Sunday, April 26, 2009

Sugar Cane ... Is This Hawaii?

Seeing sugar cane stalks brings back memories of growing up in Hawaii, where the entire island was once filled with sugar cane fields. They were such a signature of the islands that we even had sugar cane in our backyard. And one of the treats our mom would give us is bits of sugar cane stalks, the fibrous skin hacked away with her kitchen butcher knife, revealing the golden center. She'd chill these stalks and then we'd munch away at it, sucking at the juices that were released with each bite. (Caution: You can't eat the stalks, just suck on the juices.)

I'm always surprised when I see them at the farmers' markets in the Bay Area because I wonder where does it get so hot that they can grow sugar cane regularly? (I know we had super hot weather last week, but sugar cane thrives in consistently hot weather.) I spotted these stalks at an Asian stall at the Civic Center Farmers' Market this morning, sold for $3 each. I wonder who knows what to do with them, other than a natural sweet treat for kids?

A year ago a reader emailed me asking where she can find sugar cane stalks. I forgot why she was looking for them. But if you're still reading my blog, head down to the Sunday Civic Center Farmers Market in San Francisco and you can find them there!


Jenster said...

I'm curious, too, to find out where in S.F. they can grow these canes.

Some Vietnamese restaurants will wrap shrimp paste around a stalk of sugar cane and grill it that way. It's delicious and you can always chew on the stalk afterward for "dessert." Have you ever tried this, Ben?

Single Guy Ben said...

Jenster, yes I saw those sugar cane shrimp sticks when I traveled in Vietnam. I thought they were weird so I never tried them! I haven't really seen them at local Vietnamese restaurants. I may have to go back to Vietnam and try them!

mark said...

Beautiful photo Single Guy!

Passionate Eater said...

One of my favorite drinks is Vietnamese sugar cane and citrus juice. It is absolutely heavenly, but pricey up the wazoo! But $3 is a worthy splurge. :)

Anonymous said...

i cut some sugar cane i found on the north coast of NSW australia.
can i cook it in the oven?
i have heard of surfers in hawaii stealing burnt sugar cane for a treat, can i replicate this in the oven?

Single Guy Ben said...

Anonymous, I've never heard of cooked sugar cane. The juice is so great fresh, I don't really see the need to cook it, which seems like it would dry out the sugar cane and make it less juicy. It's actually really sweet as is.

But if you want to try and cook it for a burnt sugar taste, then I would suggest hacking it down into pieces and hacking off the husk around it (it's really fiborous and shouldn't be eaten) then wrap it in aluminum foil and then bake it in the oven and see what happens! Let me know how it turns out!

Anonymous said...

I've seen sugar cane sold at Berkeley Bowl for under $2 for maybe a 7 ft stalk in Nov. It was identified with a California origin. I bought one and nearly dropped one on someone. People were staring at the stalk and looked rather amused at the sight of it. I'm not sure if this was typical, but mine had a pale yellow/green skin and the interior was more an off-white than yellow or brown. It was nice as a little chew snack and really wasn't as sweet as I thought it would be. I did have a few of the fibers get stuck between my teeth.

Uncle Ben said...

I grow sugar cane in my garden in Sarawak Borneo, Malaysia.

Try mix sugar cane juice with ginger juice. I called this drinks "BULIA". TeBU (for sugar cane) and haLIA (for ginger).

Hope you like it.