Aug 27, 2012

My Old Friends

Vintage Hawaiian Cookbooks
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I collect all kinds of cookbooks, new and old. The older ones are like "old friends" because they give me a glimpse into the past, the way people cooked years ago before celebrity chefs and the Food Channel. I like to think of it as a time when cooking meant all you had to concentrate on was preparing a delicious meal for your family, and perhaps a few close friends. The recipes were much simpler then, as life was. In those days it was more about family and less about making an impression on your guests. 

One of my favorite old cookbooks is from Hawaii, a 96 page book called "The New Wiki Wiki Kau Kau". Wiki Wiki means "quickly", and "Kau Kau"means "food" in Hawaiian, sort of like "30 Minute Meals" with Rachael Ray on the Food Network, except from a different era. This small book looks like it has been used many times, with worn corners and recipes marked with a pen so that the cook will remember to try it at a later date. It not only has recipes from long ago, but it tells the history of Hawaii, how to have a luau, make a lei, sew a muumuu, speak Hawaiian, and entertain simply. This collection of recipes were often very personal, with the names of the cooks, sometimes friends and sometimes family, in the title. Here are a few of my favorite recipes from my old friend "The New Wiki Wiki Kau Kau" cookbook, which was written by Totu Kay, and originally published by Mid-Pacific Press in 1952, I was only 8 then, helping my mother make ginger bread:

Poi Cocktail
2/3 cup milk
2 tablespoons strained poi
1 teaspoon powdered sugar
2 ounce jigger bourbon or brandy
Cracked ice

Combine all ingredients, except nutmeg, shake together in mixer. Strain and serve with a dash of nutmeg on top. Excellent for the morning after.

Bill Mullahey's Salted-Pepper Crabs
"While in Viet Nam at a Chinese restaurant, Bill, an "old hand" crab eater discovered this "new" way to do it. The crab legs and claws are cracked and then pan-fried in butter. The cracked and fried pieces are then placed on foil or a flat pan and liberally sprinkled with salt and pepper. Serve hot with a cold jug of beer or a light, white wine for the ladies. Lemon-water and a large napkin are a prerequisite."

Mahi-mahi Chowder   A meal in itself!
1 pound Mahi-mahi
2 large potatoes, cut in 1" cubes
1 large onion, chopped fine
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1 cup milk or cream

Cook mahimahi in water to cover for 10 minutes. Cook potatoes and onion together in boiling salted water. Add 1 cup potato-onion water to cream of mushroom soup diluted with 1 cup milk and heat together. Add potatoes and onion. Add flaked fish and heat together under low flame for 5 minutes.

Haole Luau Pork Pie
11/2 pound pork tenderloin
Clove garlic
1 tablespoon bourbon
1 cup chopped onion
4 cups sliced apples
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sage
11/4 cups pork gravy
3 cups mashed sweet potatoes

Cut pork tenderloin into thin strips and soak in garlic, shoyu and bourbon for 30 minutes. Saute with onion until cooked. Remove from pan and make 11/4 cups gravy with juices from cooking. Combine apples with pork and onions, season with salt and sage. Place in a 2-quart casserole; cover with gravy and top with mashed sweet potatoes that have been seasoned with salt, pepper and butter. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Serves 8.

Taro Shoots  Straight from the Taro Patch!
Taro shoots

Cut taro shoots into 2-inch lengths and cook until tender in boiling salted water. Serve with butter.

Breadfruit with Coconut Sauce
Ripe breadfruit

Pull out stem and place in bowl set in pan with 1 inch of water in it. Bake at 380 degrees for one hour to one and one-half hours. When cooked remove from oven. Open, remove core and peel off skin. Cut into segments, sprinkle with salt and pepper and put on some butter. Pour hot coconut sauce over it and serve.

Coconut Sauce
1 coconut
Lemon juice
Drain milk from coconut and grate coconut meat. Heat milk and grated coconut in double boiler for thirty minutes. Squeeze through several thicknesses of cheesecloth.

Note: Check out this website with photos, the recipe is similar:

Malinini Poi   Banana Bread Pudding
2 cups stale bread crumbs (no crust)
2 cups scalded milk
1 mashed banana
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup melted butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs slightly beaten

Soak bread crumbs in scalded milk and let cool. Add all other ingredients and bake in greased pudding dish for 1 hour at 325 degrees. When cool this is of a consistency that may be eaten with the fingers like poi.

Banana Nut Bread
This is an excellent recipe, and is so easy to make.

Banana Bread
Click on photo to enlarge
1 3/4 cups sifted flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons shortening
2/3 cup sugar
2 eggs, unbeaten
1 cup mashed banana
1/2 cup chopped nuts (I used pecans, but macadamia nuts would be good also)
3 tablespoons milk

Sift flour, baking powder, soda and salt together, Cream sugar and shortening together, add eggs and beat well. Fold in bananas, nuts and flour mixture. Add milk. Pour into greased 8 by 4 by 3 inch loaf pan and bake for 1 hour at 350˚F. Makes 10 servings.

Sea Foam Cookies
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup shortening
2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 pkg. grated coconut
1 teaspoons vanilla
Confectioner's sugar

Let butter and shortening stand until soft, then cream with sifted flour and sugar. Add vanilla and fold in grated coconut. Drop by teaspoonfuls on cooky sheet and bake at 300 degrees for 15 minutes or longer until cookies are softly browned. While still warm roll in confectioner's sugar.

Kulolo is a Hawaiian dessert made primarily with baked or steamed grated taro corms and either with grated coconut meat or coconut milk. Considered a pudding, kulolo has a solid consistency like fudge and is often served cut into squares. Its consistency is also described as chewy and lumpy similar to tapioca.

Traditional kulolo recipes call for wrapping the mixture in ti leaves and baking it in an imu (underground oven) for 6 to 8 hours. Modern recipes call for placing the mixture in a baking pan, covering it with aluminum foil, and baking in a standard oven for about 1-2 hours.

3 cups grated raw taro
1 cup fresh coconut, grated
1 cup coconut water (the liquid inside a coconut)
1 cup coconut milk
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

8-inch loaf pan
Heavy foil
2 tablespoons melted butter to grease the foil

Preheat oven to 400˚F. Line an 8-inch loaf pan with foil. Grease the foil with butter to prevent the pudding from sticking. Combine ingredients; mix well. Pour into prepared pan; cover with foil and bake 2 hours. Remove foil during last half hour of baking to allow the pudding to brown. Cool and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces. Makes 16 servings.

Coconut Bars
2/3 cups sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup flour
2 eggs, separated
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup grated coconut
1/2 cup chopped nuts

Sift sugar, flour, salt together, add eggs, one at a time. Fold in coconut and nuts. Pour into greased pan 8 inches square and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Cut at once into strips 11/3 inches wide and 22/3 inches long. When cool roll in confectioners sugar. Makes 18 bars.

Note: This book can still be purchased online. To see the first edition from 1954, visit this site:

Aug 22, 2012

Sipping and Savoring Sake

Hot Sake For Two
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From the early days of Japanese immigration to the present, Hawaii has been sipping and savoring sake. Today there is a great variety of delicious sake being served in restaurants in Honolulu and other parts of the state. Honolulu has more sake-serving restaurants per capita than any other city in the country. On July 20, 2012, the largest sake tasting event outside of Japan was held in Honolulu, called "The Joy of Sake". 10 judges from Japan and the U.S. evaluated aroma, taste, balance and overall impression for each sake entry. Sakes with the highest scores receive gold and silver awards, and all 360+ entries were available for tasting by the public. Obviously the popularity of sake in Hawaii is at an all time high.

What is Sake?
Sake is a 6,800 year old, all-natural fermented alcoholic beverage made from four main ingredients: rice, water, yeast and koji (malted rice) — an enzyme that converts starch into sugar, and lends a prominent and delightful flavor. Since water comprises 80% of the sake, local Japanese breweries pride themselves on the quality of their water. Sake is essentially brewed like beer but the end product is served like wine, with very similar alcohol content and tasting characteristics. Like wines, a sake can also be defined either as dry or sweet as its basic characteristics. The Nihonshu-do, or Sake Meter Value (SMV) is a measure of the density of the sake relative to water. It is a very general reference to the sweetness or dryness of a sake. There are five different grades of sake, all determined by the brewing method and quality of ingredients. Especially important is the level of seimei, the process of polishing the outer layers of rice. The protein and fats contained in the outer layers reduce the quality of the end result, and thus, the best types of sake are made with rice that has been reduced to 50% or more of its size.

Buying and Storing Sake
You may also come across sake labeled amaguchi (sweet) or karakuchi (dry), but this refers to the taste of the sake, not its ingredients or quality. What type of sake should you try? It depends on your taste, but Junmai-ginjo, (pure rice premium sake) is the most popular type of specialty sake in the West, appreciated for its light, fruity flavor. Junmai-daiginjyo (pure rice super premium sake) is drier, and represents sake at its best. Unlike wine, sake does not improve with age, and thus, freshness is important. Keep good-quality sake in a cool place, and once opened, make sure to keep it refrigerated and consume within a reasonable time.

Serving Sake
While regular sake is usually served warm, the premium types are best served chilled. This is because experts claim that each type of sake has its own distinct optimum temperature, but few people have such patience or knowledge. If you go to a specialty sake bar in Japan, you can be sure it will be served correctly. For serving cold sake, glasstokkuri and specially made sake glasses that amplify sake's refined fragrance are now popular. In the warm season, sake is often served in freshly cut green bamboo, fashioned into cups.

Cooking with Sake
Sake is not only fun to drink, but it is also delicious to cook with. You can poach with it, marinate with it, make salad dressings with it, anything you can do with wine you can do with sake. I suggest using a cooking sake called ryori in Japan. One brand I like to cook with is "Sho Chiku Bai Classic". It is the best selling brand of sake in the U.S., and sells for around $5.00 for a 1.5 LTR bottle at ClubBev.

Sake recipes:

"Roy's Saketini" – Sake Vodka Martini
"Roy's Saketini" – Sake Vodka Martini
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I was first introduced to this cocktail in San Francisco in 1966 by my friend Roy Omi. Roy's family owned a Japanese restaurant on California Street. I have found several recipes for Saketini's, but I like this one best. The hardest thing is finding the acitic and sweet tasting pickled ginger sprouts that garnish and flavor this drink. They are about 5 inches long, 1/4 inch round, and are colored red. They come in a 11.5 ounce jar of 25 sprouts, and are made by Wel-Pac, Hajikami, and are distributed by JFC International Inc, South San Francisco, CA. You can sometimes find them in Japanese grocery stores. Fortunately my son sends me a bottle of ginger sprouts every Father's Day, but I don't share.

2 1/2 ounces vodka, frozen (Tito's is my favorite)
1 ounce sake, chilled
1 pickled ginger sprout for garnish
1 cup crushed ice

Fill up cocktail shaker with ice until 2/3 full. Add vodka and sake and shake until ice cold. Take chilled martini glass. Strain and pour prepared saketini into glass and garnish with a pickled ginger sprout.

Make Your Own "Fresh Pineapple Sake"
1/2 ripe pineapple
2 cups water
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped out
1 cinnamon stick
1 bottle (24 ounces) premium (daiginjo or ginjo) sake
1 teaspoon lemon juice

Cut the rind off the pineapple, then cut the fruit crosswise into 4 pieces. In a large saucepan, heat the water, sugar, vanilla bean and seeds, and cinnamon stick over medium heat. When the mixture comes to a boil, add the pineapple and simmer for about 3 minutes. Remove the pineapple from the saucepan and let cool. Puree the pineapple in a food processor. Strain the puree and the contents of the saucepan through a fine-mesh sieve. Return the strained pineapple mixture to the saucepan over medium heat and boil until reduced by about two-thirds, 15 to 20 minutes. Cool. In a medium bowl, combine the cooled pineapple mixture and the sake. Add the lemon juice. Pour into a glass container and refrigerate. Serve well chilled. Makes 16 servings.

Sake Steamed Manila Clams
4 teaspoons sake
4 teaspoons mirin (Japanese sweet wine)
2 teaspoons rice vinegar
1 1/4 pounds Manila clams in shell, scrubbed
3 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1/4 cup yellow onion, minced
pinch of Togarashi spice blend, or to taste (Togarashi is a Japanese blend of cayenne, sesame seeds and seaweed. It is available at Asian markets)
1 green onion, chopped, for garnish

Heat a wok or large saucepan over high heat. Quickly pour in the sake, mirin and rice vinegar. Add the clams; cover and cook until the clams open, 3 to 4 minutes. Discard any clams that do not open. Remove any scum that forms on the surface using a spoon or paper towel. Stir in the butter, soy sauce, minced onion, and togarashi spice blend, tossing to coat the clams as the butter melts. Arrange clams on a serving plate and drizzle the sauce over them. Sprinkle with chopped green onions. Serve immediately. Makes 4 servings.

Steamed Opakapaka in Parchment Paper
Opakapaka is a wonderful deep-water snapper found in the waters around Hawaii. This recipe steams the fish fillets in sake, soy sauce and herbs. If you can't find opakapaka, use red snapper or sea bass.

1/2 cup sake
1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon grated peeled ginger
1 teaspoon sugar
6 (6-ounces) pieces skinless opakapaka fillet (about 1 inch thick), any bones removed
pinch of Togarashi spice blend, or to taste (Togarashi is a Japanese blend of cayenne, sesame seeds and seaweed. It is available at Asian markets)
1/2 cup sliced scallions

Equipment: 6 (12-to 15-inch) squares of parchment paper or foil; kitchen string

Preheat oven to 400°F with a baking sheet on bottom rack. Stir together sake, soy sauce, ginger, and sugar in a bowl. If fish fillets are more than 4 inches long, fold ends under. Put a fish fillet in center of each parchment square and season with 1/4 teaspoon salt (total). Working with 1 portion at a time, sprinkle fish with Togarashi spice blend and some of scallions and spoon some of sake mixture over top (hold up 2 corners of parchment to prevent liquid from running off). Gather sides of parchment up over fish to form a pouch, leaving no openings, and tie tightly with string. Bake on hot baking sheet until fish is just cooked through, 10 to 12 minutes. Serve with white rice. Makes 6 servings.

Octopus Rice (Tako-Meshi)
Tako-Meshi is a simple octopus rice dish that is popular in the regions bordering the Inland Sea in Japan.

2 octopus legs (boiled and chopped into small pieces)
2 tablespoons ginger, minced
1 1/2 cups short grain rice, rinsed
3, 4 inch pieces of dried kombu, (kombu is dried kelp, found in the Asian section of your grocery store. Soak it in water for 15 minutes before adding to rice)
3-4 tablespoons sake
2-3 tablespoons mirin (cooking wine)
2-3 tablespoons shoyu (soy sauce)
salt (to taste)
3 cups water
fresh shiso leaf for garish (if you can't find shiso, use chopped green onions)

Cut the cooked octopus into small bite sized pieces. Combine all the ingredients and simmer in a tightly covered pot for 18 minutes, or until there is no liquid left in the pot (it helps to add a weight to the top of the lid to avoid loss of steam, or use a rice cooker). After the rice is done, let sit for 10 minutes, then uncover, remove and discard kombu, and stir gently with a rice paddle or spoon. Serve in small bowls garnished with freshly chopped shiso leaves. Makes 4 servings.

Grilled Sake Marinated Chicken Thighs
8 large chicken thighs
1/4 cup sake
2 tablespoon oil
2 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
2 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoon soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon of Togarashi spice blend, or to taste (Togarashi is a Japanese blend of cayenne, sesame seeds and seaweed. It is available at Asian markets)

Place chicken in a glass dish. Combine sake, oil, sesame oil, ginger, garlic, soy sauce, and Togarashi spice blend in a small bowl. Pour mixture over chicken, cover and let marinate on the counter for 1 hour. Preheat grill for medium-high heat. Place chicken on a well oiled grill grate, making sure to reserve marinade. Baste with reserved marinade and cook for 6 minutes. Turn chicken, baste, and allow to cook for another 6 minutes. When juices run clear, remove chicken from grill and serve with rice and snow peas. Makes 4 servings.

Fresh Mango with Sake Cream
1/2 cup sake
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon brown sugar
dash of salt
1 tablespoon heavy cream
3 cups fresh mango slices
3 cups vanilla ice cream
1/3 cup sweetened coconut for garnish

To prepare sake cream, combine sake, butter, brown sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat; bring to a boil. Cook until reduced to 1/4 cup (about 4 minutes). Remove from heat; stir in cream. Gently stir in mango slices. Serve over ice cream and sprinkle with sweetened coconut. Makes 6 servings.

Aug 18, 2012

Please Pass The Limu

Limu Salad
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The Hawaiian word for seaweed is "limu". Limu was very important to early Hawaiians. More than 70 different kinds were used; eaten fresh, blended with other foods, used as spices, used as medicines, and even used in special religious ceremonies. In the olden times, limu was the third component of a nutritionally balanced diet consisting of fish and poi. While limu primarily supplied variety and interest, they also added significant amounts of vitamins and other mineral elements to the diet. A common part of the traditional Hawaiian diet, limu are still a common ingredient in foods here. Not only are limu sold in supermarkets, but original Hawaiian methods of preparation are still used. Limu are served as vegetables in stews, poke, and salads; as condiments, adding zest to the meals; and are an important source of minerals, and vitamins, including vitamins A, C, B12, and riboflavin. Other uses of limu worldwide include products that are used to thicken and smooth many foods and milk-products, as well as toothpaste, beauty creams, paints, and medical products like bacterial culture plates, time-released pills, and dental impression gels.

Seaweed is an underused sea vegetable here in the U.S. People initially think of it as "slimy", but when prepared well, seaweed is delicious and oh-so-nutritious. The most common seaweed that Americans know about is nori, which is a dehydrated and pressed sheet of dark green seaweed. The Japanese have been eating nori since 701 AD. Today approximately 10 billion sheets of nori are produced and consumed in Japan annually. In the U.S., nori is seen most often in sushi bars wrapped around rice with a delicious slice of raw fish. The other thing about nori is that it is easy to find in our grocery stores, usually in the Asian section. To find out more about types of dried seaweed and kelp, check out this Japanese website:

There are about 500 different species of seaweeds in Hawaii's waters alone, including 300 non-native species. Seaweed grows in tide pools off our rocky coastlines, on reef flats, and in between the branches of coral heads at deeper depths. Some are found as deep as 600 feet, but must live where some sunlight can reach them. Seaweeds are classified into three basic groups, green, brown, and red, based on the color of the pigments they have for photosynthesis. Seaweeds are different from land plants in that they don't need roots to draw water and minerals from the soil. Instead they act like sponges, and soak up all the minerals and trace elements found in sea water. When we consume these ocean vegetables, all the energy-rich nutrients are absorbed by our bodies and are easily integrated into our cells and tissues. Because seaweed and your body's mineral make up is similar, a daily diet of seaweed is the most natural way for us to re-mineralize, replenish any depleted nutrients, and rebalance internally to keep us in good, vibrant health! Give seaweed a chance and make it a part of your diet. Below is a growing collection of nutrition-packed recipes for you and your family to enjoy. In no time, you will be saying, "Please pass the limu."

Crisp Nori Chips
There's a tradition in Japan, Korea and elsewhere of eating nearly plain fried pieces of nori as a snack, a kind of potato chip alternative with almost no calories. 
1 package of nori sheets (found in the Asian section of your grocery store)
sesame seeds
sesame oil

Heat your non-stick skillet over medium heat. For easy application, brush the sesame oil on both sides of the nori sheet then sprinkle lightly with salt and sesame seeds. All it takes is about 15 to 20 seconds each side. Cut to bite-size pieces and it's ready! Another way to prepare this crispy snack is to lightly brush nori sheets with water, sprinkle with salt and sesame seeds, then fold it over on itself and bake for 15 minutes in a low oven. Then brush lightly with sesame oil and serve as an appetizer, or tossed into soups or salads for some crunch. 

Nori Wrapped Asparagus with Smoked Salmon
16 asparagus spears (about 2 bunches), woody ends trimmed
2 nori sheets
16 slices smoked salmon

Cook the asparagus in a large saucepan of boiling water for 2 minutes or until bright green and tender crisp. Refresh under cold water to stop the cooking process. Drain. Use scissors to cut each nori sheet in half to make two rectangles. Cut each rectangle crossways into 4 short strips. Wrap 1 slice of salmon around each asparagus spear, then wrap in a strip of nori, shiny-side up. Place, seam-side down, on a serving platter. Makes 16 wrapped asparagus appetizers.

Seaweed Salsa
3/4 cup ogo, finely chopped (ogo is a variety of seaweed)
1 cup tomato, seeded and diced
1 cup sweet Maui onion, diced
1 green onion, (chopped)
3 ounces mirin
2 ounces lemon juice
2 tablespoons ginger (minced)
3 ounces soy sauce
1 ounce sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon red chile flakes

Mix everything together and chill. Serve with fish. Makes 6 servings.

Limu Salad
Limu salad is easy to make but you will have to find the ingredients. It is a combination of flavors and textures creating a delicious mixed Asian main course or side dish, and is a very common and well-liked potluck salad here in Hawaii.
1 (16 ounce) package of linguini, break in 1/2, cooked according to package directions, drained
6 ounces seasoned taegu (Korean spicy codfish found in Asian markets)
2 Japanese cucumbers, sliced lengthwise, then sliced into thin half circles
16 ounces imitation crab (surimi), pulled apart into strings
8 ounces seasoned Ocean Salad (Ocean Salad is a seaweed salad that is flavored with sesame oil, it can be found in the refrigerated section of many grocery stores or in Asian markets)

You won't need all of this sweet and savory dressing, but it is great to keep in your refrigerator for other salads.
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon sesame seed oil
2 teaspoon sesame seeds, toasted, crushed

thinly sliced green onions at an angle
1 (1.9 ounce) bottle nori furikake (a sesame/nori seasoning found in Asian markets)

In a mixing bowl or jar, mix dressing ingredients, and refrigerate. In another bowl; combine linguine with taegu, cucumbers, crabmeat and ocean salad, refrigerate until ready to serve. when ready to serve, toss salad with dressing, as needed. Garnish with green onion and furikake. Serves 8-10.

Seaweed & Cucumber Salad
1 ounce mixed dried seaweed, such as dulse and sea lettuce
1 small cucumber
3 fluid ounces of mirin (Japanese cooking wine)
3 fluid ounces rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons caster sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice

Place the seaweed in a bowl, cover with cold water and leave to stand for 15-20 minutes to soften. Cut the cucumber in half lengthways, then slice it very thinly into half moons. Drain the seaweed and roughly chop any large pieces. Put the chopped seaweed in a bowl with the sliced cucumber. Mix the mirin with the rice wine vinegar and sugar and heat very gently in a small saucepan until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat and allow to cool, then add the lemon juice. Pour the dressing over the seaweed and cucumber and toss lightly. Serve in small mounds on individual plates.

Ahi Tuna and Avocado Salad 
with Wasabi Mayonnaise
This is a very simple and delicious salad recipe topped off with nori strips.
1/2 pound ahi tuna
1 ripe avocado
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons light soy sauce
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
wasabi paste to taste
1 sheet of nori, cut into very thin strips about 2" long

Dice the ahi tuna and avocado into 1 inch cubes. Whisk together the ingredients for the dressing and toss everything lightly together. Serve in 4 bowls and top with thinly cut nori strips. Makes 4 servings.

Miso Soup with Tofu and Wakame
In the Kamakura period (1192–1333), miso soups like this one, served with rice and pickled vegetables, became everyday fare in Japan. The most common flavor categories of miso are shiromiso, "white miso" and akamiso, "red miso". Wakame is a dried seaweed and Kombu is dried kelp, all can be found in the Asian section of your grocery store.
1/4 ounce kombu (dried kelp)
1 cup bonito flakes
1/2 ounce wakame (dried seaweed)
2 tablespoon akamiso
4 tablespoon shiromiso
7 ounce firm tofu, drained, rinsed, and cut into 1/4'' cubes
2 scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced

Wipe kombu with a damp paper towel, then place in a container, add 4 cups water, cover, and refrigerate overnight. Remove and discard kombu. Bring kombu stock to a boil in a medium pot over medium-high heat. Add bonito flakes, cook for 10 seconds, then remove pot from heat. Let stand for 2 minutes, then strain dashi (stock) through a sieve lined with cheesecloth or coffee filter. Discard bonito flakes. (If you're not using dashi immediately, it may be stored in a covered container in refrigerator for 1 week or in freezer for up to 1 month.) Put wakame in a bowl, cover with cold water, and soak until soft, about 10 minutes. Rinse well to remove salt. Cut away any hard ribs, then slice wakame into 1'' pieces. Pour dashi into a medium saucepan and bring just to a boil over medium-high heat. Whisk in akamiso and shiro-miso until they dissolve, then reduce heat to low. Do not allow soup to return to a boil. Add tofu and simmer for about 1 minute. Just before serving, divide wakame and scallions between 4 soup bowls, then fill each bowl with hot soup. Makes 4 servings.

Surimi Hand Roll
Surimi (imitation crab) is a delicious product, but is actually made of cod fish not crab, which makes the price right. When combined with the other ingredients in this recipe you will be surprised at how good these nori cones are.
12 half cut sheets of roasted nori
4 cups of medium grain rice (sushi rice)
1 Japanese cucumber cut into thin strips
1 avocado cut into thin slices
6 sticks of imitation crab (surimi) pulled apart into strings
4 tablespoons of mayonnaise
spicy chili sauce (I use Chinese 'Sriracha' sauce in moderation)
1 tablespoon of toasted sesame seeds
1/3 cup sushi vinegar (found at your local grocery store)

Cook rice. Transfer cooked rice into a large bowl and lightly flatten down. Sprinkle sushi vinegar over the rice and mix by cutting into rice and flipping over the rice. Fanning as you mix it helps to evaporate the moisture to give the rice a nice glossy texture. Place half of a sheet of cut nori in palm of hand, shiny side down. Spread sushi rice over the left side of the nori and spread a little mayonnaise, a little chili sauce, and sesame seeds. Top rice with imitation crab and vegetables. Starting at rice covered edge, roll to form a cone. Makes 12 cones.

Aug 15, 2012

Not All Onions Are Created Equal

Pickled Maui Onions with Ogo
Click on photo to enlarge
Onions are one of the most popular vegetables in the world. They come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. Some are strong and some are sweet. Sweet onions are usually large in size and round with a mild sweet flavor. Their mildness comes from their low sulfur content and high water content when compared to other onion varieties. Other varieties are known as "storage onions" because they can be stored longer. They are low in water content, more pungent, and they are usually cooked before eating. This category includes the yellow onion, white onion, red onion, Spanish onion, and Bermuda onion. Because sweet onions have a low sulfur content, they are not only milder and sweeter, but they cause less or no tears when they are cut. So now you know that "not all onions are created equal".

Here in Hawaii we are blessed to have sweet Maui onions, they are so sweet you can eat them like an apple. Sweet onions originally came from the Canary Islands, principally Teneriffe Island. In 1898, seeds from that island were planted in the city of Cotulla, in South Texas. The sweet onion crop was an huge success. Today these sweet onions are Texas' leading vegetable crop. There are many varieties of sweet onions including Vidalia, Walla Walla, Sweet Imperial, Texas Spring Sweet, Texas 1015Y, Carzalia Sweet, Oso Sweet, Arizona, Granex, and our wonderful Maui sweet onion. You may have noticed that many of these sweet onions are named after the locations in which they're grown.

Maui onions are one of the smaller varieties of sweet onions grown on the Hawaiian island of Maui. They are trademarked "Kula-grown" onions, and are grown at an elevation of approximately 3000 feet, in upcountry Maui, in a farming area called Kula. No other place on Earth is home to the rich, volcanic soil of Mount Haleakala. Farmers attribute the unique sweetness of the Maui onion to the red volcanic soil of this, dormant volcano. Typically, Maui onions are among the first of the sweet onion varieties to be available in the spring, around April. They have a rich golden yellow color and they typically grow in a slightly flattened shape. These onions are mild and crisp, so they're the onions of choice for slicing raw on burgers and sandwiches. Many islanders enjoy eating Maui onions raw, while others prefer to cook them, bringing about an even more intense sweetness. Grilled, the onions can be combined with other vegetables for kebabs, fried for onion rings, used in soups and dips, pickled, sautéed, and puréed into a variety of sauces. Are you getting hungry, try one of these sweet Maui onion recipes and stop your crying:

Maui Onion Recipes:
Pickled Maui Onions
I absolutely love pickled Maui onions. They are a great thing to have on hand to serve alongside fish, hamburgers, or whatever.

4 cups of cider vinegar
2 cup of caster sugar (very fine granulated sugar that dissolves quickly)
3 bay leaves
6 whole cloves
1 teaspoon of black peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
4 large Maui Kula onions

Peel, halve and slice the onions into bite size pieces. Add all ingredients except the onions into a stockpot (one that is non-reactive). Place the stockpot on the stovetop on high heat. Stir well with a wooden spoon to dissolve the sugar into the vinegar while it comes up the boil. Once the pickling liquid is boiling, add the onions. Stir the onions and allow the temperature to come back to a simmer. Once simmering, cook the onions for a further 20 seconds and then remove from the heat. Allow the onions to cool slightly before transferring them into glass jars. Once you have tightly packed in the onions pour enough pickling liquid over to cover them completely. Makes 3 cups.

Note: If you like a spicier pickled onion, you can add red pepper flakes into the pickling liquid. If you can't get Maui onions, use red onions, which will turn your onions pink. Pink is not one of my favorite colors. A lot of Hawaiians also add "ogo" to their pickled onions. Ogo is a brownish seaweed that grows within the reef here on Moloka'i, and adds a nice crisp texture.

Portuguese Pickled Onions
1 quart white vinegar
1 quart water
1/3 cup Hawaiian salt
4 pounds Maui Onions quarted
1/2 cup sugar
2-3 large carrots (optional)
1 large green bell pepper (optional)
Hawaiian chili pepper or red pepper flakes to taste

Bring vinegar, water, salt and sugar to a boil. Pour over onions (carrots and green pepper, if added). Use gallon container (glass) let cool. Refrigerate 1 month before eating.

Maui Onion Slaw
Serve this beautiful slaw on grilled fish tacos, or on the side with a hamburger.

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon mirin or sweet sherry
salt and freshly ground pepper
2 carrots, cut into thin matchsticks
1 Japanese cucumber—peeled, seeded and cut into thin matchsticks
1 package (2 ounces) radish sprouts
1/2 Maui Kula onion, sliced paper thin

In a medium bowl, whisk 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil and 1/2 teaspoon of soy sauce with the lime juice and mirin. Season with salt and pepper. Add the carrots, cucumber, radish sprouts and onion and toss to combine. Makes 4 servings.

Hearts of Palm Salad with Tomatoes, 
and Sweet Maui Onions
If you have never tried hearts of palm, you should. This is wonderful combination of flavors and textures for a delicious light lunch, or a side salad.

2 medium sweet Maui Kula onions, cut into 1/4-in.-thick wedges
2 pounds grape or small cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1 can (14.5 oz.) hearts of palm, drained and cut into thin disks
3/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

In large bowl, toss tomatoes with onions, hearts of palm, parsley, lime juice, salt, and pepper. Makes 8 servings.

Sweet Maui Onion Marmalade
This tangy-sweet relish pairs nicely with pork tenderloins, or serve it as an appetizer atop toasted baguette slices.

1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cups chopped Maui Kula onion
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup red wine
3 tablespoons raisins
salt and coarsely ground black pepper to taste

Heat butter over medium heat in medium heavy saucepan. Add onion and cook for 5 minutes, stirring often. Sprinkle with sugar and continue slowly cooking (you may need to turn heat down if onions begin to brown too quickly or burn) until onions are very soft and browned — 8 to 10 minutes. Add vinegar, wine, raisins and simmer until almost all of the liquids have evaporated and the onion mixture is glistening and syrupy — about 5 minutes. Makes 2/3 cup.

Beer Battered Maui Onion Rings
Who doesn't love fried onion rings, but made with sweet Maui Kula onions and crispy panko takes this recipe over the top.

1 1/4 cups flour
12 ounces red ale (beer)
1 tablespoon cornstarch
3 Maui Kula onions
Panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
oil -- for deep frying

Combine flour, cornstarch and salt and pepper to taste in large bowl. Whisk in ale until smooth. Cut onions into 1/4- to 1/3-inch-thick slices. Heat oil in deep fryer to 400F. Coat onion rings with batter, then sprinkle with panko. Gently add to hot oil without crowding pan and cook until golden brown. Remove with slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Season with salt while onions are hot. Makes 4 servings.

Maui French Onion Soup
This is one of my favorite classic soups, a rich addition to start your next dinner party whether you live on Maui or the French Riviera.

2 teaspoons olive oil
8 cups thinly vertically sliced Maui Kula onions
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup dry white wine
8 cups less-sodium beef broth
1/4 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
8 (1-ounce) slices French bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
8 (1-ounce) slices Swiss cheese (Gruyère, Comte, or Emmental)
Special equipment: 8 (8- to 10-oz) flameproof soup crocks or ramekins

Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onions to pan; sauté for 5 minutes or until tender. Stir in sugar, pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Reduce heat to medium; cook 20 minutes, stirring frequently. Increase heat to medium-high, and sauté for 5 minutes or until onion is golden brown. Stir in wine, and cook for 1 minute. Add broth and thyme; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 2 hours. Preheat broiler. Place bread in a single layer on a baking sheet; broil 2 minutes or until toasted, turning after 1 minute. Place 8 ovenproof bowls on a jelly-roll pan. Ladle 1 cup soup into each bowl. Divide bread evenly among bowls; top each serving with 1 cheese slice. Broil 3 minutes or until cheese begins to brown. Makes 8 servings.

Ultra-Thin Maui Onion Pizza
This is a thin pizza recipe because it uses large flour tortillas instead of pizza dough. My wife and I have flour tortilla pizzas all the time, once you have tried it you will love it.

olive oil
1 Maui Kula onion, halved and thinly sliced
pinch of sugar
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
2 large flour tortillas
1 cup shredded Asiago cheese (about 2 ounces)
2/3 cup ricotta cheese
6 button or cremini mushrooms, trimmed and thinly sliced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
parchment paper

Place racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Preheat the oven to 450°F. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a small sauté pan on medium hight heat. Add the sliced Maui onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions begin to soften. Add a pinch of sugar and the balsamic vinegar, cook for a few more minutes until the onions are thoroughly softened and translucent. Remove from heat. Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper and brush with olive oil. Place a tortilla on each baking sheet and lightly brush each with olive oil. Sprinkle each tortilla with half a cup of shredded Asiago cheese. Add bits of ricotta cheese, 1/3 cup for each tortilla. Sprinkle with mushrooms and with the slightly caramelized onions. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper. Place the baking sheets in the oven. Bake until the crust is crisp and brown all over (the time varies, depending on the oven and if your cookie sheet has already been heated, start with 10 minutes and check), rotating the sheets to ensure even baking. Cut with a pizza cutter or a knife. Makes 1-2 servings.

Grilled Chicken, Tomato and 
Maui Onion Sandwiches
This is an awesome combination of flavors that will bring you back for more.

3 ounces pitted mixed olives, 1 cup
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 teaspoons fresh oregano
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
freshly ground pepper
2 large tomatoes, sliced 1/3 inch thick
1 Maui Kula onion sliced 1/4 inch thick
4 crusty rolls, such as ciabatta sourdough or hero split horizontally, or use pita pocks
1 3/4 pounds chicken thighs, pounded thin between plastic wrap

Light a grill. In a mini food processor, pulse the pitted olives with the crushed garlic and oregano until chopped. Add the 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons of olive oil and pulse until finely chopped. Season with pepper. Brush the tomatoes, onion and cut sides of the rolls with olive oil. Grill the tomatoes and onion over high heat until they are softened and lightly charred, about 2 minutes for the tomatoes and 6 minutes for the onion. Transfer to a plate and season with salt and pepper. Grill the bread until lightly toasted, about 2 minutes. Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper and grill them over high heat, turning occasionally, until they are lightly browned in spots and cooked through, 5 to 6 minutes. Cut the chicken to fit the toasted rolls and top with the sliced tomatoes, sliced onion and olive relish. Close the sandwiches, cut them in half and serve right away. Makes 4 servings.

Creamed Maui Onion Gratin
Creamy sweet Maui onions surrounded by cheese with a crispy panko top, a wonderful side dish.

3 pounds sweet Maui Kula onions
3 tablespoons cream sherry
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole milk, scalded
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Kosher salt and pepper
1/2 cup panko (Japanese bread crumbs)

Preheat the oven to 375˚F. Lightly grease a gratin dish or medium casserole. Cut off the root and tip of the onions. Slice in half length-wise andpeel. Lay the cut-side of the onion down and slice length-wise into thick wedges. In a Dutch oven or heavy pot, melt two tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and caramelized, about 40 minutes. Add the sherry andsimmer until it evaporates. Remove the onions from the pan and pour through a fine mesh sieve. Let them drain while making the bechamel sauce. (Draining the onions prevents a runny gratinbecause the onions will continue to release more liquid in the oven.) In the same Dutch oven, melt 3 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Stir in the flour and cook for one minute. Add the scalded milk and cook, whisking constantly, until the sauce is very thick. Remove from the heat. Fold in the Gruyere and stir until completely melted. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Add the onions to the cheese sauce and toss to thoroughly coat. Pour the onion mixture into the gratin dish. Melt the remaining tablespoon of butter and toss with the panko crumbs. Sprinkle over the top of the onions and bake until bubbly and golden brown, about 30 minutes. Serve warm. Makes 6-8 servings.

Italian Tomato-Onion Crumble
This sounds like a dessert but it isn't. Serve this delicious tomato-onion crumble pie as a side dish, and your guests will know you can cook.

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 sweet Maui Kula onions (about 1 pound total), peeled and thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2 pounds ripe tomatoes, rinsed, cored, and sliced (1/4 inch thick)
1/3 cup chopped fresh basil
3 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano leaves
salt and pepper
4 slices crusty artisan-style bread cut into chunks
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

Heat oil in a 10- to 12-inch frying pan over medium heat. When hot, add onions and garlic. Stir frequently until onions are limp and beginning to brown, about 6 minutes. Pour into a 2- to 3-quart baking dish with sides at least 2 inches high, and spread onions level. Top evenly with tomato slices, basil, and oregano. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. In a food processor, whirl bread with butter and cheese until mixture forms coarse crumbs. Sprinkle evenly over tomatoes. Bake in a 350°F oven until topping is golden brown and juices are bubbling, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool 5 minutes and serve warm. Makes 8-10 servings.

Maui Onion Souffle
This savory dish is perfect as a side dish with prime rib, chicken, or pork.

6 large eggs
2 cups whipping cream
1 (3-ounce) package shredded Parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter or margarine
6 medium-size sweet Maui Kula onions, thinly sliced

Stir together first 3 ingredients in a large bowl, blending well. Combine flour and next 3 ingredients; gradually stir into egg mixture. Set aside. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat; add onions. Cook, stirring often, 30 to 40 minutes or until caramel colored. Remove from heat. Stir onions into egg mixture; then spoon into a lightly greased 13- x 9-inch baking dish. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until pudding is set. Makes 8 servings.

Aug 10, 2012

Tropical Shots

"Lilikoi Lifeline"
To view larger, click on photo
It's hot in the tropics and people get thirsty. That usually means cooling off with a cool drink, but sometimes it means a tropical alcoholic drink. When you think of that type of beverage you think of colorful fruity drinks with umbrellas and a slice of pineapple hanging off the side usually called Tiki Drinks. I like to keep it simple when I get thirsty, I like tropical shots. By tropical shots, I mean tropical cocktails that come in a shot glass. Short little shooters that knock you in the head, but taste like the tropics going down. There are literally thousands of tropical shots, and if you've floated down this road you probably have your favorites. One of mine is my "Lilikoi Lifeline", frozen Tito's vodka (my favorite brand from Texas), with fresh Hawaiian lilikoi pulp. 

July and August host the most beautiful lilikoi (passion fruit) on the Hawaiian island of Moloka'i. They hang off of vines waiting for locals to pick them and make all kinds of tropical goodies, like jellies, cakes, pies, ice cream and desserts of all kinds. If you haven't seen or tasted lilikoi, you've really missed something. They are shiny and yellow when ripe, about the size of a lime. You simply cut them in half and scoop out the pulp and eat it, seeds and all. They taste sweet and sour at the same time. The next time you're on Moloka'i, give my "Lilikoi Lifeline" a shot, or one of my other favorites below.

Tropical Shot Recipes:
Lilikoi Lifeline
1 ounce Tito's Vodka, frozen
1 ounce of lilikoi pulp

Cut a lilikoi in half and spoon half of the pulp into a shot glass, seeds and all. Pour frozen vodka on top and give the lilikoi pulp a little stir with a chopstick. Very easy!

Ahi Poke Punch
1 lime wedge
1 or 2 cubes of raw, sushi grade ahi tuna, chilled
1 pinch of minced green onion
1 dash sesame oil
1 dash soy sauce
1 ounce Tito's vodka, frozen
1 pinch of wasabi fumi furikake rice seasoning

Squeeze the lime juice into a shot glass. Slide a square or two of ahi tuna into glass. Add the remaining ingredients and top off with frozen vodka and a pinch of Japanese rice seasoning. Repeat as needed.

Sake Oyster Shooter
1/2 tablespoon Japanese cucumber, minced
1 small oyster, shucked, save liquor in the shell
1 tablespoon top quality, chilled sake
1 lime, zested

Fill shot glass with 1/2 tablespoon cucumber. Top with oyster and oyster liquor. Top that with 1 tablespoon chilled sake and garnish with lime zest. Serve in a bed of crushed ice.

Lychee Sweetie
1/2 oz SOHO Lychee Liqueur, chilled
1/2 oz 100% blue agave silver tequila, chilled
1 can of lychee, chilled

Pour the ingredients into a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake well. Put one lychee into a shot glass and pour over lychee and serve immediately.

Aug 8, 2012

SESAME SEEDS, The First Recorded Seasoning In History

Sesame Plant
It is widely naturalized in tropical regions around the world 
and is cultivated for its edible seeds, which grow in pods. 
Click on photo to view larger
The sesame plant, originating in Africa as early as 1500 BC, was the first recorded seasoning in history. Today it is cultivated in Central America, India, Sudan, China, and the United States. It is an annual that grows three to six feet high. Its stems have white, lilac or pink flowers and bear capsule-like fruit, which contains the seeds. The fruit is harvested by hand, and the capsules shatter when fully ripe, releasing the seeds. Hulled seeds are pearly white, tear-shaped and flat. Because of their oil content, sesame seeds have a shelf life of about two years if stored tightly capped in a cool, dry place or in the refrigerator.

Babylonians used the oil to make sesame cakes, wine, brandy, and toiletries. Sesame has been cultivated for its seed and oil since ancient times in the Old World. Sesame arrived in China around the early Han period, where the grain was enjoyed by Emperor Ling (168-188 CE). Today in china, two types of sesame seeds are used: white and black. Both forms are popular in Chinese sweets, often to form a nutty coating for texturally chewy yet crunchy deep-fried snacks such as deep fried glutinous rice flour balls; or mixed with crushed peanuts for filling or dressing for sweet snacks.

There are many ancient sesame confections in Middle Eastern and Greek cuisines which can still be found today in stores specialising in foods of these regions. Both sesame paste and sesame oil are used in Middle Eastern, Central and Far East Asian cuisines. Their oil is cold-pressed, giving a light to golden coloured oil with a nutty flavor. It has a high smoke point, making it a good cooking oil. Chinese and Japanese sesame oils are made by pressing roasted white sesame seeds. The resultant oil has a much more pronounced flavor with regional variations in color (from light honey to dark brown) with a toasted sesame seed flavor. Sesame paste is made from grinding toasted sesame seeds. The Middle Eastern paste, tahini (or tahina), differs from the Chinese versions in that the seeds are roasted to a greater degree in the latter.

Burger King Sesame Seed Hamburger Bun

Sesame seeds are rich in calcium, vitamins B and E, iron, and zinc, and are high in protein and contains no cholesterol. It has been used for its healing properties for thousands of years. It also has been shown to have a cholesterol-lowering effect in the body, enhance the immune response, and decrease the risk of certain cancers. It has natural antibacterial and antiviral properties, and is used as a natural anti-inflammatory agent.

Last year alone, the United States imported more than 102 million pounds of sesame seed, the majority of which were put on top of hamburger buns.


Grilled Pork Tenderloin 
with Honey and Sesame Seeds
I've made this recipe many times and it's so good that I put it into my first cookbook! The marinade gives the pork a wonderful flavor, then the toasted sesame seeds really finish this off nicely.

3/4 pound pork tenderloin
1/2 cup soy sauce
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon sesame oil
4 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons brown sugar
4 tablespoons sesame seeds

Combine soy sauce, garlic, ginger and oil. Place in a zip-lock bag with tenderloin. Toss to coat and marinate in the refrigerator for 3 to 6 hours, turning occasionally.

Remove the tenderloin and discard marinade. In a shallow plate mix together honey and sugar. Roll the tenderloin in honey mixture, coating all sides. Roll tenderloin in seeds to cover meat.

Place the tenderloin in a preheated grill for 20 to 30 minutes, turning 2 or three times, until meat thermometer reaches 155˚F. Slice and serve. Makes 4 servings.

Sesame Snow Pea & Tofu Stir-fry
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons mirin or dry sherry
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon rice vinegar
3/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons peanut oil
1 pound firm tofu, patted dry and cut into large dice
3 medium shallots, thinly sliced
4 medium garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 pound snow peas
1 tablespoon white sesame seeds
Basic Steamed White Rice, for serving

Whisk together soy sauce, mirin, sugar, cornstarch, vinegar, and red pepper flakes in a small, nonreactive bowl; set aside.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large frying pan over high heat. When it smokes, add tofu and cook until golden brown on all sides, about 3 minutes. Remove to a plate and set aside.
Reduce heat to medium, add remaining 1 tablespoon oil, shallots, and garlic and cook until starting to brown, about 1 minute. Add snow peas and sesame seeds and cook, stirring frequently, until peas are bright green, slightly softened, yet still crisp, about 5 minutes. Add reserved tofu and soy sauce mixture and cook just until tofu is warm and sauce has thickened slightly, about 1 minute more. Serve immediately over steamed rice. Makes 4-6 servings.

Grilled Ahi with Sesame Crust
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup chopped scallions
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon ground fresh ginger
4 tuna steaks, about 6 ounces each
1/2 cup sesame seeds, white and black combined, or white only
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch

In a large zip-top bag, combine soy sauce, chopped scallions, lemon juice, sesame oil and fresh ginger. Swish around in bag to combine. Add tuna steaks, turning within bag to coat, and marinate in refrigerator for about 20 minutes.

Preheat contact grill to "Sear" or highest temperature setting. Place sesame seeds on a plate. Remove tuna steaks from marinade bag, brushing scallions off the steaks and reserving marinade. One at a time, coat the steaks in sesame seeds on all sizeds, pressing the seeds into the steak so they'll stick.

Spray the grill plates lightly with nonstick spray and place the steaks on the grill, closing the cover so the top grill rests evenly on the steaks. Grill for about 3 minutes (longer if you prefer your tuna cooked through). Remove from grill and keep warm.

Meanwhile, pour marinade into a small saucepot and bring to a boil. Add cornstarch, stirring with a whisk. Cook for about 3-4 minutes, until sauce thickens. Drizzle tuna steaks with sauce before serving. Makes 4 servings.

Sesame Vinaigrette
Sesame vinaigrette is wonderful on a salad. Try fresh mango slices, tomatoes, and slivers of red onion on a bed of watercress, topped off with a few tablespoons of sesame vinaigrette and toasted sesame seeds. Or roast some beets, slice them and drizzle with sesame vinaigrette, serve beets while they are warm. Or blanch some asparagus in salted boiling water for a couple of minutes, run cold water over them to stop the cooking process. Pour sesame vinaigrette over them and sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds. Or use it in a potato salad with roasted red peppers and hard-cooked egg.

1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
2 medium garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice (from about 2 medium limes)
2 tablespoons mirin (Japanese sweet cooking wine)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon white miso (You can find miso paste refrigerated at most grocery stores)
1 anchovy fillet
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
1 red Thai chile, seeds and ribs removed and finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon togarashi (Togarashi powder, a Japanese mixture of spices that always contains chiles, can be found in ethnic markets. (It may also be labeled shichimi togarashi.)

Heat the sesame oil in a small frying pan over medium heat until shimmering. Add the garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Scrape the oil and the garlic into a blender. Add the olive oil, lime juice, mirin, soy sauce, miso, anchovy, and sugar and blend until smooth. Remove to a small bowl, add the sesame seeds, chile, and togarashi, and stir to combine. Makes enough for 6 salads.

Sesame Rice Crackers
1 1/4 cup rice flour
1/4 cup sweet rice flour
1 cup roasted sesame seeds
3 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari
3 teaspoons sesame oil
1 cup warm water

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Mix everything together in a mixing bowl. The dough shouldn't be too sticky and should come together. You can add a little more rice flour if it seems too sticky and wet. Let the mixture sit for five minutes.

Spray a large baking sheet. Take teaspoon size pieces of dough and roll in to balls. Take a small square of oil sprayed parchment paper and press the ball on to the pan. You can use your hands, or you could use a heavy glass. You want the cracker dough to be very thin, but you don't want it to rip. Even if it rips though, it's still tasty. The crackers do shrink a little in the oven - so it's ok if your dough rounds are touching. Bake in oven for around 15-17 minutes. Check to make sure they don't burn. Cool on rack.

Sesame Coconut Bars
Ingredients for the cookie base:
4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 1/2 ounces (1/2 cup) raw brown sugar or organic sugar
6 ounces (1 1/2 cups) whole-wheat pastry flour, sifted

Ingredients for the sesame-coconut layer:
1 ounce (1/4 cup) whole-wheat pastry flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 eggs
1/2 cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 ounces (1/2 cup, firmly packed) unsweetened shredded coconut
1 to 2 ounces (1/4 to 1/2 cup) sesame seeds, coarsely ground

Make the cookie base. Butter a 9-by-13-inch pan and line with parchment. Butter the parchment.

Cream the butter with the salt and sugar. Add the sifted flour and blend together. Using your hands, press out the dough over the bottom of the parchment-lined pan in an even layer. Using a fork, make holes all over the surface of the dough (this is called docking). Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350˚F.

Bake the cookie base for 20 minutes, until it is just beginning to brown. Remove from the heat and cool for at least 5 minutes before topping.

Sift together the flour and baking powder. Beat the eggs with an electric mixer or whisk until light and thick. Add the honey and vanilla and beat until well blended. Add the flour and baking powder and beat to blend. Add the coconut and sesame seeds and stir together. Spread in an even layer over the cookie base, scraping out every last bit with a rubber spatula. Place in the oven and bake 20 minutes, until the surface is just beginning to color. Remove from the heat and allow to cool before cutting into squares. Makes 18 to 20 squares.

Sesame-Honey Gelato
Gelato is the Italian word for ice cream, but there's not as much fat in gelato as ice cream, so it doesn't coat the mouth in the same way, and the flavors are more intense.

2 3/4 cups whole milk
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1/8 teaspoon fine salt
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons nonfat dry milk
2 tablespoons sesame seeds

Set a fine-mesh strainer over a medium heatproof bowl; set aside.

Place 2 1/4 cups of the milk, the cream, honey, corn syrup, sesame oil, and salt in a medium saucepan over medium heat and cook, whisking frequently, until the mixture begins to steam but does not come to a boil, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine the remaining 1/2 cup milk, cornstarch, and dry milk in a small bowl and whisk until smooth and the dry ingredients have dissolved.

When the mixture in the saucepan is ready, whisk in the cornstarch mixture. Reduce the heat to medium low and bring to a boil, stirring constantly with a spoon or rubber spatula until thickened, about 8 minutes.

Pour the mixture through the strainer into the bowl and discard the contents of the strainer. Press a sheet of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the mixture to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until completely chilled, at least 4 hours.

Meanwhile, place the sesame seeds in a small frying pan over medium heat and toast, shaking the pan occasionally, until fragrant, about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the pan from heat and set aside.

Freeze the gelato base in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. While the gelato is still in the bowl of the ice cream maker, fold in the reserved sesame seeds with a rubber spatula. Serve immediately for a soft gelato, or transfer the mixture to an airtight container and freeze until solid. Allow the gelato to sit at room temperature for 15 minutes before serving if frozen solid. Makes about 1 quart.

Aug 7, 2012

Hawaii Loves Cabbage

From Polish golabki (cabbage rolls), to Korean kimchi (pickled vegetables), cabbage is enjoyed around the world. China is the leading producer of cabbage, followed by India and Russia. People have eaten cabbage for more than 4,000 years, and it is considered one of the most popular vegetables in the world. Here in Hawaii, head cabbage is an important vegetable crop, ranking third, behind cucumbers and tomatoes. Because Hawaii's cuisine is heavily influenced by Asia, cabbage dishes like kimchi are very popular here. Bok choy, and napa cabbages are also regularly used in stir-fry dishes in Hawaii. There are many varieties of cabbage, but the most popular are, savoy with green leaves, Napa, which has pale green to white leaves, red cabbage, and bok choy (Chinese cabbage) with white stems and dark green leaves. 

Cabbage has been known throughout the ages, both for its nutritional values, and for its medicinal values. It has recently become recognized that it can reduce the risk of certain forms of cancer (such as colon cancer and breast cancer). Cabbage is low in calories and an excellent source of vitamin C and B, which increases metabolism, thereby helping the body burn off fat. Because of this, it is commonly used in dieting programs. When shopping for cabbage, look for brightly colored leaves with crisp, moist looking edges, fresh looking cut ends without browning, and heads that feel heavy for their size. Cabbage is actually better for you when it is eaten raw, because when it is cooked, it begins to loose its beneficial vitamins. For a crisper cabbage for salads, shred the cabbage and soak it in salted ice water for 15 minutes and then drain. Cabbage belongs to the cole crop family (Brassica oleracea), which includes broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, collards, kale, and kohlrabi. Three popular cabbage varieties grown in Hawaii are kai-choy, (which is the Asian ethnic nickname for mustard cabbage), savoy and red cabbage. 
Portuguese Cabbage
Couve Tronchuda
Photo courtesy of Ecoseeds

There is also a forgotten variety called Portuguese cabbage, which once flourished in backyard gardens here in Hawaii. This cabbage, actually it's kind of a cross between cabbage and kale, is not the standard tight head variety, it has bright green, broad-leaves, that grow outward from a central stalk in a spiral fashion. It is used in Portuguese bean soup, and is the main ingredient in the national soup of Portugal, caldo verde ("green soup"). A traditional Brazilian dish called Feijoada, also uses Portuguese cabbage. Feijoada is a combination of ham hocks, linguica sausage, pork ribs, cubed beef stew meat, carne seca (an unspiced, salted, partially air-dried piece of meat), and black beans, seasoned with bay leaves and garlic. It is slowly cooked and served with collard greens, kale or Portuguese cabbage, which is boiled with garlic and chicken stock. Rice is served on the side with segments of orange. A good recipe for this dish can be found online at:

Seeds for Portuguese Cabbage and other cabbage varieties can be purchased from Redwood City Seed (650-325-7333,, or at Kitchen Garden Seeds (860-567-6086,

Grelos (Portuguese Fried Greens)
This is a traditional Portuguese recipe for a classic dish of Portuguese cabbage or collard greens fried in garlic-flavoured oil.
2 pounds Portuguese cabbage, collard greens or kale
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 large garlic cloves, minced
salt and pepper to taste

To make grelos, remove coarse stems from greens and wash and dry them. Roll washed Portuguese cabbage or collard green leaves into a tight cylinder and cut very thinly across the grain. Pour a little olive oil into a frying pan. Saute 3 minced garlic cloves over low heat until golden 10-12 minutes, add cabbage and stir-fry 2-3 minutes over high heat, just until greens wilt and are nicely glossed with oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, toss again and taste for seasoning. Serve immediately. Note: Some recipes call for thinly sliced onion, which would be sauteed with the garlic. If you use kale, you need to cook it longer and add 1/2 cup or so of boiling water or chicken broth with the vegetable, so it cooks through. Makes 4-6 servings.

Baby Bok Choy with Toasted Sesame Seeds
2 baby bok choy
sesame oil
sesame seeds

Vertically slice 2 baby bok choy in half. Mix the 4 halves in a bowl with 2 tablespoons of sesame oil, place face down in a small roasting dish covered with aluminum foil. Place this in the oven, cooking at 300˚F for 1/2 hour. Remove the aluminum foil the last 10 minutes and turn the vegetables over. Toast 2 tablespoons of sesame seeds in a dry skillet over medium heat for about 5 minutes to release their flavor. Stir to be sure the seeds do not burn. Sprinkle over the bok choy and serve immediately. Makes 4 servings.

Steamed Chinese Cabbage Wraps
8 large cabbage leaves
3 wood ear/tree fungus, soaked in warm water
3 dried black mushrooms, soaked in warm water
2 cups cooked dark chicken meat, sliced thin
1 shredded carrot
3 shredded water chestnuts
2 Tablespoons shredded ham (optional)
2 cups chicken stock
1 Tablespoon corn oil
2 teaspoons water
1 teaspoon cornstarch

Boil cabbage leaves a minute to soften. Soak the mushrooms and wood ears separately, each for thwenty minutes in warm water. Discard the stems and shred them. Bring stock to a boil, lower heat and simmer. Parboil the chicken in the stock for ten minutes. Remove the meat, let cool, and shred it. Keep the soup for later use. Heat a wok, add oil and stir-fry the mushrooms and tree/wood ear fungus until fragrant. Add carrots, water chestnuts, and ham and cook until any liquid has evaporated. Mix in shredded chicken and thicken with cornstarch mixed with cold water. Divide the mixture into eight equal portions and roll each into a cabbage leaf. Then steam them over high heat for five minutes, remove, and serve. Makes 8 servings.

Cabbage, Green Chilies, and Coconut
1 small green cabbage, about one and a quarter pounds
4 fresh green chili peppers
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
2 Tablespoons corn or canola oil
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 hot red chili pepper, halved
a few curry leaves (optional)
3/4 cup freshly grated coconut

Cut the cabbage in half. Cut out the thick core and cut the leaves finely, as you would for coleslaw. A food processor will do this job very well. Place the shredded cabbage in a colander, rinse it under running water, and drain. Cut the green chili peppers into thin strips and combine them with the cabbage, then sprinkle the salt and turmeric over the shredded cabbage, and mix well. Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed wok or medium to large skillet and add mustard seeds. When they start spluttering, add the red pepper, curry leaves, and cabbage, and stir-fry for a two or three minutes. Reduce the heat to low, sprinkle a tablespoon of water over the cabbage and cover the pan. After two minutes, remove the cover and stir gently. Sauté cabbage for five to eight minutes more, stirring occasionally. When the cabbage is well cooked, sprinkle the grated coconut on top and stir gently, then serve when hot. Makes 6-8 servings.

Pineapple Cabbage Salad
1 pound Napa cabbage
1 cup celery chopped
1 green pepper cut into strips
1 red pepper cut into strips
1 cup fresh pineapple or one 8.25 can pineapple chunks
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon salad herbs

Dressing Ingredients:
1 cup plain yogurt
2 tablespoons sour cream
3 tablespoons milk

Put cabbage in large bowl. Add celery, green peppers, red peppers, pineapple, pecans, salt, pepper and herbs. Mix yogurt, sour cream and milk together until consistency of heavy cream. Pour over salad right before serving. Makes 6 servings.

Aug 3, 2012

Slip Me Some Tongue!

Spiced Beef Tongue Lettuce Wraps
To view larger, click on photo
While beef tongue may not be a very common dish on your menu, this rich cut of meat is enjoyed in many parts of the world, and is quickly becoming very popular in high-end restaurants here in the US. Beef tongue's delicate texture and flavor is similar to brisket and corned beef. The other good thing about it is, it's usually pretty cheap! The hurdle with cooking beef tongue is psychological, probably stemming from the fact that it's a tongue, and a big one, and you have to handle it in order to cook it. That's why many people turn their noises up at it and say "I don't eat things like that". That's fine, more for the rest of us. Not only Beef tongue, but organ meats in general are becoming part of the "offal" movement that's sweeping the nation. Offal is back on the scene just as a cash-strapped America needs ideas for cheap meals. The stewed gizzards and scrambled brains that helped our forebears survive the Great Depression are getting a new lease on life. Whatever goes around comes around, and that's the offal truth. Here are a few delicious, and economical recipes for all of you neophytes to put your taste buds around and get out of the same ol' same ol' mind set.

Spiced Beef Tongue Lettuce Wraps
This appetizer recipe is my light version of Chinese "Moo" Shu Pork, no pun intended. Because this is a Chinese inspired recipe, the cooked meat can be served in different ways, in many different Asian dishes. For example, you could slice the tongue into 1/4 inch slices, then serve it with eggs, gravy and rice, Loco Moco style, or replace tongue for Spam in Musubi, or use tongue to replace Spam in any other recipe. It's much more economical ($2.69 per pound at Friendly Market on 7/31/12), and you know what's in it.
3 pound fresh beef tongue
1/2 cup soy sauce
3 slices fresh ginger
2 star anise
1 tablespoon sugar
3 tablespoons Shaoxing Chinese cooking wine, dry sherry, or Mirin
1 teaspoon salt

2 ounce bag of bean thread noodles
3 tablespoons sesame oil
leaf lettuce, red or green
Hoisin sauce, found in the Asian section of your grocery store
roasted sesame seeds

Rinse and scrub tongue under cold water to clean it. Place tongue in a large pot or Dutch oven and add soy sauce, ginger, star anise, sugar, sherry, salt and water to cover by one inch. Bring this to a boil, cover it and SIMMER for about three hours, or 50 minutes per pound. Check for doneness by piercing the thickest part with a knife. It should enter easily when the tongue has cooked. Remove tongue from cooking liquid and let cool slightly, so you can handle it. Important Note: Tongue needs to be skinned while it is still warm. If you allow to much cooling, it will be difficult to peel the skin off. When still very warm but not hot, the meat will almost fall off the meat. Trim gristle and bone from large end and skin the tongue. Discard both the skin and the cooking liquid. You are now ready to slice the tongue diagonally against the grain, into thin slices, then slice again into thin sticks. Set aside to cool.

Next, heat a pot of water with about 1 teaspoon of salt. When almost heated to a boil, add the bean thread noodles, and turn off the heat. Let it sit there for about 5 minutes, stirring once or twice to separate the noodles, then drain and let completely dry. Cut cooled, dry noodles into short pieces with kitchen sheers, and drizzle with sesame oil. Toss and taste the noodles, add more salt if needed. Pick small lettuce leaves, about 5 inches long and slice off thick end. Place noodles into each lettuce leaf, then place a small amount of sliced beef tongue on top of noodles. Spoon a small dab of Hoisin sauce on top of beef and sprinkle roasted sesame seeds on top. Makes about 8 servings, however there is enough meat left over to make plenty more if you like, or use it for something else.

Mexican Braised Beef Tongue
Because beef tongue can be flavored in so many different ways during the cooking process, the possibilities are endless. The end product of this recipe makes a wonderful Mexican inspired meal. Ingredients:
1 beef tongue, approximately 3 pounds
2 onions, one (1) quartered and one (1) finely chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil or vegetable oil
3 cloves garlic, crushed
5 large tomatoes, skinned and diced
1 sprig of fresh thyme, finely chopped (about 1 tablespoon), if using dried thyme, decrease to 1 teaspoon and crush well
1 sprig of fresh oregano, finely chopped (about 1 tablespoon), if using dried oregano, decrease to 1 teaspoon and crush well
1 or 2 long green (Anaheim or similar) chile peppers that have been roasted, peeled, seeds removed and chopped into 1/4-inch pieces
1 (6 ounces) can of tomato paste
3 tablespoons finely chopped capers or green olives (optional)
1 teaspoon coarse or kosher salt, or to taste
freshly ground black pepper to taste

Rinse and scrub tongue under cold water to clean it. Place tongue in a large pot or Dutch oven and add the quartered onion and enough water to cover by one inch. Bring this to a boil, cover it and SIMMER for about three hours, or 50 minutes per pound. Check for doneness by piercing the thickest part with a knife. It should enter easily when the tongue has cooked. Remove tongue from cooking liquid and let cool slightly, so you can handle it. Important Note: Tongue needs to be skinned while it is still warm. If you allow to much cooling, it will be difficult to peel the skin off. When still very warm but not hot, the skin will almost fall off the meat. Trim gristle and bone from large end and skin the tongue. Discard both the skin and the cooking liquid. Slice the tongue diagonally against the grain into 1/2-inch slices.

In a different pot, or a deep skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. When it is hot, add the finely chopped onion and sauté until translucent. Add the garlic and continue to sauté approximately 1 to 2 more minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes, oregano, thyme, and long green chiles that have been diced. Reduce the heat to medium/medium low and allow this to simmer approximately 15 minutes (this will cook the tomatoes and increase the amount of liquid in the sauce). Add the tomato paste and mix well to incorporate into the sauce. Add the chopped capers and stir well. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Place the sliced tongue into the sauce and gently cover over. Decrease the heat to low/medium low so there is only a slight simmer and braise approximately 20 to 30 minutes so that all the ingredients can heat through and the flavors can meld. Remove from heat. Serve with Spanish rice and a nice salad, or dice the tongue and serve in corn tortillas tacos with all the trimmings or flour tortillas to make burritos with beans and rice. Makes 5 to 6 servings.

Grilled Rubin Sandwich with Beef Tongue
Anywhere corned beef can be used, you can use beef tongue. One of my favorite sandwiches is a grilled Rubin, but in this case we are using thinly sliced beef tongue instead of expensive corned beef.
Ingredients for cooking beef tongue:
1 beef tongue, approximately 3 pounds
1 small onion, quartered
1 large carrot, coarsely chopped
1 stalk celery, coarsely chopped
2 teaspoons Kosher salt
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 bay leaf, crumbled

Sandwich ingredients:
2 tablespoon butter, softened
8 slices rye bread
8 slices Swiss cheese
3/4 pound cooked beef tongue, thinly sliced
1/2 pound sauerkraut
1/4 cup Russian Dressing (see recipe below)

Russian Dressing Ingredients:
Combine the following ingredients. Makes one-half cup.
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1 1/2 tablespoons ketchup
1 1/2 teaspoons prepared horseradish
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Rinse and scrub tongue under cold water to clean it. Place tongue in a large pot or Dutch oven and add all of the ingredients for cooking beef tongue and enough water to cover by one inch. Bring this to a boil, cover it and SIMMER for about three hours, or 50 minutes per pound. Check for doneness by piercing the thickest part with a knife. It should enter easily when the tongue has cooked. Remove tongue from cooking liquid and let cool slightly, so you can handle it. Important Note: Tongue needs to be skinned while it is still warm. If you allow to much cooling, it will be difficult to peel the skin off. When still very warm but not hot, the skin will almost fall off the meat. Trim gristle and bone from large end and skin the tongue. Discard both the skin and the cooking liquid. Slice 3/4 of a pound of the tongue diagonally against the grain into very thin slices.

Butter one side of four slices of bread, and place the slices buttered-side down on a large piece of wax paper on a flat surface. Top each with a slice of Swiss cheese, and then divide half of the sliced beef tongue among them. Using paper towels, squeeze out excess moisture from the sauerkraut. Divide the sauerkraut among the sandwiches, and top each with one tablespoon of Russian dressing. Add another layer of beef tongue and a second slice of Swiss cheese to each sandwich. Top with the remaining bread slices; butter the side facing out. Preheat a griddle or frying pan to medium heat. Cook the sandwiches on one side until the bread is golden brown. Use a spatula to carefully flip the sandwiches over and finish cooking on the second side. Cut the sandwiches in half before serving. Serve with a side of coleslaw. Makes 4 sandwiches. Use leftover beef for other meals, like beef tongue hash, etc.