Moloka'i Food Finds

Even an island as small as Moloka'i has Food Finds. I'm talking about finding a great deal on the price of an item in one of our grocery stores, or possibly something new and different at our farmers market, or perhaps something new on a menu in one of our restaurants, like a daily special. Also food warnings, such as local food products or food product handling that might be a health concern. This page will change regularly with dates of the finds.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016
Farm raised shrimp from Kauai
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Kauai Shrimp – Friendly Market's meat department had large fresh shrimp from the Hawaiian island of Kauai today. They also had shrimp imported from India and Ecuador for a lot less per pound.

Today, up to 90 percent of seafood consumed in the United States is imported and about half of this is wild-caught. A significant portion of this imported seafood is caught by American fishermen, exported overseas for processing, and then reimported to the United States. The United States mainly imports seafood from China, Thailand, Canada, Indonesia, Vietnam, and Ecuador. Our top imports (by volume) include shrimp, freshwater fish, tuna, salmon, ground fish, crab, and squid.

Grilled Garlic Shrimp
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Personally I would rather buy locally whenever possible, even if the shrimp from Kauai costs twice as much as the shrimp from Ecuador. The shrimp from Kauai, in the photo above, costs $12.99 per pound which was eight large shrimp for $8.57. So you are probably asking yourself... why do farm raised shrimp from a neighbor island cost twice as much as shrimp from Ecuador?

For more interesting information and shrimp recipes, go to "Shrimp Farming In Hawaii".

Saturday, March 12, 2016
Spaghetti Squash – Today I was in Friendly Market's produce department and noticed that they had spaghetti squash for sale. Apparently they have been in the produce section for several weeks but I didn't notice them. They looked like yellow footballs and are quite heavy. I bought a 4.19 pound squash for $6.66, easily enough for 4 to 6 people, and that was the smallest one they had.

Spaghetti squash is seasonal and is available on other islands or on the Mainland, but on Moloka'i it usually isn't. If you haven't tried it, it's very easy to cook, and makes for an unusual and delicious side dish. To find a recipe, click here.

Thursday, June 11, 2015
Pahole Fern – The Pahole fern as it is known in Maui county, is a wetland vegetable found in the higher-altitude rain forests of our islands all year. There is only about a two-week window for picking pahole, since the tight spiral ends of the fern begin to unfurl after about 14 days. The plants stalks typically grow to about four feet tall, and their six-inch frond tips are edible only during a two-week phase in the plant's life cycle. Once picked, pahole fern is quite delicate but has a limited shelf life. It should be refrigerated in a tight, wet paper towels and tightly wrapped in plastic wrap and kept cold right up to preparation time; pahole quickly lose their vibrant green color and become dull and unappetizing.

Annette English, 
Pahole farmer on Moloka'i
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Pahole fern is usually available in specialty markets on Maui, but it is also sold here on Moloka'i, but not in stores. Like so many local foods here on Moloka'i, venison, goat, lobster, opihi, and reef fish, you have to know the people who grow, hunt, or fish for it in order to get it.

My friend Annette English grows and sells her Pahole fern, and her prepared fern salad, out of the back of her car twice a month, with her daughters, in a lot next to American Savings Bank in Kaunakakai. If you live on Moloka'i or are a visitor and want to try this local delicacy, give Annette a call at 336-0151. She sells the fern fresh, or as you can tell by her sign, you can buy her salad already made with tomatoes, onions, cuttlefish and dry opae for $10.00, or a deluxe salad with opihi, tomatoes onions, cuttlefish and dry opae. This is a real local treat.

Pahole fern makes a delicious and unusually crunchy salad (recipe) that is often served at potluck dinners or luau's here on Moloka'i. The ferns flavor hints of asparagus and mushrooms combined.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015
Oysters, Clams and Mussels – I love fresh oysters, and clams, but not at the expense of my health. Generally, seafood is very safe to eat, but raw or undercooked seafood can be unsafe due to viruses, bacteria or parasites. About 20 Americans die each year from Vibrio blood infections contracted from oysters, and clams that are not handled properly.

Again today I was looking at the clams in Friendly Market. They were in foam trays, tightly sealed in plastic and several clams were already open. The oysters in Misaki's January 12th were also packaged in foam trays covered in plastic. This is very dangerous so I spoke to a meat department employee at Friendly Market about this about a year ago, and he said that "they have been selling oysters and clams this way for a long time and no one has gotten sick before", so in other words, they're playing a deadly game of Russian roulette with their customers, or they just don't know any better.

Today I called the Moloka'i Department of Health, only to find out that our local DOH inspector, Cathleen Shimizu-Sakamoto retired in December and hasn't been replaced yet. They referred me to Pattie Kitkowski at 808-984-8230, of the Maui Health Office. She told me that she will be on island next week and will look into my concern.

Update: It is now five months later, and Friendly Market is still selling clams sealed in plastic with several clams dead in each package. I can only assume that the Maui County Department of Health never investigated my complaint. If other people complain, maybe they will, and hopefully prevent someone from getting sick. Also Moloka'i still has no new health inspector to replace Cathleen? It makes you wonder about the Maui District Health Office and the State of Hawaii Department of Health. Again, Moloka'i is the poor stepchild who is the last to receive county and state benefits.

Oysters and clams in the shell must be sold LIVE by law according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). According to this FDA site, item # 3-202.19 Shellstock, Condition, "Dirty, damaged, or dead shellstock can contaminate and degrade live and healthy shellstock and lead to foodborne illness."

Fresh, live oysters and clams have been sold by our grocery stores sealed in plastic bags or containers here on Moloka'i for a long time. Remember, these oysters and clams are alive and need to breathe, so they should never seal them tightly in plastic, this can kill them which could make you sick or worse. If you see oysters, or clams being sold with open or broken shells or being sold in tightly sealed plastic bags here on Moloka'i, don't buy them, instead call the Department of Health at 553-3691, or call Pattie Kitkowski at the number listed above. For detailed information about "Handling Seafood Safely", check out this great Whole Foods website or these websites: this sitethis site, this sitethis site or this site to read for yourself. There are many, many other sites that talk about this problem.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014
Winter Avocados – Being an avocado grower myself, with nearly 30 trees in my backyard, I know that Moloka'i avocados definitely have a season when the fruit appears on the trees, and with my trees it is in the summertime. However their are avocado trees that are winter producers. You can usually find them at the Saturday Farmer's Market. If they are rock hard, all you have to do is put one in a paper bag on your kitchen counter and the bag will speed up the ripening process to 4 or 5 days.

Wednesday, October 12014
Emerald Beaut Plums
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Emerald Beaut Plums – I noticed these small green plums at the Moloka'i Farmer's Market a couple of weeks ago. The Filipino vendor offered me one to taste. They were incredibly sweet with a slightly crisp/tart skin. Naturally I bought a half dozen to take home. My wife loved them also, so we easily ate them in one sitting. The next week I saw them again at Friendly Market. I bought a few more and then ate those. Thanks to the little "Emerald Beaut" stickers on each plum, I did a brief search online based on the name and found out that they are a hybrid plum developed by Zaiger Genetics. They are harvested on the west coast in August, and then sent to Hawaii. I have to say that they were the best plums that I've ever eaten! Click here for more info.

Tuesday, September 22014
Shelled Edamame! – The other day I noticed Misaki's grocery store had edamame (soy beans), but they were already shelled in bags similar to the size of frozen peas. Normally here on Moloka'i you have to buy edamame in big frozen bags from Friendly Market, which is what I usually buy, because the big bag has about a dozen little bags inside of it, so they are very convenient to use. The problem is that the big bag takes up a lot of room in your freezer, and you don't eat the shells surrounding the soy beans anyway, so if you want to serve edamame without the shells, and not go through the shelling process, then these bags of Shirakiku brand shelled edamame are the way to go, and they are much cheaper, only $2.14 for a 14.1 ounce bag, so you are not paying for the shells, only the beans. You can find them in the frozen pea section at the back of Misaki's. Thanks Kevin, this is a good product at a great price.

Monday, August 252014
Wild Sockeye Salmon! – For the last couple of weeks, Friendly Market has had fresh, wild Sockeye salmon in their fish department. This is a seasonal fish that mostly comes from Alaska and I would highly recommend it. Its flesh is red, not pink, pink salmon, upon hatching, go directly to the sea, whereas red salmon spend over a year in fresh water. This means that there is a difference in color, taste, and texture between pink salmon and red sockeye salmon. Also Sockeye is meatier, as apposed to King salmon which is oilier, however they are both very good. Sockeye also has an extraordinary high source of Vitamin D. I look at it this way, King salmon is sort of like a ribeye steak while Sockeye is more like sirloin. Friendly Market always seems to have salmon available, but not Sockeye, that's why it's a Moloka'i Food Find. Here's an excellent recipe for you to try:

Baked Wild Sockeye Salmon with Garlic and Dijon Mustard
1.5 pounds salmon
4 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped
4 large cloves of garlic, minced
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning (you can usually find it in Friendly Market's spice section)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon or lime juice
lemon or lime slices
1 tablespoon capers for garnish (optional)

Preheat the oven to 450°F and line a rimmed baking dish with foil. In a small bowl, combine parsley, garlic, Old Bay Seasoning, Dijon mustard, salt, pepper, olive oil and fresh lemon juice. Mix well. Cut salmon into even portions and lay them onto your lined baking dish skin side down. Generously brush all sides of your salmon with the sauce and top with fresh lemon slices. Bake at 450°F for 12-15 minutes or until just cooked through. Don't over-cook or your fish will be dry. Garnish with capers. Serve with boiled potatoes with chopped parsley and butter and lemon-dill green beans. Makes 4 servings.

Saturday, July 122014
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Moloka'i Farmers Market – I always seem to find something new at our Saturday morning farmers market here on Moloka'i. Today I stopped at a vendors booth in front of American Savings Bank. I found a strange rusty grey colored, egg shaped fruit among the mango, papaya, and beautiful home grown vegetables. I asked the lady what it was and she said it is a "Chikoo". She said it is very popular in the Philippines, and that she has a big tree in her yard, so I am sure you will find more next Saturday if you are curious.

Naturally when I got home I looked it up on my computer. It turns out that this fruit is commonly known as Sapodilla or Sapota, and is native to southern Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean. It was introduced to the Philippines during Spanish colonization, and is known as Chikoo there. It is grown in large quantities in India, Thailand, Malaysia, Cambodia, Indonesia, Bangladesh and Mexico, and in small quantities here on Moloka'i.

I found out that this fruit is composed of simple sugars like fructose and sucrose and that when eaten replenishes energy and revitalizes the body instantly. It is a source of vitamins, minerals and health benefiting anti-oxidant, tannins. Tannins are a complex family of naturally-occurring polyphenols that neutralize acids by precipitating proteins. Research studies found that tannins have shown to have potential anti-inflammatory, antiviral, anti-bacterial, and anti-parasitic effects. Hence, these compounds have many useful medicinal applications such as anti-diarrheal, hemostatic (stops bleeding) and as a remedy for hemorrhoids.

When I cut into this soft little brown fruit I was surprised to find a shiny black seed surrounded by sort of beige colored flesh similar in texture to a mango. The taste was sweet, sort of like a pear but not really. The flavor was the strange thing, kind of a malty, brown sugar taste, very different, not like anything I had ever tasted. Would I buy it again? Absolutely! Besides... the internet said Chikoo are good for hemorrhoids, and if the internet says it, it must be true right?... NOOOT!

Sunday, June 92014
Slimy Chicken – Recently I have noticed that chicken products from Friendly Market taste "slimy" after being cooked. I started noticing the brand of chicken that this happens with and the Tyson brand and Foster Farm seem to be two of the culprits, both whole chicken and cut up chicken. I then did a little online investigating by typing in "Why is my chicken slimy" in the search window of my browser. Much to my surprise, this is a common problem in the U.S. Chickens are apparently given a chlorine bath after the birds are killed to prevent bacterial buildup (salmonella). Personally I don't plan on buying anymore slimy chicken products, and it would be nice if Friendly Market would mark where their chickens come from, or better yet, start selling organic, free-range, air-chilled chickens, as Trader Joe's stores do, or the Perdue brand, a major brand that has fared significantly better than others across the board according to Consumer Reports. Even Costco carries organic chicken products including eggs. Unfortunately this will probably cost us more money, but isn't that better than bad tasting chicken?

You will also be interested to know that there has been an 11 year European ban on importing chlorinated chickens from the United States, a sanction that "is less about safety than about taste." according to this website. I will be trying other brands to see if I get the same "slimy" taste results. Don't get me wrong, I love chicken, but not slimy chicken. Always rinse your chicken well under running water to remove the "purge" of pink slime away before cooking it. Unfortunately even this process doesn't help chlorinated chickens slimy mouth feel. This site lists many other brands and products, like Foster Farm's, Oscar Mayer, Libby's, Hormel, etc. Also please read Consumer Reports "How safe is that chicken?" report, a real eye opener.

Friday, June 132014
Slimy Chicken... continued – Today I was in Friendly Market and noticed that they were selling Foster Farms "rotisserie" whole chickens, the ones that I wrote about on June 9... you know, the "slimy" ones (read the story above). I then checked our local Moloka'i mini-mart only to find out that they carry Costco free-range frozen whole chickens in a two pack for $30. Because these are free-range chickens, they go through a different cleaning process and are not slimy when cooked. If you want to buy them for yourself, be sure and call the mini-mart first at 553-4447, to make sure they have them in stock, or they will order them for you. These Costco free-range chickens are a little more expensive but worth it.

Ordering Products Online! – Everyone who lives on Moloka'i knows that we can't get many things here, and what we can get is usually expensive. As a result, most of us order items online. Here are some sites my wife and I use.

Click on red links below to go directly to the different sites: – I am always looking for sources not only for my cooking ingredients, but also companies who will ship their products to Hawaii. This small company will ship to Hawaii via USPS First Class, Priority Mail, Express Mail, or UPS if you prefer. They are located in Charleston, MA, and is owned by a family who live in Italy. They have olive trees there and make their own olive oil which they now sell on this site called Olivenation Estate Oils. Not only is their olive oil outstanding, Olivenation provides a wonderful selection of other products at reasonable prices. What first caught my eye were the dried mushrooms. I miss mushrooms here on Moloka'i, the only mushrooms available here are fresh button mushrooms or portobello, or dried shiitaki mushrooms. This site sells 13 different dried mushrooms including Chanterelles, Morels, Porchinis, etc. I like using dried mushrooms because they have a more concentrated flavor. Check out this site, they have many more interesting products and recipes. Also their products are nicely packed in foam peanuts and arrived here in one week via Priority Mail.

Kona Cold Lobsters – Last year my wife Kimberly and I ordered FRESH Dungeness Crab from this company on the Big Island. They were delivered nicely packaged with cold packs and were very frisky (the crabs claws were secured with rubber bands). I can't stand frozen crab, I like to cook them myself, so we treat ourselves during the Holidays with fresh crab grown right here in Hawaii. They also sell fresh lobster, abalone, oysters, mussels, clams, butterfish, black cod, moi, and ogo, all raised here in Hawaii. Check out the story I wrote last year about this company, and how to cook dungeness crab San Francisco Style, click here. By the way we just placed another order.

Eden Foods – I don't know if any of you have ever heard of Eden Foods, they sell wonderful organic products. Eden is the oldest natural and organic food company in North America and the largest independent manufacturer of dry grocery organic foods. Over 95% of EDEN foods are sold in natural food stores, co-ops, and supermarkets via traditional natural and grocery distribution channels. I buy their products because they are good and non GMO. Check them out if you haven't already. All EDEN food moves through one of their warehouses in either southeast Michigan or central California, and their shipping to Hawaii is very reasonable if you ship via Express Mail. Check them out if you haven't already.

Weisenberger Mill – This old mill is located on the South Elkhorn Creek in southern Scott County, Kentucky. The creek has provided the water to power the mill's twin turbines since the 1800's. Six generations of Weisenberger's have operated this mill. I was sent several bags of their products for Christmas one year by my brother. I have to say that they make the best grits and polenta and stone ground corn meal I have ever had. The corn meal is great for coating seasoned fish, or chicken before frying, or to make corn bread. They also have the very best pancake mix that Weymouth Kamakana and I have ever eaten (I shared a bag with him several years ago). They carry a lot of other products as well. We usually call Weisenberger to ask to ship via Priority Mail, because they usually ship via UPS. This is a small father/son operation and are very nice to deal with. Note: I usually put their products in zip-loc freezer bags and keep them in the freezer to keep the weevils from getting in. This is the tropics you know, and it happened to me one time. – Most people know about this site. I was so impressed with it that I got one of their credit cards and I put everything on it, from gas, to groceries, to air fairs and restaurants, even appliances. Why? because you get points for every purchase on Amazon if you use their credit card. This really helps to pay for their products, plus most of their products get FREE shipping to Hawaii. It's a really good thing! They do have food products as well. I buy Gourmet House wild rice from them, which is a great product and much cheaper than you can buy locally... if you can find it.

Pets Megastore – We buy products from this Australian company for our dog Maka, even prescription drugs without a prescription, like Frontline Plus and Heartgard. Their products are heavily discounted. They ship via US mail and even offer express shipping worldwide. Shipping and handling charges are based on weight/volume and are calculated by their database immediately. We find that it is a good idea to order products from this company well in advance so we always have them on hand.

World Spice Merchants – Located in Seattle, World Spice Merchants has been providing superior quality herbs, spices, teas and service to discerning chefs and home cooks since 1995. They have a beautiful website with recipes using their spices. World Spice Merchants will ship to Hawaii via USPS Priority Mail, which is the most economical and quickest way to ship here from the mainland. I suggest ordering your spice in bags so your shipping weight is less, thus reducing the cost of shipping.

Spices Inc. – Today the average home spice cabinet contains 40 spices and seasonings compared to 10 just a decade ago. The increase in spice usage has been fueled by the ongoing economic “recession” that has shifted more focus to preparing better tasting meals at home with fewer restaurant visits. Spices Inc. is a wonderful spice company, located in Bloomsburg, PA. Their well designed website carries detailed information about their spices, which come in multiple sizes. Spices Inc. will ship to Hawaii via USPS Priority Mail for a very low flat rate of $6.99.

Penzeys Spices – Naturally I cook a lot and find that our local grocery stores don't have many of the spices that I need. I have been using an online spice company for many years now called Penzeys Spices and I highly recommend them because they are customer friendly. They have hundreds of spices from around the world, plus a catalog with great recipes from their customers. Unfortunately I tried a website called The Spice House out of Chicago, which is a spinoff of Penzeys, however their service was very poor, sending me something I didn't order, and then after many back and forth emails they apologized. Sometimes living in Hawaii is a pain. I only recommend companies that I think have good service at a reasonable price. –  I recently found this website that sells a variety of Thai products including fresh Thai produce, Yes FRESH!, like Thai chiles, lemongrass, and kaffir limes and leaves. They also sell canned goods, cookware, Thai spices and cooking ingredients, etc, at a VERY reasonable prices, and it's beautifully packaged and shipped via express mail, the best and cheapest way to have things shipped to Hawaii. Check out their website and testimonials from happy mainland customers. This company is located in the port city of Seattle, Washington, and has been in business since 1999. Be sure and read the "Company Background" while you are on this site. – I recently found this San Diego California company. is the largest, user friendly, online grocery store for hard-to-find, non-perishable authentic Mexican food, household products, Mexican recipes, etc. This is a good place to buy corn flour to make your own tamales. If you like Mexican food, and live where you can't buy the ingredients, then this is a great site for you to check out.

MEO Senior "Red Card" Discount Program: This is a discount card for seniors 60 years of age and older living in Maui County only (you must be a permanent resident). I have had one of these "Red Cards", as they are called here on Moloka'i, for years now, and the savings really add up over time. You can save anywhere from 5% to 10%, or no tax is charged, depending on the business.

Grocery stores: Friendly Market, Misaki's, Kualapuu Market, Pascua's Store, Hometown Groceries, and Maunaloa General Store except the red card. Kumu Farms gives a senior discount on produce on Wednesdays only you don't need a red card.

Restaurants: Moloka'i Pizza Cafe, and Mana'e Goods and Grindz except the red card.

Other stores that except red cards: Haunani Flowers, Moloka'i Bicycle, Moloka'i Fish & Dive, Moloka'i Supply, Moloka'i Wines & Spirits on food items, Take's Variety Store.

In all of these places you do have to pay cash for the item, not a credit card, and let the cashier know you have a red card before they ring up your purchases so they can give you the discount (you should carry the red card with you and show it to the cashier). Not all businesses honor this card, so you have to ask, or get a current list of businesses that honor red cards from MEO. For more information on how to get this card contact Maui Economic Opportunity Inc. (Moloka'i), 380 Kolapa Place, Kaunakakai, Phone 553-3216.

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