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Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Review of From Kau Kau to Cuisine: An Island Cookbook, Then and Now by Arnold Hiura + Recipe

The cookbook in this post was provided by Derek Kurisu and produce in this post was provided by Melissa’s Produce but the opinions expressed here are my own.

Credit: Watermark Publishing
I am very proud of my heritage, born in Hilo and growing up on the cuisine that is now known as Hawai’i Regional Cuisine (HRC). HRC is a melting pot of cuisines from the different ethnic groups that settled in Hawaii (Japanese, Chinese, Filipino, etc.), along with the sustainable Hawaiian ways of life and cooking, and historic events that changed the face of the cuisine (World War II and Spam). When most haoles think of Hawaii, they think of young women in grass skirts and leis, tropical trees and flowers, and beaches. But it’s much more than that… It is a way life. It is a way of being. It is ohana. What better way to celebrate each day, than with food! The food can be fast like spam musubi or it can be slow like kalua pig cooking for hours in an imu. The time it takes is inconsequential, as it is the love that goes into each dish that makes it so onolicious.

On my last trip to Hilo, Derek gave me a tour of KTA Puainako - talking about the local vendors and farmers on the Big Island, and gave me this cookbook, From Kau Kau to Cuisine: An Island Cookbook, Then and Now. He collaborated with Jason Takemura (Executive Chef, Pagoda Floating Restaurant in Honolulu) and Arnold Hiura on this “evolutionary” look at Hawai’i Regional Cuisine. Just like my dad, Derek experienced the plantation life on the Big Island. My dad grew up on a farm in Kurtistown (20-minutes outside of Hilo). His grandfather rode a horse to work and to run errands, tending to their livestock, and had a sugar cane field in the backyard. His grandmother also had a beautiful anthurium field in the side yard that had tall trees to provide a “natural” canopy while they grew in the volcanic soil. The whole “farm-to-table” culture has been happening long before it became “chic” in recent years along with preserving foods by fermentation, drying, and salting from fish and seafood to fruits and vegetables. This cookbook has a LOT of great recipes and delves into the history of these generational family favorite dishes.

In the Part Three: Island Cooking Then and Now – Meats chapter, Derek talks about making Korean Chicken on a TV show while cooking with a Korean chef. The funny thing, on the mainland, Korean Fried Chicken (KFC) is a huge craze right now. And these “KFC” stores are popping up all over South Korea. Derek is right, this is driving up the cost of the chicken wings. This recipe is super easy to make. Most of the time is taken up by frying the chicken. The flour coating on the outside provides a crispy exterior as well as nooks and crannies for the sauce to soak into. If you are making this for a party, you might want to double or even quadruple the recipe, because it will be gone before you know it. So ono! Rating: 5/5

In the Part Three: Island Cooking Then and Now – Seafood chapter, Jason talks about the love of head-on shrimp. I know exactly what he’s talking about. The best flavor of any crustacean is in the head! The Garlic Salt-and-Pepper Shrimp is a dish where you can eat the entire shrimp from head to tail. It is fried and coated with a seasoning that will have you licking your fingers too. So addictive! See the recipe below so you can make it too! Rating: 5/5

Garlic Salt-and-Pepper Shrimp 
by Chef Jason Takemura, From Kau Kau to Cuisine: An Island Cookbook, Then and Now

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
¼ cup chopped garlic
2 red jalapeño peppers, seeds removed and julienned (optional)
¼ cup sliced green onion 
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup cornstarch
1 pound fresh Kaua‘i head-on shrimp
2 tablespoons of Garlic Seasoning (recipe follows)

Garlic Seasoning
1 tablespoon granulated garlic
1 tablespoon fine sea salt
2 teaspoons sugar
¼ teaspoon white pepper

Preheat fryer to 360˚F. In a wok or large sauté pan, over medium-high heat, add vegetable oil. Add garlic and sauté until golden-brown and it begins to slightly crisp. Add the red jalapeños and green onion. Sauté for about another 30 seconds. 

Combine flour and cornstarch in a bowl. Dredge the shrimp in the flour mixture. Shake off all the excess flour and deep-fry for about 2 minutes until crispy and golden-brown. Immediately after removing the shrimp from the fryer, add the shrimp to the pan with the garlic–jalapeño mix and season with 2 tablespoons of Garlic Seasoning. Toss everything together. It may seem like you are adding a lot of seasoning to the shrimp, but the mix is well-balanced and you shouldn’t find it too salty.

In the Part Three: Island Cooking Then and Now – Sides and Specialties chapter, Derek talks about the love/hate relationship of natto, fermented soy beans. Derek developed a Natto Fried Rice recipe to pay homage to the natto sushi that you can find at sushi bars in Japan (and sometimes in Hawaii and the mainland). It uses raw egg so most steer clear of it. I personally love it on top of hot rice with green onions and shoyu. The fried rice cooks the natto and egg together and makes a beautifully rich flavor. I personally think this recipe needs more shoyu but you can add more/less for your taste. The sunny side egg on top seals the deal with a luxurious golden yolk. The fried rice cuts down on the natto flavor and aroma so this is good for a first-timer and very easy to make. Rating: 4.5/5

If you want to learn more about Hawai’i Regional Cuisine or miss the flavor of home, this cookbook is a must for your collection.

For more information:
From Kau Kau to Cuisine: An Island Cookbook, Then and Now by Arnold Hiura

On the search for an ingredient that you can’t find in the store, check out Melissa’s Produce.

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Monday, September 11, 2017


For more information: Chelsea Madren


Jodi Taffel's, a.k.a., The Fabulous Bacon Babe, 2016 Signature Dish entry for the Bacon World Championship
Can you make a recipe that’s worth $100,000?! Chelsea Madren, a.k.a. OC Food Diva, certainly thinks she can, and she is making plans right now to prove it. Mrs. Madren successfully qualified for the world’s largest event in Food Sport – the World Food Championships (WFC). From November 8th-14th, she will be competing for a $300,000 prize purse and the ​title of 2017 World Food Champion at ​The Wharf in Orange Beach, Alabama.

Chelsea Madren’s team is one of about 500 from around the world who will be seeking the ultimate food crown. Mrs. Madren won the chance to compete at WFC by winning Johnsonville’s The Sausage Dome Episode 2 “Tears of Glory”. As a result, she will now have a shot for a major payday at WFC, where a $100,000 prize purse is awarded for the best dish overall and a $10,000 package is awarded in 10 different categories: Bacon, BBQ, Burger, Chef, Chili, Dessert, Sandwich, Seafood, Steak, and Recipe.

Lisa Keys, a.k.a., Good Grief Cook preparing her 2016 Structured Build entry for the World Sandwich Championship
“I am so honored to be a competitor at the World Food Championships,” said Chelsea Madren. “I have participated in many facets of this amazing event for 4 years - providing event media coverage, attending their Blogger Summit, becoming an E.A.T. certified food judge, and now, competing in the World Recipe Championship.”
Rebecka Evans, a.k.a. At Home with Rebecka, after the 2015 Bacon World Championship Round 1
​You can cheer on Chelsea Madren by following her on Instagram (@ocfooddiva) and Twitter (@ocfooddiva) or following the results at There’s also a good chance that Chelsea will be seen on TV, as this event is filmed for national cable television each year. It has been seen on the A&E Network, Food Network, ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, and the Discovery Network.

If you would like information about media credentials at the event, please follow this link:

About the World Food Championships
The World Food Championships ( features up to 500 culinary champions seeking food fame and fortune. The sixth annual ​event, scheduled for November 8-14, 2017 at The Wharf in Orange Beach, Alabama, will conduct 10 category championships before ​culminating in a high-stakes Final Table showdown for hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash and prizes. For all WFC updates, follow World Food Championships on Twitter (@WorldFoodChamp), and Facebook and Instagram (@WorldFoodChampionships).

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Hidden Gem: Remy’s Plate Lunch in Hilo, Hawaii

The menu items in this post were provided by Remy’s Plate Lunch but the opinions expressed here are my own.

The Hilo Farmers Market is open 6 days a week with Wednesday and Saturday being the biggest draw, comingling over 200 farmers and crafters in one place. Even though there is plenty of onolicious grab & go eats to choose from, right around the corner at the Hilo Farmers Market Food Court (along the Hilo Bayfront on Kamehameha Avenue) is Remy’s Plate Lunch. This humble plate lunch shop is owned by Joy Roseville Datario, who pays homage to her hardworking parents. “Remy” is a combination of her parents’ first names. Joy is all about the community – staff is mostly Hawaiian-speaking (at various levels of the language), using the freshest local ingredients, and prepares lunches for the local Hawaiian-speaking Pūnana Leo preschool as well as Ka ʻUmeke Kāʻeo Hawaiian Immersion School in Keaukaha and its "kula kamaliʻi" pre-school. Joy also has a small booth in the Hilo Farmers Market where she sells bento lunches and baked goods.

Let’s take a look at some of the menu:

The Kaliko Burger ($11.50) is named after Joy’s husband. The burger is made with Hāmākua grass-fed beef and topped with his favorites – lettuce, tomato, grilled onions, bacon, avocado, sliced portabella mushroom, cheddar, Jarlsberg swiss cheese and served with hand-cut medium French fries. It was a “broke da mouth” burger with lots of toppings heaped onto a juicy beef patty. Each bite had huge flavor from the salty, smoky bacon, sweet caramelized onions, creamy avocado, and earthy, meaty portabella. The fries were cooked Filipino-style. They were not super crispy on the outside but had nice golden-brown color on the outside and were tender on the inside. Rating: 5/5

Local-Style Fish and Chips ($10.50) is panko-breaded mahi mahi served with hand-cut fries, tartar sauce, and organic tossed greens. The fish had a golden-brown, crispy exterior from the panko breading and were succulent on the inside. The fresh greens had a light dressing so the produce could shine through with their own natural flavors. Rating: 5/5

Remy’s Homemade Lilikoi Cheesecake is a must-try! It was a light-style cheesecake, not heavy like New York-style, with a velvety, creamy texture. The shortbread crust had a nice texture, kind of cookie and cake-like at the same time. The lilikoi sauce is made from lilikoi grown in Joy’s backyard and has a fresh flavor with a perfect balance of sweet and tart. Rating: 5/5

If you are around the downtown area and/or shopping at the farmers market, take a break and grab lunch at Remy’s Plate Lunch.

Atmosphere: 3 out of 5 stars
Décor: 3 out of 5 stars
Service: 5 out of 5 stars
Food: 5 out of 5 stars

For more information:
Remy’s Plate Lunch
330 Kamehameha Ave.
Hilo, HI 96720
Hours: Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Closed on Sunday
Parking: Free parking along Kamehameha Ave. or street parking in downtown
Seating: Small interior seating

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