Jan 28, 2014

A'u – Shortbill Spearfish

A'u – Shortbill Spearfish
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A'u is the Hawaiian word for Shortbill Spearfish. Its dorsal fin is shorter than that of other billfish species, and its bill is very short in comparison. A'u caught in Hawaiian waters are usually between 20 and 40 pounds in weight.

A'u has an amber colored flesh that turns white when cooked. It is somewhat softer and more delicate than that of Nairagi or Kajiki. Its flavor is mild (although more pronounced than ahi tuna). It is one of several species of billfish, which are suitable for grilled or broiled "catch of the day" menu items in restaurants.

All Hawaii spearfish are line-caught. Longline boats that set hooks in deep water harvest most of the spearfish catch in Hawaii. However, spearfish are also caught by trollers using lures and baits. It is available year round here in Hawaii although more abundantly in the summer months.
A'u Steaks from Friendly Market on Moloka'i
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Hawaii Spearfish is an excellent source of healthy, extra lean protein. It is also low in saturated fat and low in sodium. It is rich in niacin, vitamin B12, phosphorus and selenium. Hawaii Spearfish is a good source of vitamin B6 and iodine. Hawaii Spearfish also provides about 350 mg of omega-3’s (DHA and EPA) per 4 ounce serving of fresh fish.

Butter Broiled A'u with Lime, Tomatoes, Garlic and Basil
I love to broil fish, it always turns out well, and it's very easy to do, A'u is also excellent served raw in poke or simply sliced and served as sashimi with soy sauce and wasabi with a touch of sesame oil for a dipping sauce.
Butter Broiled A'u with Lime, Tomatoes, Garlic and Basil

1/2 cup butter, divided
2 teaspoons garlic, minced
3 Roma tomatoes, cut into bite-size pieces
8 to 10 large fresh basil leaves, chopped (from Kumu Farms here on Moloka'i)
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/2 teaspoon salt and black pepper
1 1/2 pounds, 8 A'u steaks
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 lime cut into quarters for garnish
fresh basil tips for garnish

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Place the butter and minced garlic in a small skillet over medium-low heat. When the butter is melted, stir in the cut tomatoes, basil, lime juice, salt and pepper. Just before the mixture comes to a boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 10 minutes, or until the tomatoes begin to melt, then turn off the heat.

Arrange the A'u steaks in a baking dish or in a large oven safe skillet that has the olive oil on the bottom. Bake the fish for about 5 minutes in the preheated oven. Turn fish, and continue baking 5 minutes more. Now pour the tomato mixture over the fish and return the baking dish to the oven for 3 minutes more. Remove the fish to serving plates. Spoon the tomato mixture over the fish to serve. Garnish with lime wedges and basil sprigs. Serve with brown rice and Parmesan roasted zucchini. Makes 4 servings.

Jan 17, 2014


Most of us are familiar with the small, round red radishes found in grocery stores here in Hawaii, and on the Mainland. There is another radish however that is a staple in Asian cuisine, the daikon radish, or white radish. The big difference between red radishes and the daikon radish is the size. The daikon radish is huge, kind of like a white carrot on steroids. It has a light crunchy texture, and sharp bite that compliments rich Asian dishes and adds flavor to relishes and salads. In China, daikon (lo bak) is used more in cooking soups, stir-fries and "red-cooked dishes", where the food is slowly simmered in a soy sauce based sauce, like the braised chicken recipe below. Pickled daikon (Takuwan) is very popular in Japan, and in Hawaii, and can be found in most sushi bars and grocery stores here.

If you're like me, you wonder what people do with foods that they are not familiar with. I have found that the daikon radish is a very versatile, and healthy vegetable, and something worth considering when you're looking for something different to have for dinner. 

Here are a few simple recipes for you to try:

Hawaiian Sweet & Spicy Pickled Daikon
Hawaiian Sweet & Spicy Pickled Daikon
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Fresh daikon is readily available in markets here in Hawaii. You see it used shredded as a garnish for sushi, but my favorite way to serve it is pickled in a sweet & spicy brine (much better than commercial brands). They are served with rice and grilled fish or chicken, or just eat them as a snack. They are some of the best pickles you can imagine.

2 pounds Chinese white radish no larger than 2 inches in diameter, peeled and sliced into 1/4 inch slices
2 tablespoons Hawaiian sea salt, or kosher salt
4 teaspoons plus 1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup seasoned rice vinegar
2 cups lukewarm water
2 teaspoons powdered turmeric
2 1-inch slices peeled ginger, cut into strips
2 Hawaiian chili pepper, seeded and chopped

Place daikon slices in a colander, sprinkle with salt and 4 teaspoons of brown sugar, mix well. Place the colander over a bowl and let drain for about 1 hour, or until the radish slices are bendable. Rinse the salt off a couple of times under cold running water and dry the slices well. Put the slices into two sterilized quart glass jars.

In a small saucepan over medium heat add the vinegar, water, 1 cup brown sugar, turmeric, ginger, and chopped Hawaiian chili pepper. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove from heat.

Pour the hot turmeric brine into a strainer over the jars to cover the radish slices with the brine. You want to do this while your brine is still relatively hot, as this improves the final crunch factor of you radish slices. If you wait until your brine has cooled down to add it to your radish slices, you'll end up with relatively soft radishes with little crunch. Screw the lid on tightly before the jar cools, then refrigerate for two days as it ferments. At this point they are ready to eat. Pickled daikon will last for months stored in the refrigerator.

Makes 2 quarts.

Pickled Beet Root with Daikon Radish
Pickled Beet Root with Daikon Radish
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This is another version of the sweet Japanese pickled daikon called "Takuwan" which uses turmeric to make the white radishes turn yellow. I use beets, which color the daikon a beautiful vibrant red. You want to use equal amounts of cooked beets and raw daikon radish for this recipe. This condiment pairs well with pork, chicken or fish.

5 medium sized beets, peeled and cooked in salted water, about 1 teaspoon of salt
4 cups daikon radish, peeled and cut into bite-size pieces
1/2 medium onion, sliced
8 whole cloves
2 cups cider vinegar
2 cups beet juice
1/2 cup sugar

Cook peeled beets, cover in salted water, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer for 20 minutes. Remove the beets to a cutting board to cool, save the beet juice in the pot. Take out two quart jars that have been boiled with the lids for 20 minutes. Divide the onions, uncooked daikon pieces, and whole cloves into the two jars. Put the vinegar, 2 cups of beet juice, and 1/2 cup of sugar in a pot and bring to a simmer long enough to dissolve the sugar. Meanwhile cut the cooled cooked beets into the same size that you cut the daikon. Put the cut beets into the jars, and fill each jar with the hot vinegar solution. Fill the jars to 1/4 inch from the top of each jar. Tightly seal the jars with the clean lids and leave out on the counter to cool. When cool, refrigerate. They are ready to eat in about 24 hours. Makes 2 quarts.

Braised Chicken with Daikon and Egg
Braised Chicken with Daikon and Egg
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3 boiled eggs
2 tablespoons canola oil for frying
1 pound daikon (radish), peeled cut into bite size pieces
3 tablespoons minced ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 star anise
2 inch cinnamon stick
4 large chicken thighs
1/3 cup Tamari sauce or dark soy sauce
1/3 cup sake
3 tablespoons mirin
1 1/2 cups water
2 tablespoons sugar
dash of pepper
2 stalks spring onion, thinly sliced on an angle, for garnish

Put eggs in a small pot and cover with cold water. Bring water to a boil, turn off the heat and cover the pot. Let sit for 10 minutes, then drain the water and run cold water over the top to cool the eggs. Set the eggs aside to cool, then peel.

Heat up 2 tablespoons of canola oil in a wok or large skillet and fry ginger, garlic, star anise and cinnamon stick until fragrant. Add chicken and brown on all sides, about 20 minutes on medium high heat.

In a small bowl, mix Tamari sauce, sake, mirin, water and sugar. Add the sauce to the chicken and daikon, lower heat and gently simmer for 30 minutes. Remove the star anis and cinnamon stick and discard. Season the chicken and daikon with pepper. Slice each egg in half. Dish out chicken and daikon into bowls. Add 3 egg halves on top of chicken and daikon. Spoon sauce over everything and garnished with sliced spring onions and sesame seeds. Serve with steamed rice. Makes 2 servings.

Jan 15, 2014

EHU... Hawaiian Red Snapper

Ehu... Hawaiian Red Snapper
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The peak season for the Ehu is during the winter here in Hawaii. It is a beautiful bright red-orange fish with a thin lateral yellow stripe along its body. It lives 700 to 1,000 feet below the surface in the deep reefs around the islands. They typically weigh from 1 pound to over 10 pounds and can measure up to 2 feet in length and are caught mostly by hook and line. The pink flesh of the Ehu turns white when cooked. Its texture is soft, and its flavor is delicate.

Ehu, Steamed with Ginger, Scallions, and Soy
The locals here on Moloka'i usually either steam Ehu or they fry it, I like either way, however I think steaming Ehu makes a better presentation. There is an art to steaming fish. A perfectly steamed fish has flesh that is just cooked at the bone, never dry. The following recipe is the classic Chinese preparation, the Ehu is topped with scallions, cilantro and ginger, then hot oil is poured over it, which releases the flavor of the aromatics into the flesh of the fish.

2 (1 1/2-pound) whole Ehu, cleaned with head and tail removed
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3- 1-inch pieces fresh ginger, peeled and finely julienned
1/3 cup light soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice wine
2 scallions, white and light green parts only, julienned
8 cilantro sprigs
2/3 cup canola oil
4 lime wedges

Rinse the cleaned fish in cold water and pat dry with paper towels. Season the fish inside and out with salt and pepper. Place the fish on a heatproof plate that is both large enough to accommodate it (a glass pie plate works well) and will also fit inside your steamer (or wok), bending the fish slightly if it is too long. Stuff half of the ginger inside the cavity of the fish and spread the remaining ginger on top of the fish.

Pour water into a wok or stockpot and set a steamer in the wok or on the rim of the stockpot. Make sure the water does not touch the bottom of the steamer. Bring the water to a boil over high heat.

Place the plate holding the fish in the steamer, cover, and steam for about 10 minutes, until the fish flakes easily when tested with the tip of a knife.

While the fish is steaming, in a small bowl, stir together the soy sauce, wine, and 1 tablespoon of water. Set aside.

When the fish is ready, carefully remove the plate from the steamer and pour off any accumulated liquid. Lay the scallion and cilantro along the top of the fish. In a small pot, heat the oil over high heat until it is hot but not smoking. Remove the oil from the heat and pour it directly over the scallion and cilantro to "cook" them. Drizzle the soy mixture over the fish and serve immediately with lime wedges, brown rice, and snow peas. Note: This fish has a lot of bones, so do a good job removing them before serving. Makes 4 servings.

Onaga & Leek Stew
Onaga is the beautiful ruby snapper found in Hawaii waters, however you can use Ehu or regular red snapper, sea bass, or similar firm white meat fish for this recipe.

1, 3 pound onaga (Hawaiian ruby snapper), cleaned, gutted and scaled, head removed (optional)
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
juice of 3 lemons
2/3 cup olive oil
2 1/2 pounds leeks, white and tender green parts cut into 2-inch lengths
2 cups water
2 large eggs, at room temperature

Place the cleaned fish on a platter and sprinkle with salt, pepper and one third of the lemon juice. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use.

Heat 1/2 cup of the olive oil in a large, wide pot and place the leeks in the pot. Cover and steam in the oil over low heat, turning them occasionally until lightly caramelized, about 25 minutes.

Place the fish over the leeks, add the water, cover and simmer over low heat until the fish is fork-tender, 20 to 25 minutes.

Make the egg-lemon sauce: Separate the egg yolks and whites. Beat the whites vigorously until foamy and nearly stiff. Beat the egg yolks with the remaining lemon juice and then whisk into the whites. Add a ladleful of the pot juices to the egg mixture in a slow, steady stream, whisking all the while. Pour the sauce into the pot and tilt the pot to distribute it evenly. Pour in the remaining olive oil and serve. Makes 4 servings.