Sep 8, 2018

The Secret To A Perfect Apple Pie

I love apple pie, and so do Hawaiians. The secret is to use an apple that is tart and crisp after cooking, like Pippin or Granny Smith, the others seem to get mushy. When I am in a hurry I use pre-made refrigerated pie crust, like Pillsbury brand.

Easy Apple Pie

Crust Ingredients:
1 box refrigerated pie crusts, softened as directed on the box, or make the crust from scratch.

Filling Ingredients:
5 cups sliced, peeled Pippen or Granny Smith apples (5 medium)
1 tablespoon lemon juice (1 large lemon)
3/4 cup sugar, plus 1/4 cup for sprinkling on top
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Heat oven to 425°F. Place 1 pie crust in ungreased 9-inch glass pie plate. Press firmly against side and bottom.

In a large bowl, gently mix filling ingredients; spoon into crust-lined pie plate. Top with second crust. Wrap excess top crust under bottom crust edge, pressing edges together to seal; flute, or press with a fork like I did in the photo above. Cut slits or shapes in several places in brush crust an egg white, then sprinkle with sugar.

Bake 40 to 45 minutes or until apples are tender and crust is golden brown. Cover edge of crust with 2- to 3-inch wide strips of foil after first 15 to 20 minutes of baking to prevent excessive browning. Cool on cooling rack at least 2 hours before serving. 

Makes 6 delicious servings, that is if you want to share. When people say “you can’t possibly eat all that apple pie by yourself” I say "watch me".

Note: I usually squeeze a lemon over the apple slices as I cut them to keep the apples from turning brown. Also I like to brush the top of the pie crust with egg white before sprinkling the crust with sugar. It helps the sugar stick and makes the pie look delicious.

Aug 18, 2018

Kale... Superfood That Tastes Good!

Tuscan or Dinosaur Kale grown at Kumu Farms here on Molokai. They also have curly kale.
Click on photo to view larger

I have a love affair with kale. The most common variety of kale is curly kale. It gets its name from its curly leaves. Curly kale seems to cook a little faster than dinosaur kale (shown above) and is a little less bitter. There is another variety which is called red Russian kale. The stalks of this variety are slightly purple and the leaves have a reddish tinge. The stalks are very fibrous and are not usually eaten as they can be rather difficult to chew and swallow. The leaves of red Russian kale are sweeter and more delicate than other types, with a hint of pepper and lemon, almost like sorrel. They are ideal for salads, sandwiches, juices, and as a garnish.

Kale has one of the highest levels of antioxidants of any vegetable, and until the end of the Middle Ages, kale was one of the most common green vegetables in all of Europe. Kale’s nutrient richness stands out in three particular areas: (1) antioxidant nutrients, (2) anti-inflammatory nutrients, and (3) anti-cancer nutrients in the form of glucosinolates. Look for kale with firm, deeply colored leaves and moist hardy stems.

Serving suggestions:

Kale can be enjoyed raw in salads or on sandwiches or wraps, steamed, braised, boiled, sautéed or added to soups and casseroles.

In salads: When using kale raw in salads, massage the leaves by scrunching them briefly in the hands. This begins the breakdown of the cellulose in the leaves and helps release the nutrients for easier absorption.

As a side dish: Sauté fresh garlic and onions in extra-virgin olive oil until soft. Add kale and continue to sauté until desired tenderness. Alternatively, steam for 5 minutes, then drain and stir in a dash of soy sauce and tahini.

Kale chips: Remove the ribs from the kale and toss in extra-virgin olive oil or lightly spray and sprinkle with a combination of cumin, curry powder, chili powder, roasted red pepper flakes or garlic powder. Bake at 275 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 to 30 minutes to desired crispness.

Smoothies: In a food processor or a high-speed blender, add a handful of kale to your favorite smoothie. It will add nutrients without changing the flavor very much.

Risks of eating Kale:

Beta-blockers, a type of medication most commonly prescribed for heart disease, can cause an increase in potassium levels in the blood. High potassium foods, such as bananas and cooked kale, should be consumed in moderation when taking beta-blockers.

Consuming too much potassium can be harmful for those whose kidneys are not fully functional. If the kidneys cannot remove excess potassium from the blood, consuming additional potassium could be fatal.

A cup of kale provides 1,062.1 mcg of vitamin K. This could interfere with the activity of blood thinners such as warfarin, or Coumadin. Patients who are taking these medications should speak to their doctor about foods to avoid.

Ham & Eggs with Kale
The combination of ham, eggs, and kale makes this recipe something special. 
It is ideal for breakfast, but I enjoy this recipe anytime of day.

Usually available at Friendly Market
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup of chopped onion
1/2 cup of ham steak, diced
Pinch of red pepper flakes
2 cups fresh curly kale, stems removed 
   and thinly sliced
4 large eggs, beaten
1/2 cup of grated cheddar cheese
1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in a frying pan on medium high heat. When the oil is hot, add chopped onion and saute until the onions are translucent. Now add the diced ham and red pepper flakes. Cook for one minute.

Now add the thinly sliced kale to the pan and toss with the onions and olive oil. Cook for a few minutes, until the kale is just wilted.

Lower the heat to medium. Add the beaten eggs to the pan. Stir until the eggs begin to set. Then stir in the grated cheddar cheese and Italian seasoning. Remove from heat and continue to stir a few times until the cheese is melted and the eggs are cooked. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.

Makes 2 servings.

Oyster Sauce
Click on photo to view larger
Curly Kale with Oyster Sauce
This is a very easy side dish that goes well with pork, chicken or beef.

tablespoon canola oil
1-2 large garlic clove, sliced
7 ounces curly kale, rinsed with stems removed
3 fluid ounces boiling water
1/2 tablespoon soy sauce, or to taste
1 tablespoon oyster sauce

Heat the oil in a large wok or frying pan. Add the garlic and cook for a few seconds. Now add the kale and toss around the pan to coat in the garlicky oil. Pour over boiling water and cook for 7 minutes more until the kale has just wilted and is cooked through. Stir in the soy and oyster sauces and heat and serve.

Makes 2-3 servings.

Sesame Kale
Another delicious side dish using kale with sesame oil and seeds.

Kadoya Brand
sesame oil

1 1/2 pounds curly kale
2 teaspoons sesame oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup low-fat, reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon lite soy sauce
2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds
fresh ground pepper to taste

Wash the kale, but let the water cling to it. Cut off and discard the tough stems. Slice the leaves once down the middle, then cut them crosswise into 1-inch-wide strips. In a wok, heat the oil. Add the garlic. Saute for 10 seconds. Add the kale with broth. Cover and steam for 3 minutes until the kale wilts. Add the soy sauce. Top the kale with sesame seeds and fresh ground pepper. Serve.

Makes 6, 1/2 cup servings.

Gingered Pork Tenderloin 
with Cremini Mushrooms, Garlic & Kale
Company food, or treat your family to this delicious meal for four.

Marinade Ingredients:
1/3 cup lite soy sauce
1/2 cup chicken broth
3 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar
2 tablespoons corn starch
2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
1/4 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)

Stir-fry Ingredients:
1 pound pork tenderloin, cut diagonally across the grain into thin strips
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
12 ounces cremini mushrooms (baby portobello mushrooms), halved
3 cups chopped curly kale

Ingredients for Service:
2 green onions, thinly sliced for garnish
Cook enough Jasmine rice for 4

In a bowl, combine the marinade ingredients, then add the sliced pork tenderloin, stir to cover in marinade and let sit covered in the refrigerated for at least 15 minutes.

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a wok or large sauce pan over medium-high heat. Remove the pork slices from the marinade with a slotted spoon, reserving the marinade, and add the pork to wok with the garlic. Saute for about 2-3 minutes until the meat is browned, stirring often (don't burn the garlic). Remove the pork and garlic with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Add remaining tablespoon of oil to the wok. Then add in the mushrooms, kale, and reserved marinade, and stir to combine. Cook for 3-4 minutes, until the kale is wilted, the sauce has thickened and com to a boil, and the mushrooms have cooked, stirring regularly so that the sauce does not burn. Add the pork and toss to combine.

Serve immediately over cooked Jasmine rice, garnished with chopped green onions.

Makes 4 servings.

Aug 5, 2018

Easy Hawaiian Cooking Without Breaking The Bank

If you live in Hawaii then you know that it has the highest cost of living of any state in the union. People work hard to make ends meet, and having a large family makes life in Hawaii even harder. Top that with the fact that more and more people don't have the time or desire to cook for their families. This all may lead to meals that are not beneficial to your families health.

Hawaii is a state with a diverse ethnic groups, Hawaiians, Filipinos, Japanese, Portuguese, etc., most of whom came to Hawaii to improve their lives. They brought their ethnic recipes with them, some good for you and some not so good. So this is a collection of easy recipes to help all of you busy people enjoy cooking without breaking the bank.

Poi... For Hawaiian Baby Food
Wet-land taro field on the Hawaiian island of Moloka'i.
The other day I was sitting in my dentist waiting room. A Hawaiian couple was sitting across from me holding a young baby that looked very healthy. I introduced myself and asked her what she fed him and her husband said poi mixed with sweet potato.

Poi is the pounded root of taro, a sacred plant in Hawaii. The root is high in calories, very easily digestible, an excellent source of calcium and iron, and — that critical factor for infants — hypoallergenic. It turns out that many children in Hawaii are raised on poi and the National Institute of Health has recognized that it just might be the perfect baby food.

Taro, when cooked, takes on the flavor of what it is cooked with, like cooked sweet potatoes. The use of poi as baby food continues to be a popular practice in the islands, and local wisdom has it that "a chubby baby is a poi baby." Check out this website:

Potato-Mac Salad with Surimi and Green Peas
There are many variations to this classic 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.

Coleslaw with Lemon Dressing
This is a very easy salad to make and works as either a main course or a side salad.

Click on photo to view larger
Ingredients for Coleslaw:
2 cups finely sliced purple cabbage
2 cups finely sliced napa cabbage
2 cups shredded carrots
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
3/4 cup toasted pumpkin or    sunflower seeds

Ingredients for Lemon Dressing:
1/4 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice,
or to taste
1 tablespoon of fresh lemon rind zest
1 large clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup ketchup
1/4 cup honey
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

In a medium serving bowl, combine the prepared purple and napa cabbage, carrots and parsley. Set aside.

Toast your seeds in a small skillet, over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the they are fragrant but not burnt.

To make the Lemon Dressing:
In a small bowl, combine everything, then whisk until thoroughly blended.

Drizzle the dressing over the slaw and toss until all of the ingredients are lightly coated. Taste and add an additional tablespoon of lemon juice if needed. Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Makes 4 to 6 side servings.

Note: This recipe makes a beautiful presentation as you can tell from the photo above. It can be served with a number of things, like pan seared salmon, as a side salad with broiled chicken, or barbecued pork ribs... yumm!

Opo Squash Soup  (Tabungao)
Opo - Long Squash
Click on photos to view larger
Opo is a long pale green squash that is grown around the world, and locally grown here on Molokai. When peeled and the seeds removed, it makes a delicious soup. This Filipino recipe is one of the most popular recipes on Other nationalities also enjoy soups with opo, adding fish, or shrimp instead of pork or chicken, and the addition of lemon grass, sesame oil, and local spices for seasoning.

Opo Squash Soup

1/4 cup canola oil for frying
1 1/2 pounds fresh boneless, skinless chicken thighs, or pork, sliced thin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
1 whole bay leaf, ripped in half
1/2 yellow onion, sliced thin
6 roma tomatoes, cut into chunks
2-4 cloves of garlic, crushed, peeled,
and minced fine
1 tablespoon minced ginger
4 cups cold water
2 tablespoons white vinegar
3 tablespoons fish sauce (nuoc mam or patis)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1- 2 pound small opo (long squash), peeled, seeded, and cut lengthwise, then cut into 1/4" slices (4 cups of cut squash)
cilantro for garnish (optional)

Heat a 6 quart pot or wok with cover. Add canola oil and heat until almost smoking. Add pork or chicken and stir fry. Brown and cook until medium well done, about 10 minutes on high heat. Season with salt, pepper, and bay leaf while frying. Add onions, tomato, and garlic. Continue to stir fry until vegetables are translucent and wilted. Add additional oil if needed. Add 4 cups of water to pot, cover and bring meat to a boil then lower heat to simmer. Simmer until meat is tender, about 20 minutes. Add fish sauce, soy sauce, and white vinegar to soup. Add squash to pot and cover. Simmer until squash is soft, about 20 minutes more. Add more pepper and fish sauce to adjust to your taste. Serve with white rice on the side or in the soup.

Makes 4-6 servings depending on whether you serve it as a first course or main course.

Note: I usually use chicken, dark meat, 2 wings, 2 drum bones, and 2 thighs. Leave the bones in the wok until stock is cooked, then remove the meat and bones, cut the meat into bite sized pieces and discard the bones, return chicken meat to stock, add the squash, fish sauce, soy sauce and cook for 20 minutes and serve with rice. The bones add flavor.

Portuguese Bean Soup
This is a delicious hearty rustic soup/stew, the way the Portuguese would have made it.

Portuguese Bean Soup
Click on photo to see larger image

2 ham hocks
1 10-ounce mild Portuguese sausage, thickly sliced
1 chorizo sausage, peeled and broken into pieces
1 medium onion, minced
2 quarts water (8 cups)
4 potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 celery rib, chopped
2 large carrots, chopped
1 (15 ounce) can whole stewed tomatoes, broken with your hands
1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1/3 cup cider vinegar
3 to 4 cups cabbage, roughly cut
2 (15 ounce) cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Place ham hock, sausages, onion, and water into a large pot over high heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer for 1 hour, covered. Take ham hocks out and remove the meat, roughly chop, and return to soup, discard bones. Stir in potatoes, celery, carrots, stewed tomatoes, tomato sauce, garlic and vinegar. Cover, and continue simmering for 1/2 hour, stirring occasionally. Stir in cabbage and kidney beans, cook until the cabbage has softened, about 10 minutes. Taste, then add salt and pepper and more water if needed. Serve with a garden salad and fried bread (recipes below).

Makes about 10 servings.

Note: The photo above shows macaroni in the soup, many Portuguese soup recipes have macaroni in them. I decided to take it out of the recipe because it gets mushy, and I can't believe that the Azoreans used pasta in their soup anyway. If you still want to use it, use 2/3 of a cup of uncooked macaroni and put it in the soup with the potatoes.

Left Over Corned Beef Hash
I love corned beef and cabbage, but there are always leftovers. Not a problem in my house, I make corn beef hash with eggs for breakfast. All you need is a big skillet, in my case, a 10" cast iron skillet, but any skillet will do. Here's the simple recipe:

Canola oil for frying
half an onion, chopped
2 small potatoes, skins on and chopped
left over corned beef, chopped into bite-size chunks (about a cup and a half)
1 small red bell pepper
salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon butter
2 large eggs

Put about 2 tablespoons of canola oil into a hot skillet. Add the chopped onions and potatoes. After a few minutes of frying, reduce heat to medium and add 1/4 cup of water and cover with a lid. Let steam 3 or 4 minutes then remove lid and add the corned beef and red bell pepper. Continue cooking on medium heat for a couple of minutes. Season with salt and pepper and stir. Make a hole in the middle of the skillet. Add a tablespoon of butter. When melted, crack two eggs in the center. Return the lid to the skillet, which will help cook the eggs a little without having to flip them. As soon as the eggs are done to your liking, serve with buttered toast and jam, with sliced fresh mango on the side.

Makes 2 servings.

Kabocha Squash Rice with Edamame
Japanese Kabocha Squash
Click on photos to view larger
Portuguese sailors introduced the kabocha squash to Japan in 1541, bringing it with them from Cambodia. Today it is eaten all over the world, and is very common here in Hawaii. The sweet squash flavors the rice, and the edamame (soy beans) not only tastes wonderful, but add a nice contrast to the dish. Serve with chicken, pork, or fish.

Japanese Kabocha Squash Rice with Edamame
1 1/2 cups short grain rice
3 cups water
1 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons sake (Japanese rice wine)
2 1/2 cups kabocha squash (peel and cut into 1 inch cubes)
1 1/2 cups cooked & shelled edamame (soy beans)
pumpkin seeds for garnish, optional

Put rice in a bowl. Wash and pour water out, then repeat 2 more times (this gets rid of some of the milky white starch on the rice which makes it sticky). Place rice and 3 cups of water in a heavy medium sized pot. Let it soak for 30 minutes. Meanwhile peel and cut the squash (I like to use a serrated bread knife because the tough to peel, so be careful). Set the squash aside. Just before cooking the rice, add salt and sake to the water and stir. Then add the cut kabocha squash to the rice and bring everything to a boil on high heat without a lid. When it reaches the rapid boil, put the lid on and reduce the heat to simmer for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the pot stand for 10 minutes (don't open the lid.) Fluff the rice, and cooked squash, with a spatula (the squash will be so soft that it will be mashed a little bit with the rice.) Serve and garnish with the cooked edamame, or perhaps pumpkin seeds, or both.

Makes 4-6 servings.

Thai Beef with Broccoli in Oyster Sauce
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon garlic, coarsely chopped
1/2 pound boneless beef roast, thinly sliced crosswise into 2-inch strips
1/4 pound broccoli cut into small bite-size florets
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon pepper, freshly ground
1/2 cup water

Heat oil in deep, heavy skillet or wok over medium-high heat; add garlic and cook until a bit of garlic sizzles at once. Toss well. Add beef and toss until it changes color. Add broccoli florets and toss for about 1 min., until they turn shiny and bright green. Add oyster sauce, fish sauce, sugar, pepper, and water and cook 3-4 min., tossing often, until broccoli is tender and beef is cooked. Transfer to small serving platter and serve hot or warm.

Makes 4 servings.

Fried Apple Banana Fritters
Fried Banana Fritters are popular all over Asia. It's important to use the right banana for this dessert. The Apple Banana here in Hawaii is perfect, with a sweet/sour flavor.  In my opinion this dessert/breakfast food is much better than Hawaii's iconic malasada, which is basically a fried doughnut hole.

These fritters are crispy on the outside, filled with a ripe apple banana chunk, that is tender and moist on the inside. Using ice-cold soda water helps the batter to get crispy, but you want to make sure that you don't put too much soda water in the batter, adding it slowly as you stir, keeping it thick. It's also a good idea to drain the grease from the fritters on a paper towel after they are fried so they are not oily, and use oil that has not been used before. Then simply dust with powdered sugar and drizzle with honey, very simple. Wait until you've tried these!

Click on photos to view larger

3 ripe apple bananas, chopped into bite sized chunks
1/2 cup self-raising flour
1/4 cup corn starch
1 tablespoon rice flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 tablespoon canola oil (to add to batter)
1/2 cup club soda (ice cold)
Canola oil for deep frying
Powdered sugar for dusting
Honey for drizzling

In a large bowl, mix together the self-raising flour, corn starch, rice flour, cinnamon, salt, baking powder and 1 1/2 tablespoons of canola oil until smooth and thick.

Now slowly add the ice cold club soda and whisk gently just until well incorporated and smooth.

In a wok, or small skillet, heat one inch of oil on medium-high heat. While waiting for the oil to come up to temperature,  325˚F, begin dipping the apple banana chunks into the batter. Using a slotted spoon, test the temperature of the oil by carefully dropping a small bit of the batter into the oil. If the oil is hot enough, the batter should begin to bubble up and lightly brown within a few seconds.

Adjust heat to medium then carefully place the battered banana chunks into the hot oil, leaving enough room in between them to turn over. Fry on each side for just about 2 or 3 minutes or so until lightly golden brown. Drain on a paper towel lined cookie sheet. Repeat as necessary with remaining banana chunks. Keep the fritters warm in a 200˚F oven, this will keep them crisp.

Place warm bananas on a serving plate. Dust with powdered sugar and drizzle with honey before serving, or serve with vanilla ice-cream.

Makes 18 fritters depending on the size of the bananas.

Note: If you don't have self-rising flour, you can make your own by mixing 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon of salt with 1 cup of all-purpose flour. Also make sure your baking powder is current. Check the expiration date on the box. Baking powder can lose its potency over time, which means your baked goods won't rise as they should.

Jul 14, 2018

Fresh Asparagus From Moloka'i, Hawaii

Asparagus grows really well here in Hawaii, especially on the Hawaiian island of Molokai. Hawaiian asparagus farmers harvest nearly any time of the year with proper timing and forethought. As a matter of fact, there was a time (between 1937 and 1939) when asparagus was exported from Hawaii to Mainland markets.

A friend and local farmer, Chris Hammond, started a large crop of asparagus here on Moloka'i. A few years later, plus a lot of hard work, he is selling his crop at the Moloka'i Saturday Farmers Market. People here have discovered him and his fresh green and purple asparagus. He usually sells out everything in his large cooler within a couple of hours. Naturally I am one of his loyal customers. There's a big difference between store bought and fresh local asparagus.

As a green vegetable, asparagus is actually quite high in protein (3 grams in 1 cup of raw asparagus). It has quite a few vitamins and minerals and is very low in fat. Of course, if you add a lot of high-fat sauces or use butter as a dip, an asparagus side dish may not be a diet dish. But eaten steamed with a little vinegar or lemon juice sprinkled on, it makes a tasty, low-fat, nutritious addition to any meal.

Here are a few asparagus recipes for you to try:

Phyllo Asparagus Blankets
Simply wrap cooked asparagus in a blanket of phyllo dough and bake. Very tasty, and they make a wonderful presentation.
Sheets of thin Phyllo Dough from Friendly Market
Click on photo to view larger

8 asparagus spears
8 phyllo dough sheets, thawed
   (available at Friendly Market)
1/2 cup butter, melted (or use olive oil)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Special equipment
basting brush
parchment paper
baking sheet

Pre-heat oven to 350˚F. Snap off the tough end of one of the asparagus spears, then cut the rest of the asparagus the same length. Heat a large sauté pan filled with 1/2 inch of water to boiling. Add a generous pinch of salt. Boil for a couple of minutes until the asparagus is almost tender but not cooked all the way. Drain and pat dry. Cool.

Unwrap the phyllo and cut the stack in half if the sheets are big. What you want is for one side of the phyllo sheet to be the same length as the asparagus spears.

Take 1 sheet of phyllo and brush lightly with some melted butter (or olive oil). Sprinkle lightly with grated Parmesan cheese, a tiny bit of salt and freshly ground pepper.

Fold the buttered sheet of phyllo corner to corner in half making a triangle. Place one asparagus spear on the straight edge across from the point. The dough should be the same length as the asparagus. Simply roll the asparagus up towards the point of the phyllo dough. It sort of shows you the distinct layers of the phyllo dough.

Place each piece, seam side down, on a baking sheet. Brush with more melted butter (or olive oil). Repeat until all the asparagus spears are used up. Place the phyllo wrapped asparagus spears on a baking sheet, lined with parchment paper, and bake for 10-15 minutes, or until golden brown and crispy. Do check on them, as you don't want to them to burn. Sprinkle with a bit more Parmesan cheese when they come out of the oven.

Makes 2 servings.

Click on photo to view larger

Sesame Asparagus with Bean Thread Noodles
1 pound thin asparagus, trimmed and sliced diagonally into 1 1/2 inch pieces
4 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon lime juice
a few drops chili oil (to taste)
3 2-ounce packages of bean thread noodles (rice noodles, I use Mum's brand)
3 teaspoon toasted white sesame seeds

In a pot of boiling salted water, blanch (quickly cook) the asparagus until just tender (it should still have a snap), about 90 seconds. Remove asparagus with slotted spoon and quickly plunge them into a large bowl of ice water. Let cool for a few minutes, then drain and transfer onto paper towels to dry. Using the water you used to cook the asparagus, bring back to a boil then add bean thread noodles. Cook for 2 minutes (do not overcook). Drain noodles, then chop into 2" chunks and set aside.

In medium-sized bowl, whisk together soy sauce, sesame oil, lime juice, and chili oil. Add asparagus and gently toss to coat. Divide noodles among 8 small bowls. Place coated asparagus on top of noodles. Pour sauce from asparagus bowl on top of each serving. Sprinkle toasted sesame seeds on top. Serve at room temperature.

Makes 8 appetizer servings.

Salmon with Roasted Asparagus 
and Lemon-Caper Sauce
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons minced red onion
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon drained capers, chopped
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon peel
1 1/2-pound skinless salmon fillet (1 1/4 to 1 1/2 inches thick)
1 pound asparagus, trimmed
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Whisk first 6 sauce ingredients in small bowl to blend, set aside.

Preheat oven to 450°F.

Cut three 1/2-inch-deep slits crosswise in top of salmon (as if dividing into 4 equal pieces but do not cut through).

Arrange asparagus in even layer on rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with oil and turn to coat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place salmon atop asparagus; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast until salmon is just opaque in center, about 20 minutes.

Transfer asparagus and salmon to platter. Spoon sauce over salmon. Cut into 4 pieces along slits and serve.

Makes 4 servings.

Asparagus-Hominy Stew with Chicken
This is a very simple meal made with fresh asparagus, gold hominy, and leftover chicken.

Click on photo to view larger

1 pound fresh asparagus
1 1/2 cups water
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon chicken flavored bouillon
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
3 pieces of pre-cooked leftover chicken, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 15 ounce can Gold Hominy, drained
1 tablespoon corn starch
1/4 cup toasted sesame seeds for garnish

Wash asparagus and trim the tough ends. Cut stalks into 1-inch pieces, leaving about 3-inch of the top, set tops aside.

In a wok, add water, soy sauce, bouillon, sesame oil, and garlic. Now add the chicken pieces, and drained gold hominy, Bring to a simmer and then add the cut asparagus stalks. Simmer for about 5 minutes, not covered.

Put the corn starch in a small ramekin with 2 tablespoons of water, stirring to combine. Add this thickening mixture to the sauce in the wok and gently stir to combine.

Now add the tender asparagus tops and continue to simmer for about 5 minutes more. Taste and add salt and pepper to your taste. Serve and garnish the top of each serving with toasted sesame seeds.

Makes 2 large servings.

Note: If you don't have any leftover chicken, then cook some uncooked seasoned chicken in the wok with a little canola oil, then remove bones and cut chicken into bite-sized pieces.

It's important not to overcook the asparagus, nobody likes soggy asparagus. It should be slightly crisp.

To toast the sesame seeds, put them in a dry frypan over medium heat and toast them making sure not to burn them. It only takes a couple of minutes and the seeds have a lot more flavor. 

Asparagus Fries with Roasted Pepper-Chive 
Aioli Dipping Sauce
A great alternative to regular French fries, crispy and good for you.

1 pound of fresh asparagus, rinsed, woody ends trimmed
1/2 cup of flour
3/4 cup Panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
Salt and pepper to taste
2 eggs, beaten

Ingredients for Roasted Pepper-Chive Aioli Dipping Sauce:
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup canned roasted red bell peppers drained and minced 
    (or broil a fresh red bell pepper until black then remove skin, seeds, then mince)
2 tablespoons minced fresh chives
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
salt to taste

Preheat oven to 425˚F.

Prepare the dipping sauce in advance, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

Spray a baking sheet with non-stick spray, set aside.

Combine the flour, Panko, Parmesan cheese, chili powder, salt and pepper in a small bowl.

Place a casserole dish, long enough to fit the asparagus, in front of you on the kitchen counter. Add the beaten eggs to the dish.

Now put all of the fresh asparagus spears in with the beaten egg and turn to coat each with the egg.

Now sprinkle the Panko mixture over the egg coated asparagus, turning to coat evenly.

Place coated asparagus spears in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet. Place in heated oven and cook until asparagus is tender and crispy. Turn the asparagus once as it cooks to ensure browning on all sides. This should take about 8 to 12 minutes. 

Divide dipping sauce into 4 ramekins and serve with the asparagus fries.

Note: Asparagus is best served immediately after removing from oven. 

Makes 4 servings.

Bacon Lovers Asparagus-egg Salad
with Honey Mustard Vinaigrette
Ingredients for salad:
4 large hard boiled eggs, peeled and sliced
1 pound fresh asparagus
4 slices bacon cooked and crumbled
4 tablespoons of capers
12 lettuce cups (use the outer leaves of leaf lettuce, or butter lettuce as a container for the salad)

Ingredients for honey mustard vinaigrette:
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/8 cup seasoned rice vinegar
1/8 cup plus 1 teaspoon honey
2 cloves of garlic, minced
salt and pepper, to taste

Cover eggs with cold water in a small pot. Bring to a gentle boil. When you reach a boil, turn off heat and cover pot for 15 minutes. Remove eggs and run under cold water to stop cooking. Gently crack and peel the eggs under a trickle of running water. Set peeled eggs aside in the refrigerator until you are ready to assemble the salads.

Steam asparagus in a wok, with a steamer rack, for 5 for 10 minutes depending on the thickness of the asparagus. You want the asparagus to be tender yet firm, not mushy. Drain and run under cold water to stop it from cooking further. Set aside in the refrigerator.

Cook bacon until crisp, then crumble the bacon and set aside.

In a small bowl mix dressing ingredients. Taste the dressing in case you want to add more honey, mustard, or salt to your taste.

Put one cold lettuce cups on each of 4 plates. Cut cold asparagus into bite-sized pieces and arrange in each lettuce cup. Top asparagus with sliced egg, crumbled bacon, capers and drizzle each salad with 2 tablespoons of honey mustard vinaigrette.

Makes 4 servings.

Jul 10, 2018

Pork Belly Stir-fry

Hawaii loves pork belly, why not... it's bacon, well sort of, bacon is cured with salt and also smoked! Add Chinese wood ear mushrooms, red bell pepper and chow fun rice noodles and you have a beautifully simple Chinese meal that is easy to make.

Wok Fried Pork Belly with Black Mushrooms
Chinese dried wood ear mushrooms
This mushroom has other names
such as tree ear and black fungus.
Usually found the the Asian section
of your grocery store.
Click on photo to view larger
2 seven ounce packages of fresh chow fun noodles (wide rice noodles)
1 pound pork belly, cut into thin 1/8" thick bite-size slices
1 cup dried wood ear mushrooms, soaked in cold water for
    2 hours and chopped roughly
1 large red bell pepper, cut into chunks
1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon Chinese black bean sauce
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
1/4 cup water
2 green onions, sliced into 1/4-inch pieces for garnish

Heat slightly salted water in a wok, enough to cover the chow fun noodles. When it comes to a boil, add the noodles and cook 3 or 4 minutes. Drain noodles in a colander in the sink. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of canola oil over the top of the noodles and toss to prevent them from sticking together, set aside.

In the same wok, sear sliced pork belly in a dry wok over medium high heat, about 20 minutes or until golden brown on all sides. You will need to turn the pieces often to keep from burning. 

Drain all but 1 teaspoon of the grease in the wok. Now add the bell pepper and stir-fry for a couple minutes. 

Add the low sodium soy sauce, black bean sauce, garlic and mushrooms. Stir-fry for about 5 minutes to blend all the flavors.

Add 1/4 cup water, cover, and simmer for 5-10 minutes over medium heat. Now add the cooked chow fun noodles. Stir one last time until noodles are hot, then serve garnished with sliced green onions. I like to serve this dish with cold beer and fresh fruit like black seedless grapes for dessert.

Makes 4 servings.

Note: The addition of fresh frozen Edamame (cooked fresh soybeans) adds more vegetables to this dish. Simply bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add the beans and boil over high heat for 5 or 6 minutes. Don't cover the pot or the beans will lose their bright green color. When ready, drain beans and serve mixed with the stir-fry.

Jun 28, 2018

Easy Broiled Salmon

Click on photo to view larger

Salmon was introduced to Hawaii by western sailors many years ago, and has grown in popularity ever since. The most common use for salmon here would be for lomi lomi salmon. Lomi lomi salmon is similar to poke, in that it is cut into small cubes and cured in salt instead of soy sauce. This dish is now a classic and integral part of most Hawaiian parties and gatherings, such as traditional luaus, and can be considered a Hawaiian ethnic food alongside poi, kalua pig, poke and laulau.

Most fresh salmon found in Hawaii is imported from the U.S. Pacific northwest, the Atlantic, and even as far away as New Zealand, but it is also very popular here right out of a can. It's one fish that you can always find in our small grocery stores here on the island of Moloka'i, alongside ahi tuna and mahi mahi. Salmon is also very popular served raw in sushi bars here in Hawaii. I love the stuff, who wouldn't, beautiful color, velvety texture, buttery flavor, and it's good for you because it's packed with omega-3 fatty acids and calcium.

Another simple way to serve this beautiful fish is to broil it with all of the flavors of the islands.

Hawaiian Broiled Salmon
1 green onion, minced
2 tablespoons Tamari sauce
1 tablespoon seasoned rice vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste
3 cloves of minced garlic
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
4, 1/4 pound pieces of salmon, or 1 1/2 pound
   single piece of salmon with the skin on.
1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds (optional)

Cooking spray
Heavy foil

Start by running a sharp knife along the bottom of the fillet to remove the salmon skin. Meanwhile, remove any bones from the salmon by running your finger over the flesh and pull the bones out with tweezers. If using one large piece of fish, cut it up into 4 pieces.

Whisk minced green onion, Tamari sauce, vinegar, lime juice, honey, red pepper flakes, minced garlic and fresh ginger in a medium bowl until the honey is dissolved. Place 4 pieces of skinned salmon in a zip-loc freezer bag. Add the sauce and refrigerate; let marinate for 30 minutes, turning the bag half way through.

Move shelf in oven 6 to 8 inches from the broiler. Preheat broiler on high. Line a small baking pan with heavy foil and coat with cooking spray.

Transfer the salmon to the pan, skinned-side down. (Discard the marinade.) Broil salmon until cooked through, 7 or 8 minutes. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds if desired. Serve with a cucumber tomato salad with dill, or toasted Jasmine rice, and snow peas.

Makes 4 servings.

Jun 11, 2018

It's June... Mango Season In Hawaii!

June is the beginning of mango season here in Hawaii. What better way to celebrate than to prepare a shrimp recipe where mango is the star. I love this recipe because it allows the sweet juices of mango to mingle with locally grown large shrimp, coconut, and fresh lime juice for a sweet taste of the tropics.

Sweet Mango Coconut Shrimp 
with Toasted Jasmine Rice

2 tablespoons canola oil
1/2 cup chopped red onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons lime juice
1/4 teaspoon chili oil, or sriracha (chili paste) to taste
1 pound large raw, deveined shrimp with tails removed
1 large, fresh mango, peeled and cubed
4 cups toasted jasmine rice, for serving (recipe below)
1/2 cup toasted, sweetened shredded coconut for garnish
1/2 cup chopped green onions for garnish
1 large lime, quartered

In a large dry skillet over medium heat, toss coconut until just toasted. Remove coconut to a small bowl. In the same skillet, heat up oil over medium heat. Add red onion and sauté, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add garlic, soy sauce, fish sauce, lime juice, chili oil, and stir. Add shrimp and toss to combine, about 3 minutes until the shrimp are pink and cooked. Now stir in the mango chunks, until warmed and juices release.

Serve over a bed or hot toasted jasmine rice, sprinkled with toasted coconut, and green onions. Squeeze lime just prior to serving.

Makes 4 servings.

Toasted Jasmine Rice
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/3 cup thinly sliced shallots
1 cup uncooked jasmine rice
1 3/4 cups unsalted chicken stock or water if you don't have stock
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley for garnish

Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high. Add shallots; sauté 3 minutes. Add rice; cook 2 minutes, stirring to coat. Add stock, salt, pepper, and bay leaf to pan with rice; bring to a boil.

Reduce heat; cover, and simmer 16 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Remove pan from heat; let stand covered for 5 minutes. Discard bay leaf. Sprinkle with parsley to garnish.

Makes 4 servings.

Apr 1, 2018

The Worlds Smallest Tomato

The "Red Currant Tomato" is considered a wild species of tomato native to Ecuador and Peru but naturalized elsewhere, such as the Galapagos Islands. This plant is known to botanists as Solanum pimpinellifolium, or simply "pimp." The plant, according to the Smithsonian Journeys Quarterly, is the wild ancestor of all the tomatoes we eat today, and still grows wild in northern Peru, southern Ecuador, and here on Moloka'i.

Red Currant Tomatoes from the Moloka'i Saturday Farmers' Market
Click on photo to view larger

I had never heard of, or tasted, these little gems until my wife bought a little plastic bag filled with them last year. She bought them from a part time resident of Moloka'i named Max Quinney. He was selling them at our local Saturday farmers' market here on Moloka'i for $4. The next week at the market I asked him where he got the seeds and he told me that they starting growing in a pile of wood chips that he had gotten for his garden. The chips came from our local green waste land fill. I also spoke to a couple of local Hawaiians who said "Oh you mean Moloka'i tomatoes" as if they have been growing here for a long time. These little tomatoes are amazing because they are so small, no bigger than a shelled pea. You truly can't just eat one, because of the intense tomato flavor.

After doing a little research online, I found that apparently each plant produces hundreds of sweet fruit within about 65 days after planting the seeds. It is recommended to grow them in hanging baskets because its rambling branches can grow out to as much as 8 feet long. They like direct sunlight, and will produce fruit all summer long. Currant Tomatoes are a different species from standard garden tomatoes, and have been known to readily reseed themselves and continue to grow season after season if you maintain the soil fertility and water them.

I also found out that Red Currant Tomatoes are an exceptional source of lycopene, a naturally occurring pigment that doubles as an antioxidant. Lycopene is known for its anti-cancer benefits, such as preventing, fighting and repairing cell damage in the human body. The tomato’s array of nutrients and antioxidants, including the especially potent lycopene that is found in its highest concentration in tomatoes, also helps support healthy eyesight, cardiovascular health, and more. 

From a culinary standpoint, Red Currant Tomatoes are essentially miniature cherry tomatoes, and are treated as such in recipes. Hence, Red Currant Tomatoes can serve as a substitute for cherry tomatoes. Seasonal recipes and ingredient pairings are best suited to showcase the Red Currant Tomato's full flavors. Consider leaving Red Currant Tomatoes whole in any application, as their attributes will be amplified. Dot Red Currant Tomatoes onto appetizers, scatter onto salads, float them on tomato-based soups, or simply freeze them for a cold summer treat. Try tossing with couscous for a simple side dish, or use them to make your own sun-dried tomato raisins. With their tangy-sweet flavor, they are considered a type apt for pickling or making preserves, such as a sweet tomato relish, and they can also be used for juicing or making sauces. Like all tomato varieties, store Red Currant Tomatoes at room temperature until ripe, after which refrigeration can prevent further ripening and decay.

Yesterday Mr. Quinney came back to my wife's farmers' market booth with another bag of little currant tomatoes to sell. Naturally I wanted to find out where to buy seeds for this little tomato. To my amazement I found a number of sites online. Soon I will be growing, and enjoying my own red currant tomatoes. I took the photo above this morning using Mr. Quinney's red currant tomatoes that I bought yesterday.

Broiled Crusty Bread Slices with Ricotta Cheese
and Red Currant Tomatoes
4 slices crusty bread (Molokai Wines & Spirits par-baked crusty bread)
1/2 cup Ricotta cheese
1/2 cup red current tomatoes or 1/4 cup cherry tomato halves
Extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Lightly toast bread. Spread each toast slice with 2 tablespoons ricotta. Scatter tomatoes over the ricotta. Drizzle the toasts with a small amount of extra-virgin olive oil (1/2 teaspoon each), and sprinkle with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Broil 1 to 2 minutes, or until cheese is bubbly.

Makes 4 servings.

Note: As a variation to this recipe, replace the Ricotta cheese guacamole made with avocado, mixed with fresh lime juice, salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste. Top with tomato and chopped cilantro.

Microwave Ham & Eggs 
with Red Currant Tomatoes
6 pieces of thinly sliced sandwich ham broken into bite-size pieces
4 large eggs
1 thin slice of butter broken in half
12 red current tomatoes, or 6 cherry tomatoes cut in half
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 teaspoon freshly chopped parsley for garnish
1 fresh orange, peeled with sections removed

You will need 2 microwavable ramekins (I use 6-oz Pyrex custard cups). Place half of the thinly sliced sandwich ham into each ramekin. Break two eggs on top of the ham. With a fork pierce the yolk of each egg. Put a sliver of butter in the middle of each ramekin. Now sprinkle tomatoes on top. Add salt and pepper to taste, and sprinkle with chopped parsley. Place both ramekins in your microwave oven and cook for about 2 1/2 minutes. Place ramekins on a dinner plate, garnished with orange sections. Serve with toasted English muffins spread with your favorite jam.

Makes 2 servings.

Ground Pork with Long Beans, Kabocha Squash
and Red Currant Tomatoes
1 1/2 tablespoons canola oil
6 garlic cloves, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 pound ground pork
3 tablespoons fish sauce (Patis), or to taste
1 tablespoon Sriracha chili sauce, or to taste
3 tablespoons soy sauce or to taste
1/2 cup water
1 whole bunch of Asian long beans, cut or broken into 2 inch pieces, about 2 cups
1 medium sized kabocha squash peeled, seeded and cut into inch-long chunks
3 cups of red currant tomatoes or cherry tomatoes, cut in half.

Heat oil in a deep sauté pan, or wok. Sauté the garlic and onions for about a 1-2 minutes. Add the ground pork and crumble the meat with a fork to prevent clumping as you brown it on medium-high heat. Season with fish sauce and chili sauce, to taste. Pour in the soy sauce and water. Bring to a boil. Cover then simmer on low heat for at least half an hour to allow the meat to absorb the flavor of the liquid. Immediately add the long beans and squash, stir and cover. Simmer for an additional 10 to 15 minutes, or until the squash is tender and the beans fully cooked yet still retain some crunch. Correct the seasoning if necessary. Finally, sprinkle each plate with whole red currant tomatoes or sliced cherry tomatoes. Serve with white long grain rice. Makes 4-6 servings.

Red Currant Tomato Jam, Hawaiian-Style
Click on photo to view larger

Red Currant Tomato Jam, Hawaiian-Style
This fresh savory jam makes a fantastic appetizer (pupu) when spread on your favorite cracker with creamy goat cheese, or mixed in with ahi tuna to make "Jamin Poke". Try it on burgers instead of ketchup, or as a condiment with roasted meats or grilled fish or shrimp. I even make a salad dressing out of it by adding seasoned rice vinegar and olive oil to the tomato jam. I like using red currant tomatoes because of their intense tomato flavor.

1 1/2 pounds or 4 cups of whole red currant tomatoes or cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
1/3 cup honey
1 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar
1 teaspoon Tamari sauce
2 tablespoons Korean kimchi sauce, or to taste
1 pinch of sea salt 

To make this jam: Wash tomatoes then cut in half (if using cherry tomatoes). Combine with the rest of the ingredients in a saucepan. Heat slowly to a simmer. Stir every 15 minutes or so to prevent sticking, until the tomatoes are syrupy, about 1 hour and 15 minutes, avoid scorching as the jam condenses. You should end up with a thick gooey tomato jam. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.

Use the jam immediately or let it cool and store, covered, for up to 1 month in the refrigerator, or put the jam into sterilized jars and seal. Makes about 2 cups.

Note: You don't have to use red currant tomatoes, you can use just cherry tomatoes, or a combination of both, as long as the tomatoes have a lot of flavor. This jam will taste different depending on the tomatoes you use.

Mar 8, 2018

Spinach Alternatives In Hawaii

Most of the time I buy my spinach from the grocery store, but lately I have been disappointed in the quality of the product. Either it looks old and damaged, or dirty with long tough stems. So what can I do about it. I do enjoy growing my own vegetables. Living 1,200 feet above sea level here on the Hawaiian island of Moloka'i provides me with cool, rainy weather most of the year, and Spinach prefers cool, damp weather, but is sensitive to Hawaii's highly acid soil, so amending the soil is necessary for this vegetable. 

Beet tops and bottoms from Kumu Farms on Moloka'i
Another alternative is to grow a spinach substitute like beets for their tops, and beets will grow anywhere in Hawaii. I love beets, not only for the traditional beet root, but the leafy green top which taste very much like spinach when cooked. It takes 60 to 80 days before beets are ready to harvest, however you can pick up to 1/3 of the plant's leaves while the plant is growing without harming its root.

Tatsoi, from Kumu Farms on Moloka'i
Click on photo to view larger
Another alternative to spinach is an Asian plant called tatsoi. Tatsoi is the new spinach but is actually not spinach at all. It is related to pat choi or bok choy, but is much smaller, with a texture similar to spinach, but sturdier. I first noticed this variety here on Moloka'i at Kumu Farms. It is sold in little bunches about 6 inches long, and has dark green leaves with a thicker stem than common spinach. It has a creamy texture and a subtle yet distinctive flavor reminiscent of mustard greens in heat although not as hot. Tatsoi seems to grow quite well here in Hawaii. 

Tatsoi is wonderful eaten raw in salads and sandwiches, in stir-fry recipes, or in soups like the wonton soup below. Actually you can use Tatsoi anywhere you'd use spinach. You will want to store tatsoi in a plastic bag in your crisper drawer with the other vegetables. Tatsoi has a short shelf-live and will only last a few days. Don't wash this vegetable until you are ready to eat or cook it.

If you are interested in this very easy to grow green in your own garden, check out this seed companies website.

Salmon with Sauteed Beet Tops

Ingredients for salmon:
4 (7-ounce) salmon filets, without skin
Salt and pepper
3 tablespoons lemon juice, divided
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
4 cloves garlic, minced

Ingredients for spinach:
12 ounces fresh beet tops, cleaned and stems removed
2 garlic cloves, minced (or to taste)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce (or to taste)
Toasted sesame seeds for garnish

Procedure for salmon:
Squeeze lemon juice over each filet, and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Heat olive in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Sear skin side of filets, for 3-4 minutes until crispy and golden.

Flip and sear the other side of each filet for 2 minutes. Then, add in the butter, chopped garlic and more lemon juice. Continue to cook the salmon for 1-2 minutes, or until salmon reaches desired doneness.

Procedure for beet tops:
While salmon is cooking, heat olive oil and sesame oil in a wok or large pan. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add cleaned beet tops and soy sauce to taste and saute just until the spinach has wilted. Serve immediately with salmon. Garnish everything with toasted sesame seeds.

Makes 4 servings.

Egg Drop Soup with Tatsoi and Edamame

6 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
1 tablespoon finely grated ginger
1 1⁄2 teaspoons salt, plus more to taste
1 1⁄2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
3 eggs
2 cups tatsoi, stems removed
1 1⁄2 cups cooked, shelled edamame
4 scallions, thinly sliced

Bring stock, ginger, and 1 teaspoon salt to a boil in a 4-quart saucepan. Stir cornstarch and soy sauce in a bowl until smooth; whisk into stock, cook until slightly thickened, 1–2 minutes, and remove from heat.

Whisk together remaining salt, sesame oil, and eggs in a bowl.

While gently whisking broth, slowly add egg mixture to scatter eggs as they cook. Stir in tatsoi and edamame until tatsoi is wilted, about 1 minute; season with salt. Divide soup between four bowls; top with scallions.

Makes 4 servings.

Wonton Soup with Shrimp & Tatsoi

8 dried black wood ear mushrooms, rehydrated (found in the Asian section of your grocery store)
1 bunch green onions, cut into 1/2-inch pieces, divided
1 pound leftover cooked pork, remove fat and mince
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 egg
1/4 cup dry breadcrumbs, or one slice of bread, minced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 (16 ounce) package square wonton wrappers
8 cups chicken broth (see note below)
16 uncooked medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 or 2 heads Tatsoi, stems removed
16 snow peas
1 dash soy sauce, or to taste
1 dash sesame oil, or to taste

Put dried black wood ear mushrooms in a bowl of warm water for 30 minutes.

Dice the green onions, and set aside all but 1 tablespoon. Finely chop the 1 tablespoon of green onions and place in a bowl with minced cooked pork, 1 tablespoon sesame oil, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, egg, bread crumbs, salt, and pepper. Stir to thoroughly mix the pork filling.

Spoon about 1 tablespoon of the pork filling onto the center of each wonton wrapper. Use your finger or a pastry brush to lightly moisten the edges of the wonton wrappers with water. Fold one corner of the wrapper over the filling onto the opposite corner to form a triangle. Press the edges together to seal. Moisten the two long ends of the triangle, fold them together, and press them firmly to seal.

Bring the chicken broth and mushrooms to a boil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Drop the wontons, one by one, into the broth, and let them cook for 5 minutes, until they float to the surface. Reduce heat to a simmer, and gently stir in the shrimp and Tatsoi. Let the soup simmer 2 more minutes, until the shrimp turn pink, and then drop in the snow pea pods. Garnish with the remaining green onions and a dash of soy sauce and sesame oil, and serve immediately. Makes 4 servings.

Note: I like to make my own chicken stock because it tastes better and it's much cheaper than buying store bought broth. Simply buy a 5 pound box of frozen chicken thighs from Friendly Market. Defrost it in the refrigerator over night. When defrosted, rinse the chicken well under cold water. Dry the chicken and put it in a large pot with one large chopped onion and 3 tablespoons of canola oil and brown the chicken for about 20 minutes. Then add one chopped carrot, 3 chopped celery sticks, 1 teaspoon black peppercorns, a bay leaf, and a 2 inch knob of fresh ginger that has been smashed with the side of your knife. Now add 8 cups of water with 2 tablespoons of salt. Bring everything to a boil, then simmer for 2 hours with the lid open a little on top of the pot. After 1 1/2 hours, taste the stock and season with more salt and pepper or soy sauce if needed. Strain everything, saving the chicken. When cool, put the chicken broth in plastic containers and freeze. Take the chicken apart and discard the bones. Divide the meat into plastic zip-loc sandwich bags, then put all of the bags into a zip-loc freezer bag and freeze for later use, like stuffing wontons, making chicken salad, or whatever. You just saved yourself $6. Chicken stock lasts about a week refrigerated or 1 month frozen.

Did you know that you can freeze leftover wonton wrappers and reuse them later. Simply tightly wrap them in plastic wrap, then put them in a zip-loc freezer bag. Let them come back to room temperature before you reuse them, otherwise they will be brittle and break.

Tatsoi with Oyster Sauce
This recipe is very easy to make and is a delicious served as a bed for a slice of broiled salmon.

2 bunches of Tatsoi
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
2 large cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
a pinch of salt and black pepper

Wash and dry Tatsoi. Remove the core and discard, cutting up the stems and leaves into 2 inch pieces.

In a wok or large fry pan, gently fry the garlic in the sesame oil over medium heat being carful not to brown the garlic.

Add the chopped Tatsoi to the pan and stir-fry for 2 or 3 minutes or until wilted but still bright green.

Stir in the oyster sauce and stir-fry until the stems have cooked through and no liquid is left in the pan.

Taste the Tatsoi and season with a little salt and black pepper if needed.

Serve immediately, sprinkled with toasted sesame seeds.

Makes 2 servings.

Mar 4, 2018

Tasty Filipino Food In Hawaii

Click on map to enlarge
The Philippine archipelago comprises about 7,641 islands, of which only about 2,000 are inhabited. They are clustered into the three major island groups of Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.

Filipinos are now the fastest growing ethnic minority in Hawaii. Taken together, Filipinos and part-Filipinos constitute 275,728 or nearly 23 percent of the state population, slightly more than the Hawaiian and part-Hawaiian population. About 70 percent of the Filipino population live on the island of Oahu.

Fortunately for us, they have influenced Hawaii's cuisine over the years. Dishes like pork adobo, Pinakbet, pork, cooked with pumpkin, Chinese long beans, cabbage, and bitter melon, or tom yum, a sour tamarind soup. All so different and oh so good, and there are so many more.

One of my favorite Filipino recipes is grilled Chicken Inasal, a classic dish that is also enjoyed here in Hawaii. It tastes wonderful not only because it is grilled, but because of the zesty marinade. One of the marinade ingredients is 7up, yep I kid you not. It turns out that the carbonation and citric acid in 7up helps to tenderize meat, while the added sugar promotes caramelization during cooking. Try not to substitute any of the ingredients if possible. Also you want to be sure not to overcook the chicken, it should be moist and full of flavor.

Chicken Inasal is traditionally served with 'Java Rice' that is gently mixed with spices and formed in a tea cup, then turned over on the plate and sprinkled with chopped scallions. Also, pickled green papaya called 'Achara' is usually served as a side dish. For dessert, how about 'Bibinka', a unique soft, sweet, and gelatinous cake (recipes below).

Looking for more delicious Filipino recipes? click here.

Filipino Grilled Chicken Inasal

2 cornish game hens cut in half or 4 chicken leg quarters, with the skin side scored 3 times

Calamansi from Moloka'i farmers market.
It is widely cultivated in the Philippines and in Hawaii.
Your best chance of finding it on Moloka'i is at our
Saturday Farmer's Market where Filipino vendors sell it.
Marinade Ingredients:
2 tablespoons ginger, minced
2 tablespoons garlic, minced
1 cup white vinegar or coconut vinegar
1/2 cup calamansi or lime juice
1 tablespoon salt
1/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup lemongrass, chopped
1 cup 7up
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Basting Sauce Ingredients:
(see note below)
3 tablespoons annatto oil
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon calamansi juice, or lime juice

Combine the marinade ingredients, mix well. Set aside.

Arrange the scored chicken in a large resealable bag. Pour the marinade over the chicken pieces. Gently push the air out of the bag and then seal. Refrigerate for 3 hours, turning the bag several times so the chicken is well coated.

Combine the basting sauce ingredients in a small bowl.

Heat-up the grill to 360˚F. Remove the chicken from the marinade and wipe down stray aromatics. Arrange the marinated chicken leg quarters over the grates of the grill, skin side up, so that the chicken gets indirect heat. Turn the chicken every 5 minutes for about 30 to 45 minutes brushing with the basting sauce. The key is to grill over indirect heat until the chicken gets fully cooked and the internal temperature reaches 160˚F, do not overcook, you want the chicken to be moist. Transfer to a serving plate, cover and allow to rest for about 3 to 5 minutes before serving.

Serve chicken with Java Rice (see recipe below), sprinkled with chopped scallions on top, and some pickled green papaya on the side (see recipe below) (this is also known as papaya achara). If you can't find calacansi, use fresh lime juice instead.

Makes 4 servings.

Note: I like to use cornish game hens for this dish because half of a hen is a perfect serving for one person, and they are so tender and look nicer on a plate. I use kitchen sheers to cut them in half, or a good sharp knife will do. They are a dollar cheaper at Friendly Market than Misaki's Market... it pays to shop around.

I couldn't find annatto oil here on the small Hawaiian island of Moloka'i, so I used annatto powder, which I found in a small packet in the Asian section of Friendly Market. I heated 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a small pan, not very hot, certainly not smoking. Then I mixed in about 1 teaspoon of the annatto powder. The powder should settle to the bottom, allowing you to pour off most of the oil without the powder making it cloudy. You could also put it through a coffee filter, which will remove all of the powder residue. Then you mix in the rest of the basting ingredients. You will notice that a the Java Rice recipe below calls for annatto powder.

Java Rice
This rice recipe is typically served with Chicken Inasal. It is basically pre-cooked white short grain rice that is reheated and gently mixed with various spices. The end result is a seasoned golden rice.

4 cups cold pre-cooked white rice
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon annatto powder
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 tablespoon soy sauce
salt and pepper to taste
2 shallots, peeled and finely chopped for garnish

In a bowl, break rice to separate grains.

Heat a wok or large skillet over medium heat, combine butter and oil. Heat until butter is melted. Add  garlic and bell pepper. Cook, stirring 2 or 3. Add annatto powder and turmeric powder. Continue to cook, stirring for about 1 minute.

Add rice and gently toss to fully coat. Spread the rice on entire cooking surface of the pan for about 45 seconds or until grains start to sizzle and then toss again to redistribute.

Add soy sauce and season with salt and pepper to taste. Continue to cook, tossing gently, for about 1 to 2 minutes or until rice grains are heated through and evenly colored. Serve hot garnished with finely chopped shallots.

Makes 4 servings.

Pickled Green Papaya
This wonderful Filipino pickled green papaya recipe is called 'Achara' and is usually served as a side dish for barbecued meat or fried fish. Green papaya is underripe papaya that is green and firm. Look for it in Asian markets.

Ingredients for brine:
1 cup white vinegar or coconut vinegar
2 tablespoon white sugar
2 tablespoon brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder

4 cups julienned green papaya (available at Kumu Farms or Moloka'i farmer's market)
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup water
1 small red bell pepper, julienned
1 medium size carrot, julienned
1 small red onion, sliced thin
4 cloves garlic, sliced thin
1 thumb size ginger, peeled and sliced thin
1 teaspoon whole peppercorn

Using a non reactive saucepan combine coconut vinegar and sugar. Bring to a quick boil and remove from heat. Add turmeric powder and stir. Set aside and allow to cool.

Peel the green papaya and discard the seeds. Julienne the papaya into a medium size mixing bowl. Sprinkle with sea salt and toss well. Pour in 1 cup of water and squeeze out the juice from the papaya. Add the pepper corn, bell pepper, ginger, onion, garlic, carrots and papaya. Toss well. 

Pour vinegar mixture over the vegetables. Toss well, cover and let it sit, refrigerated, overnight before serving. Best when served cold.

Makes about 6 cups.

Note: Look for green (completely green and unripe) papaya. I prefer to julienne the ingredients (green papaya, red bell pepper and carrots, rather than grate them because it just looks better. 

To find out more about the health benefits of coconut vinegar, click here.

Filipino Coconut Pineapple "Bibingka"
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This cake is considered a delicacy in the Philippines. I have a friend who lives there, Ann Supan who recently had a birthday. She asked if I had ever heard of "Bibingka", and that she only has this special cake during the Christmas season. I researched it and came up with this recipe. It is a sticky cake, very different from other dryer American cakes, because of the glutinous sweet rice flour, which makes it have a unique soft, sweet, and gelatinous consistency, sort of like the Japanese Mochi. There are many different Filipino versions of the Bibingka, including a version that my Filipino friend Estella Ramos likes that uses cooked sticky rice instead of rice flour and only light brown sugar, not white sugar, plus a little less coconut cream. This dessert is a winner Ann, Happy Birthday!

Ingredients for cake:
1 8-ounce package cream cheese
2 cups white granulated sugar
3 eggs
1 pound (3 1/2 cups) Mochiko brand sweet rice flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 stick (1/2 cup) melted butter
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 15-ounce can sweetened cream of coconut, not coconut milk
1 cup whole milk
1 8-oz. can crushed pineapple, drained of the juice
1 tablespoon Crisco brand shortening
9 x 13 inch metal sheet pan, or glass Pyrex pan

Ingredients for topping:
1 1/2 cups flaked coconut
5 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

In a large bowl, cream together the cream cheese and sugar. Stir in the eggs, one at a time. Mix in the remaining ingredients and stir, until smooth. Pour into a greased 13x9 pan. Combine the topping ingredients; sprinkle over batter. Place in oven on middle rack and bake in a 350˚F oven for approximately 60 minutes. After 30 minutes of baking, cover the cake lightly with a sheet of foil to keep the coconut from getting too brown, then continue baking for 30 minutes more. Turn off heat and allow the cake to rest in the oven for an additional 20 minutes before removing. Now remove the cake from the oven and allow it to cool to room temperature, about 1 hour, then cut into small pieces. Store in an airtight container and refrigerate.

Note: The cooking time may vary depending on your oven, and the pan you cook in. For example I cooked this cake in a glass Pyrex baking pan and had to increase the time by 30 minutes. If the cake center jiggles when you give it a shake, continue cooking, and check again every 5 minutes. The cake is done when the top springs back to the touch.