Thursday, January 04, 2007
Hawaiian Snack Foods
I love the saki ika aka squid jerky. You can find it regular and spicy in almost every grocery stire and gas station shop on the island. I had it in NY first, I think my friend Josh made me try it (thanks, Josh!). In Kauai it is about 3.50 for a large bag.
Poke, although arguably not a snack, is my very favorite thing to eat here. I tried to make it, but I couldn't fine any kikui nut paste anywhere. I looked all over the north and western shores for it.
Poke should really only be eaten if acquired from a good source, and only on the day it is purchased. If it is grey, green, or weirdly shiny either toss it or fry it up. Both my husband and I have lost the Poke lottery and were very sick afterwards. It goes bad fast.
Here is a recipe for Poke from a great source for all traditional Hawaiian recipes.
Onion Green Onion (scallions)
kikui nut paste
Ahi - It is imperative that you get the choicest and freshest fish possible. I now am on the mainland and use a seafood wholesaler to ensure that I get the best cuts. I tend to use sushi-grade fish (#1). You can use #2-plus and #2 fish, but check them out beforehand to ensure the best cuts. Traditionally, Ahi is Yellowfin Tuna and Aku is (darn, I forget) another Tuna. Sometimes, it can be difficult to get Ahi or Aku, I have used Bigeye Tuna with great results. Just don't use Starkist (Sorry, Charlie).
Shoyu - Personally, I like Aloha Shoyu. So much so that I import it from Hawaii by bringing gallons in my luggage or bothering my cousin to send me some. Aloha Shoyu has just the right amount of caramel and saltiness as to not be overpowering. Some alternatives might be that green label light Kikkoman (not bad) or another shoyu of your choice. Do some experimenting and let me know your results.
Garlic - I personally like fresh garlic, chopped into tiny bits. But you can get away with the prepared garlic that is already crushed (I've done that a number of times with great success).
Onion - Take the onion and slice it up into slivers and add to the mix. I think I tried a poke with Maui Onions and that was pretty good. Any white onion will do, be sure that it is fresh!
Green Onion - Also known as scallions, they come in long stalks. Take the majority of the stalk, both the green and white parts (but discard the ends) and chop. Add and mix.
Sesame Oil - This is battle ingredient of Poke. Without it, you've got a bunch of fish and veggies in a bowl with shoyu- sashimi. With the right amount of Sesame Oil, you've got an aphrodisiac! Anyway, use the Asian/Oriental type of Sesame oil. This is the one in bottles that look like they're been browned because the color of the oil is brown. Supermarkets have another sesame oil that is clear in color (clear like vegetable oil), but I haven't tried it and cannot recommend it. It is the nutty flavor of the oil that makes it. Some say use it sparingly, I say use it to taste!
Ogo - What the hell is Ogo? It is also known as Limu Kohu. Ogo looks like twiggy-like seaweed and can be found at FoodLand Waialae, but seemingly nowhere on the mainland. If anyone knows where I can source this on the East Coast, I will be thankful. I go to FoodLand, buy up pounds of it, freeze it and fly it home. The Ogo should be chopped up and mixed in. I keep my ogo frozen and just hack off a chunk and chop it up. I include the seawater ice that comes off to add whatever flavor it might impart (you know, a taste of the Pacific).
Hawaiian Salt - I do not normally use this because I make Shoyu-style Poki. But follow the rest of the ingredients and substitute Hawaiian Salt for the Shoyu. If you use both (like I did once), it becomes a bit too salty and not very pleasant. Just Lomi the salt in. If you don't have Hawaiian Salt, you can use Kosher Sea Salt from Mortons just as well or rock salt (but not the kind you put in water purifiers).
Kukui Nut - Not something that I have really used much of in Poki. I don't know quite where to source it. Be careful if you do get kukui nuts. While they are good for burning as a candle, too much in your poki will make you burn a path in your floor to the restroom. It can be used to soothe constipation in the right dosage, so use sparingly in your Poki!
Here is a poke recipe that seemed to be a favorite from the semi-finals of Top Chef.