Sep 26, 2015

Tropical SHRIMP

Shrimp Farming is profitable from Ecuador to Hawaii. Hawaii has a long history in shrimp farming. Ancient Hawaiians harvested local shrimp from coastal fish ponds for hundreds of years. Their ponds were constantly replenished with fresh tidal seawater, resulting in sweet, succulent Hawaii shrimp. 

Today, shrimp is the most popular seafood in the U.S., and Hawaii is considered the world's shrimp-breeding capital, thanks to the work of Jim Wyban's company, High Health Aquaculture in Kona. His company was sold in 2012 to an Asian multinational company called Shrimp Improvement Systems (SIS), now the world's leading provider of shrimp broodstock. Shrimp broodstock are a group of mature shrimp used in aquaculture for breeding purposes. Another shrimp farm can be found on the Hawaiian island of Kauai, Sunrise Capital's shrimp farm, which produce Pacific White Shrimp for Kauai's local markets and throughout the State of Hawaii under the label Kauai Shrimp. Here on Moloka'i, Moloka'i Sea Farms has been supplying hatcheries worldwide with quality pathogen free broodstock.

So what does all of this mean? It means that farm raised shrimp are sustainable. Like cattle, shrimp can be raised to feed the world. According to the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program, their are approximately 400,000 producers of farm raised shrimp worldwide, which makes it difficult for consumers to know the origin of their shrimp and how it was farmed. 
Are their safeguards in place in other countries? How do we know how these shrimp are raised, what they are fed, and are they safe to eat? In Hawaii, the Hawaii Pacific University Oceanic Institute long-term goal is to support the domestic industry that will help offset a $3.7 billion trade imbalance for shrimp, ensure the safety and wholesomeness of the nation's seafood supply, promote environmentally sustainable animal agriculture, create new opportunities for U.S. agriculture, and forge new markets for U.S. grain and oilseed products and technology services. 

Thailand is our top foreign source for shrimp. One third of the shrimp we import come from Thailand, and over 80 percent of those shrimp are farm raised. U.S. imported shrimp also comes from Ecuador, Indonesia, China, Mexico, Vietnam, Malaysia and India. It's too bad that we can't buy locally. Personally I think Kauai Shrimp farm (see link above) is as close as we can get to safe, pathogen free farm raised shrimp here in Hawaii. 

It's ironic that our largest grocery store on Moloka'i sells thawed white shrimp from Ecuador, when they could be buying locally from Kauai Shrimp Farm. Shrimp are very perishable. Unless you live in an area where you are able to get shrimp caught the same day, the quality of your shrimp might suffer. Here's a chef's tip when buying shrimp, it is sometimes better to buy frozen shrimp rather than fresh shrimp. If you purchase thawed shrimp at your supermarket, you do not know how long they have been sitting out, which may put your family at risk for food-borne illness.

In June 2014, the Obama administration announced it would propose new rules for the seafood industry by the end of the year. The Food and Drug Administration is responsible for oversight of fish in this country, but it's up to us to shop wisely, and read food labels.

The bottom line is that this country loves to eat shrimp and it doesn't look like the demand for shrimp will slow down in the near future. So here are a few tropical shrimp recipes for you to enjoy, or click on the "Recipe Index" tab above to find many more shrimp recipes:

Grilled Garlic Shrimp

This is a simple recipe for the grill, and is one of my favorite spicy finger foods during football season, with a cold beer on the side.

Brining Solution:
1 cup Hawaiian or Kosher salt
6 tablespoons sugar
2 quarts water

3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
2 1/2 teaspoons lemon or lime juice
2 pounds large shrimp, with shells left on

Prepare brining solution and brine shrimp for 15 minutes. Remove from brining solution and pat dry, set aside. Using mortar and pestle, smash garlic and salt into a smooth paste. Add cayenne and paprika and mix well. Add olive oil, ginger, and lemon to form a thin paste, making sure the paste isn’t too loose or it will not cling to the shrimp. Toss shrimp with paste until evenly coated. Grill until shells are bright pink, about 2 to 3 minutes per side. Serve hot. Makes 8 servings.

Crispy Fried Coconut Shrimp 
with Pineapple Dipping Sauce
Ingredients for coconut shrimp:
18 unpeeled, large fresh shrimp
1 cup coconut milk
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup beer
1 (7-ounce) package sweetened flaked coconut
1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs
canola oil for frying

Procedure for coconut shrimp:
Peel shrimp, leaving tails on. Butterfly shrimp by making a deep slit down the back of each from the large end to the tail, cutting to, but not through, inside curve of shrimp.

Stir together coconut milk, cilantro, and lime juice in a large bowl. Add shrimp, tossing gently to coat. Cover and chill 30 minutes. Drain shrimp from mixture (do not pat dry).

Whisk together flour and beer in a small bowl. Combine coconut and breadcrumbs in a shallow dish. Dip shrimp into beer batter; dredge in coconut mixture, pressing onto shrimp. Place shrimp on a baking sheet; freeze 20 minutes.

Pour oil to depth of 2 inches into a Dutch oven, and heat to 350°F. Cook shrimp, in batches, 2 to 3 minutes or until golden. Drain on paper towels, and sprinkle lightly with salt. Serve immediately with Sweet Tropical Dipping Sauce. Makes 6 appetizer servings, 3 shrimp per serving.

Pineapple Dipping Sauce
2/3 cup pineapple preserves
2/3 cup apricot preserves
1/2 cup stone-ground mustard

Stir together all ingredients in a small bowl. Cover and chill. Makes about 2 cups.

Hot & Sour Lemongrass Shrimp Soup
1 pound sweet shrimp, with peelings
4 cups chicken stock
3 stalks lemongrass
3 tablespoons fish sauce
1/4 cup lime juice (remove the rind of one of them, see below)
2 tablespoons chopped green onion
5 strips of lime rind, green part only
1/2 cup re-hydrated, dried black tree ear mushrooms, cut into thin strips
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 teaspoon chili oil, or to taste
2 green onions, chopped for garnish

Shell and devein the prawns, reserving the shells. Rinse the shells and place them in a large saucepan with the chicken stock. Remove the hard end and outer layer of the lemongrass stalk. Bruise the white ends of your stalks with the blunt edge of a large knife (it helps release the lemongrass “juices”), then add them to the broth along with the strips of lime rind. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low, and simmer gently until the lemon grass changes color, and the stock becomes fragrant, about 5 minutes. Strain the stock and return to the saucepan. Discard the solids.

Return the stock to a simmer, and add the mushrooms and prawns. Cook until the prawns are pink. Stir in the fish sauce, lime juice, 2 tablespoons green onion, cilantro, and chili oil. Taste, and adjust seasoning if necessary. The soup should be sour, salty, spicy and hot. Garnish with remaining green onions. Serve with white rice on the side. Makes 4 servings.

Kabocha Squash, long Beans, 
and Shrimp in Coconut Milk
This is a multi-layered soup recipe that my Filipino friend Estella Ramos told me about. Coconut milk combined with sweet kabocha squash, shrimp and long beans make for a delicious main course or as an opener to a tropical meal. Be sure and suck the fat out of  the shrimp heads, sooo ono!

2 cups kabocha squash, pared, seeded and cut into 2-inch chunks
2 cups long beans, ends trimmed and cut into 3-inch lengths
1/2 pound large white shrimp (8 pieces), tendrils trimmed, leaving the heads on for sucking later
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 small onion, peeled and thinly sliced
2 cups coconut milk
1 pinch dried chili pepper
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
salt to taste

In a pot, heat oil over medium heat. Saute onions and garlic just until the onion gets transparent, but don't burn the garlic. Add fish sauce and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for about 1 to 2 minutes.

Pour in coconut milk and add a pinch of dried chili pepper. Bring to a simmer then lower heat and continue for about 5 to 6 minutes or until slightly reduced.

Add squash and cook for about 3 to 5 minutes. Add long beans and continue to cook for another 5 to 6 minutes. Add shrimp and continue to cook for about 4 to 5 minutes or until squash is softened, long beans are tender yet crisp and shrimps have changed color. Season with salt to taste. Makes 4 servings.

Sauteed Shrimp Salad 
with Avocado-lime Vinaigrette
Ingredients for shrimp:
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lime zest
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro leaves
2 pounds shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/2 teaspoon salt

Procedure for shrimp:
In a medium bowl, combine 1/4 cup vegetable oil, lime zest, pepper, garlic, and cilantro. Add shrimp; cover, and refrigerate for 20 minutes.

Remove shrimp from marinade; discard marinade. Season shrimp with salt. In a 12-inch saute pan over medium-high heat, add 1 tablespoon vegetable oil and saute half the shrimp. Cook 2 to 3 minutes per side, or until just cooked through. Remove from heat to a platter and cook remaining shrimp. Serve warm or cold with Avocado-Lime Vinaigrette drizzled on top. Makes 6 servings.

Avocado-lime Vinaigrette
Ingredients for avocado-lime vinaigrette:
1 ripe avocado
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
6 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves

Procedure for avocado-lime vinaigrette:
Peel, seed, and dice avocado and place in blender or food processor. Add garlic, salt, lime juice, water, vinegar, hot sauce, and cilantro leaves. With the machine running, slowly drizzle in oil until a creamy emulsion forms. Transfer vinaigrette to a small bowl or squeeze bottle. Use immediately or refrigerate for up to 2 days. Makes 6 servings.

Green Papaya Salad with Shrimp
Green Papaya Salad
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This salad is all about texture and the flavors of Southeast Asia where it is hugely popular. Green papaya salad is usually eaten with barbecue or grilled chicken and a portion of sticky rice. The dish is made from unripe green papaya, which has a firm white flesh and white seeds, and can sometimes be hard to find. If you are going to make it, look for rock-hard dark green papaya without a trace of pink or yellow blush on the outside. Normally this salad is made with a lot of hot chilies, but I prefer it with just one chili in the dressing.

Ingredients for dressing:
2 large garlic cloves, forced through a garlic press
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 1/2 tablespoons Asian fish sauce (preferably nuoc mam)
1/2 tablespoon white sugar
1/2 tablespoon brown sugar
1 small thin fresh red or green Asian chili (1 to 2 inches long) or serrano chili, or to taste, seeded and chopped fine (wear rubber gloves)

Ingredients for salad:
1/2 pound small shrimp, shelled
3/4 pound green papaya, peeled, seeded, and shredded, or julienned into 2-3 inch strips 1/8 inch thick, preferably in a food processor (about 3 cups)
1 carrot, julienned the same size as the green papaya
1/2 cup cut long beans - 1 1/2-inch-long segments (or substitute with regular green beans)
1 tomato, cut into bite-size wedges; or 10 cherry tomatoes, halved
1/3 cup fresh cilantro leaves, no stems, washed well and spun dry
4 tablespoons roasted peanuts, chopped
mint or Thai basil sprigs for garnish

In a large bowl whisk together dressing ingredients until sugar is dissolved, set aside.

In a small saucepan of boiling salted water cook shrimp 45 seconds to 1 minute, or until cooked through. In a colander drain shrimp and rinse under cold water to stop cooking. Halve shrimp horizontally. Add shrimp, papaya, carrot, beans, tomatoes, and cilantro to dressing, tossing well. Salad may be made 2 hours ahead and chilled, covered. Bring salad to room temperature before serving. Serve salad sprinkled with chopped peanuts, garnish with a sprig of mint and Thai basil. Makes 4-6 servings. Note: It is important to julienne the papaya, carrots and long beans as thin as possible, otherwise this salad can be a challenge on your jaws.

Hawaii Shrimp Stir-fry with Snow Peas 
Shiitake Mushrooms
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
8 ounces sliced Shiitake mushroom caps
8 ounces snow peas, strings removed
1 pound medium or large shrimp, peeled, deveined
2 scallions, white and light green parts, thinly sliced
Salt and pepper, optional
Cooked rice or rice noodles for serving, optional

In a small bowl, mix broth, soy sauce, ginger and cornstarch.

Warm oil in a large nonstick skillet or wok over medium-high heat until shimmering. Cook mushrooms, stirring, until their liquid has evaporated and they have browned, 6 to 10 minutes. Add snow peas; stir-fry until crisp-tender, about 2 minutes. Toss in shrimp and cook, stirring, until pink, 3 to 5 minutes. Add scallions; stir-fry 30 seconds more. Stir broth mixture; pour into pan. Stir-fry until shrimp are opaque and sauce has thickened slightly, approximately 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper and serve over rice or rice noodles, if desired. Makes 4 servings.

Black Wood Ear Mushroom Stir-fry
with Shrimp
1 ounce dried black wood ear mushrooms, rehydrated
2 tablespoons each of sesame and peanut oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon grated ginger
1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 green onion, sliced
2 carrots, very thinly sliced
1/2 cup each green peas and bamboo shoots
3 tablespoons dry white wine
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon oyster sauce

Rinse the mushrooms thoroughly in cold water and then soak in warm water for 30 minutes. Dry the mushrooms and cut them thinly into strips. Heat sesame and peanut oils. Add garlic and ginger, stir over medium heat. Add shrimp, black wood ear mushrooms and green onion. Remove mixture when shrimp are opaque. Add the carrots, bamboo shoots, green peas and stir for a minute. Add wine, soy sauce and oyster sauce. Stir-fry for 2 minutes. Return shrimp mixture and heat through. Serve with bok choy with oyster sauce, and white rice. Makes 4 servings.

Steamed Shrimp & Pork Shumai
Shumai is spelled in different ways, but they are basically Chinese steamed dumplings that are commonly found in dim sum restaurants. You can purchase them frozen here on Moloka'i, but homemade is much better. The mixed ingredients are put into a round wonton wrapper, one teaspoon at a time. The wonton wrapper is then pinched around the filling and garnished with a single green pea on top, or whatever you like, then steamed in an Asian bamboo steamer. Easy to make and delicious served as a pupu for a party, or featured as a main course!

2 dried shitake mushrooms, rehydrated and minced
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced
1 dozen medium sized shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/2 pound ground pork
1 large clove of garlic, minced
1 large green onion, minced

about 30 large frozen green peas for garnish (see note below)

1 large egg, blended
about 30 wonton wrappers, (round)

Soak dried mushrooms for 1/2 hour to rehydrate. Meanwhile, mix soy sauce, sesame oil, oyster sauce, sugar, salt & pepper and ginger in a medium sized bowl. Separate 5 shrimp from the 12. Roughly chop the 5 shrimp and mince the rest. Add all of the shrimp to the bowl with the ground pork, garlic, and green onions. Mix everything together with your hand until blended. Cover and refrigerate for 1/2 hour.

When ready to assemble, stir egg together in a small bowl with a fork. With a basting brush, brush some of the egg mixture on top of a wonton (this will insure that the wonton sticks together while steaming). Make a circle with your fingers by touching the tips of your thumb and first finger together. Place a egg coated wonton wrapper on top of the circle and gently press the wrapper into the circle, making a small cup. While still holding the wonton in your fingers, with your other hand, place 1 rounded teaspoon of the pork/shrimp mixture into the center of the wonton. Now pinch the wonton together around the mixture, leaving the top open, and press the mixture into the wonton cup. Flatten the bottom of the shumai on the kitchen counter so that it sits flat. Place a single pea in the center of the shrimp/pork mixture for garnish. Repeat this process until the shrimp/pork mixture is gone. Place the uncooked shumai in the steamer, and steam for 15 to 20 minutes. Serve with a soy sauce dipping sauce with a little sesame oil and a squeeze of lime juice. Put in a drop or two of chili oil if you like it spicy. Makes about 30 shumai.

Note: If you can't find the round wonton wrappers, use the square ones and cut the corners off. I use a bamboo steamer and put parchment paper in the bottom so the shumai don't stick to the steamer. Leave room for the steam to come up around the paper. Instead of a pea for garnish you can blanch a carrot and chop it up and place a few pieces on top, or you can garnish each shumai with a cilantro leaf.

Sep 20, 2015


"Common Sense is a Flower
That Doesn't Grow in Everyone's Garden"

People are not born with common sense; they acquire it through life experience. A good place to learn common sense is in the kitchen, because the kitchen can be a dangerous place if you don't use it wisely. 

• Before you do anything in the kitchen, wash your hands in hot soapy water. Soap and water and common sense are the best disinfectants.

• Seasoning is meant to enhance the flavor of food. Learning to use salt, herbs, or spices sparingly is common sense. Mahatma Gandhi once said "Common sense is the realized sense of proportion".

• You can easily get cut if you don't keep your knives sharp. Dull knives require more pressure creating more opportunity for slipping from your grasp and cutting yourself. "Common sense tells us that dull knives are a sign of a dull mind".

• Leaving food out on the counter for more than one hour in Hawaii can lead to food poisoning. Our warm weather, 90˚ or higher, helps to quickly contaminate food. If it is below 90˚ it is safe to leave food out for two hours. It's only common sense to keep food covered on your kitchen counter while you are preparing a meal. Click here for more information.

• Water and oil don't mix, especially if you put cold water in hot oil, naturally it splatters all over the stove, you and the floor. If you cook then you probably have learned this lesson the hard way. 

• There are all sorts of appliances in you kitchen that eventually need to be cleaned. Common sense tells you to unplug that toaster first, before cleaning it. I even go beyond that, I keep a pair of chopsticks next to my toaster to grab the toast out of the hot toaster instead of getting my fingers burned.

Just remember... "The door to safety swings on the hinges of common sense".

Note: Check out these new "Common Sense" food safety rules for Hawaii's food establishments, published by the Moloka'i Dispatch. (click here)

Sep 19, 2015

Exposing My Underwear

My roots are very Southern. My father's family were from Lake View, South Carolina, my mother came from Chattanooga, Tennessee. Her brother, my uncle who I was named after, had 12 kids, so their must be tons of my relatives in Chattanooga that I haven't kept up with. Oh man, I'll bet they're all going to come and visit me now that they know where I live.

Southern States of the United States
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I was born in Anniston, Alabama, when my father was a Captain in the army fighting the Germans in Europe. We moved around a lot when I was young, first to Sarasota, Florida. My father was in the hotel business, so after he got out of the army, we moved to places like Savannah, Georgia, Jacksonville, Florida, and finally Memphis, Tennessee, where I went to Overton high school. During those years I learned to love Southern food. Finally I went on to collage in Los Angeles. My father drove me out there from Memphis, got me set up with pots and pans in a small studio apartment near my collage, Art Center Collage of Design. He then said "good luck son", kind of like a sink or swim scenario. I've been swimming ever since.

I know, this isn't my usual post on Tasting Hawaii, but my point is that your roots definitely mold your taste buds and attitude about food. I'll bet there are a lot of folks who live in Hawaii that had their roots in the deep south like I did. Come to think of it, I'll bet there are a lot of Hawaiians on the mainland that miss the food here in Hawaii as well. I wanted to share a few of my favorite Southern recipes that I still enjoy here in Hawaii.

Southern Caviar  (Black Eyed Pea Salad)
This is a classic deep south salad, and one of my favorites. It's important to cut up the ingredients the size of a black eyed pea (except the garlic, which should be minced). This gives the salad the appearance of caviar... if you squint.

Ingredients for the salad:
3, 14.5 ounce cans of black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
2 green onions, sliced
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 tablespoon chopped pickled jalapeno
1 (2 ounce) jar of pimentos, drained
2 plum tomatoes, chopped
1 fresh lime, juiced
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley

Ingredients for the dressing:
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Whisk together the dressing ingredients in a large bowl. Add the salad ingredients except for the lime and parsley. Gently toss the dressing into the salad. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate several hours before serving. Squeeze lime juice into the salad and toss with parsley just before serving. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Sweet & Spicy Pork Ribs
I really enjoy Sweet & Spicy Pork Ribs served with Southern-Style Collard Greens and Iron Skillet Corn Bread. Most of the time ribs in the South were barbecued, but I like this recipe because I can cook it in the oven, and because most of the work is done the day before I serve it.

1 cup beef stock
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons ground black pepper
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 cinnamon stick
1 cup honey
1 cup ketchup
3/4 cup Dijon mustard
3/4 cup distilled white vinegar
2 large racks of meaty pork ribs (8 pounds), cut into individual ribs
1 cup water

In a small saucepan, simmer the beef stock until it is reduced to 1/2 cup. Set aside.

In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil. Add the onion and garlic and cook over moderately low heat until softened, about 7 minutes. Add the oregano, black pepper, paprika, cayenne, crushed red pepper and cinnamon stick and cook, stirring, until fragrant. Add the honey, ketchup and mustard and cook over moderate heat until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Add the vinegar and reduced beef stock and cook until thickened, about 10 minutes; let cool.

Put the ribs in 2 large resealable plastic bags. Add the sauce to the bags. Seal and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Transfer the ribs and marinade to a large roasting pan and bake for 1 1/2 hours. Add the water to the pan, turn the ribs and bake for about 1 hour longer, until the ribs are very tender and thickly glazed. Discard the cinnamon stick. Transfer the ribs to a platter and serve. Makes 8 servings.

Note: The ribs can be refrigerated for up to 2 days and reheated, covered, in the oven.

Buttermilk Fried Okra
It's easy to find fresh okra here on Moloka'i, because the Filipinos use it in their cuisine thank goodness. Okra is a vegetable you have to grow up with as I did in the South. Most people don't like okra because, depending on how it's cooked, it can get slimy, this recipe doesn't.

1 pound of fresh okra
2 cups of buttermilk
1 cup of plain yellow cornmeal
1 cup of all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon of salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
canola oil
1/4 cup bacon drippings, because my mother did it that way

Wash okra and cut off and discard tip and stem ends from okra; cut okra into 1⁄2-inch-thick rounds. Stir into buttermilk; cover and chill for 45 minutes.

Combine cornmeal, flour, salt and cayenne pepper in a bowl. Remove okra from buttermilk with a slotted spoon, and discard buttermilk. Dredge okra, in batches, in the cornmeal mixture.

Pour oil to a depth of 2 inches into a dutch oven or cast-iron skillet; add bacon drippings, and heat to 375°. Fry okra, in batches, 4 minutes or until golden brown; drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with additional salt if desired. Makes 6 servings.

Southern-Style Collard Greens
Collard Greens from my garden
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Southern-Style Collard Greens, are a side dish served in Southern homes all year round. It's a traditional favorite for New Years Day as the greens are supposed to bring wealth for the New Year. Here on Moloka'i, collard greens can be hard to find, but I have found them at our farmers market on a couple of occasions, plus I have actually grown them in my back yard with great success.

1 pound of fresh collard greens, washed well and chopped.
1 large meaty smoked ham hock (at least 4 ounces)
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon of black pepper
1 tablespoon of salt
1 tablespoon of sugar
1 tablespoon of hot sauce or in Hawaii, chili pepper water
1 tablespoon of butter
3 quarts of water

Place 3 cups of water in a large pot and bring to a boil. Wash and scrub the Ham Hock well, cut into sections and add to the boiling water. Let ham hock simmer for about 30 minutes on medium heat.

Wash the collard greens scrubbing each leaf under cool running water until clean. Fold each collard leaf in half, either in your hand or on your cutting board. Pull the leaf section away from the stem. Discard stems. Stack a couple of leaves together on your cutting board. Begin at one end and roll the leaves up tightly. Then, cut lengthwise down the center of the roll. Squeeze the cut sections back together, rotate and cut the roll into about 3/4 inch slices. Add leaves to the pot with the Ham Hock pieces, a little at a time, let them cook down a minute and then add more. Reduce heat to a low simmer, leave the pot uncovered and simmer for about 30 minutes.

Chop the onions and chop or mince the garlic cloves. In a small saucepan on medium low heat, add the butter and let it melt. Add the chopped onions and garlic to the butter and sauté until onions are translucent. Add the cooked onions and garlic to your stock pot with the collard leaves.
Add salt, sugar, black pepper and Hot Sauce in amounts listed. Stir well. Let simmer another 15 minutes or until the collards are as tender as you prefer.

Using a slotted spoon, remove the greens and place in a bowl. Let the liquid continue to simmer.
Remove the ham hock, chop the meatier portions into small pieces and return to the liquid. Return the chopped collard greens to the liquid and stir well. Keep warm until ready to serve. Makes 6 servings.

Note: Cornbread goes well with Collard Greens. Some folks like to dip their cornbread in the "potlikker" or liquid from the Collard Greens, and eat it that way.

Click on image to view larger
An African cook in Atlanta is said to have given the name hushpuppy to this food. When frying a batch of catfish and croquettes, a nearby puppy began to howl. To keep the puppy quiet, she gave it a plateful of the croquettes and said, "hush, puppy." Since the name was cut, it stuck. This is one of my favorite southern recipes to serve with fried fish.

2 cups white cornmeal
1 teaspoons baking powder
1 medium onion, chopped fine
1 cup milk, more if needed
1/4 cup solid vegetable shortening, melted
1/2 teaspoon salt
pinch of garlic powder
pinch of cayenne pepper
2 eggs, beaten
1 tablespoon sugar
3/4 cup cooked fresh corn off the cob (optional, but recommended)
canola oil for frying

In a mixing bowl combine all of the ingredients except the frying oil. Moisten with just enough milk to create a stiff dough. Drop the batter from a tablespoon into deep hot oil (350˚F) and fry for 3 or 4 minutes, or until golden (turn them in the hot oil several times). Don't crowd them in the oil. Drain on paper towels. Immediately sprinkle with salt. Serve hushpuppies warm with fried fish. Makes 2 dozen.

Iron Skillet Corn Bread
1 cup white or yellow corn meal
Iron Skillet Corn Bread

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar (you can add up to 1/2 cup if you like it really sweet)
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon allspice
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
1 large egg
1 cup whole milk
1/4 cup vegetable shortening or butter, melted
1 1/2 tablespoons shortening or butter, melted

Sift the dry ingredients together into a large mixing bowl. Add the egg, milk, and 1/4 cup shortening and beat with a wooden spoon or spatula until smooth, about 1 minute. Grease a 6-inch iron skillet (or a heavy baking pan) with the shortening, pour in the batter, and bake in a preheated 425˚F oven for 22 to 25 minutes, or until light golden brown on top (be careful not to overcook the cornbread). Bring the skillet to the table and cut into wedges to serve. Great with barbecued ribs, chili or black bean soup. Makes 6 servings.

Note: For a moist interior and a nice crisp crust, put an iron skillet two thirds filled with water on the floor of your oven before you begin to preheat it. If you prefer corn muffins, grease just the bottoms of 12 regular-size muffin cups, or place paper baking cups in muffin cups. Fill about 3/4 full with batter.

Old-Fashioned Buttermilk Pie
Ingredients for filling:
1 stick butter, softened
2 cups sugar
3 egg yolks
3 tablespoons Flour
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Dash of nutmeg
1 unbaked pie crust, make it from scratch or buy ready-made, like Pillsbury Frozen Pie Crust

Procedure for filling:
Place softened butter in a medium size mixing bowl. Add sugar. Mix well. Add slightly beaten egg yolks. Add flour. Mix well, making sure eggs are fully incorporated. Add buttermilk. Add vanilla extract. Add dash of Nutmeg. Mix well, until everything is fully combined.

Pour filling into unbaked pie crust. Bake at 350°F for about 45 minutes or until center is slightly firm.
Remove from oven, place on wire rack, and let cool completely.

Note: This pie freezes well. If desired, use the egg whites to make a meringue for the pie.

No Leftover... 
Bourbon Pecan Pie
Bourbon is my favorite whisky, and pecans are my favorite nut, probably because I grew up in the South. Put them together in a pie and you have a delicious, decadent dessert, great for Thanksgiving, or anytime. Does this pie have anything to do with Hawaii, not likely, but you can buy all of the ingredients here, so why not make it, it's very easy to make. Best served warm.

1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons melted butter
1/2 cup dark corn syrup
3 large beaten eggs
1 1/2 cups pecan halves, toasted
2 tablespoons good quality bourbon, I use Maker's Mark
1 (9 inch) unbaked pie shell

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

In a medium bowl, stir together the sugar and melted butter. Add the corn syrup, eggs, pecans and bourbon, and stir until all ingredients are combined. Pour mixture into an unbaked pie shell, and place on a heavy-duty cookie sheet. Bake for 10 minutes. Lower the oven temperature to 350°F, and continue to bake for an additional 25 minutes, or until pie is set. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack.

Makes 6-8 servings.

Note: To toast nuts, bake in a shallow pan in a 350°F oven for 5-10 minutes or cook in a skillet over low heat until lightly browned, stirring occasionally.

If using a store-bought pie crust, follow the instructions on the package for blind baking.

Sep 13, 2015


Is it hot enough for you? August and September are the hottest months of the year in Hawaii, plus it's also a record hurricane season. Add global warming and the most powerful El Niño on record, which has made it even hotter and the worst humidity ever. Naturally if you live in Hawaii you already know about all of this, so what do we do?
Hawaii's answer to global warming
Shave Ice from Big Daddy's restaurant here on Moloka'i

As the old saying goes, "If it's too hot, get out of the kitchen". Being a chef, it's hard for me to do that, but in this heat, who wants to cook unless you are lucky enough to have air-conditioning in your kitchen... I guess I'm not lucky. 

Cooking in hot humid weather is no fun, and cooking should be. All we need to do is change our meal planning and food habits. Remember this is only temporary... I hope?

1. Don't turn on the oven, try limiting your cooking to the stove top burners, or fixing dinner on the grill when the temperatures are cooler. Try using recipes that are quickly prepared, or strictly cold foods.

2. Only you know what you and your family like to eat, so ask yourself and/or your family what cool foods they like. Cool foods like pupus (appetizers), sandwiches, summer salads, even cold soups. 

3. Approximately 80% of our water intake comes from drinking water and other beverages, and the other 20% comes from food. Here are some foods with high water content, according to the American Dietetic Association: 
Lettuce 95%, Watermelon 92%, Broccoli 91%, Grapefruit 91%, Milk 89%, Orange juice 88%, Carrot 87%, Yogurt 85%, Apple is 84%. 
Assuming these percentages are accurate for most of us, the recommended amount of beverages, including water, would be approximately 9 cups for women and 12.5 cups for men. Drink a lot of cold liquids to stay hydrated, but not alcohol. 

Your safest bet for summer fun is to stay alcohol-free. Drinking alcohol in the hot summer weather can leave you dehydrated, confused and more susceptible to accidents and injuries. Interestingly, Time Magazine reports that 40% of all beer sold in the US are consumed from May to August, and Bud Light is the top-selling beer.

4. Eat cold desserts like fresh Hawaiian fruit recipes. Get yourself an ice-cream maker so you can control the ingredients and sugar in desserts like ices and sorbets, or go out for a shave ice.

5. Be sure and click on my "Recipe Index" tab above for hundreds of cool recipes. 

Here are a few cool, easy to fix, hot weather recipes to tide you over until winter gets here.

Ahi Poke Wrap
This simple lettuce wrap makes a nice cool lunch. Poke is easy to make as most locals know, but if it's just to hot to make it yourself, Friendly Market has it already made, then all you have to do is put it on a few leaves of lettuce or Napa cabbage leaves.

1 pound sushi grade ahi tuna
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1 1/2 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1/4 cup scallions, finely minced
1/4 cup soy sauce
8 butter lettuce leaves

Cut tuna into 1/2 inch chunks. Toast sesame seeds. Toss tuna with sesame seeds, sesame oil, ginger, scallions and soy sauce. Serve in lettuce leaves with steamed white rice. Makes 8 servings.

Limu Salad
Limu Salad
Limu is the Hawaiian word for seaweed. Limu salad is easy to make combination of flavors and textures creating a delicious mixed Asian main course or side dish, and is a very common and well-liked potluck salad here in Hawaii.

Ingredients for salad:
1 (16 ounce) package of linguini, break in 1/2, cooked according to package directions, drained

6 ounces seasoned taegu (Korean spicy codfish found in Asian markets)

2 Japanese cucumbers, sliced lengthwise, then sliced into thin half circles

16 ounces imitation crab (surimi), pulled apart into strings

8 ounces seasoned Ocean Salad (Ocean Salad is a seaweed salad that is flavored with sesame oil, it can be found in the refrigerated section of many grocery stores or in Asian markets)

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

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

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

Click on photo to view larger
A cold tropical watermelon slush called ‘Otai, from the southernmost group of islands of central Polynesia. Tongans came up with this cold slushy summer drink because it's very hot their, just like in Hawaii. They grow a lot of watermelons, mango, pineapple, banana, and coconut, so this drink blends one, if not all of these fruits, depending on who's making it. The end result is incredibly tropical, and the perfect cold summer drink.

sweet red watermelon (about 5 cups mashed, seeds removed)
1 cup of ripe mango, diced (preferably the Haden variety)
1 cup of fresh or canned, crushed pineapple
1 tablespoon of honey
13.5 ounces of canned coconut milk
1 lime, juiced
crushed ice
shredded coconut and a wedge of watermelon, for garnish
1 shot of light rum into the bottom of each chilled glass (optional)

Add mango, pineapple, and honey to a blender, pulsing several times, then add seedless watermelon flesh, pulse again once or twice, leaving the solution with some texture and body from the fruit.

When you get the texture to where you like it, stir in the coconut milk, and fresh squeezed lime juice. Pour into glasses over crushed ice (if you’d like) and top with shredded coconut. Garnish with a wedge of watermelon and or lime. Makes 8 servings.

Gazpacho - Hawaiian Style
Gazpacho - Hawaiian Style
Click on photo to view larger
Gazpacho is a classic Spanish tomato-based vegetable soup that is traditionally served cold. It is also served in neighboring Portugal where it is spelled Gaspacho. This Portuguese adaptation was created with the tastes of Hawaii, combining the best of Hawaiian summer vegetables and seasonings for a refreshing luau meal or for a 'ohana (family) picnic on the beach.

2-14.5 ounce cans crushed tomatoes
2-14.5 ounce cans tomato sauce
6 ripe tomatoes, peeled and roughly chopped
1 sweet maui onion, finely chopped
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and roughly chopped
1 sweet red bell pepper, seeded and roughly chopped
2 stalks celery, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
1 small bunch of basil, roughly chopped
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup seasoned rice vinegar
2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1 teaspoon sugar
salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
6 or more drops of Hawaiian Hot Chili Water, or Tabasco sauce to taste
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon soy sauce
Garnish with a dollop sour cream, watercress, or small basil leaves

In a food processor, add one can of crushed tomato and one can of tomato sauce. Then add HALF of each of the chopped vegetables and garlic. Blend until almost smooth, or to desired consistency. Pour into a large non-metal, bowl. Repeat this process with the rest of the ingredients and stir to combine. Now add the vinegar, sesame oil, lime juice, sugar, salt and pepper, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and soy sauce to the bowl. Mix together with a spoon and adjust the seasonings to your taste. Cover tightly and refrigerate for at least a couple of hours or overnight, allowing the flavors to blend. Ladle cold soup into chilled bowls and garnish with small dollops of sour cream and the top sprigs of cold watercress or basil. Sprinkle with roasted sesame seeds and serve immediately with your favorite crackers on the side. Makes 8 servings, or 4 if you're hungry.

Frozen Bananas with Papaya-Berry Coulis
A Coulis is a thick sauce or purée made from strained vegetables or fruits. This cool dessert uses Hawaii's ripe frozen apple banana slices, they are then blended in a food processor to make a kind of banana ice. To make it even better, pour a little papaya-berry coulis over the top.

1 large ripe papaya
1 cup strawberries (fresh or frozen)
1/2 cup raspberry jam
2 limes (and zest)
1/2 cup sugar
bananas, sliced and frozen

Skin and deseed the papaya, dice it into small cubes. Next, zest one lime and reserve the zest. Squeeze the lime juice of both limes into a medium saucepot. Add sugar to the saucepot. Add diced papaya, strawberries and jam to the pot.

Bring to a medium heat and reduce to low. Let simmer for 30 minutes until fruit is soft and cooked through. Remove from heat and add to a blender or food processor. Pulse briefly and add lime zest. Pulse until smooth then bring to a high speed for 1-2 minutes with no lid (allowing steam to escape). Chill thoroughly and serve over sliced, or pureed frozen bananas. Makes about 3 cups of coulis, enough for 4 to 6 servings.

Moloka'i Lilikoi Mousse
Local Moloka'i Lilikoi
Late summer is lilikoi season here in hawaii. Some people know lilikoi as passion fruit. I'm lucky enough to have planted this vine in my yard and now have them growing. My wife and I enjoy them every morning with breakfast. Just cut them in half and spoon out the pulp, seeds and all. They are commonly sold at our farmer's market here on Moloka'i. Anyway, here is a simple little dessert recipe that involves no cooking. You will need 10 lilikoi for this recipe.

6 fresh lilikoi fruit, to make 3/4 cup fresh lilikoi juice
1/4 cup water
1/2 pint whipping cream
1 can sweetened-condensed milk
4 fresh lilikoi fruit for garnish
4 sprigs of fresh mint for garnish (optional)

Cut 6 medium sized lilikoi cut in half with a serrated knife. Scrape out the pulp (including the seeds and juice) into a blender with 1/4 cup of water. Blend at low speed for 20 seconds. Pour into a strainer and mash through with the back of a spoon (you should have 3/4 cup of lilikoi juice). Discard the seeds.

Again with the blender, mix the whipping cream until the liquid becomes light at fluffy, about 2 minutes. Now add the sweetened-condensed milk to the whipped cream and blend on high for 30 seconds. Add the 3/4 cup of strained lilikoi juice to the mixture and blend again on high for 1 minute.

Pour the mixture into individual dessert dishes. Top each serving with plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours, but overnight is better. Serve with fresh lilikoi pulp, including the seeds, on top of each serving. Garnish each serving with fresh mint on the side. Makes 4 servings.

Mango Tango Ice Cream
You will need to get yourself an ice cream maker for this dessert. 
I have made this recipe many times and it's a wonderful tropical blend of flavors for these hot El Niño summer days.

1 1/2 cups pureed fresh mango
2 whole eggs
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 of a 15 fl. oz. can of coconut cream (shake can just before opening)
1, 14 fluid ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/3 cup shredded sweetened coconut

In a food processor puree fresh mango. Add the rest of the ingredients except the coconut. Blend together. Pour into your ice cream maker and add the coconut. Process until frozen to a soft consistency which should take about 1/2 hour. Freeze for several hours until solid. Makes just over 2 pints.

Sep 6, 2015

SARDINES... The First Canned Seafood

The term sardine was first used in English during the early 15th century, and may come from the Mediterranean island of Sardinia, around which sardines were once abundant. 

Napoleon Bonaparte
In 1810, an inventor named Pierre-Joseph Colin, from Brittany, invented tinned sardines to help feed Napoleon Bonaparte's troops through long months on campaign in Europe. The first tins were well soldered and needed a hammer to open them. It wasn't until 1825 that Thomas Kensett (of England), received an American patent for tinplated cans.

The consumption of canned sardines in Hawaii began when the plantation workers and Pacific Islanders added this cheap, portable food to their diet, this was just before the Hormel Company came out with the ground pork concoction called SPAM. SPAM joined and then overtook sardines, luncheon meat, canned corned beef, and Vienna sausages as the locals favorite.

Like so many foods, you either like sardines or you don't. I have found that they are very popular all over the world, probably because they are affordable, have plenty of protein, and are a nutritional powerhouse because they are full of omega-3 fatty acids, more than salmon, tuna, or just about any other food, and they're packed with vitamin D, vitamin B12 and calcium.

I've loved sardines ever since my dad introduced me to his sardine sandwiches. Oil packed sardines on toasted rye bread with a butter/mayo,mustard spread, red onions, tomatoes, cucumbers, and lettuce. I still eat those sardine sandwiches because of him (see recipe below).

If you can't find the King Oscar brand, 
you can buy them on
Sardines are an oily fish related to herring. They can have a strong flavor depending on how they are prepared. There are a lot of foods that come in a can that bear no resemblance to the fresh version, sardines are good fresh or canned, but I think canned sardines are better than fresh. One thing to know is that not all canned sardines taste the same, so you have to try a few brands until you find one you like. My favorite is the King Oscar brand, brisling sardines from cold Norwegian fjords. They have a delicate flavor and the texture is firm, not mushy (click here to read about them). Unfortunately you can't get them on Moloka'i, so I buy them from I have found that Misaki's grocery store here on Moloka'i has more brands than anyone locally.

Canned sardines are very popular where I live, on the Hawaiian island of Moloka'i, so here are a few of my favorite sardine recipes:

Quinoa Sardine Sushi Rolls
2 8-inch nori sheets
6 oz. can of sardines
1/2 cup cooked quinoa or sushi rice
1/2 cup shredded or julienned cucumbers or carrots (or a combination)
Tamari sauce
Wasabi paste

Mix 1-2 teaspoons hot water into the cooked quinoa, to make it more sticky.
Lay out the nori sheets. Along each of the lengthwise ends, spread the quinoa evenly.
Top with the sardines and carrots/cucumbers. Roll up the nori sheet carefully, but firmly. Slice into 1-inch pieces with a wet knife blade.

Make a dipping sauce by combining Tamari sauce (or soy sauce) with a dab of Wasabi paste. Makes 12 sushi rolls.

Sardine Pupu Spread
Sardine pupus are basically canned sardines made into a pâté and spread over slices of cucumber or on crackers. Appetizers in Hawaii are called pupus.

Two 3 3/4 ounce cans of sardines, packed in olive oil, drained
2 1/2 ounces of cream cheese
1/4 cup minced shallots (or minced red onions that have soaked in lemon juice for a few minutes)
1-2 scallions (green onions), white and light green parts only (about 3 inches from root), halved lengthwise and thinly sliced lengthwise
1/4 cup lime juice or lemon juice, or to taste
2-3 tablespoons minced fresh herbs such as chives, parsley, or dill
Pinch of cayenne
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 cucumbers, sliced about 1/4" thick

Remove the sardines from the cans. Using a small, sharp knife, carefully open each one down the belly and back, folding them open to expose the backbone. Remove and discard the bones. Cut away and discard any tails. Set aside.

Place the cream cheese in a medium bowl. Fold and stir with a rubber spatula until smooth. Add the shallots, scallions, fresh herbs, and most of the lime or lemon juice, mixing into the cheese with the spatula.

Add the now boneless sardines to the cheese mixture. Use a fork to smash the sardines and stir into the cheese. Add cayenne, salt, and pepper to taste. Add more lime or lemon juice to taste.

Serve immediately on slices of cucumber. Makes about 1 cup of spread, enough to serve 6 to 8 as an appetizer.

Mixed Green Salad 
with Artichokes & Sardines
extra-virgin olive oil mixed with the oil in the marinated artichoke jar to make 1/2 cup
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 large shallot, minced
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
3 cups mixed greens
1 jar marinated artichoke hearts
2 ounces canned sardines in olive oil
1/4 cup sliced red onion

Place oil, vinegar, shallot, mustard, paprika, salt and pepper in a blender or a jar with a tight-fitting lid; blend or shake until well combined.

Place greens in an individual salad bowl; toss with 2 tablespoons of the dressing. (Refrigerate the remaining dressing.) Top the greens with artichoke hearts, sardines and onion. Makes 1 serving.

Sardine and Celery Salad
This simple salad uses canned sardines and celery to create a wonderful Portuguese side dish or a nifty little lunch.

1/4 cup coarsely chopped flat leaf parsley
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons grainy mustard
1 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
Four 4 3/8-ounce cans sardines in oil, drained and coarsely chopped
4 large celery ribs, peeled and cut into 1-inch matchsticks
salt and freshly ground pepper

In a large bowl, mix the parsley with the olive oil, grainy and Dijon mustards, red onion and the lemon juice and zest. Fold in the sardines and celery and season with salt and pepper. Chill and serve with rye crackers. Makes 4 servings.

Dad's Sardine Sandwich
My dad was in the hotel/restaurant business, and traveled extensively with my mother. 
They ate out a lot, but one of his favorite sandwiches was this simple deli sardine sandwich, 
I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Dad's Sardine Sandwich
Click on photo to view larger
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
2 teaspoons whole grain Dijon mustard
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Boston lettuce leaves, or use spinach or arugula if you want to get fancy
4 slices dark rye bread, toasted
2 3.75-ounce cans sardines (oil-packed), drained, pin bones and spine removed
1/2 cup very thinly sliced red onion
Thinly sliced cucumber and tomato

With a fork, cream the butter in a small bowl. Mix in the mayonnaise and mustard. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Toast the bread. Arrange 4 slices on a work surface; spread some of the mustard mixture on each slice of bread. Top 2 of the slices with lettuce leaves, tomato, and cucumber. Add the sardines and then the red onions, dividing both equally. Top with the other slices of toasted bread. Cut each sandwich in half and serve with dill pickles or "Pickled Green Tomatoes" (recipe). Makes 2 sandwiches.

Filipino Sardines & Tomatoes
Lately I have noticed in one of our local markets, Friendly Market, small, dried sardines. I asked the meat manager, PJ, how locals eat them. He said that the Filipinos fry them, then add tomatoes, onions, and garlic. He also said that they are a little hard on your breath, so I used fresh sardines for this recipe, which don't have that strong odor. 

If sardines aren't your thing, try this recipe using shrimp. If you can't find Southeast Asia calamansi limes, you can substitute lemon juice, however if you live on the Hawaiian island of Moloka'i, you can get them at our Saturday farmers market.

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large shallots, minced (2 tablespoons)
4 cloves garlic, minced (1 tablespoon)
1/2 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon smoked Spanish paprika, or regular paprika
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 pound cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup white wine
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon fish sauce
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 large can of sardines in tomato sauce
Fresh calamansi limes, or fresh lemon wedges, for squeezing over the sardines

Heat the olive oil in a large oven-proof sauté pan over moderately high heat. Add the shallot, garlic, dried red pepper flakes, and paprika and cook until the shallot becomes soft and translucent, 3-5 minutes. Add the tomato paste and stir to combine, continuing to cook until the tomato paste just begins to brown, 1 minute more.

Toss the cherry tomatoes into the pan and sauté until the tomatoes soften and have released some of their juices, 5-7 minutes.

Pour the wine into the pan, stirring to scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the water and fish sauce and simmer until the liquid reduces and thickens a bit, about 5 minutes more. Remove from heat and set aside.

Remove the sardines from the can and arrange them in a single layer, on top of the tomato sauce in an oven safe sauté pan. Pour the tomato sauce in the sardine can over the sardines. Place the pan underneath the broiler and broil for 5 or 6 minutes, flipping the fish over once during that time.
Serve with steamed white rice and calamansi limes, or lemon wedges, on the side for squeezing over the sardines. Makes 2-4 servings.

Italian Fettuccine with Sardines
8 ounces whole-wheat fettuccine
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup fresh breadcrumbs (see Note below), preferably whole-wheat
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 3- to 4-ounce cans boneless, skinless sardines, preferably in tomato sauce, flaked
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook pasta until just tender, 8 to 10 minutes or according to package directions. Drain.

Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons oil in a small nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant and sizzling but not brown, about 20 seconds. Transfer the garlic and oil to a large bowl.

Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil in the pan over medium heat. Add breadcrumbs and cook, stirring, until crispy and golden brown, 5 to 6 minutes. Transfer to a plate.

Whisk lemon juice, pepper and salt into the garlic oil. Add the pasta to the bowl along with sardines, parsley and Parmesan. Gently stir to combine. Serve sprinkled with the breadcrumbs.

Note: To make fresh breadcrumbs, trim crusts from whole-wheat bread. Tear bread into pieces and process in a food processor until coarse crumbs form. One slice of bread makes about 1/2 cup fresh crumbs.

Sardines & Tomatoes on Puff Pastry
8-10 sardine halves in olive oil
1 14.5-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 cup fresh chopped basil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
3 to 4 teaspoons sugar, or to taste
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 sheet puff pastry, thawed
1 egg yolk
Fresh chives for garnish

Preheat oven to 400˚F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a saucepan, mix tomatoes, oregano, basil, lemon juice and sugar. Taste and season with salt and pepper to taste. The tomato sauce should be sweet and aromatic. Set aside.

Place the thawed sheet of puff pastry on the parchment lined baking sheet. Polk holes in the pastry with a fork except for the edges. Brush the edges of the puff pastry with the egg yolk. Spread the tomato sauce on top of the of the pastry, leaving 1 inch around the pastry without any sauce.

Top the sauce with the sardines, drizzling a few tablespoons of the olive oil that the sardines come in over the fish. Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until golden. Garnish with fresh chives. Cut into 4 pieces and serve warm. Serve with "Spicy Cucumber Salad with Garlic", on the side. Makes 4 servings

Tuyosilog (Dried Sardines, egg and fried rice) 
& Tazukuri (Candied Sardines)
I had to include these recipes because I saw a container of salt dried baby sardines in Friendly Market here on Moloka'i this week, and wondered what locals do with them. Check out these links for these interesting recipes. 

"Tuyosilog" is a common Filipino breakfast dish consisting of salted & dried sardines accompanied by sautéed tomatoes, onions fried rice and eggs recipe.

"Tazukuri" is a Japanese recipe that roasts dried baby sardines with sesame seeds and then coats them is a sweet soy sauce glaze. This dish is typically eaten on New Year's day as it symbolizes a bountiful harvest.

Sep 4, 2015

Sweet & Savory Bread Pudding

Bread pudding has been around since the 11th century when frugal cooks looked for a way to use up stale, leftover bread. Today, bread pudding is considered a sweet comfort food served at the end of a meal. In Hawaii, bread pudding is often made with day-old cubed Hawaiian sweet bread instead of traditional French bread.

Actually there are two types of bread pudding, sweet & savory. A savory bread pudding is a crispy, warm, and always savory, not sweet, bread pudding that consists of a number of baked layers of bread, meat, cheese and vegetables that are held together with custard, and is called a "strata". The word "strata" is the plural of the Latin word "stratum", meaning "layers". It is usually served for brunch, but can be served for lunch or dinner. With a strata, the possibilities are as endless as your creativity and the leftovers in your refrigerator.

Sweet Bread Pudding Recipes:

Hawaiian Mango Sweet Bread Pudding
Ingredients for bread pudding:
1 cup milk
1/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 (14-ounce) can coconut milk
2 large eggs
1 large egg white
6 cups (1-inch) day-old cubed Hawaiian sweet bread
2 cups diced peeled ripe mango (1/2 pound)
Cooking spray
1/3 cup flaked sweetened coconut, toasted

Ingredients for sauce:
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup mango nectar
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 (5-ounce) can evaporated milk

Preheat oven to 350°. To prepare bread pudding, combine first 6 ingredients in a large bowl. Stir in bread and mango. Let stand at room temperature 30 minutes. Pour mixture into an 11 x 7-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 1 hour. Sprinkle with coconut. Bake an additional 10 minutes or until set. Let stand 30 minutes before serving.

To prepare sauce, combine sugar and mango nectar in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in butter. Combine the cornstarch and evaporated milk in a small bowl. Add cornstarch mixture to nectar mixture. Bring to a boil over medium heat; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Serve warm over bread pudding. Makes 8 servings.

Banana Bread Pudding with Banana Rum Sauce
6 cups bite-sized pieces of day-old French bread
3 cups milk
3 large eggs
2/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
2 large very ripe bananas
3/4 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup seedless raisins
1/2 cup roasted pecans
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream

Preheat the oven to 300˚F. Put the French bread pieces into a 9x12x2 inch baking pan. In a blender or food processor, blend the eggs, milk, 2/3 cup of sugar, bananas, cinnamon, nutmeg and 1/2 teaspoon of the vanilla until smooth. Pour this mixture over the French bread pieces. Fold in the raisins and the pecans and let the mixture set for 20 minutes. Top with small pieces of the butter.

Cover the pudding with aluminum foil and place the pan into a larger pan. Add warm water to a depth of 1 inch in the larger pan. Bake for 1 hour. Remove the foil and bake uncovered for 15 minutes until set.

In a deep, medium bowl, whisk the cream just until it begins to thicken. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of sugar and 1/4 teaspoon vanilla. Continue whisking unti soft peaks form. Cover and chill.

Banana Rum Sauce
2/3 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
6 large ripe bananas, quartered
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3 tablespoons dark rum
2 tablespoons banana liqueur
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Heat a large saute pan or skillet over low heat. Add the butter, sugar, bananas, cinnamon and nutmeg. Moving the skillet back and forth, cook until the butter and sugar become creamy and the bananas begin to soften, about one minute. Remove the skillet from heat and add the rum and the liqueur. Return the pan to the heat. Tilt the pan, avert your face and and light the liquid with a long match. Shake the skillet until the flames subside. Add the vanilla, remove from heat and keep warm.

To serve, place a large scoop of bread pudding in the middle of each serving plate or bowl. Place 2 slices of banana on each plate and top with about 3 tablespoons of sauce. Spoon the whipped cream over the bread pudding and serve immediately. Makes 12 servings.

Berry Bread Pudding with Vanilla Cream Sauce
Ingredients for bread pudding:
1 (16-ounce) French bread loaf, cubed
1 cup frozen raspberries (do not thaw)
1 cup frozen blackberries (do not thaw)
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 3/4 cups milk
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons melted butter
2 tablespoons sugar
Vanilla Cream Sauce (recipe below)
Garnishes: fresh raspberries, powdered sugar

Procedure for bread pudding:
Arrange half of bread pieces in a lightly greased 11- x 7-inch baking dish. Arrange frozen berries in a single layer over bread. Top with remaining bread pieces.

Whisk eggs and next 6 ingredients until smooth. Slowly pour egg mixture over bread, pressing down with a wooden spoon until bread absorbs mixture. Let stand 20 minutes.

Bake, covered, at 350° for 30 minutes. Uncover, brush evenly with 2 tablespoons melted butter; sprinkle evenly with 2 tablespoons sugar, and bake 30 more minutes or until set. Remove from oven, and let stand 30 minutes. Serve with Vanilla Cream Sauce. Garnish, if desired. Makes 10 servings.

Ingredients for vanilla cream sauce:
2 cups whipping cream
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Procedure for vanilla cream sauce:
Stir first 3 ingredients together in a saucepan. Add butter, and cook, stirring constantly, over medium heat until butter is melted and mixture begins to boil. Cook, stirring constantly, 3 minutes or until mixture is slightly thickened. Remove from heat, and stir in vanilla. Serve warm. Makes 2 1/2 cups.

Dark Chocolate Bread Pudding
5 1/2 ounce sugar (about 2/3 cup)
3 large eggs
2 1/2 cups 2% reduced-fat milk
2 1/4 ounces unsweetened cocoa (about 1/2 cup)
3 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped (about 3/4)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Dash of ground nutmeg
12 ounces (1-inch) cubed French bread (about 10 cups)
Cooking spray
1 ounce sugar (about 2 tablespoons)

Combine 5 1/2 ounces sugar and eggs in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. Heat milk over medium-high heat in a small, heavy saucepan to 180°F or until tiny bubbles form around edge (do not boil). Remove from heat; add cocoa and chocolate, stirring with a whisk until cocoa dissolves and chocolate melts. Gradually add hot milk mixture to sugar mixture, stirring constantly with a whisk. Stir in vanilla extract, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Add bread, tossing to coat; let mixture stand for 30 minutes, tossing occasionally.

Spoon bread mixture into an 8-inch square baking dish coated with cooking spray; sprinkle 1 ounce of sugar evenly over bread mixture. Bake at 350°F for 40 minutes or until set. Serve warm. Makes 8 servings.

Note: Measuring the bread by weight is important in this recipe-12 ounces of cubed bread can vary from seven to 10 cups. If you use too little bread, the dessert will be loose and wet; too much bread, and it will be dry. But just the right amount yields a decadently creamy, rich dessert.

Savory Bread Pudding Recipes:

Tomato, Basil, and Roasted Garlic Strata
3 pounds Roma tomatoes, halved lengthwise
1/3 cup chopped fresh basil
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
salt & freshly grated pepper
1 head garlic, left whole
10 cups cubed (1-inch) country-style Italian bread (1 pound)
2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
8 large eggs
2 cups coarsely grated fresh Mozzarella cheese (9 ounces)
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Preheat oven to 400°F with rack in middle. Butter a 3-quart shallow baking dish (about 13 by 9 inches).

Toss tomatoes in a bowl with chopped fresh basil, 1 tablespoon oil, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Arrange tomatoes, cut sides up, in a large heavy 4-sided sheet pan.

Cut off and discard 1/4 inch from top of garlic head to expose cloves, then put on a sheet of foil and drizzle with 1 teaspoon oil. Wrap garlic in foil and roast in pan with tomatoes until tomatoes are browned but still juicy and garlic is soft, 50 to 60 minutes. (Leave oven on.) Cool garlic to warm, then force through a medium-mesh sieve with a rubber spatula, discarding skins. Reserve purée

While garlic cooks, toss bread cubes in a large bowl with remaining oil until coated, then spread out in a large 4-sided sheet pan and bake until golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool in pan.

Reduce oven temperature to 350°F.

Whisk together milk, cream, eggs, garlic purée, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Stir in cheeses. Transfer bread to baking dish, then pour egg mixture over bread and add tomatoes, pushing some down between bread cubes. Bake until firm to the touch and golden brown in spots, 50 to 60 minutes. Makes 8 servings.

Squash, Leek & Mushroom Strata
3 cups cubed butternut or kabocha squash, cut into 3/4-in. chunks
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
1 teaspoon pepper, divided
About 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
3 leeks, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced and rinsed well
2 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 pound mushrooms, sliced
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
6 cups cubed rustic white bread, cut into 1-in. cubes, lightly toasted
3 cups half-and-half
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon flour
1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese
1 cup shredded gruyere cheese

Preheat oven to 375°F. Heap squash on a rimmed baking sheet, drizzle with oil and 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper, and toss to coat. Bake, stirring occasionally, until tender and golden brown, about 35 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add leeks with 1/4 teaspoon salt; cook until softened. Add garlic, cook 2 minutes, and add mixture to squash.

Melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter in same pan over medium heat. Add mushrooms and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Increase heat to medium-high and cook, stirring, until mushrooms have released their liquid and are beginning to brown, about 6 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in thyme.

Add mushrooms to squash-leek mixture. Stir in bread; scoop into a buttered 9 x 13-inch baking dish.

Whisk together half-and-half, eggs, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper, the flour, and parmesan in a medium bowl. Pour custard over bread mixture and let stand 10 minutes. Top with shredded gruyère cheese, then bake, uncovered, until cheese is melted and beginning to brown and custard is just set (poke with a knife to check), 30 to 35 minutes. Makes 8-10 servings.

Italian Sausage Strata 
with Roasted Red Pepper & Swiss Chard
1-pound loaf French or Italian bread, cut into 1-inch cubes (about 8 cups)
Olive oil
1 pound of mild Italian sausage
2 tablespoons butter
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
One 10-ounce jar roasted red peppers, drained and chopped, or roast your own over a burner.
1 bunch of Swiss chard, washed and cut into ribbons
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme
8 ounces sharp white cheddar cheese, grated
2 ounces Asiago cheese, grated
9 large eggs
2 3/4 cups whole milk
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

Preheat the oven to 375˚F. Spread the bread on a baking sheet and toast in the oven, turning occasionally, until it starts to brown in places and begins to dry out, about 10 minutes.

In a large, heavy frying pan over medium heat, add a teaspoon of olive oil. When the oil is warm, add the sausages. Sear until nicely browned, about 7 minutes. Remove from the frying pan and cut into bite-size pieces when cool enough to handle.

Leave any remaining olive oil in the pan and melt the butter. Add the onions, and a sprinkle of salt and sauté until the onions are golden brown and softened, about 10 minutes. Stir in the chopped roasted peppers, cooked sausage, Swiss chard, and thyme. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Grease a 9×13-inch glass or ceramic baking dish generously with butter. Add half of the bread cubes. Layer with two-thirds of the sausage mixture, then add a layer of half the cheese. Repeat the layering with half the remaining bread, then the remaining sausage mixture and cheese.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, mustard, 1 teaspoon salt, and ground black pepper. Pour this mixture evenly over the bread. Press the bread mixture down into the egg mixture to saturate. Cover the baking dish with plastic wrap and chill for at least 4 hours or overnight.

The next day, remove the bread pudding from the refrigerator and let stand for 30 to 60 minutes to take the chill off. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Bake the bread pudding, uncovered, until golden brown, puffed, and cooked through, about 45 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving. Makes 6-8 servings.

Sep 2, 2015


Ebi Furai (fried prawns with panko)
When you think of tempura, naturally you think of Japan. It turns out that the Japanese didn't invent this delicious dish, the Portuguese did. It always amazes me how much the Portuguese have contributed to the culinary world, especially here in Hawaii.

The other day I was watching Andrew Zimmern on the Travel Channel food show "Bizarre Foods". You know, he's the guy that eats bugs and other offal things. Anyway, he was in Lisbon, Portugal and happened to mention that the Portuguese introduced tempura to the Japanese.

It turns out that Portuguese Jesuit missionaries introduced deep-frying to the Japanese during the sixteenth century. The word "tempura", probably came from the Portuguese word "temperar" meaning 

"to cook". 

Fried food eventually became popular in Japan, eaten at street vendors called yatai since the Genroku era. Today, tempura is still popular as a side dish in Japanese homes, and is frequently eaten as a topping at soba noodle stands in Japan. For those who don't know what tempura is, it consists of vegetables or seafood which are dipped in a batter, then briefly deep-fried in hot canola oil. The most common dipping sauce is "tentsuyu sauce" which is roughly three parts dashi, one part mirin, and one part shoyu. Grated daikon is also added to the sauce.

Another interesting tidbit is that by using panko Japanese bread crumbs in your batter, as pictured in the photo above, it would no longer be called tempura, it would then be called "furai", pronounced "fry".

Whatever you call it, here's my favorite recipe for tempura using panko Japanese bread crumbs:

Mahi-mahi & Shrimp Tempura Pupus
Everyone loves shrimp tempura, but adding mahi-mahi with a sweet chilli sauce takes this appetizer to a new level.

canola oil, for frying
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 can club soda
1 tablespoon sesame oil

1 1/2 cups panko Japanese bread crumbs
12 large shrimp, peeled, deveined, and tails left on

1 1/2 pounds of mahi-mahi fillet, without skin, cut into 1 inch squares
1 cup Mae Ploy brand sweet chilli sauce (found in the Asian section of your supermarket)
24 6-inch bamboo skewers

24 fresh cilantro leaves

First clean and devein shrimp, I like to leave the tails on for better presentation, but that's up to you.

If you do leave the tails on, here's what you need to do next. Using a sharp paring knife or a pair of kitchen shears, lay each shrimp on its side and trim the ends off the tip of the tails at an angle, then stand each shrimp upright and fan out the tail. This little trick, which takes almost no time, makes the shrimp have a better presentation after frying. Now you need to flip/turn each shrimp over on its back and score two shallow slits in the belly. You will now notice how flat the shrimp is laying. This will prevent the shrimp from curling up when they are deep-fried.

Next cut the mahi-mahi into 1 inch squares. Put cleaned shrimp and fish squares into the refrigerator, covered with plastic wrap for up to one day.

In a wok or large skillet, pour in about 1 inch of canola oil, enough to cover shrimp and fish when cooking. Heat over medium heat until a deep-frying thermometer, inserted in the oil, reaches 375˚F. While the oil is heating, in a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and baking soda. Add the club soda and sesame oil. Stir until just combined and still lumpy. Put the panko bread crumbs in a large plate. Gently dry the shrimp and fish with a paper towel, then dip 2 shrimp and 2 fish squares in the batter, now cover them with panko and fry, 4 at a time, until the batter is golden and crispy, about 60 to 70 seconds. Drain on paper towels. Continue this process until all of the shrimp and fish are cooked. Sprinkle them with salt as soon as they come out of the oil.

Put one shrimp, and one fish square on each bamboo skewer, divided by a cilantro leaf and serve with Mae Ploy sweet chilli sauce alongside as a dipping sauce. Makes 24 pupus (appetizers).

Note: For a tropical display, cut a pineapple in half and stick 12 skewers into each pineapple half. Cut a small slice off of the bottom of each pineapple half to keep them steady. Use the pineapple for another use after the party.

When buying shrimp, especially fresh shrimp, I buy the shrimp with the shells and head on. I take the shells and heads off and save them in a freezer bag until I have about 4 cups. Then I boil them in 4 cups of seasoned water, strain the stock and discard the shells, and freeze the stock. This stock is full of shrimp flavor and is great to use as a soup stock at a later date.

For more panko recipes, click here.