Sunday, March 26, 2006

Hawaii memoir

I've been on a tear lately in the studio, so the cooking has been simpler as I spend less time on it. To spare you endless variations on rice & beans, etc., here's a transcription of the meals we made on a trip to the big island in December of 2002 with some friends. I'm leaving a few things out, but it was the best eating over a prolonged period any of us had done before or since due to the incredible ingredients, company, location, and time available to make it all.

Night 1
(on the Puna side; we had spent a few days on the Kona side first where we ate out more. The one great meal was actually the best tuna sandwiches of all time made with leftover grilled rare Ahi, homemade tahitian lime/ume plum/wasabi mayonnaise eaten on an incredible beach.):

Sashimi block marinated in shoyu & sake, seared one side, with jalapeño and reduced marinade mixed with ginger/garlic/kombu/lemongrass broth

Ahi Toro in a similar marinade but grilled low until well done (dubbed "bacon of the sea" by John)

Lotus root chips with poke and papaya salsa

Grilled Japanese eggplant

Salad and brown rice

Dessert was a lilikoi canten I made with kuzu starch (I was thinking more flan but overdid the starch so it was more like a gummy bear) and overripe breadfruit fried until crisp.

Day 2:

Brunch was fried rice with poke, eggplant, salsa and random leftovers mixed in, plus eggs and ahi with a sort of tropical tzaziki (yogurt, garlic, wasabi.)


The broth from night 1 had lime leaves, white & yellow miso, sake, tamari, lima beans, mustard greens, tangerine slices, and the cooking water from some edamame added to it. Served over soba with scallions & cilantro, I can say it didn't taste like anything ever made on Earth. Damn good.

Another avo/papaya salad/salsa on lotus chips with poke but this time with pickled jicama (overnight in the fridge in sake and rice, ume, and balsamic vinegar plus jalapeño, garlic, onion and cilantro

More Ahi toro because it was so damn good

Taro purée

Ahi steaks marinated in mustard & fenugreek seeds, sesame oil, ginger, tahitian lime zest, sake, lime juice, black pepper, red salt, and red wine (pay attention to this marinade, because it lasted for days...)


Day 3

Ahi "football" cooked over fire wrapped in ti leaves

Carl's pumpkin curry and rice


Day 4

Lunch was taro, soba, and ahi plus leftover broth mashed up and fried as patties served on tamari grilled bread with avo, kimchee, and pickled onions


The remaining taro/ahi paste mixed with egg and breadcrumbs and cooked like meatballs in an arrabiata sauce over spaghetti

Red snapper cooked over guava wood fire wrapped in ti leaves with that sauce from before plus white wine reduced and finished with butter for the fish sauce

Day 5


Brown rice with fresh turmeric mixed with black beans slow-cooked with garlic, onion, and kombu

Edamame cooked over the guava wood outside (the BEST edamame by far we'd ever had; the smoke flavor got into the beans)

And the sauce finally went down in glory sautéed over the fire with octopus poke and kimchee, finished with yogurt and parsley, and served on tamari grilled bread as crostini. Indescribably complex, funky, and amazing

Day 6

Ono on the grill basted with sake, wine, oil, tamari and herbs

Taro and blue sweet potato purée, cooked in coconut water

Seared ahi with serrano chile

Fat taro slices pressure cooked in coconut water/sea water, liquid plus sake reduced to gravy

Ahi tartare with tangerine juice, serrano & thai chiles served on lotus root chips garnished with ikura and grated barbecued coconut

Baby bok choy and gai lan steamed with ginger & garlic

We did the breadfruit thing again, but this one was even riper so while the outside was crispy, the inside tasted like fried vanilla pudding. Unbelievable.

Day 7

We went to the volcano, and cooked ahi in sake with ginger and turmeric right on top of the hot lava; the top had formed a crust, but through the cracks you could see the glow of 2000 degree liquid rushing by. We also made a pot of tea:

In the first picture you can see the faint orange glow (without the camera flash it was very bright; there are a bunch of the lava pics on my website on the photo page.)

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