Feb 24, 2012

Rice in Hawaii

Chinese Laborers Arrive in Hawaii Circa 1889
Hawaii State Archives
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46,000 Chinese immigrants came to Hawaii from south China to work on sugarcane plantations between 1850 and annexation of Hawaii to the United States in 1898. Feeding them meant providing rice, not the poi they were feeding the Hawaiian laborers. At first rice had to be imported, but as the Hawaiian population declined, so did the demand for the taro from which poi was made. Taro patches became vacant. Like rice paddies, taro patches are carefully terraced and irrigated, and thus ideal for rice. The Chinese began growing rice in these patches. By the early 1860’s, rice was well established. By 1907 Hawaii had some 10,000 acres in rice and was experimenting with 130 different varieties. Only sugarcane surpassed rice as a crop.

The next wave of immigrants were the Japanese. They preferred Japanese rice, and California was growing it. By 1930, two thirds of California rice output was being absorbed by Hawaii. This rice was of the Japonica or Calrose variety. By the 1960’s rice farming was dead in Hawaii. Rice farming might have been dead, but rice was firmly established as Hawaii’s staple food. In Hawaii, every man, woman, and child eats an average of 60 pounds of rice a year compared to mainland Americans who eat only 9 pounds. Today rice is the staple food of more than one-half of the world's population.


Jook 咸蛋
Jook with Salted Duck Eggs
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Also known as Chinese Congee, a chicken rice soup, sometimes garnished with Chinese salted duck egg.

1/2 chicken
12 cups of water
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups rice
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 inch slice fresh ginger, crushed
3 green onions chopped

Cover chicken with water, add ginger, soy and salt, bring to boil. Reduce heat. Simmer for 1 hour until tender. Reserve broth.

Remove bones from chicken. Cut chicken into 1 inch pieces.

Place rice in pot with 10 cups of chicken broth to which soy and ginger has been added.

Bring to a boil. When boiling, reduce heat to low. Cook for at least an 1 hour, partially covered, stirring frequently. Soup is done when it reaches a porridge-like consistency. Remove crushed ginger.

Add minced green onion, more soy sauce and crushed red pepper as desired and serve.

Note: You can also garnish Jook with Chinese salted duck eggs (recipe), chopped bok choy, chopped watercress, chopped spinach leaves, or Chinese parsley (cilantro). Also turkey or pork works well in this recipe instead of chicken. Makes 8 servings.

Kabocha Squash Rice with Edamame
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.

Japanese Kabocha Squash Rice with Edamame
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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

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.

Hawaiian Spam Musubi 
Hawaiian Spam Musubi 
with pickled sweet Maui onions and ogo 
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The Spam musubi is perhaps the Hawaiian Island's favorite "to go" or snack food. Musubi (pronounced moo-soo-bee, with no accent) is a fried slice of spam on rice pressed together to form a small block, then wrapped with a strip of nori seaweed. Yes I know, Spam, is sometimes known as "Hawaiian Steak". Seven million cans per year are consumed in Hawaii alone. I am not a real big fan of Spam but I happen to love Musubi. It is delicious and makes a great pupu (appetizer).

3 cups uncooked Japanese medium-grain sushi rice
4 cups water
5 sheets of Nori (roasted-seaweed found in the Asian section of your grocery store)
1 (12-ounce) can Spam Luncheon Meat
Furikaki (Japanese condiment)
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup rice wine (mirin)

Wash rice, stirring with your hand, until water runs clear. Place rice in a saucepan with water; soak 30 minutes. Drain rice in colander and transfer to a heavy pot or rice cooker; add 4 cups water. If you don't have a rice cooker, place rice and water into a large heavy saucepan over medium-high heat; bring just to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes. Turn off heat and leave pan, covered, for 15 additional minutes.

Cut nori in half widthwise. Place cut nori in a resealable plastic bag to keep from exposing the nori to air (exposing the nori to air will make it tough and hard to eat).

Cut Spam into 8 rectangular slices approximately 1/4-inch thick. In a large ungreased frying pan over medium heat (Spam has plenty of grease to keep it from sticking), fry slices until brown and slightly crispy. remove from heat, drain on paper towels, and set aside.

In a small saucepan over high heat, add soy sauce, sugar, and rice wine; bring just to a boil, then remove from heat. Add fried Spam slices to soy sauce mixture, turning them to coat with the sauce; let spam slices sit in marinade until ready to use.

In a small bowl, add some water to use as a sealer for the ends of the nori wrapper; set aside.

Spam Musubi Press
Available at Amazon.com $1.15 + shipping
Using a Spam Musubi Press, place a piece of nori on a plate. Position press on top of the nori so the length of the press is in the middle of the nori (widthwise). The press and the width of the nori should fit exactly the length of a slice of Spam. (Note: If you don't have a musubi maker, you can use the empty Spam can by opening both sides, creating a musubi mold.)

Spread approximately 1/4 cup cooked rice across the bottom of the musubi maker, on top of the nori.

Press rice down with flat part of the press to compact the rice until it is 1/4-inch thick (add more rice if necessary). Sprinkle rice with Furikaki.

Place a slice of Spam on top of the rice (it should cover most of the length of the musubi maker), sprinkle Spam with more Furikaki.

Cover with an additional 1/4 cup cooked rice; press until 1/4-inch thick.

Remove the musubi from the press by pushing the whole stack down (with the flat part of the press) while lifting off the press.

Fold one end of nori over the musubi and press lightly onto the rice. Wet the remaining end slightly with water, then wrap over musubi and other piece of nori; press down on the other end. cut log into 4 pieces.

Repeat with the other 7 Spam slices, making sure to rinse off musubi maker after each use to prevent if from getting too sticky. Do not refrigerate musubi, as they will get dry and rubbery. Makes 32 musubi rolls.

Potluck Fried Rice
Potluck Fried Rice
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Potluck Fried Rice can be any combination you like, whatever you have in your refrigerator. This is how fried rice started in China, throwing together whatever you happen to have and making a delicious meal out of it. Most of the work is in the preparation. The cooking only takes minutes.

3 eggs scrambled into an omelet then cut into thin strips
canola oil for frying
1 1/2 cups leftover roast pork tenderloin cut into thin strips
oyster sauce
6 cups of cooked day-old long grain rice
Tamari soy sauce or regular soy sauce
1 cup green onions sliced thin, divided
1 clove of garlic, minced
1/2 cup celery, small dice
1/2 cup broccoli tops cut thin
1/2 cup red bell pepper cut into small 1/4" squares
1 1/2 cups bean sprouts or chop suey mix (bean sprouts mixed with carrots, etc)
sesame oil
sesame seeds or furikake for garnish
Japanese cucumber cut thin on an angle for garnish
seasoned rice vinegar

In a wok on low heat, scramble eggs in a little canola oil to make a small flat omelet like cake. Remove and cut omelet into 1/2" strips and set aside. Add a little more oil to the wok and turn the heat up to medium-high, add the roast pork strips. Cook and stir for a minute or so, then add one teaspoon each of oyster sauce and Tamari soy sauce. Cook and stir one minute more. Remove the pork and set aside. Add half the green onions, garlic, celery, broccoli, bell pepper, and bean sprouts to the wok. Toss, then season with 1 tablespoons of oyster sauce, one tablespoon of Tamari soy sauce, and one teaspoon sesame oil. Stir-fry for 2- 3 minutes, then remove. Add a little more oil to the wok and the cooked rice. Season the rice with 2 to 3 tablespoons of Tamari soy sauce. Stir-fry the rice until heated through. Now add the pork and vegetables back into the wok with the rice. When well mixed and hot, you are ready to serve.

Pack the rice into a small bowl like a cereal bowl. Put your serving plate on top of the bowl and carefully turn it upside down so the bowl is now on top of the plate. Remove the bowl for a rounded mound of fried rice. Garnish the top of the rice mounds with the egg strips and the other half of the onions. Sprinkle sesame seeds or furikake on top. Arrange thin slices of cucumber around the fried rice and sprinkle seasoned rice vinegar on top of the cucumbers. Sprinkle more sesame seeds on top of the cucumbers and the plate. Makes 6 servings. Note: Adding shrimp to this combinations of flavors would be a good thing, I just didn't have any when I put this dish together.

Garlic Ginger Rice
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2-3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 ounce fresh root ginger, finely chopped
1 cup Jasmine rice, rinsed in water and drained
3 3/4 cups chicken stock
1 bunch of fresh cilantro leaves, finely chopped
1 bunch of fresh basil and mint, finely chopped

Heat the oil in a wok or heavy pan. Stir in the garlic and ginger and fry until golden. Stir in the rice and allow it to absorb the flavors for 1-2 minutes. Pour in the stock and stir to make sure the rice doesn't stick. Bring the stock to the boil, then reduce the heat. Sprinkle the coriander over the surface of the stock with the finely chopped basil and mint. Cover the pan, and leave to cook gently for 20 to 25 minutes, until the rice has absorbed all the liquid. Turn off the heat and gently fluff up the rice to mix in the herbs. Cover and leave to infuse for 10 minutes before serving. Makes 4 servings.

Sweet Rice Pudding
5 cups whole milk,
1 cup short grain rice
1/2 teaspoon salt
water as needed
peel of 1 orange, without pith, in large pieces
1 cup sugar
ground cinnamon for dusting

Heat milk in 2 1/2 quart saucepan over medium-high heat until
little bubbles form around the edges and the milk starts to steam.

In a separate pan, add rice and salt. Add enough water to just cover the rice. Place the pan over medium-high heat, cover,and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and stirring constantly, cook the rice until the water evaporates, being careful not to burn it.

Stir the scalded milk into the rice and add the orange peel. Cover and simmer the rice for another 20 to 25 minutes, until it is almost done.

When the rice is tender, remove the orange peel and stir in the sugar. Continue to simmer for 5 more minutes until the sugar is dissolved. The pudding should be somewhat thick, like oatmeal. It will continue to thicken as it cools.

Pour onto flat serving platters or individual dishes. Garnish with cinnamon in the Portuguese style: pinching some cinnamon between the index finger and thumb, dropping it close to the surface of the rice by rubbing the finger and thumb together, in a design or initials of the guest of honor. Chill.

Serve chilled or remove from the refrigerator 20 minutes before serving. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

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