Category Archives: Hawaiian Food

Salmon Poke Recipe – Hawaiian Classics

Salmon Poke by The Aimless Cook

Poke is a popular Hawaiian dish made with raw or slightly seared fish like tuna, or in this case, salmon. The fish is cubed and tossed together with a light soy seasoning with sesame and seaweed. It’s very refreshing and extremely delicious. Here’s a version that I make with wild sockeye salmon from Canada. Enjoy!

You will need (for 2):

  • an 8 oz filet of sushi grade sockeye salmon (skin on is best)
  • soy sauce
  • sesame oil
  • Shaoxing wine or sake
  • toasted sesame seeds
  • Hawaiian sea salt (Alaea, or kosher salt)
  • furikake (roasted nori seasoning, available in Japanese foods at the Asian grocery)
  • chives or green onion, chopped finely

Start with an 8 oz filet of wild sockeye salmon. If you can get it with the skin on, even better. Start by running a sharp knife along the bottom of the filet to remove the skin if you have it. Keep the skin for later. This is too good to just throw away.

Dice the salmon into 1 cm cubes, and put them into a large mixing bowl.

Once you’re done prepping the salmon, take that skin you set aside and put it on a sheet of foil or parchment paper, skin side down. Put it into a 350F oven until its nice and crispy.

Now back to the salmon. Dress the salmon with a drizzle of soy sauce, sesame oil and Shaoxing cooking wine. Be sure to taste, making sure to adjust the flavours as you go. For colour, add some black and white sesame seeds as well as some finely chopped chives or green onions. Finally season with a touch of salt. Today, I’m using Hawaiian sea salt. It gets its red colour from iron oxide in the clay where it’s harvested. Mix everything together then set aside to let the flavours develop.

When the salmon skin is crispy, let it cool then cut into thin strips. Now, let’s put it all together.

Simply spoon some of the poke into small bowls or nice glasses. Top with a sprinkle of some furikake, then finish with some salmon skin strips. The roasted salmon skin is a nice compliment to the raw meat and gives a good texture contrast.

Salmon poke is the perfect starter and can easily be made into an elegant party appetizer by putting into little fried wonton cups or mini temaki rolls. If you’re like me, enjoy it as a side to some great bbq or on top of a bowl of rice with a raw quail egg. Oh yeah!

I hope you enjoy this recipe and have fun in the kitchen, which brings me to my question of the day:

What is your favourite raw dish?

Loco Moco – Hawaiian Classics

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Loco Moco is a popular Hawaiian comfort food consisting of 4 quintessential elements:

  • steamed rice
  • a hamburger patty
  • a rich brown gravy
  • a fried egg

Served in a bowl or as part of a Hawaiian style plate lunch with macaroni salad, loco moco can tame the most serious hunger. So if you’re ready to take on this hearty Island soul food favourite, let’s get started.

You will need:

  • 1 lb of really good quality ground beef or pork (or a 50/50 mix called ‘aibiki’ in Japanese)
  • soy sauce
  • worcestershire sauce
  • karashi mustard
  • an egg
  • salt & pepper
  • ½ yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • some panko breadcrumbs

for the gravy:

  • a teaspoon of flour
  • 500ml of water
  • 2 tablespoons of red miso
  • soy sauce
  • karashi mustard
  • salt and pepper

for the rice:

  • furikake
  • steamed rice

Start by heating a skillet on medium heat with a tablespoon of oil and gently saute ½ a diced onion and 2 cloves of minced garlic for about 8 minutes until translucent. When that’s done, set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine 1 lb of really good quality ground beef with a tablespoon of soy sauce, ½ a tablespoon of worcestershire, ½ teaspoon of karashi mustard (or prepared mustard), an egg and ¼ cup of panko breadcrumbs. Mix really well with your hands and continue to knead, scooping up the meat in your hand, then tossing it back into the bowl.

*This technique is a lot different then when you prepare Western style ground meat. When you knead the meat like this, you are transforming the texture of the meat into a smooth and uniform consistency.

When the meat’s texture is nice and smooth, form into patties making sure that the center is indented. This insures that the outer edges are done at the same time as the middle.

In a hot cast iron skillet, cook the patties for 3-4 minutes per side. A flat top is one of the best places to grill a burger since all that contact with the heat source will form a delicious brown crust. When the patties are done take them out and set aside.

Immediately sprinkle some flour to cover the reserved juices from the meat you just cooked and combine them over medium heat til you make a roux. To that, add 2 cups of cold water and whisk until the roux is fully incorporated. Next, add 2 tablespoons of red miso and continue to whisk. By now, your mixture is at a nice boil. Season your gravy with more mustard, soy, worcestershire and s&p to taste. When your gravy has thickened to the desired consistency, set aside.

Now take some freshly steamed rice and sprinkle on your favourite furikake. I love the kind with just nori and sesame seeds since it’s so versatile. If you want to season with some shichimi togarashi for a hint of spice, go for it. Use the rice paddle to cut the seasoning into the rice until combined then get ready to assemble.

To assemble, simple start with a scoop or two of rice, top with the beef patty, ladle on the gravy, then a nice sunny side up fried egg. Finish with more furikake on top then enjoy. There is something to be said when you cut into that egg yolk for the first time and watch it slowly cascade down the rest of the dish, but then again, maybe that moment is just beyond words.

Hawaiian Garlic Chicken Recipe – Kratz808 Karaage

Garlic Chicken is another great Hawaiian favourite that’s super easy to make. In fact, we can look at this post as 2 recipes in one since we’re gonna be making a stop in Japan on the way. I love Hawaiian food because it’s a melting pot of cultures. You have your Japanese, Chinese, Filipino and American influences all mingling together with local island ingredients and flavours. This recipe is great finger food for watching the game and having a beer, or serving at parties. It’s also awesome with rice as part of a mix plate! YouTube subscriber, Kratz808 gave me the idea to make this and since she’s homesick for some serious ono grindz, I’m dedicating this recipe to you! 

The Chicken Karaage:

  • 1lb chicken thighs, boneless/skinless, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • pepper to season
  • a dash of soy sauce
  • a dash of garlic powder
  • 2 Tablespoons corn starch

In a large mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients together and let sit in the fridge for about 15-30 minutes. Meanwhile, heat some oil (a couple inches) in a heavy pot or wok til you can put a chopstick tip in and see tiny bubbles…lol. Drop in a tiny piece of chicken and it should sizzle. If not, wait a little longer til the oil gets hotter. If the chicken turns brown too fast, the oil’s too hot. When the oil is ready, gently put in the chicken in small batches and fry until golden brown and crispy. Bite-sized pieces won’t take long to cook (about 3 minutes). Take out with a slotted spoon or spider and drain on paper towels. Congrats, you just made Chicken Karaage. If you wanna stop here, season immediately with salt and pepper and serve with lemon wedges and some shichimi togarashi. Enjoy!

If you want to make some broke da mouth garlic chicken, keep reading…

Da sauce:

  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup mirin
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp chili flakes
  • 1 tsp sesame seeds
  • 2 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 1Tbsp honey

Heat up a non-stick skillet with the sesame oil on medium heat and gently cook the garlic. When it starts to smell good, take off the heat and add the rest of the ingredients. Return to the heat, turn up to max and whisk together until combined. Keep whisking while it cooks and let it reduce til it’s like syrup. Take off the heat and let’s invite the chicken over for a play date.

In a large mixing bowl, add the chicken karaage and pour over the sauce. Gently toss until the chicken is evenly coated. Serve on it’s own, with steamed rice or on tiny toothpicks. Enjoy!

Special mahalo to Kratz808 for her awesome suggestion for this killer chicken!

Ono Mac Salad Recipe – Hawaiian Soul Food Pt. 2

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Macaroni salad is a staple side to the Hawaiian mix plate. What makes it unique is the subtle Asian influence to this common salad. It’s delicious and there are many ways you can add your own creativity to it to make your own version. Here is mine.

  • 6 oz macaroni
  • 1.5 oz crab meat
  • 1.5 oz salad shrimp
  • 2t grated carrot
  • 1t grated celery
  • 1t minced onion
  • 1c mayo (Best Foods…just sayin’)
  • ¼ t sugar 
  • 2t mirin
  • 1/8t hon dashi
  • s&p to season

Start by boiling the macaroni in salted water until tender. Strain and rinse in cold water. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the macaroni and the other ingredients and mix until combined. Cover with kitchen wrap and put in the fridge for at least an hour to let the flavors make love and have illegitimate children. Just wanted to see if you were paying attention. lol. If you like your mac salad sweeter and you don’t want to more sugar, try shredded pineapple. That’s another trick from my aunt. 

Kalua Pork Mix Plate – Hawaiian Soul Food Pt. 1

Kalua pork is a Hawaiian classic. Traditionally, a whole pig is cooked low and slow in an underground pit oven called an imu (in fact, the word ‘kalua’ is the cooking method I just described). Today, I will show you how to simulate the incredible taste and texture of this beautiful meat at home in your crock pot. To go with our Kalua pork, let’s make some mac salad and some collard greens as we make a tribute to the Hawaiian mix plate!

Let’s start with the kalua pork:

  • 1 pork shoulder or butt roast
  • Hawaiian Alaea sea salt
  • Liquid smoke
  • Banana leafs

Time is what makes this pork so good. Also the quality of the ingredients is what makes it taste so special, so take time to find good pork. Alaea salt is local to Hawaii and gets its red color from iron oxide in the local clay. It’s hard to find outside the islands, but nowadays you can get it online or at a specialty spice shop. If you don’t have the Hawaiian salt, don’t worry. Use a coarse sea salt or Kosher salt.

 

Start by grabbing a large mixing bowl and put the pork inside. Score the fat layer with a knife in a criss-cross pattern so your seasoning will penetrate the meat. Sprinkle all the sides of the pork with the liquid smoke and gently massage it in. Follow that by seasoning well with the salt and rubbing it in.

 

Now let’s prepare the slow cooker. Take the banana leaf out of the package and wipe down with a moist towel. Simply line the slow cooker with the leafs, then put in the pork with the fat side up. Cover with another layer of banana leaf and place the crock pot cover over top. At this point, you might be asking if there need to be any liquid in the crock pot. No. The pork will render its own liquid during the cooking process, so don’t worry.

 

Set on low and cook for 12 hours. Yeah, I said 12 hours. Traditionally, kalua pork is made with a whole pig in an underground pit oven called an imu. It’s a all day affair, kinda like this one. Our crock pot is going to simulate the slow and low heat we need to make this pork sing. Also the banana leaves give our kalua pork that same aroma and flavor as the real deal.

 

After 12 hours of steady heat and patience, our pork is done! Take off the cover and gently remove the leafs on the top. Savor the incredible smell and behold your culinary prowess. Grab a big mesh strainer and gently take out the pork to settle, leaving the liquid in the pot. Fish out the banana leaf and pour the liquid into a container. Let the liquid stand until the fat separates, then skim off.

 

When the pork has cooled enough to handle, simply grab 2 forks and shred the meat. Put in a serving container and pour in the juices you kept and you’re done! From this point you can serve it up with steamed rice, make a sandwich, ramen or just eat it with your hands over the sink.

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Hawaiian Butter Mochi Recipe

Hawaiian butter mochi is a popular bakery item in Hawaii and is very similar in taste and texture to Filipino cassava cake. It also happens to be really drop dead simple to make so it’s fun to play around with. I’m gonna show you a basic recipe for butter mochi. From there, you have a blank canvas from which to make your own culinary dessert masterpiece!

You will need:

  • 1 box “Mochiko” sweet rice flour
  • 1t baking powder
  • 2 1/4 C sugar
  • pinch salt
  • 1/4 C melted unsalted butter
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1 can evaporated milk
  • 1 can water
  • 1t vanilla extract

Start by preheating the oven to 350F. In a large mixing bowl and combine the dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, combine the wet ingredients. Whisk and gradually add the wet ingredients to the dry until you get a smooth batter. Pour the batter into a greased 9 x 13 baking pan and bake on the middle rack for about an hour. The surface will be a nice golden brown when done and should be springy to the touch. If you’ve never had mochi before, it’s chewy and glutinous, not airy like a cake so don’t fret if it doesn’t look ‘cakey’. Cut into bars and top with grated coconut.

In the video, I made my mochi in a mini cupcake tin, lined with banana leaves. This jacked up the presentation factor and also gave it a hint of aromatics. My aunt used to make bibingka (a Filipino sticky rice cake) and always used banana leaves. It brings the whole experience to a whole new level. One thing to add is that when you do use the mini cupcake pan, adjust the cooking time accordingly. Mine took about 30 minutes.

This is a great dessert for potlucks and parties. For convenience, do the baking pan version, then cut into bars. You can add a little love by wrapping them in banana leaf with a little twine. They look awesome and are biodegradable. Yay environment! Enjoy and have fun in the kitchen!

Laulau

When I was in Hawaii, one of the best things to do was explore. Hawaii is a wondrous place with so much to discover. It’s a rich experience for those that choose to look further than resorts and gift shops. It’s a place full of history, tradition and culture and I have never felt so at home. I want to share with you a recipe from that time. It’s one of my favourite comfort foods that instantly takes me back. This is laulau.

Laulau is pork belly and black cod, steamed in taro leaves until the pork yields its tender fat and flavour, melding with the fish and taro to become an aromatic and tasty thing of beauty. Since I don’t have ti leaves to use as the outer wrapper, I am using banana leaves. They impart an enticing aroma that will have your friends gathering around when its time for the paina (party).

You will need:

  • 4 lbs pork belly, cut into generous 2-3” chunks
  • 1 fillet of black cod, cut into bite-sized chunks
  • Hawaiian sea salt, or Kosher salt
  • 2 bunches taro leaves, rinsed and drained
  • 1 package of banana leaves
  • some kitchen twine

Start by cutting the stems off the taro leaves and cutting them into 2” pieces. Boil them in salted water for a couple minutes until slightly tender. Drain and set aside.

Trim the pork belly of the thick top layer of fat, leaving about a half inch. This fat will be key during the steaming process as it will bring everything together. Season with salt and set aside. Do the same with the black cod.

If your banana leaves came frozen, thaw them out and take them out of the package. Cut off the central spine and wipe clean with a damp cloth. You want nice, manageable pieces for wrapping (about the size of a placemat). 

To assemble, lay down 3 or 4 taro leaves flat on your palm to create a large area to put the filling in. In the center of the leaves, place a couple pieces of pork, a bit of fish and some boiled stems. Season the whole thing with salt before wrapping in the taro. Wrap like a burrito, rolling at the beginning, tucking in the sides, then finishing the roll.

This will be your edible package. Now time to wrap in the banana leaves. These will be the inedible part that will serve as the steam packet. Simply place the taro package in the center of the banana leaf and fold the sides over. Turn the package and fold over the remaining sides til you have a neat package. Secure with kitchen twine.

With this amount of ingredients, you should have enough for 8 fist-sized packets of laulau. Get a big steamer ready and load it up. You will have to watch the water for this one because you will be steaming for about 2 hours. Be patient and save your appetite.

When the 2 hours is up, prepare for some serious grinds. Serve in the packets with a couple scoops of rice and enjoy. I like it with a little soy sauce. Go for broke and serve with mac salad, lomi salmon and poi. I’ll have recipes for those soon!

Spam Musubi

Back when I had the original blog, I had a recipe from Hawaii that a lot of my friends were curious about. So, it was only natural that I bring it back, make a video and write about it today. I’m talking about the Onolicious Spam Musubi. If you’ve ever been to Hawaii or any L&L’s BBQ, you have probably seen Spam Musubi at one time or another. It’s enjoyed so much in Hawaii, that it is sometimes referred to as, “Hawaiian Steak”. Really?

Now I’ll be honest with you. Before I tried this, I was skeptical that anything with Spam would be good. I remember being a kid and Spam being grilled in a skillet at the campground, since this canned wondermeat was easier to carry around than a dripping pack of opened bacon. Remember about those old ads that featured “Spamwiches”, “Spam ‘n Eggs” or “Spamburgers”? eeeeech. So of course, this was the negative image that we all shared.

But that was before. This is now. I’m about to show you a way to make Spam that will forever change the way you think about potted meat. Get ready for Spam Musubi!

You will need:

If you have a musubi mold for making pressed sushi, great. If you don’t, worry not. Keep the Spam can handy and we’ll get to that later.

Slice the Spam into 1/2 inch slices and brown them gently in a skillet. While they are browning, mix up the wet ingredients and sugar to make your sauce. Turn the Spam over and brown the other side. Once the Spam is done browning, turn the heat down to medium and pour in the sauce mix. What you want to do is cook that sauce down gently til it gets like teriyaki sauce. It won’t take long. Once that’s done, take the pan off the heat and set aside. Let the Spam soak in that sweet goodness while you get ready to assemble the musubi.

*If you don’t have a mold, all you have to do is cut the bottom off the Spam can. Now you have the perfect sized mold to assemble your musubi. Be mindful of the cut edges though!

Ok, assembly time. Set up your assembly station so that all your ingredients are close at hand. So have your rice, nori, Spam and mold right to the surface you will be working on. Also, keep a bowl of water handy for keeping your hands and tools wet. Anything that will touching the rice should be kept wet so that the rice doesn’t stick to it.

Cut the nori sheet in half lengthwise. It should be the same width as the Spam is long. You can cut it to any width you want, depending on how you want the finished product to look. I like the nori to cover the entire musubi, so I don’t get rice on my fingers when I eat it. Keeps thing neat, especially if you like to eat and run.

Lay down the nori first (shiny side down), then put the mold on top. Take a little rice and put a layer about the thickness of the Spam in first. Follow with a slice of Spam, making sure you have some of that delicious sauce to get absorbed by the rice. Then, lay down another layer of rice on top of the Spam. Again, I do this to make it easier to eat on the run. Now that you have all the layers laid down, gently pack it down with the top of your mold. If you’re using the can, you can pack it down with a spoon.

Now, carefully take off the mold, leaving your beautiful creation on the nori sheet. Wrap the nori around the rice and Spam and seal it by dipping your finger in a little water and dabbing a little on the end of the nori. You’re done! Watch the video to see me make it with the mold and with the can. I really hope you try this at home. You won’t regret it. Have fun in the kitchen!