Pacific American-News Journal
`Aukake - August 1996 Volume 2 Issue 8
Hawaiian Cuisine - My, How it's
by Kaui Philpotts
Until recently, Hawaii's claim to culinary fame was its
amazing capacity to consume Spam. As the country's leading
purchaser of the product, island cooks stretched their
imaginations to limits which included creations ranging from Spam
Tacos to something called a Depression Party Dish.
Then in the last few years a new cuisine began to emerge.
Fired by the influences of fresh regional products on the West
Coast and the complex, exotic seasonings of the East, young chefs
in Hawaii's restaurants and hotels began flexing their creative
Until then Hawaii restaurant food consisted of either grilled
mahimahi or chicken or meat in a teriyaki sauce garnished with
pineapple and an orchid, or transplanted continental cuisine.
The new Hawaiian Regional Cuisine, as it is called (there is
even an association of the new chefs), bears little resemblance
to what is commonly referred to as local food, served
in diners and plate lunch stands. Neither is it Hawaiian food, or
the variety served at luaus, which owes its existence to the
native Hawaiians of An earlier time.
Each Hawaiian Regional chef brings his own personal slant to
the food he creates, but two things are constant, a dedication to
fresh, locally produced ingredients wherever possible, and
foundations in classic cooking disciplines.
Alan Wong, chef at the Mauna Lani Bay Hotel's Canoe House
restaurant on the island of Hawaii loves the combination of sweet
and sour flavors basic to Oriental cuisine. There has to be
a balance on the plate, like yin and yang, says Wong.
At the annual Cuisines of the Sun event held at
the hotel each summer, Wong described the new cooking as a style
that relied on local products, melding ethnic influences in a
totally contemporary way.
The food is bold, colorful and always adventurous. Expect
scallops topped with a spicy guava sauce, ravioli stuffed with
taro leaves, or crab hash sitting in a pool of pungent black bean
sauce. Mango and lychee are chopped into a chutney to accompany
fresh island fish bought of a local fisherman that morning. The
dessert can be fresh strawberries grown on the slopes of Maui's
Haleakala Crater, or a puree of passion fruit with homemade ice
Chefs Like Peter Merriman of Merriman's, Roy Yamaguchi of
Roy's, Amy Ferguson-Ota of the Grill at the Ritz Carlton, Jean
Marie Josselin of A Pacific Cafe, Roger Dikon and Gary Strehl of
the Maui Prince and Hawaii Prince, Mark Ellman of Avalon, George
Mavrothalassitis of La Mer at the Halekulani, and Sam Choy of
Sam's in Kailua-Kona, have influenced local farms and state
fisheries to produce the ingredients for their cuisine.
To sample the new cuisine you can visit their restaurants
located throughout the islands, try recipes in your own kitchen
(Sam Choy's Cuisine Hawaii, Jean Marie Josselin's
A Taste of Hawaii) or attend one of the following
annual events: Taste of Honolulu (Sept.) Cuisines of the Sun on
the Big Island (July), the Kapalua Wine Symposium (July) and A
Taste of Lahaina on Maui (Sept).
Hawaii's new regional cuisine, while still in its infancy,
appears to be here to stay. What direction it will take is hard
to predict, but it will surely be exciting. It's like a local
girl who started out simply pretty and in now on her way to
Pork and Slipper Lobster Patty On Lilikoi Chardonnay
8oz. Coarse ground boneless porkloin
8oz. Ground slipper lobster meat
2oz. Chopped watercress
4oz. Chopped water chestnuts
1oz. Chopped fresh ginger
Salt and pepper
Combine all ingredients together and make 24 patties and cook.
4oz. Lilikoi (passion fruit) Juice
1pc. Bay leaf
4oz. Unsalted butter
2oz. Heavy cream
Salt and pepper
In a small pot reduce Lilikoi juice, wine, shallots and bay
leaf to 1/2 of the original liquid. Add cream and reduce.
Incorporate cold butter. Season appropriately.
Mauna Kea Beach Resort
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Copyright © 1996 Hale Pai Pacific American-News Journal
Last modified: February 28, 1998
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