vegetables are translucent and wilted. Add additional oil if needed. Add 4 cups of water to pot, cover and bring meat to a boil then lower heat to simmer. Simmer until meat is tender, about 20 minutes. Add fish sauce, soy sauce, and white vinegar to soup. Add squash to pot and cover. Simmer until squash is soft, about 20 minutes more. Add more pepper and fish sauce to adjust to your taste. Serve with white rice on the side or in the soup.

Makes 4-6 servings depending on whether you serve it as a first course or main course.

Note: I usually use chicken, dark meat, 2 wings, 2 drum bones, and 2 thighs. Leave the bones in the wok until stock is cooked, then remove the meat and bones, cut the meat into bite sized pieces and discard the bones, return chicken meat to stock, add the squash, fish sauce, soy sauce and cook for 20 minutes and serve with rice. The bones add flavor.


Portuguese Bean Soup
This is a delicious hearty rustic soup/stew, the way the Portuguese would have made it.

Ingredients:
Portuguese Bean Soup
Click on photo to see larger image

2 ham hocks
1 10-ounce mild Portuguese sausage, thickly sliced
1 chorizo sausage, peeled and broken into pieces
1 medium onion, minced
2 quarts water (8 cups)
4 potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 celery rib, chopped
2 large carrots, chopped
1 (15 ounce) can whole stewed tomatoes, broken with your hands
1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1/3 cup cider vinegar
3 to 4 cups cabbage, roughly cut
2 (15 ounce) cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Procedure:
Place ham hock, sausages, onion, and water into a large pot over high heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer for 1 hour, covered. Take ham hocks out and remove the meat, roughly chop, and return to soup, discard bones. Stir in potatoes, celery, carrots, stewed tomatoes, tomato sauce, garlic and vinegar. Cover, and continue simmering for 1/2 hour, stirring occasionally. Stir in cabbage and kidney beans, cook until the cabbage has softened, about 10 minutes. Taste, then add salt and pepper and more water if needed. Serve with a garden salad and fried bread (recipes below).

Makes about 10 servings.

Note: The photo above shows macaroni in the soup, many Portuguese soup recipes have macaroni in them. I decided to take it out of the recipe because it gets mushy, and I can't believe that the Azoreans used pasta in their soup anyway. If you still want to use it, use 2/3 of a cup of uncooked macaroni and put it in the soup with the potatoes.


Left Over Corned Beef Hash
I love corned beef and cabbage, but there are always leftovers. Not a problem in my house, I make corn beef hash with eggs for breakfast. All you need is a big skillet, in my case, a 10" cast iron skillet, but any skillet will do. Here's the simple recipe:


Ingredients:
Canola oil for frying
half an onion, chopped
2 small potatoes, skins on and chopped
left over corned beef, chopped into bite-size chunks (about a cup and a half)
1 small red bell pepper
salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon butter
2 large eggs

Procedure:
Put about 2 tablespoons of canola oil into a hot skillet. Add the chopped onions and potatoes. After a few minutes of frying, reduce heat to medium and add 1/4 cup of water and cover with a lid. Let steam 3 or 4 minutes then remove lid and add the corned beef and red bell pepper. Continue cooking on medium heat for a couple of minutes. Season with salt and pepper and stir. Make a hole in the middle of the skillet. Add a tablespoon of butter. When melted, crack two eggs in the center. Return the lid to the skillet, which will help cook the eggs a little without having to flip them. As soon as the eggs are done to your liking, serve with buttered toast and jam, with sliced fresh mango on the side.

Makes 2 servings.


Kabocha Squash Rice with Edamame
Japanese Kabocha Squash
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Portuguese sailors introduced the kabocha squash to Japan in 1541, bringing it with them from Cambodia. Today it is eaten all over the world, and is very common here in Hawaii. The sweet squash flavors the rice, and the edamame (soy beans) not only tastes wonderful, but add a nice contrast to the dish. Serve with chicken, pork, or fish.

Ingredients:
Japanese Kabocha Squash Rice with Edamame
1 1/2 cups short grain rice
3 cups water
1 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons sake (Japanese rice wine)
2 1/2 cups kabocha squash (peel and cut into 1 inch cubes)
1 1/2 cups cooked & shelled edamame (soy beans)
pumpkin seeds for garnish, optional

Procedure:
Put rice in a bowl. Wash and pour water out, then repeat 2 more times (this gets rid of some of the milky white starch on the rice which makes it sticky). Place rice and 3 cups of water in a heavy medium sized pot. Let it soak for 30 minutes. Meanwhile peel and cut the squash (I like to use a serrated bread knife because the tough to peel, so be careful). Set the squash aside. Just before cooking the rice, add salt and sake to the water and stir. Then add the cut kabocha squash to the rice and bring everything to a boil on high heat without a lid. When it reaches the rapid boil, put the lid on and reduce the heat to simmer for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the pot stand for 10 minutes (don't open the lid.) Fluff the rice, and cooked squash, with a spatula (the squash will be so soft that it will be mashed a little bit with the rice.) Serve and garnish with the cooked edamame, or perhaps pumpkin seeds, or both.

Makes 4-6 servings.


Fried Apple Banana Fritters
Fried Banana Fritters are popular all over Asia. It's important to use the right banana for this dessert. The Apple Banana here in Hawaii is perfect, with a sweet/sour flavor.  In my opinion this dessert/breakfast food is much better than Hawaii's iconic malasada, which is basically a fried doughnut hole.

These fritters are crispy on the outside, filled with a ripe apple banana chunk, that is tender and moist on the inside. Using ice-cold soda water helps the batter to get crispy, but you want to make sure that you don't put too much soda water in the batter, adding it slowly as you stir, keeping it thick. It's also a good idea to drain the grease from the fritters on a paper towel after they are fried so they are not oily, and use oil that has not been used before. Then simply dust with powdered sugar and drizzle with honey, very simple. Wait until you've tried these!


Click on photos to view larger


Ingredients:
3 ripe apple bananas, chopped into bite sized chunks
1/2 cup self-raising flour
1/4 cup corn starch
1 tablespoon rice flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 tablespoon canola oil (to add to batter)
1/2 cup club soda (ice cold)
Canola oil for deep frying
Powdered sugar for dusting
Honey for drizzling

Procedure:
In a large bowl, mix together the self-raising flour, corn starch, rice flour, cinnamon, salt, baking powder and 1 1/2 tablespoons of canola oil until smooth and thick.

Now slowly add the ice cold club soda and whisk gently just until well incorporated and smooth.

In a wok, or small skillet, heat one inch of oil on medium-high heat. While waiting for the oil to come up to temperature,  325˚F, begin dipping the apple banana chunks into the batter. Using a slotted spoon, test the temperature of the oil by carefully dropping a small bit of the batter into the oil. If the oil is hot enough, the batter should begin to bubble up and lightly brown within a few seconds.

Adjust heat to medium then carefully place the battered banana chunks into the hot oil, leaving enough room in between them to turn over. Fry on each side for just about 2 or 3 minutes or so until lightly golden brown. Drain on a paper towel lined cookie sheet. Repeat as necessary with remaining banana chunks. Keep the fritters warm in a 200˚F oven, this will keep them crisp.

Place warm bananas on a serving plate. Dust with powdered sugar and drizzle with honey before serving, or serve with vanilla ice-cream.

Makes 18 fritters depending on the size of the bananas.

Note: If you don't have self-rising flour, you can make your own by mixing 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon of salt with 1 cup of all-purpose flour. Also make sure your baking powder is current. Check the expiration date on the box. Baking powder can lose its potency over time, which means your baked goods won't rise as they should.