Saturday, May 10, 2008

Family Luau

I probably eat Hawaiian food, mostly kalua pig, more often than the rest of my family. So I appreciate whenever I come home and I tell them I have a craving for Hawaiian food that they go along and eat it with me. That's what I did this past week when I visited my younger brother's home and we feasted on some Hawaiian take-out. It was like a mini luau, without the whole roasted pig and the fire dancers.

Of course, the king of our mini luau was the kalua pig. I actually make this in the Bay Area when I get the craving, but it's always a challenge getting the right balance of salty and smokey flavor. My sister picked up the Hawaiian food and she got this tray of kalua pig from Bob's Bar-B-Que. (I originally thought she said she got it at Bob's Big Boy. I thought, wow, the Bob's Big Boy in Hawaii are really catering to the locals. But I was wrong.) For those who don't remember, kalua pig is a slow roasted pork that's salted and so good when juicy. This was good stuff.

Here's a big bowl of Chicken Long Rice. The dish gets it's name from the long rice noodles that are clear. It has pieces of chicken and sits in a light broth. It's usually garnished with green onions but we had it on the side because it might throw off the kids. This dish and most of the other Hawaiian food came from another place called Haili's Hawaiian Foods in the Ward Farmers Market, which is a collection of food stands near the Ward Warehouse shopping mall.

We also had another traditional Hawaiian dish called laulau, which is filled with meat, this one pork, and wrapped with ti leaves and some other greens and then steamed until super tender and captures the essence of the leaves. I never liked this as a child but love it now as an adult. It reminds me of tamales but without the cornmeal. I don't have a picture of it because the shot I got was totally blurry.

Here's a side dish of poke (pronounced poh-kay) and it's traditionally made with raw tuna, soy sauce and seaweed. There are also some other seasoning. I started eating this when I started getting into raw fish.

Here's another side dish that's really traditional as well. It's called Lomi Lomi Salmon made with tomatoes, cured salmon and onions. (Lomi lomi means to massage.) It's very light, sitting in its own juices and I like the saltiness of the salmon. When I make this on the mainland, I use lox.

The Hawaiian diet is heavy on starch (just think of poi, which is pounded taro). So my sister got a couple of sweet potatoes that were cooked until tender and then sliced up. It was so sweet and good and so simple. I might just make this as a side for dinner back home.

Mmmm, my favorite part of eating Hawaiian food ... the haupia. This is the gelatin coconut dessert. Now, everyone makes it differently and most follow a family recipe. The ingredients are simple, just coconut milk, sugar and cornstarch. But you have to know the right balance to really get it done well. This particular haupia leaned toward the gelatin side, which meant it was more waxy and smooth. But I actually like haupia that's like solid pudding, firm but still creamy inside. That's the type of recipe I'm still trying to perfect. Above my brother is cutting the haupia into squares, which is how you often see it served.

Here's my nephew Connor filled with anticipation for more desserts, this time these cream puffs from Liliha Bakery. These cream puffs are so popular people always mention it when I ask what's a good dessert to get in Hawaii. They're made with different flavors and the bakery gets crowded with people buying these. I actually think the puff pastry part of the puffs are a bit rough, but I do love the creamy filling inside.

I couldn't believe we had so much dessert. Here's another cake from Liliha Bakery and it's also a haupia-themed cake accented with chocolate. When you slice it, there are three layers of cake: one white, one chocolate and the final layer of coconut flavor. It's topped with frosting that has haupia pudding mixed in, giving it a really moist coconut essence. It was soooo good.

Here's my niece Madison getting her plate of Hawaiian food. She looks pretty happy, but I'm not sure if it's because of the food or just all the family gathering together. Then again, she's generally a pretty happy girl. And who wouldn't be with all this ono food to eat!

Bob's Bar-B-Que, 1366 Dillingham Blvd., Honolulu. PH: 808.842.3663
Haili's Hawaiian Foods, 1020 Auahi St., Honolulu. PH: 808.593.8019
Liliha Bakery, 515 N. Kuakini St., Honolulu. PH: 808.531.1651


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Anonymous said...

Madison and Connor are total cuties, Single Guy! And I bet you're a very favorite Uncle :-) Here's to many happy family gatherings!!

Carroll (drooling over all that pig, potatoes and pastries!)

Carolyn Jung said...

So I must ask: What's your fave plate lunch place?

Mrs. L said...

I'm now totally craving some lau lau and kalua pork!

Chef Ben said...

Carroll, YES, I am their favorite uncle. I totally kept getting pulled into their rooms so they can show me each and every toy they have! Then Connor wanted me to tell him a scary story and I didn't know one so I told the story about gas prices going over $4 a gallon. SCARY!

Carolyn, I don't know if I have a fave plate lunch place. And since I've been mostly eating with my mom, I haven't had a chance to test plate lunch places because my mom, growing up in Hong Kong, is not a fan of the heavy plates.

Mrs. L., I bet you can satisfy your craving by visiting Tokyo Fish Market in Berkeley. That's just a holdover until you can get that ticket to Hawaii! ;-)

foodhoe said...

ooh, that looks so much better than the commercial luau fare. And no one was yelling alooooHA either. (that was my one luau experience). looks like you are eating your way very well chef ben!