Apr 13, 2013

Hawaii's "MIXED PLATE" Lunch

Lemon Chicken
The Kualapu'u Cookhouse, Moloka'i

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The "mixed plate" is unique to Hawaii. Tasty dishes from the varied ethnic groups that call Hawai‘i home. The Hawaiian plate lunch goes back to the 1880s during the early days of the sugar plantations. Laborers were brought from around the world, Chinese, Japanese, Portuguese, Korean, and Filipinos, to work in the sugarcane fields. During their lunch break, the Japanese laborers would bring teriyaki beef with rice and pickled vegetables. The Filipino workers might bring their traditional adobo or perhaps a pork or chicken stew. The Koreans had their kalbi or marinated ribs and the Chinese a rice noodle and vegetable dish called chow fun. The Hawaiians would perhaps bring their kalua pig, roasted in an underground oven called an imu. It wasn’t long before they began to share their foods with one another and the “mixed plate” was born.

Today the mixed plate lunch is a popular choice in Hawaii. It’s normally packed into a compartmental foam container so it’s easy to transport on the go. Disposable chopsticks are the choice utensil, but you’ll also find plastic forks and spoons. There are a huge number of popular entrĂ©es to choose from: kalua pig, chicken katsu, "loco moco", tery beef, Hawaii-Style barbecue chicken, laulau, or fried mahi mahi, just to mention a few. If you want to see a huge variety of plate lunch photos, check out this Honolulu food blog "The Tasty Island"

Naturally, “two scoops rice” and “one scoop of Hawaiian macaroni salad”, (better known as “mac salad”), always accompany the traditional plate lunch. Whatever the combination, you can count on having a lot of food at a reasonable price when you order the Hawaiian mixed plate lunch. Throughout the Islands, from mom and pop shops, to lunch wagons, to local chains, you won’t have to look far to find the perfect plate lunch, just bring a big appetite.

Just A Few Plate Lunch Recipes:

Lemon Chicken
2 whole boneless chicken breasts
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon gingerroot, minced
1/8 teaspoon salt & pepper
1/4 cup flour
1 egg, beaten
1 cup panko breadcrumbs (japanese bread crumbs)
1 1/2 cups canola oil (for frying)
2 cups of thinly sliced napa cabbage
2 green onions sliced at an angle, for garnish

Ingredients for sauce:
1/3 cup lemon juice
1/3 cup water
1/3 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon white pepper
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 dash salt

Cut chicken in half and pound to 1/2 inch thickness. Rub chicken with garlic, ginger, salt, and pepper. Coat chicken with flour, dip in beaten egg and press on panko. Fry the chicken pieces in a frying pan, turning once or twice until golden brown on both sides. Keep cooked chicken warm in the oven as you fry.

Combine sauce ingredients and bring to a boil. To serve, cut chicken into strips or bite size pieces. Place 1/2 cup of sliced napa cabbage on plate. Put chicken on top of cabbage and pour sauce over the chicken. Garnish chicken with green onions. Serve with garlic ginger rice, and potato/mac salad (recipes below). Makes 4 servings.

Garlic Ginger Rice
Did you know that rice is the staple food of more than one-half of the world's population? Rice is served with every meal here in Hawaii. Normally unseasoned short grain "sticky" rice is served here in Hawaii, but I prefer this version because it has more flavor.

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

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

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

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

Boil macaroni and potatoes in separate pots, 10 to 12 minutes, or until cooked to your taste, drain & cool 30 minutes. Add all other ingredients to cooled macaroni and potatoes, in a large bowl. Gently stir to mix everything together. Keep cold in the refrigerator until ready to serve. The macaroni and potatoes will absorb the mayo, so you may want to make your salad a day ahead to let the flavors combine. You might also want to add more mayonnaise just before serving. Garnish with more chopped green onion. Makes 16 generous servings.

Also known as Korean-style or cross-cut short ribs. Korean-style beef short ribs are much thinner than the more common English version. They should only be about 1/4 inch thick, with three rib bones attached. These ribs are very popular in Hawaii.

1/2 cup pineapple juice
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup mirin (Japanese sweet cooking wine)
4 scallions, trimmed and minced
4 medium garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 pounds Korean-style (flanken cut) beef short ribs (cut 1/4 inch thick across the ribs)
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds, for garnish

Combine juice, soy sauce, honey, mirin, scallions, garlic, sesame oil, brown sugar, and pepper in a medium nonreactive bowl. Whisk until completely incorporated. Place ribs in a large resealable plastic bag or a nonreactive dish and cover with marinade. Toss the meat in the marinade until well coated. Seal and refrigerate 12 hours or overnight. Heat a gas or charcoal grill to high (about 400°F) and rub the grill with a towel dipped in oil. Remove ribs from the refrigerator and let sit at room temperature while the grill is heating, at least 20 minutes. Remove ribs from marinade and let excess drip off. Grill, spaced 1 inch apart, until well done and crispy on the edges, about 5 minutes per side. Remove to a platter, sprinkle with sesame seeds, and serve with rice and spicy cabbage kimchee (recipe below). Makes 4-6 servings.

Spicy Cabbage Kimchee
1 pound Chinese cabbage (napa cabbage)
1 pound white radish (daikon)
3 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons finely minced fresh ginger
1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic
5 green onions, cut into fine rounds, including green
1 tablespoon cayenne or hot red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon sugar

Using a small whole cabbage, cut it in half lengthwise, and then cut it across at 2-inch intervals. Peel the white radish, cut it in half lengthwise, and then cut it crosswise into 1/8-inch-thick slices. In a large bowl put 5 cups water and 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons of the salt. Mix. Add the cabbage and radish to this water and dunk them in a few times. Cover loosely and set aside for 12 hours. Turn the

vegetables over a few times. Put the ginger, garlic, scallions, cayenne, sugar, and 1 teaspoon salt in another large bowl. Mix well. Take the cabbage out of its soaking liquid with a slotted spoon (save the liquid) and put it in the bowl with the seasonings. Mix well. Put this cabbage mixture into a 2-quart jar or crock. Pour enough of the salt water over it to cover the vegetables (about 2 cups). Leave 1 inch of empty space at the top of the jar. Cover loosely with a clean cloth and set aside for 3 to 7 days in a cool place. Taste the cabbage after 3 days to check on the sourness. When it is done to your liking, cover the jar and refrigerate. To serve, remove just as much of the kimchee as you think you will need for a meal - a cupful is enough for 4. The kimchee liquid may be used to flavor stews and soups. Makes 8 servings.

 Teriyaki Tri-Tip
2 to 2 1/2 pounds Tri-Tip Roast, 2 inches thick
2 cups Honey Ginger Teriyaki Marinade (recipe below)
2 cloves fresh garlic, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon freshly cracked peppercorns
1/4 cup red wine

Marinade: (makes 1 1/4 cups)
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup oyster sauce
2 tablespoons brown sugar, packed
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced or grated on rasp
1 tablespoon garlic, pressed or minced
1 tablespoon ketchup
1/4 teaspoon granulated (or powdered) onion

Combine all of the marinade ingredients in a bowl and mix well, set aside. Rinse meat, pat dry and place in a large heavy zip-lock bag. In a small bowl, mix together 1/2 of the marinade, garlic, pepper and wine. Pour marinade over meat in zip-lock bag, close and refrigerate overnight, turning bag once or twice. Discard marinade and pat meat dry. Grill over low, direct heat until internal temperature reaches 120˚F (about 30 to 40 minutes), turning 1/2 way. Remove from grill and allow to rest for 15 minutes (internal temperature will rise to 130˚F to 135˚F for medium rare). Adjust cooking time accordingly for preferred doneness. Slice thinly across the grain at a slant and serve with remaining marinade. Makes 6 servings.

Pork and Chicken Adobo
6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs cut into 2 inch cubes
2 pounds lean pork, cut into 2 inch cubes
10 peppercorns lightly crushed
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 bay leaf
1 cup water
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 cup apple cider vinegar

In a large glass baking dish, mix vinegar, garlic, bay leaf, peppercorns and soy sauce; add chicken and pork and toss to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and marinate in fridge for one hour. Transfer meat and marinade to a large saucepan. Add water and heat to boiling over high heat. Cover, reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes. Transfer chicken and pork pieces to a plate and allow to cool. Boil liquid until it is reduced to about 1 cup; 10 minutes. Pat meat dry with paper towels. In a large skillet, heat oil over high heat until very hot. Brown meat lightly. Return meat to sauce, stir to coat evenly. Serve with rice. Makes 6 servings.

Chicken Katsu
Chicken Katsu
The Kualapu'u Cookhouse, Moloka'i Hawaii
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6 chicken thighs, de-boned and flattened
1 cup flour
2 eggs
2 cups Panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
vegetable oil for frying

Tonkatsu dipping sauce:
1 cup ketchup
1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup sake
2 tablespoons ginger
2 tablespoons garlic
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup Mirin (Japanese sweet cooking wine)

Procedure for Tonkatsu dipping sauce:
Put all above ingredients in sauce pan and bring to a boil over medium heat stirring occasionally. Reduce to a simmer for 25-30 minutes skimming any foam that rises to the top. Will keep refrigerated for 4 weeks. Makes 3 cups of sauce.

Procedure for chicken:
Heat oil in frying pan. Coat chicken with flour, dip in beaten egg and roll in Panko breadcrumbs. Fry in hot oil until golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Slice and serve with Tonkatsu sauce for dipping. Makes 4 servings.

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