Jan 30, 2013

Snow Peas

Snow Peas with Tobiko
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The snow pea has had many other names, depending on where you are from. They are some times referred to as edible podded peas, snap peas or sugar peas. Although widely considered a Chinese vegetable, snow peas actually originated in Holland in 1563 and were then known as Dutch peas. They were grown widely in England and Europe in the nineteenth century. English traders first brought the Dutch peas to China, and they were a big hit. The Chinese name for snow pea is hoh laan dau—which means Holland pea.

So where did the name "snow" pea come from? It seems that immigrant Cantonese farmers in San Francisco during the nineteenth century called the Chinese pea shii dau—"snow pea". No one is sure why, but it may be called "snow" pea because of their tendency to grow at the end of winter, just before the last spring freeze. They can be covered with snow during these times.

Snow peas and sugar snap peas are actually two different things. Snow peas have flat pods with small, undeveloped flat peas. Sugar snap peas, which are plump with fully developed peas and edible pods, are a cross between English peas and snow peas. In French, both peas are called mange-tout (pronounced mawnzh too), meaning "eat it all." See recipe below for Pickled Sugarsnap Peas.

Snow peas are sweet and delicate with tiny seeds that are barely visible through the slender green pods. They are usually 2 to 3 inches long with smooth, firm bright green skin. Before cooking or eating them, there are two things to do: rinse them in water, then grab or cut the tip of each snow pea and pull out the tough string that runs along its side. They are one of the easiest vegetables to prepare. Snow peas are great in stir-fries and Oriental soups. Serve as a vegetable by themselves enhanced with garlic, ginger or hot peppers. Pair with shrimp, pork or chicken. You can even stir fry the leaves of the snow pea, see recipe below. To store, refrigerate snow peas in a perforated plastic bag. As with any tender garden vegetable, snow peas are best eaten within two days.

Nutritional Value: An excellent source of protein, snow peas offer carbohydrates, dietary fiber, vitamin C, vitamin A, iron, folic acid, potassium and calcium. Snow peas are higher in calcium and vitamin A than other type peas, plus are lower in calories. A three and a half ounce serving contains about 43 calories.

Note: If you have a vegetable garden here in Hawaii, the variety ‘Manoa Sugar’, is adapted to Hawaii’s growing conditions and is resistant to powdery mildew. Other varieties said to do well in Hawaii include ‘Oregon Sugar’, ‘Oregon Giant’, and ‘Dwarf Grey Sugar’.

Snow Pea Recipes:

Snow Peas with Tobiko
This is a beautiful appetizers, or side dish that is very easy to make, and delicious. Tobiko is the Japanese name for flying fish eggs, and is usually available at Japanese markets. If you can't get tobiko, substitute roasted sesame seeds.

1/2 pound snow peas, trimmed, strings removed
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1/4 pound tobiko

Trim snow peas and rinse in cold water. Gently pat the snow peas dry in a clean kitchen towel. Add water to a medium sized pot and add salt, then bring to a boil. When water is boiling, add the snow peas and gently stir. When the water comes to a boil again, approximately 1 minute, drain the snow peas in a strainer. Immediately run cold water over the snow peas to cool them and stop the cooking. Gently dry off snow peas in a clean kitchen towel, and refrigerate. Just before you are ready to serve, combine soy sauce and sesame oil in a medium sized bowl. Add the cold peas, and gently toss to cover with sauce. Drain any remaining sauce from bowl. Add half of the tobiko and gently toss. Serve topped with remaining tobikko. Makes 4 servings.

Chinese Snow Pea-Wrapped Shrimp
These beautiful appetizers are full of Chinese flavor, and are very easy to make.
20 uncooked large shrimp, peeled, deveined
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons canola oil
20 snow peas, trimmed, strings removed
soy sauce for dipping (optional)

Combine shrimp, garlic, ginger, 5 spice powder, salt and oil in a medium sized bowl, and toss until everything's covered. Marinate for up to four hours. Boil a pot of water and add the snow peas to blanch for one minute. Drain and run cold water over the peas. Cook shrimp in saute pan for roughly three minutes, or until cooked through. Cool to room temperature. Wrap one snow pea around each shrimp and secure in place with a skewer or toothpick. Refrigerate before serving. Makes 10 servings (2 per person).

Snow Peas with Mushrooms
1 tablespoon canola or other vegetable oil
1 small onion, sliced
4 ounces fresh button mushrooms, sliced
1 pound snow peas, trimmed, strings removed
2 tablespoons low-sodium chicken broth or water
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
pinch of granulated sugar
black pepper to taste
sesame seeds, toasted, for garnish

Heat the oil in a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions and mushrooms. Stir-fry for about 2 minutes. Add the peas, broth, soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar and pepper. Stir fry for about 5 minutes or until liquid evaporates. Serve immediately, sprinkled with toasted sesame seeds. Makes 4 servings.

Snow Peas & Tomatoes
1 1/2 cups snow peas, trimmed, strings removed
3 tablespoons water
1/2 teaspoon butter
1/4 teaspoon sugar
12 cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Cook first four ingredients over medium high heat for 2 minutes in a skillet or until liquid evaporates. Then add tomatoes and cook until tomatoes are heated thoroughly. Remove from heat and stir in remaining ingredients. Serve immediately as a side dish. Makes 2 servings.

Stir-fried Snow Pea Leaves with Garlic
The leafy leaves and stalks of the snow pea plant, near the pods, are actually excellent to eat, you just have to be sure to remove the curly tendrils that hold the snow pea plant onto your trellis because they are tough. The taste is reminiscent of the snow peas themselves, but with a grassier, fresher flavor that's unique to the plant. This is a very easy recipe to make, plus it is delicious combined with slivers of pork, or egg, or even crab meat. They may be hard to find unless you grow your own. They are usually sold at Chinese markets.
1/2 pound snow pea leaves (only the tender tips of the vine)
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 large clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Mix water, cornstarch and kosher salt together and set aside. Mix once again before adding to the pea tips. Heat wok over high heat and add oil; add garlic and stir quickly so it wont burn; add pea tips and toss to coat in oil and garlic. When the pea tips have wilted by 1/3, add the cornstarch mixture. Toss pea tips until wilted to 1/4 its volume. this whole process will take only about 1 1/2 - 2 minutes. Makes 2 servings.

Linguine & Clams with Snow Peas
1 box (16 ounce ) linguine, cooked and drained
2 cups fresh snow peas, trimmed, strings removed
4 cans (6-1/2 ounces each) chopped clams, drained (save 1/4 cup of clam juice)
4 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 cup chopped Italian parsley
4 cloves garlic, minced
parmesan cheese, grated

Cook linguine in boiling salted water for 8 to 10 minutes, until cooked but firm to the bite. Meanwhile, blanch snow peas in boiling salted water for 2 minutes, drain and set aside. Saute drained clams in butter, olive oil, reserved clam juice, red pepper flakes, and garlic, about 3 minutes. Pour clam sauce over hot linguine. Add parsley and mix together. Serve and top with hot snow peas around the edges. Top with grated parmesan cheese. Makes 4 servings.

Snow Peas with Gingered Shrimp
2 tablespoons canola oil
1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
1 pound shrimp, peeled and cleaned
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 cup fresh snow peas
1 (8 ounces) water chestnuts
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
chow mein noodles or rice

Heat wok. Add oil, garlic. Add shrimp. Stir fry 2 minutes. Set aside. Add water chestnuts, snow peas, soy sauce, stir fry for 2 minutes. Combine cornstarch with water and chicken broth. Add to wok; return shrimp, ginger, stir. Makes 4 servings.

Snow Peas with Fried Tofu
1 pound super firm tofu, cut into 1-inch cubes
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon mirin (Japanese cooking wine)
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 cup water
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 pound snow peas, trimmed, strings removed

Combine soy sauce, sherry, ginger, garlic powder, and water and pour into bag with tofu. Marinate in the refrigerator 4 to 5 hours, turning bag over occasionally so that all pieces of tofu absorb the marinate. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Remove tofu from bag, reserving marinade. Place tofu in skillet. Cook, turning tofu so that it browns lightly on all sides. Pour marinade into small bowl and add cornstarch, until dissolved. When tofu is browned, add snow peas and marinade to skillet. Cook 1 minute more. Makes 4 servings.

Stir-Fried Salmon with Vegetables
3 tablespoons oyster sauce
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
2 teaspoons minced ginger
1 teaspoon soy sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 pound salmon, skinned, boned and cut into 3/4" cubes
5 teaspoons oil
1/2 pound bean sprouts
1/2 pound snow peas
1 cup sliced green onions
1 red bell pepper, cut into strips
1/2 teaspoon Asian sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon black pepper

In a medium bowl, combine two tablespoons of the oyster sauce with vinegar, ginger, soy sauce and one clove garlic. Season with pepper, if desired. Add fish, turning to coat. Cover and refrigerate at least a half-hour. In a seasoned wok, heat two teaspoons of the oil over high heat. Add remaining garlic, stir fry 30 seconds. Add sprouts, peas, green onions and red pepper. Stir-fry two minutes or until tender-crisp. Stir in the remaining one tablespoon of oyster sauce, sesame oil, sugar and pepper. Remove from skillet and set aside. Drain fish, discarding marinade. Heat remaining oil in same skillet. Add fish and stir-fry about four minutes or until done. Add vegetables. Gently toss. Heat through and serve immediately. Makes 4 servings.

Wok-Fried Chicken with Cashews & Snow Peas
4 chicken thighs, skinned, boned, and cut in 1-inch cubes
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon mirin (Japanese cooking wine)
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon canola oil
20 snow peas, trimmed, strings removed
1/2 cup sliced water chestnuts, drained
1/2 cup hot chicken stock (broth)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted cashew nuts, toasted

Marinate chicken pieces 15 minutes in mixture of next 5 ingredients – garlic, soy sauce, mirin, cornstarch, and hoisin sauce. Heat oil in uncovered wok at 375˚F. Add chicken mixture; stir-fry 3 minutes. Add snow peas and water chestnuts; stir-fry 30 seconds. Add chicken stock and salt; stir-fry until slightly thickened. Stir in cashews. Serve immediately with rice. Makes 2 servings.

Snow Peas with Mushrooms and Wild Rice
1 package (6 oz.) long grain white rice and wild rice
1 1/2 cups snow peas, trimmed, strings removed
1 1/4 cups white button mushrooms, sliced
2 tablespoons butter, melted

Cook rice according to package directions. Stir in remaining ingredients. Place in ungreased 9 inch square baking dish. Preheat oven to 350˚F. Bake, covered, 20 minutes. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Snow Pea Salad with Rare Roast Beef
Dressing Ingredients:
5 tablespoons olive oil
4 tablespoons rice vinegar
juice from one lime
5 teaspoons sesame oil
5 teaspoons soy sauce
2 garlic cloves, crushed & minced
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
salt & pepper

Salad Ingredients:
4 ounces snow peas, trimmed, strings removed
16 ounces rare roast beef, sliced into bit sized thin pieces
1 large red bell pepper cut into 1 1/2" x 1/4" strips
4 ounces button mushrooms, sliced
4 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted
3 bunches watercress, stems removed
2 cups purple cabbage, sliced thin
1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in half

In a small bowl, whisk all dressing ingredients together. For salad, place snow peas in shallow pan of boiling water with 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and blanch for 30 seconds, or until peas are crisp tender. Drain and rinse under cold water. Dry thoroughly. Add snow peas, beef, pepper strips, mushrooms and 3 tablespoons sesame seeds to dressing in bowl. Toss. Line 4 plates with a mixture of watercress and shredded purple cabbage. Divide beef salad among plates. Sprinkle with remaining 1 tablespoon sesame seeds. Garnish with cherry tomatoes. Makes 4 servings.

Stir-Fried Mixed Vegetables
1/3 cup cold water
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon grated ginger root
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 medium carrots, peeled and thinly bias-sliced (1 cup)
1 cup fresh snow peas, strings removed
5 green onions, bias-sliced into 1-inch lengths (1 cup)
1/2 cup sliced fresh button mushrooms
1 8-ounce can sliced water chestnuts, drained

For sauce, stir together water, soy sauce, cornstarch, sugar, ginger root, and pepper. Set aside. Preheat a wok over high heat; add canola oil. (Add more oil as necessary during cooking.) Stir-fry carrots in hot oil for 2 minutes. Add onions and mushrooms; stir-fry about 1 1/2 minutes. Stir in snow peas and water chestnuts and cook for 1 minute more. Push vegetables from center of the wok. Stir sauce; add to center of the wok. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. Cook and stir for 1 minute more. Stir in the vegetables to coat with the sauce. Serve immediately. Makes 4 servings.

Snow Peas with Chinese Sausage
1 tablespoon oil
3 4-inch links Chinese sausage (lap cheong), sliced into 1/8 inch rounds
3/4 pound snow peas
1 tablespoon rice wine
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
sesame seeds, toasted

Heat a wok or large frying pan on medium heat and swirl in oil. Add sausage and cook until fat renders out and meat is crispy and caramelized on edges. Chinese sausage burns easily, so keep heat no higher than medium. Remove fully-cooked sausage with a slotted spoon and set aside on a plate. Increase heat to high. When wok smokes, add snow peas and toss to coat with fat. Stir fry just until snow peas are bright in color with blistered spots, then add rice wine and return sausage to wok. Let wine mostly cook out while stirring to combine, then salt to taste. Transfer to a serving plate and drizzle on sesame oil and sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds. Makes 4 servings.

Pickled Sugar Snap Peas
Sugar snap peas are not snow peas, but they are equally good and they make excellent pickles.
12 ounces sugar snap peas (4 to 5 cups)
1 1/4 cups rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon sea salt
3 thin slices fresh ginger
1 green onion
1 sprig of fresh mint

Wash the sugar snap peas well. Using a knife, trim both ends and remove the tough string that runs along the back of the peas. In a small saucepan, combine the vinegar, honey and sea salt. Heat until the honey and salt are entirely dissolved. Prepare a 24 or 32 ounce mason jar. Place the ginger slices in the bottom. Cut the green onion into 2 or 3 segments, so that they fit the jar. Stand them up in the jar, along with the sprig of mint. Pack the prepared sugar snaps into the jar. If they don’t all fit, set them aside. You may be able to sneak them in once the pickling liquid is poured. Pour the hot vinegar over the sugar snaps. Gently tap the jar on the counter to release any air bubbles. If you had any remaining peas, try and pack them into the jar at this time. Place a lid on the jar and let rest at room temperature for 1 hour then transfer to refrigerator. Let the pickles sit in the vinegar at least 24 hours before eating. They will keep up to 1 month in the refrigerator. Makes 1 quart.

Jan 15, 2013

Ti... "The Good-Luck-Plant"

The Hawaiian Ti Plant
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The ti plant, also known as ti and the good-luck-plant, is a mainstay throughout Polynesia. In Hawaii, they show up in hula skirts, leis, packaging, and as liners for food trays. Smooth, fresh-smelling ti leaves are also essential to the Hawaiian kitchen. There are approximately 20 species of ti, which is in the agave family. The ti plant has a distinctive cluster of large, glossy, green leaves on a stalk that can grow up to ten feet high. Ti is a “canoe plant,” or one of the few plants the early Polynesians brought thousands of miles across open ocean to their new home, Hawaii.

This important canoe plant is known to these early Hawaiians as la'i, and was believed to have divine powers. The Hawaiians would wear the tough leaves of the la'i around their necks, waist and ankles to ward off evil and bring good fortune. They would even plant la'i around their homes for the same reason. When I first arrived on the island of Moloka'i, 11 years ago, I built my home. I was told by local Hawaiians to plant la'i around my home, as well as the herb rosemary. Naturally not wanting to invite evil spirits, I did as they said. It has been a very happy eleven years, full of good luck, here on Moloka'i, so maybe there is something to this ritual.

Okolehao Liqueur
In the early days, the ti leaf was used for thatching homes, fashioned into rain capes, used as plates to serve and cook food, even fed to horses and cattle. Because the ti plant is related to the agave (used as a sweetener known as agave nectar), the root of the ti plant was also eaten because of it's sweet taste. Later, the root of the ti was fermented and distilled to make a brandy called Okolehao. After its initial production in 1790, Hawaiians continued to make okolehao. They added sugar cane as another fermentable. When pineapple was introduced, this too was sometimes added for its sugar content. When the Japanese and Chinese immigrants arrived to work in the sugarcane and pineapple fields they brought with them their native rice. The propagated rice was also sometimes added to the formula. By the beginning of World War II, the locals were producing okolehao of various formulations, all of which were sold to US military personnel located at the many bases in Hawaii. When the war was over, the production of okolehao gradually died out as rum and vodka became readily available and better tasting than the crude okolehao then being produced. A 1936 hit by Honolulu musicians Harry Owens and Ray Kinney, includes the line "When my dream of love comes true/There'll be okolehao for two." The beverage was a key ingredient in Hawaiian festivals such as the luau. Recently Okolehao was resurrected by Hawaii's only rum distiller, located on Maui, called Haleakala Distillery's. They have a website with lots of tropical drink recipes made with this 80 proof rum. 

In old Hawaii, a delicious dish called laulau was assembled by taking a few luau leaves (the leafy tops of taro leaves) and placing a few pieces of fish and pork in the center. The ends of the luau leaf are folded and wrapped again in ti leaf. When ready, all the laulau is placed in an underground oven, called an imu. Hot rocks are placed on the dish and covered in banana leaves and buried again. A few hours later the laulau is ready to eat. Today this dish is cooked very much the same way using ti and taro leaves, salted butterfish, and either pork, beef, or chicken and is usually steamed on the stove. Laulau is a typical plate lunch dish here in Hawaii, and is usually served with a side of rice and macaroni salad.

Note: Unlike banana leaves or taro leaves, it is my belief that the inedible ti leaf really doesn't have much flavor, but is used in cooking mainly as a way to contain the food while it is being cooked. If you can't find ti leaves, you can check with a florist. They usually have a source of ti leaves. Be sure you specify that you will use them for cooking food so as not to get something sprayed. You can also buy ti leaves from Maui online at this website. A good substitute for ti leaves is the banana leaf, but it will give off an anise flavor to the food you are cooking, which is actually quite nice. You can also just use foil instead of ti leaves. To prepare a ti leaf for cooking purposes, with a sharp knife, remove the stiff back of the leaf rib by making a cut at the tip and pull it down toward the wide part of the leaf. Do not cut the leaf itself. With the rib removed, the leaf will be pliable enough to wrap food in packages tied with the removed rib, which has be peeled into strips and briefly blanched to make it pliable, or you can use kitchen string.

Ti leaf recipes:
1/3 pound salmon or butterfish
1 pound pork shoulder butt
16 luau leaves (taro leaves)
8 large ti leaves, ribs removed (strip ribs into strings and blanch to tie up ti bundles)

Cut each ti leaf in half along center rib and discard rib. Cut fish into 4 pieces. Cut pork butt into 4 pieces. Arrange 2 strips of ti leaves, shiny sides down, on top of one another in a cross shape. Place 4 luau leaves in center in center of cross, then top with a piece of pork and a pice of fish on luau leaves. Beginning with lower strip, fold leaves over filling, alternating strips and using each new strip to fold loose end of previous strip over filling. Tuck last strip beneath packet, then tie closed with 2 blanched rib strips. Repeat process with remaining ti leaf strips, luau leaves, pork and fish. Set a rack or steamer basket in a large pot and add water to about 1/2 inch below top of rack. Bring water to a boil over high heat. Place fish packets in a single layer on rack or in basket. Cover pot tightly and steam for 3 to 4 hours. Tip packets to drain any water. Serve hot or warm, with lime wedges and sea salt. Makes 4 servings.

Huli Huli Pig
4 pound pork butt
4 tablespoons liquid smoke
2 tablespoons sea salt
1 banana leaf
4-6 large ti leaves, rib removed

Score pork on all sides by slashing diagonally and making slits that are 1/4 inch deep and 1 inch apart. Rub sea salt into the slits, then rub well with liquid smoke on all sides. Wrap pork in the banana leaf, then wrap in ti leaves. Overlap ti leaves to completely cover the pork. Tie securely with kitchen twine. Wrap and seal in aluminum foil. let pork stand at room temperature for 30-45 minutes. Place wrapped pork on rack in shallow roasting pan. Roast at 500˚F for 45 minutes then at 400˚F for 3 1/4 hours longer. Shred pork and let stand in mild brine solution with a few drops of liquid smoke before serving. Makes 8-10 servings.

Chicken Laulau Casserole
1 pound fresh butterfish cubes
1 package (1 pound) cooked taro root
1 package (1 pound) taro leaves
1 dozen chicken thighs
1 can (12 oz.) frozen coconut milk, thawed
1 cup light cream
1/2 cup water
ti leaves (enough to cover the sides, bottom and top of a large casserole dish)
poi (optional)

Scale butterfish and cut up into 1 inch square cubes. Preheat oven to 400˚F. Cut cooked taro root into 2 inch cubes. Wash taro leaves; remove stems and chop leaves into large pieces. Line the bottom and sides of a large covered casserole with Ti leaves. Place part of the taro leaves on the bottom of casserole; then layer chicken, taro root cubes and butterfish. Repeat layers until all of the ingredients are used. Combine coconut milk, cream and water; add to casserole. Cover with ti leaves and place covered casserole in oven. Bake for 2 hours. Gravy maybe thickened with mixed poi, if desired. Makes 8 servings.

Steamed Mahimahi Laulau
8 large fresh ti leaves (strip ribs into strings and blanch to tie up ti bundles)
1 1/2 pounds mahimahi fillets, rinsed and patted dry
2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
1 large carrot, peeled
1 red bell pepper, stem and inner ribs trimmed
8 green onions, white and pale green parts only
1 tablespoon butter
1 piece fresh ginger (4 in.), peeled and minced
2 limes, cut into wedges
about 1 1/2 tablespoons sea salt

Cut each ti leaf in half along center rib and strip ribs into strings and blanch to tie up ti bundles. Cut fish into 12 equal pieces (about 2 inches by 2 inches each) and sprinkle both sides with salt. Chill 30 minutes. Meanwhile, cut carrot, bell pepper, and green onions into 2 inch lengths and then cut into thinnest possible slivers. Melt butter in a frying pan over medium heat. Add vegetables and ginger and sauté, stirring often, until softened but not browned, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat. Arrange 2 strips of ti leaves, shiny sides down, on top of one another in a cross shape. Place 1 mahimahi piece in center of cross, then top with a generous tablespoon of vegetable mixture. Beginning with lower strip, fold leaves over filling, alternating strips and using each new strip to fold loose end of previous strip over filling. Tuck last strip beneath packet, then tie closed with 2 blanched rib strips. Repeat with remaining leaf strips, fish, and vegetables. Set a rack or steamer basket in a large pot and add water to about 1/2 inch below top of rack. Bring water to a boil over high heat. Place fish packets in a single layer on rack or in basket (steam in batches if necessary). Cover pot tightly and steam until fish is just barely opaque in the center, 6 to 10 minutes (do not overcook; cut to test). Tip packets to drain any water. Serve hot or warm, with lime wedges and sea salt. Makes 12 servings.

Jan 14, 2013

"MANINI", The Small Fish That Tastes So Good!

A large school of manini on a Hawaiian reef
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photo credit
"Manini" is the Hawaiian name for a small reef fish also called "convict" tang, so-called because of its black and white stripes, which resemble convicts striped clothing. Manini are one of a large family of closely related fish collectively called the Acanthuridae. This family of fish includes the unicorn fish, surgeon fish and tangs, and can be found on tropical reefs throughout the Pacific and Indian oceans.

Manini and their cousins are peaceful herbivores. They eat aquatic plants, mostly algae, that grow along tropical reefs. Manini live in large schools, a strategy that helps them deal with predators. Like many of their kin, manini have a razor-sharp spine near their tail. These scalpel-like defensive weapons are the reason why the acanthuridae are often referred to collectively as "surgeon fish." The manini is easily recognized by its pattern of stripes. It has six relatively narrow black bands, the first of which crosses its eye. They are somewhat territorial fish, and will defend a certain hiding place from intruders. In addition, they have long snout-like mouths used to eat the algae off rocks. They have a light grey/green body above and are cream or white on their underbellies. This variation helps camouflage them from predators. They are sometimes mistaken for kūpipi or mamo which have similar stripes along the body. Manini are a favorite fish of elder Hawaiians (kūpuna), and are caught in traps, nets, and by spearing.

Cooking Manini – Samoans and Hawaiians have enjoyed eating this small fish for a long time. If you go to a luau here in Hawaii, you will probably be served manini. Their rich flesh will stand up to high temperatures without drying out, unlike more delicate species, giving it a richness similar to mackerel or salmon. Adult manini only reach five to ten inches in length, so they are usually considered too small to fillet and are eaten whole. They can be pan-fried, grilled, baked or broiled, in any recipe calling for white fish. 

Pan-fried – Manini can be pan-fried in canola oil with or without their heads removed, all they need is salt and pepper and a light dusting of flour. 

Grilled – For a healthier alternative, brush the manini lightly with canola oil and grill them over gas or charcoal. Grilling crisps the skin and adds a hint of char to the flesh. 

Baked – To bake this fish, score its sides at a 45˚ angle against the black lines on the body. Place equal amounts of ginger, garlic, and butter into the crevices then splash with soy sauce. Place onto an appropriate sized piece of heavy duty aluminum foil. Fold the foil around the fish creating a envelope. Seal it so not to let the liquids out, yet still being able to open it during the cooking process to check for doneness. Place on a medium high grill and turn often with a good pair of tongs. Cooking time and amounts will vary for the size fish you have. Start checking the fish after about 10 minutes. After the fish has turned white in the score marks, it's ready. 

Broiled – To broil manini, line the pan with foil instead of parchment and oil their skins lightly. Place them four to six inches from the broiler element and cook them for three to five minutes per side until the flesh along the backbone becomes opaque.

An Interesting Note: In Hawaiian, "manini" can also describe something small, or it can describe someone who is a tightwad or extremely miserly.

Jan 11, 2013

"UHU"... Hawaiian Parrotfish

"Uhu"... Hawaiian Parrotfish
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Uhu, pronounced: OOO - HOOO, is the Hawaiian word for parrotfish (scaridae). There are over a dozen varieties of parrotfish found in subtropical oceans throughout the world, seven in Hawaiian waters. I first discovered the parrotfish in Bora Bora while dining at a local French restaurant. The fish was simply sauteed in lots of butter and garlic and served with local fresh vegetables. It was so delicious that I went back again and ordered the same thing a few days later. 

Here in Hawaii, the uhu feeds on algae growing in shallow waters on the reefs. Their mouths resemble the mouth of a parrot, probably because of all those teeth. That's why they call the uhu a "parrot" fish. Some locals like to say these fish have much to do with making our sandy beaches by grinding the coral and small lava rock with its teeth to get at the algae growing on them, then spitting the sand back out. This process actually helps the reefs by preventing the algae from choking coral. The uhu are very good at grinding rock because they have two sets of teeth, the second set is located farther down its throat. 

The uhu is also very interesting because it starts out life as a female, red in color, and then eventually turns into a blue male as it gets older, just like the photo above. It's kind of like a transsexual without the medical treatment. This fish is rarely consumed in the continental U.S., but in Hawaii uhu is especially popular on the dinner table and are a prime target of spear fishermen, especially at night when the fish sleeps.

In order to eat this delicious fish, you have to clean it, which isn't easy. Forget your normal fish scaler, Hawaiians use a spoon, and they do it outside for a good reason. The scales are large, with the consistency of a thumbnail. In order to get the tough scales off, it must be done with gusto, and because of that, they fly everywhere like no other fish scales.

The blue male is the best to eat according to locals. The flesh is white, tender and sweet, making it delicious simply sauteed with garlic-lemon butter and capers, steamed with lemon grass and thin slices of lime, grilled covered with mushrooms, garlic, and mayonnaise, or the filipino soup, "tinola" style, stewed in ginger, onions, chayote squash and watercress, or simply fried in egg, corn flower, sea salt and black pepper. Some locals say uhu is best served “steamed” – head on, but it depends on who you talk to. One popular Hawaiian way of preparing this moist, flaky fish is to grill it (see recipe below). My feeling is that you can't go wrong, anyway you cook it.

Grilled Uhu
I first had grilled uhu at a local luau here on Moloka'i. I was amazed that the cook used seasoned mayonnaise, which was spread all over the fish prior to grilling. It tasted amazing!

2 ti leaves or banana leaves (optional, but this is how we do it in Hawaii)
1 whole 5 pound uhu (parrotfish), gutted, scales removed, and gutted,
  then scored 3 or 4 times on its sides
sea salt
1 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon brown mustard
4 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
4 tablespoons ginger, chopped/grated
1 teaspoons black pepper
4 lap xiong or Chinese sausage, or 1/2 cup Portuguese sausage, diced
3/4 cup shiitake or oyster mushrooms, diced
1 bunch green onions, sliced into 2-inch pieces, 1/4 cup reserved for garnish
1 tablespoon garlic, chopped
2 lemon/limes, cut in half
Vietnamese fish sauce or diluted Patis
1 cup slices cherry tomatoes for garnish

Preheat the grill. Place a large piece of aluminum foil on a flat surface. Place 1 ti leaf on top, followed by the fish. Lightly rub both sides of the fish, and its cavity with sea salt, pat dry with a paper towel. Mix together the mayonnaise, mustard, garlic, ginger and black pepper in a small bowl until blended. Spread the mayonnaise mixture all over the fish, getting into all the scores and cavity. Combine the sausage, mushrooms, and green onions and stuff the mixture into the fish scores and cavity, flipping and stuffing into the other side as well. Top the fish with the second ti leaf, and then another piece of aluminum foil, tightly wrapping it all up to form a pouch. Grill the fish for 15-20 minutes on each side, until the flesh is white, not opaque. Carefully unwrap the foil and place on platter, including juices. Squeeze lemon/limes over fish and lightly spoon Vietnamese fish sauce or diluted Patis over fish. Garnish with reserved green onions, cilantro and sliced cherry tomatoes. Makes 2-4 servings.

Steamed Uhu
Steamed uhu is very similar to grilled except you cook it in your oven. Basically they are both steamed in the foil, but you do get a little smoky flavor when you grill. The steamed version has no sausage added, and uses basil as an added flavoring. There are many ingredient variations to these recipes.

1 whole 5 pound uhu (parrotfish), gutted, scales removed, and then scored 3 or 4 times on its sides 
2 teaspoons sea salt
4 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
4 tablespoons ginger, chopped/grated
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup mayonnaise   
3 medium tomatoes, seeded, rough chopped
1/2 cup sweet Maui onions, sliced thin
1/2 cup basil leaves  
2 lemons cut into wedges
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
4 green onions, chopped

Place the fish on a plate. Using a knife, make diagonal slits in the body on both sides of the fish. Sprinkle with sea salt, inside and out. Place garlic and ginger in between the slits. Sprinkle some pepper on both sides. Coat with the mayonnaise. Stuff the cavity with the tomatoes, onions and basil. Squeeze a little lemon juice on top. Seal tightly with heavy duty foil, and place in a pre-heated 350˚F oven for 45 minutes. This cooks best when placed on a rack on top of a baking sheet on the oven's top shelf. When cooked, garnish with chopped cilantro and green onions. Makes 4 servings. Note: This recipe works well with other whole fish such as sea bass, snapper, and even salmon. Makes 4 servings.

Jan 9, 2013


Hiyayakko with Ponzu Sauce
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I am not at all a vegetarian, but actually consider myself to be a carnivore. Like so many Americans, I love red meat, but at the same time I also like to eat healthy, as long as it tastes good. As I get older, and I like to think wiser, I have begun to realize the nutritional value of tofu. On its own, tofu is rather bland-tasting, and doesn't have much, or any flavor. The amazing thing is that tofu is well known for its ability to absorb new flavors, which makes it the perfect ingredient for the creative cook.

Tofu was discovered in China more than 2,000 years ago, which again shows that Western cuisine is way behind Eastern. I know this because every time I start researching a food category, it seems to have originated in the East. Fortunately the hamburger is a Western invention, but I have to tell you now that I am NOT a fan of tofu burgers, so don't even start looking for that recipe here. Instead I want to feature recipes that incorporate tofu into classic Western recipes, without sacrificing flavor.

First you need to know a little about tofu and what product to buy. Tofu is made from soymilk, which comes from soybeans, that has been curdled and pressed into flat cakes. It's a versatile food that is a great protein source, one that's low in fat, carbohydrates, and calories. Tofu is a complete protein with all the essential amino acids, it's easy to digest, cholesterol-free, and it's great for those allergic to milk or eggs.

You can buy tofu in several different forms, ranging from soft silken tofu to extra-firm tofu. Firm tofu is higher in protein and lower in water content than the softer silken tofu. Firmer varieties are better for slicing or cutting into cubes, and softer or silken tofu is better for blending. Generally, tofu comes in one pound packages equal to two cups. Tofu needs no cooking; so you can use tofu for fast meal preparation or for blended shakes and dips.

Many recipes advise wrapping the tofu with paper towels and weighting it down to squeeze out the excess water that it is packed in. Freezing tofu has a similar effect. Ice crystals form within the tofu, then the water leaks out when it thaws. The tofu then has a firmer, chewier texture and soaks up flavorings like a sponge. But it can also turn yellowish and develop prominent holes.

Although tofu is naturally low in fat, "lite" or low-fat tofu does exist. It's made with soybeans that were skinned before being boiled, ground and strained. The skin of the beans contains a large percentage of their fat. After opening a package of tofu, refrigerate any leftovers in an airtight container and cover with water. Be sure to use it within two to three days. To find out more about tofu, click on this site.

Tofu Recipes:
Hiyayakko with Ponzu Sauce
This is a beautiful one-bite starter (amuse-bouche) for any Japanese meal (see photo above). Traditionally two Hiyayakko, pronounced "hee - yah -yak - koh", are served in a small saucer. This ancient Samurai tofu recipe relies on its sauce and toppings for flavor, and like the proverb "revenge is a dish best served cold", this dish must also always be served cold.
1 block (14 ounces) chilled silken tofu
4 tablespoons Katsuo Mirin Furikake (a combination of roasted sesame seeds and dried shaved bonito)
2 tablespoon grated fresh or pickled red ginger (Kizami Shoga)
4 small scallions, thinly sliced into 1/16 inch circles (green part only)

Ingredients for Ponzu Sauce:
4 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
3 tablespoons fresh lemon or lime juice
2 tablespoons mirin (Japanese sweet cooking wine)
2 teaspoons sesame oil

Carefully remove cold tofu from container and drain on paper towels. Slice into small squares/rectangles. Keep chilled in fridge if not serving immediately. In a small bowl, combine the ingredients for the ponzu sauce. Put each serving of 2 blocks of tofu in a small saucer and drizzle with the ponzu sauce mixture. Top each block with grated ginger, then scallions, then top with bonito flakes or other crunchier toppings just before serving. Serve immediately. Makes 4 servings of 2 Hiyayakko each.

Note: The toppings on the recipe above is the classic recipe, however many restaurants serve a variety of toppings, so you can experiment with what you like. If you are serving guests who aren't all that used to chopsticks, then try to get the firm tofu because it is easier to pick up.

Mango Tofu Smoothie
1/2 package (7 ounces) soft silken tofu, drained
1/2 cup orange juice
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen mango slices
3 tablespoons honey
1/2 cup milk or soy milk

Place all ingredients in a blender and purée until smooth. Makes 1 serving.

Tofu Hummus
Hummus is a delicious Middle Eastern and Arabic dip or spread that is made from cooked, mashed chickpeas blended with tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and garlic. Adding tofu makes this popular dip even better for you.
1 15 ounce can chickpeas/garbanzo beans
8 ounces tofu
1 tablespoon tahini
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper

In a food processor, blend tofu, tahini, beans, and olive oil. Add remaining ingredients and blend into a creamy, smooth dip. Serve tofu hummus with fresh veggies or pita bread. Store hummus in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days. Makes 2 cups.

Tofu Ricotta Cheese
Use tofu to make a cholesterol-free lower-fat ricotta cheese substitute that is dairy-free! Great for lasagna or ravioli.
8 ounces firm tofu
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon minced shallot
1/2 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon nutritional yeast flakes*
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh basil
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Press the tofu through a potato ricer into a large bowl. If you don’t have a potato ricer, mash the tofu with your hands until crumbly. Add the remaining ingredients and mix well. It should be the consistency of ricotta cheese. Use it as a substitute for ricotta cheese. Makes about 1 1/2 cups.

*Nutritional yeast is a great product. You can sprinkle it on many things for added nutrition and flavor. You can usually find nutritional yeast flakes and nutritional yeast powder side by side in the bulk food bins of Whole Foods and now in some other "conventional" grocery stores which have bulk food sections, usually near the flour. Kal and Bragg's brands are good. You can also buy nutritional yeast in health food stores, and online.

Ginger-Garlic Tofu
3 tablespoons canola oil
1 package (about 14-16 ounces) firm tofu
1 green bell pepper, diced (or broccoli, kale, or any other veggie you have on hand)
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon ginger powder
2 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast* (see note in above recipe)
1/2 lime, juiced (optional)
1 teaspoon brown sugar (optional)
red pepper flakes, for topping
toasted sesame seeds, for topping
2 scallions, green parts thinly sliced, for topping
brown rice or soba noodles, cooked

Remove excess water from the tofu by wrapping it in paper towels or pressing it between two plates for a few minutes. Cut it into 1-inch cubes. Put the oil in a large, preferably nonstick, frying pan and set over high heat. When hot, add the tofu. Brown on one side for about 5 minutes and flip using tongs, and brown for an additional 5 minutes. Add the bell pepper or whatever veggie you're using and stir fry until cooked, but still crisp, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger powder and cook, stirring, for another minute. Turn down the heat slightly and add the tamari, lime juice, and brown sugar if using. Turn the heat to low, stir, and cook for another 2 minutes. Sprinkle the nutritional yeast over the top. Stir to mix and turn off the heat. Serve over rice or noodles and sprinkle with red pepper flakes, toasted sesame seeds, and sliced scallions. Makes 4 servings.

Tofu Fruit Muffins
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup whole-wheat flour
3/4 cup quick-cooking oats
2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 ounces soft silken tofu
2 eggs
3/4 cup honey
3 tablespoons canola oil
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup fresh or frozen (unthawed) fruit, like blueberries, raspberries, or strawberries
cooking spray

Preheat oven to 400˚F. In a large bowl, combine the first six ingredients. In a food processor, combine tofu, eggs, honey, oil, and vanilla and process until smooth. Stir wet mixture into dry mixture just until combined (do not over mix). Fold in fruit. Spoon into muffin tins prepared with cooking spray or use paper liners. Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the muffin comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes before removing onto a wire rack to cool completely. Makes 18 muffins.

Tofu Dark Chocolate Pudding
This is a good example of the "chameleon-like" qualities of tofu. I love chocolate, especially dark chocolate, and this pudding is not only good for you, but satisfies your chocolate "urges", for lack of a better word. You can serve this delicious dairy-free dark chocolate pudding on it’s own, freeze it for pudding pops, or spread it into a cookie crust or other pie crust for a simple chocolate pie.
6 ounces semisweet or dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 pound silken tofu
3 tablespoons dutch-process cocoa powder
1/2 cup agave nectar, brown rice syrup, or honey
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
pinch of salt

Place chocolate in a small saucepan over low heat and stir frequently until melted; set aside to cool slightly. Combine all ingredients in a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Process, pausing to scrape down sides as needed, until mixture is smooth. Transfer to an airtight container or individual serving dishes, cover, and refrigerate until chilled thoroughly, at least 30 minutes. Can be made up to 4 days ahead and stored in a refrigerated airtight container. Stir briefly before serving. Makes 4 yummy cups.

Jan 4, 2013

DILL-icious DILL!

Dill Flower
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Freshly Picked Dill
Dill leaves, also known as dill weed, grows quite nicely here in Hawaii, and I have found that it is an excellent ingredient in many recipes. You can buy fresh dill and other herbs at Kumu Farms on Moloka'i, or you can easily grow dill yourself from seeds. It only takes a couple of weeks before you will have more dill plants than you know what to do with. One of our local grocery stores, Friendly Market, sells seed packets of the "Dukat" variety from Renee's Garden , a seed company in California, for $2.79, which is the same price as you can buy them for online. The photo above is the dill I grew from these seeds.

Dill (Anethum graveolens) is a green herb with wiry, thread-like leaves that grow in clusters. It has a distinctive taste that is like a combination of fennel, anise and celery, with warm, slightly bitter undertones. It is a native of Southern Europe and Western Asia. Although the origin of the name dill is debatable, it is believed to have originated from the Norse word "dilla", or Anglo Saxon "dylle", meaning "to lull or soothe". It is an ancient herb that was listed by the Egyptians as an herb 5,000 years ago. In the Bible it was so prized that it was listed in the Gospel of St. Matthew, as an herb suitable of payment for taxes, along with mint and cumin. During the Middle Ages dill was woven into garlands and worn around the neck to ward off witches and their spells. Dill was a traditional remedy for stomach aches, gas and colic in babies and children. It has been a popular remedy for upset stomach, hiccups and insomnia. The fresh herb is known for its ability to improve appetite and digestion.

Dill is wonderful in many recipes, and is widely eaten all over the world. While not as readily used in American cooking, it is a traditional favorite in Greek, Russian, Lebanese, Scandinavian, and Syrian recipes. Sprinkle on steamed vegetables, sliced tomatoes and cucumbers, in mixed green salads and dressings, in sauces and, most deliciously, over grilled or poached salmon and other fish. You will notice butterflies in your garden if you grow your own dill, they love the nectar from the delicate yellow flowers (see photo above). 

You can even harvest the pungent seed heads to season soups and pickles. Dill seeds can be toasted, fried, or cooked in broths. You don't have to grind them because their high surface area allows them to plump up and become tender very quickly. They are perfect for covering up funky, undesirable flavors in gamey meats or sulfurous cabbages. This is an Old World spice just waiting for some New World applications. Dill seeds are high in calcium (a single tablespoon contains more than eight ounces of milk). 

Keep fresh dill leaves (dill weed) refrigerated in a dry plastic bag. Like many other fresh herbs, dill loses flavor with too much heat. Add in the last five minutes or less of cooking. Here are a lot of examples of how you can use DILL-icious Dill:

Tomato Dill Soup with Chopped Egg
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 tablespoon butter
3 large tomatoes, sliced
1/2 teaspoon salt
pinch pepper
1 can (6 ounces) tomato paste
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups water, divided
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream, whipped
1 to 2 tablespoons finely minced fresh dill or 1 to 2 teaspoons dried dill weed
4 hard cooked eggs, quartered
4 sprigs of fresh dill for garnish

In a large saucepan saute onion and garlic in oil and butter until tender. Add the tomatoes, salt and pepper; cook over medium-high heat for 3 minutes or until heated through. Remove from the heat and stir in tomato paste. In a small bowl, combine flour and 1/2 cup of water; stir until smooth. Stir into saucepan. Gradually stir in remaining water until smooth; bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Place mixture in a sieve over a large bowl. With the back of a spoon, press vegetables through the sieve to remove seeds and skin; return puree to pan. Add cream and dill; cook over low heat just until heated through (do not boil). Garnish with chopped hard cooked eggs and fresh dill sprigs. Makes 4 servings (1 quart).

Potato and Cabbage Soup with Dill
1 1/2 cups onions; small dice
1 1/2 cups celery; small dice
1 1/2 cups carrots; small dice
4 teaspoons canola oil
1 tablespoon garlic; minced
4 cups cabbage; diced
2-3 cups potatoes; peeled and 1/2-inch dice
salt & pepper; to taste
8 cups vegetable stock
2 bay leaves
2 sprigs thyme
1/2 cup dill pickles; minced
1/2 cup dill pickle brine
1 tablespoon prepared mustard
2 tablespoons fresh dill; minced
1/2 cup dry potato flakes; optional

Saute the onions celery, and carrots in the oil over medium heat for 10 minutes. Add the garlic, potatoes, cabbage, salt and pepper. Continue to saute for another 10 minutes over medium-low heat. Add the remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 20 minutes (or until the potatoes are tender). Stir in the dry potato flakes to thicken the soup. Season to taste. Pour soup into bowls and garnish with chopped dill. Makes 10 servings.

Dill-Onion Rolls
1 cupwarm water
4 tablespoons sugar
1 package dry yeast
1 beaten egg
4 tablespoons conola oil
3 cups unbleached flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup or more of minced onion
1 tablespoon dried dill weed

Pour the water into large mixing bowl. Add the sugar and let dissolve. Add the yeast and let dissolve. Beat in the egg and vegetable oil. Add the minced onion and dill and mix well with wooden spoon. Add the flour and salt, and mix with large wooden spoon until the dough is elastic and smooth. Cover and let rise for about 1 hour. Drop the dough into a greased muffin tin, filling each cup half full. Cover the muffin tin, and let rise again until doubled. Beat an egg, and lightly use pastry brush on top of each roll.. Not too much egg. Bake in at 375˚F oven betwen 15-20 minutes, until golden. Makes 12 servings.

Make Your Own
Refrigerator Sliced Dill Pickles

3-1/2 cups water
1-1/4 cup white vinegar
1 tablespoon canning salt* (NOT table salt)
1 tablespoon sugar
cucumbers (not waxed but fresh), unpeeled, sliced into 1/4 inch disks (about 4 cups)
2 cloves garlic (whole)
1 small bunch fresh dill, chopped, about 1 cup or so

*Most supermarkets that carries pickling supplies/jars should carry canning (or pickling) salt. It may be seasonal. You could also substitute with Kosher salt or sea salt. (Kosher salt is not as dense as pickling salt so you'll need to use more.)

Note: You don't want to use regular cucumbers that have been waxed. Use FRESH pickling cucumbers. Here on Moloka'i we can't get pickling cucumbers, so I use Japanese cucumbers, they are crisper than regular cucumbers and work fine.

Boil the water, vinegar, sugar, and salt in a saucepan. Cool. Add cucumbers, garlic, and dill in a plastic or glass bowl (not metal!). Cover with the cooled liquid. Put in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days. The pickles should be good for 6 weeks. Makes 4 cups.

Tuna Salad with Dill
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon sour cream
2 to 4 teaspoons minced fresh parsley
1 to 1-1/2 teaspoons dill weed
1/8 teaspoon garlic salt
1/8 teaspoon ground thyme
1/8 teaspoon pepper
dash cayenne pepper
1 can (6 ounces) light water-packed tuna, drained and flaked
2 tablespoons chopped red onion
2 cups fresh baby spinach
5 slices tomato, halved

In a small bowl, whisk the first eight ingredients. Stir in tuna and onion. Serve over spinach. Garnish with tomato slices. Makes 2 servings.

Lemon Avocado Mustard Salad Dressing
1 medium ripe avocado, peeled and mashed
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons sour cream
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons Grey Poupon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon minced fresh dill or 1 teaspoon dried dill weed
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/2 teaspoon honey
Salad greens, cherry tomatoes, sliced cucumbers and sweet red and yellow pepper strips

In a blender, combine the first ten ingredients; cover and process until blended. Serve with salad greens, tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers. Store in the refrigerator. Makes about 1 1/2 cups.

The NEW Classic Iceberg Wedge Salad 
with Chunky Blue Cheese/Dill Dressing
The NEW Classic Iceberg Wedge Salad
Click on image to view larger

3 tablespoons whole milk
1/2 cup sour cream
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon minced garlic
3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill or 2 tablespoons of dried dill
1 cup (4 ounces) good blue cheese, crumbled
1 tablespoon fresh chives, or scallions, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
Iceberg lettuce, quartered
Cherry Tomatoes cut in half, for garnish

In a small mixing bowl, combine milk, sour cream, mayonnaise, garlic, and dill. Add half the blue cheese and mix together, using the backside of a spoon to mash the blue cheese into the mixture. Some chunks of blue cheese should remain. Add the chives, or scallions, and season with salt and pepper, stir to combine. Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour before serving. Cut the cold iceberg lettuce into quarters. Place a wedge of the lettuce in the center of the cold plate and generously spoon the chunky blue cheese dressing over the wedge of lettuce, sprinkled with the other half of the crumbled blue cheese and the cherry tomato halves. Serve with a cold knife and fork. Makes about 1 1/2 cups of dressing, enough for 4 salads.

Note: If you like the dressing a little thinner, simply add a little more milk and stir.

Cucumber Salad Dressing with Dill
12 ounces thinly sliced cucumbers, peeled and seeded before slicing
1/4 cup lemon juice
8 ounces sour cream
3 tablespoons minced dill
1 tablespoon sugar, or to taste
salt and pepper to taste
hot sauce, optional

Puree the cucumbers in a food processor or blender. Add the remaining ingredients and blend just until incorporated. Adjust the seasoning with sugar, salt and pepper. Serve immediately or refrigerate for later. Serve over sliced tomatoes garnished with dill. Also great with poached salmon. Makes 2 cups.

Lemon-Dill Green Beans
1 pound fresh green beans, trimmed
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons snipped fresh dill
1/4 teaspoon salt

Place beans in a steamer basket; place in a large saucepan over 1 in. of water. Bring to a boil; cover and steam for 8-10 minutes or until crisp-tender. In a jar with a tight-fitting lid, combine the lemon juice, oil, dill and salt; shake well. Transfer beans to a serving dish; add dressing and toss to coat. Makes 6 servings.

Buttered Radishes with Dill
3 tablespoons butter
3 bunches red radishes (about 25), washed and trimmed (usually available at Kumu Farms on Moloka'i)
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh dill
black pepper to taste.

Melt the butter in a medium-size skillet or saute pan over medium heat. Add radishes and toss to coat with the butter. Cover the pan and cook for 4 minutes, shaking occasionally. Add the sugar and vinegar and toss over mediom heat for 1 minute. Sprinkle with dill and season to taste with pepper. Serve immediately. Makes six servings.

Red Buttered Potatoes with Dill
2 pounds small red potatoes
1 bunch of fresh dill (stems removed and tops chopped)
2 tablespoons butter
black pepper to taste

Put scrubbed potatoes in a pot with water to just cover. Add salt and the stems from the bunch of dill. Bring the water to boil with the lid on. Lower the heat and boil for 5-7 minutes until the potatoes are cooked through. Pour off the water and dill stems. Add the butter and chopped dill leaves, toss and serve with black pepper. Makes 4 servings.

Lemon Dill Rice with Mustard Seeds
2 cups long grain cooked rice (make sure it is fluffy and grains are separated)
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
3/4 cup chopped onion
1/2-3/4 cup finely chopped fresh dill leaves (stems removed)
1 green chili (finely chopped)
3/4 cup edamame (frozen soy beans) or lima beans
2-3 garlic pods (grated)
juice of a lemon
1 tablespoon mustard seeds

Boil the soy beans or lima beans separately in little water and salt for about 8 minutes. Drain the water and set the beans aside. Take a big plate and spread out the cooked rice making sure there are no lumps. Add turmeric, chopped dill leaves, a little oil, mix well and set aside. Note: This step is important, mixing the dill to the rice and then adding the combination to the cooked onions. Adding dill directly to heat, removes its flavor. Hence it is best to combine with rice and cook it as this retains its texture and imparts good flavor to the rice. Take a heavy bottom pan or wok, add a little oil on medium heat. Add mustard seeds and let it splutter, add the grated garlic and stir until it turns light brown. Now add the green chili and the chopped onions and fry until it gets transparent. Add the rice mixture and stir it thoroughly. Cover with lid and let it sit for a 5 minutes. Finally add the juice of a lemon. Mix well. Serve hot. Note: Make sure to add the lemon juice when the prepared rice has cooled down a little, or else it tends to add sourness to the rice. Makes 4 servings.

Steak Pita Pockets with Dill Yogurt Sauce
2 pounds top sirloin steak, grilled medium rare, and sliced thin
8 pita bread halves
2 tomatoes, sliced
1 medium red onion, sliced
lettuce leaves, chopped

Yogurt Dill Sauce Ingredients:
2 cups (16 ounces) plain yogurt
3 green onions, minced
3 tablespoon fresh dill weed
2 garlic cloves, minced
salt and pepper to taste

Grill top sirloin until it is medium rare. Combine sauce ingredients. Heat pita bread in a 300˚F oven for 5 minutes. Cut pita bread in half with a bread knife, and carefully open each without tearing the bread. Stuff pita halves with thinly sliced steak, tomato, onion and lettuce. Spoon sauce into pitas. Serve immediately. Yield: 4 servings of two steak pita pockets each.

Beef Rouladen with Dill Dumplings
I have been eating this dish since I was a small child. My father owned a hotel that had a German chef. He made this hearty dill pickle dish that I have been enjoying for years.

Thinly sliced beef with a light coating of Dijon mustard, topped with a slice of bacon and dill pickles.
Click on photo to view larger.

2 large onions, sliced
4 tablespoons canola oil, divided
6 bacon strips
6 beef top round steaks or beef sirloin steaks (1/4 pound each)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
6 dill pickle spears
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1-1/3 cups water
4 teaspoons beef bouillon granules
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon butter, melted

Ingredients for Dill Dumplings:
2 eggs
1 cup milk
3 cups all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons cornstarch (optional)

In a large skillet, saute onions in 2 tablespoons of oil until tender; remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Pound steaks to 1/4-in. thickness; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Spread with mustard and top with onions. Place a pickle at one short end and a bacon strip lengthwise on top. Roll up jelly-roll style; secure with toothpicks. Set aside 1 tablespoon flour for thickening. Coat the roll-ups with remaining flour. In the same skillet, cook roll-ups in remaining oil over medium heat until browned on all sides. Add the water, bouillon, thyme and bay leaf. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 30 minutes or until meat is tender. Discard bay leaf and toothpicks. Remove roll-ups and keep warm on a platter covered with foil. Combine butter and reserved flour; add to the pan juices if you want the gravy to be thicker. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened.

Meanwhile, prepare your Dill Dumplings: Briskly mix together 2 eggs and 1 cup milk. Gradually add 3 cups flour, baking powder, salt, and 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill. The dumpling batter will be very soft and sticky.

By now the broth should have thickened; drop dumpling batter in heaping tablespoons into boiling sauce. Cook for five minutes, then turn each dumpling over with a spoon and allow to cook an additional 5 minutes. Remove dumplings to platter with roulades and serve with cooked carrots; either pour remaining sauce over roulades and carrots or serve alongside in a gravy boat. Makes 6 servings.

Linguini with Smoked Salmon and Dill
6 ounces linguini pasta
1 cup half-n-half
1/4 cup fresh dill, chopped
1/4 cup green onions, chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons capers, drained
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
4 ounces smoked salmon, thinly sliced
salt and pepper to taste

Cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to bite. Drain well; return to same pot. Combine half-n-half, dill, onions, capers, and lemon peel in heavy small saucepan. Bring to boil over medium-high heat. Add sauce to pasta; toss to coat. Add salmon and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper and serve. Makes 2 servings.

Sweet White Shrimp with Dill
1 1/2 pounds white shrimp, shells left on
3 cloves garlic, course chopped
1/4 small onion, chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cups of white wine
1/4 cup fresh dill, chopped
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 pinch sea salt
1 pinch of cayenne pepper
1/2 lemon, squeezed

In a large skillet or wok, add olive oil with garlic and onion and wine on medium heat for about 5 minutes! add the rest of the ingrediants! stir every 30 seconds until done. Serve with hush puppies and pickled okra on the side. Makes 4 servings.

Baked Mahi-mahi with Dill Sauce
2 mahi-mahi steaks
1 tablespoon canola Oil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon Juice
white pepper

Dill Sauce Ingredients:
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup plain yogurt
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
1 tablespoon fresh dill, minced, or 1 teaspoon dried dill
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/8 teaspoon bottled hot pepper sauce
salt and pepper; to taste

Combine sour cream, yogurt, mayonnaise, mustard, and hot sauce. Stir in dill then add salt and pepper to taste. Blend well. Allow to stand at least 1/2 hour to blend flavors. Pat mahi-mahi steaks dry with paper towels. Combine oil and lemon juice and brush on both sides of steaks. Season lightly with salt and white pepper. Place an inch apart in a lightly oiled baking dish. Bake at 450˚F for approximately 15 minutes. Serve mahi-mahi steaks with dill sauce over steaks sprinkled with a dash of fresh dill atop each. Makes 2 servings.

Jan 1, 2013

The Addictive "Edamame"

Collecting Edamame
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Edamame are basically boiled soy beans, and are commonly found in the cuisines of Japan, China and Hawaii. In East Asia, the soybean has been used for over two thousand years as a major source of protein. In this country, this tasty vegetable is commonly served at sushi bars and Chinese restaurants. Not only are they delicious, but these green beans add fiber, protein and vitamin/mineral content to your diet. You can usually find two types of edamame in the frozen vegetable section: shelled or with the pods.

I like the edamame in pods as a snack. They are very easy to prepare. Simply defrost a 1 pound bag of frozen beans in your refrigerator. Then boil 6 cups of water in a large pot. Add about 1 tablespoons of salt in the boiling water. Put the defrosted edamame in the boiling water and boil for 3 to 4 minutes, or until softened. Drain them in a colander. Taste one to see if it's salty enough, if not, simply sprinkle more salt over boiled edamame and mix it in. Spread the edamame on a flat tray to cool until ready to eat, or serve them warm. To eat, simply squeeze the beans out of pods with fingers, and discard the pods.

I use the shelled edamame in casseroles, soups/stews, noodle or rice dishes, salads, dips, etc. For only 120 calories, 1 1/8 cup of the edamame in pods is very satisfying, thanks to its protein, and fiber. It's a good idea to keep a couple of bags of edamame in your freezer. 
Note: The United States produces half of the world's soybeans.

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Edamame Recipes:
Seasoned Edamame
2 pounds frozen edamame in their pods

1 tablespoon finely minced garlic
3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons oyster sauce
2 teaspoons sesame seed oil
1 teaspoon mirin
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon hot chili oil (optional)
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger or 1/2 tablespoon freshly grated ginger

Optional Garnish:
pinch of chili peppers
roasted sesame seeds
chopped green onions

Mix ingredients for sauce and set aside until ready to serve. Defrost 2 pounds of frozen beans in your refrigerator. Then boil 8 cups of water in a large pot. Add about 2 tablespoons of salt in the boiling water. Put the defrosted edamame in the boiling water and boil for 3 to 4 minutes, or until softened. Drain them in a colander. Place the cooked edamame in a large bowl, pour the sauce over the edamame and mix until well coated. Add desired garnishes. Serve hot or cold. Makes about 8 servings.

Roasted Edamame with Sea Salt and Cracked Black Pepper
16 ounces frozen shelled edamame
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly-cracked black pepper
(or 1-2 teaspoons alternate seasoning)

Thaw the edamame for an hour or so in a strainer to reduce the liquid. Preheat your oven to 375°F. Spread the edamame on a clean dish towel and pat gently with another dish towel to dry them as much as possible. In a mixing bowl, toss the edamame with the olive oil, salt, and pepper (or other seasonings). Taste one of the edamame and add more seasonings if desired. Spread the edamame in a single layer on a sheet pan and roast for 30-40 minutes. Stir every 10 minutes and watch for the edamame to begin puffing and turning golden-brown. Their color will also darken, the exterior will be dry, and you'll hear them "singing" as steam escapes from inside the bean. Remove the pan from the oven and transfer the roasted edamame to a serving bowl. They are best if eaten within a few hours of roasting. Makes 2 cups.

Edamame Hummus
2 tablespons olive oil
2 cloves garlic
2 cups shelled and cooked edamame
3 tablespoons freshly-squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon tahini
4 to 5 tablespoons water
1/2 cup (about 3/4 ounces) snipped fresh chives
toasted sesame seeds, for garnish

Heat oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic and cook, swirling occasionally, until toasted and fragrant. Remove from heat to cool slightly. Place edamame in food processor and pulse until smooth. Scrape down sides of processor and add a generous pinch of salt. Add the cooled oil, garlic, lemon juice, tahini, and pulse until smooth. Add water and pulse until mixture is airy and smooth. Add chives and pulse until evenly incorporated. Taste and season with salt as desired. Garnish with sesame seeds, and/or additional chives or scallions. Serve with crackers or assorted raw vegetables. (Store refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 7 days. If making ahead of time, leave out the chives and stir in when ready to serve.) Makes 2 cups.

Hawaiian Saimin with Edamame and Fish Cake
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Hawaiian Saimin 
with Edamame and Fish Cake
4 quarts water
1 tablespoon salt
1 (8-ounce) package dried Japanese soba noodles*
4 cups chicken broth or stock
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
Toppings (see suggestions below)

* Soba noodles can be found in the Asian food section of most grocery stores or in Japanese food specialty stores.

In a large pot over medium-high heat, add 4 quarts of water and salt; bring to a boil. Add soba noodles and boil 4 to 6 minutes until al dente. Remove from heat, drain, and rinse under warm, running water. In a large pot over medium-high heat, add chicken broth and ginger; bring just to a boil. Reduce heat to low. Add soy sauce, sesame oil, and your favorite toppings; simmer for 5 minutes longer or until toppings are cooked. Remove from heat. Place cooked soba noodles in a large soup bowl; spoon broth mixture (with toppings) over the top and serve. Makes 3 to 4 servings.

Topping Suggestions:
Edamame (cooked soy beans)
Kamaboko (fish cakes)
Sliced Spam
Cha siu or baked ham slices
Roast Pork slices
Sliced carrots
Shredded napa cabbage
Chopped bok choy
Sliced hard cooked egg
Sliced mushrooms
Scrambled or fried egg
Sliced green onions or scallions
Chinese parsley (Cilantro)
Cooked small shrimp

Edamame-Spinach Scramble
Don't let the list of the ingredients scare you. This is easy to whip up and very filling.
1 large egg
2 egg whites or 1/3 cup egg substitute
1 tablespoon fat-free half-and-half or any type of milk
1 teaspoon olive oil (or substitute canola oil)
1 1/2 cup fresh raw spinach leaves, loosely packed
1/3 cup shelled edamame, frozen or thawed
1/8 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
1/8 cup finely chopped sweet or yellow onion
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/3 cup shredded grated cheese of choice (cheddar, Swiss, etc.)
1 medium tomato or 1 1/2 roma tomatoes, chopped
2 teaspoons fresh herbs, such as chopped parsley or basil (optional)
salt and pepper to taste

Add egg and egg whites or egg substitute and half-and-half to 4 cup measure and whisk until smooth; set aside. Add olive oil to nonstick medium frying pan and heat over medium-high heat. When hot, add spinach, edamame, bell pepper, onion, and garlic and sauté until spinach shrinks down and onion is lightly brown (about 2-3 minutes). Pour in egg mixture and reduce heat to medium. Continue to gently stir and cook until eggs are soft and cooked throughout. Turn off heat. Sprinkle grated cheese over the top. Top with tomatoes and cover frying pan with lid. Let sit for a couple of minutes to melt cheese. Sprinkle fresh herbs over the top as garnish, if desired. Makes 1 large serving or 2 small servings.

Avocado-Edamame Salsa
1 cup frozen petite corn kernels, thawed
2.25-ounce can sliced ripe olives, drained
1/2 red bell pepper, finely chopped
1/3 cup sweet onion, finely chopped
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/4 cup prepared light vinaigrette salad dressing
1/2 teaspoon black pepper (optional)
1 avocado, diced
2/3 cup shelled edamame, thawed
pepper to taste, if desired

Add corn, olives, bell pepper, onion, and garlic to a medium bowl. Pour light dressing into the corn mixture and toss to blend. Add pepper to taste, if desired. Cover and chill in the refrigerator all day or overnight. Right before serving, add the diced avocado and edamame into the corn mixture and stir. Makes four 1/2-cup servings. Recipe adapted from webmd.com.

Lobster Linguine with Soy Beans
& Creamy Garlic Sauce
4 each 1 pound lobster tails
1 pound linguine
1 pound fresh frozen soy beans
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 cup sour cream
1 pinch salt and pepper, to taste
1 dash Tabasco

Steam lobster tails in 1 inch of water in a pot with a steamer rack for about 14 minutes. When cooked, remove shell from tail meat by removing the flippers on the underside of the shell. I like to use kitchen sheers and cut on either side of the underside shell, then using a fork, pierce the exposed tail meat and slowly twist and pull it out of the shell in one piece. Discard the shell, chop the meat into bite-sized pieces. Cover to keep warm and set aside. Cook linguine according to package directions while making the sauce. When linguine is almost cooked add soy beans to the pot and cook for about 3 minutes, then drain immediately.

Procedure for Creamy Garlic Sauce:
Melt butter with olive oil. Mash minced garlic and parsley together. Cook this mixture slowly in melted butter and olive oil until soft, 2 or 3 minutes. Add sour cream, salt, pepper and Tabasco, heating slowly, taste for seasoning. Add lobster meat just before serving. Arrange linguine with soy beans on plates, top with sauce and garnish with a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese. Serve with Romaine Salad with Capers, Roasted Red Peppers and Creamy Anchovy Dressing, and hot crusty sliced bread on the side. Makes 4 servings.