Archive for the ‘People’ Category

Easy Chinese cooking, Popo style

March 22nd, 2016
By



PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.com

Spareribs in black bean sauce was cooking when June Tong presented a cooking demonstration for the See Dai Doo Society.

In Chinese four pillars astrology, my bazi chart is heavy on water. Water flows. Water can be as gentle as a brook or raging like a tsunami. It's one of the strongest of the elements, seeping into crevices to break rocks apart. In relation to the other elements, water douses fires, rusts metal, causes seeds to sprout from the earth, and nourishes wood.

Because water is an unstoppable force, I love freedom and hate being put in a box. I disdain authority, which is represented by metal.

There is no metal in my sign. So, the surest way to make me do something is to tell me I can't do it.

I was in Shanghai a few years ago and met a designer from Brooklyn who, after starting his business in China, became fluent in Mandarin. A disciplined sort in contrast to my free spirit, he dared me to learn the language and wanted to bet that I could not do it in a year.

Whoa, them's fighting words! So next thing you know, I started attending Mandarin classes offered by the See Dai Doo Society. Difficult, serious stuff, but it's not all about how hard work. The society's programs extend to other cultural pursuits such as Chinese cooking.

Start with three pounds of ribs that have been parboiled and lightly dredged in flour.

On March 20, the society welcomed "Popo's Kitchen" cookbook author June Tong for a demonstration of her black bean sparerib, mochi rice and dau lau recipes.

I was interested in the dau lau, or mochi balls, because it's something my mom made when I was a child and over the years, everyone got busy, moved away from home, and I forgot all about dau lau until my memory was sparked by seeing it again at a new year festival at the now-shuttered Grand Café.

It is a new year treat that can be enjoyed anytime of year. Unlike anything in Western cuisine, every element of the dau lau is symbolic, starting with the white of the mochi rice flour, representing purity, according to society member Sharlene Chun. Its spherical shape represents infinity, with no beginning and no end. The stickiness of the mochi rice also represents family cohesion, and toppings of coconut represent good health, peanuts stand for longevity because of the length of the vines and the nuts' enduring quality, sesame seeds reflect an abundance of sons and wealth, and the sweetness of brown sugar is equal to the sweetness of life.

There's a reason the "Popo's Kitchen" cookbooks have held up over time. The recipes are simple to make and delicious. For the spareribs, for example, all the ingredients went into a wok and simmered for 45 minutes, with all the magic happening while the cook rests.

Then, of course, the best part of the demo was the feast that followed. While Tong and her assistants demonstrated cooking in small batches, more work was being done in the society's kitchen, where volunteers humbly cooked up what they called a "snack," but the rest of us would call a meal, for about 50 lucky souls. Xie xie!

Recipes follow!

Leonard Kam prepares to add garlic and black beans to James Acopan's wok.

Cookbook author June Tong passes the finished dau lau to Dwayne Wong for sampling.

Dau lau in a coating of shredded coconut, peanuts and brown sugar. Each of the ingredients holds meaning.

SPARERIBS IN BLACK BEAN SAUCE
3 pounds spareribs, cut up
3 tablespoons cooking oil
1/2 cup flour

Black bean mixture
2 tablespoons black bean (dau see)
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons oyster sauce

Seasonings
1 tablespoon sugar
1 can chicken broth
1 cup water
1 cube chicken bouillon

Cornstarch mixture
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup water

Parboil spareribs. Rinse and drain well. Lightly dredge in flour.
Heat oil in heavy pan. Stir-fry black bean mixture. Add spareribs and brown.
Add seasonings while browning spareribs. Add broth and bring to boil. Cover with lid, lower heat and simmer 45 minutes.
Thicken with cornstarch mixture. Place on platter and garnish with green onions and Chinese parsley.

DAU LAU
Flour mixture
1 pound mochi flour
16 ounces water

Topping mixture
1 cup shredded coconut
1 cup peanuts, chopped
1 tablespoon brown sugar

Combine flour mixture and mix well. Pinch dough to form approximately inch-size balls.
Boil a pot of water. Drop mochi balls into rapidly boiling water. When dough floats to the top, remove with a slotted spoon. Roll cooled balls in topping mixture.

STICKY MOCHI RICE
Mochi rice mixture
4 cups mochi rice
4 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon hondashi

Filling mixture
1/2 cup dry baby shrimp, washed and hard-boiled
1 cup lup cheong, cooked and diced fine
1/2 cup smoked ham or roast pork, diced fine
1 cup black mushrooms, soaked, par-boiled and diced fine
1 cup green onions, diced fine
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 teaspoon five spice

Cook rice in rice cooker according to directions. Heat wok, adding 3 tablespoons of oil. Stir fry filling mixture. Combine rice and filling mixture as soon as rice cooker shifts to "warm." Mix well and let steam 30 minutes or more. Drizzle on soy sauce to taste, if desired, and mix well.

Larb sticky rice burger pops up

February 18th, 2016
By



COURTESY WANG CHUNG'S

Homestyle Meals larb sticky rice burger was served up during a popup at Wang Chung's in Waikiki.

Leave it to Wang Chung's owner Danny Chang to come up with another attention-grabbing invitation to his popup with Homestyle Meals Ashley Thaira. With her larb sticky rice burger as the star attraction, his headline read: "Me Larb You Long Time," in luring the hungry to sample a $12 Lao-themed family dinner that took place Feb. 11.

It's one of many homey, family style popups he has planned for his fun pau hana pupu and karaoke bar, because he's a natural-born social director who just loves bringing all kinds of people together.

As for this particular event, Chung, our hi-energy host with the most, explained that he was celebrating the Chinese New Year in Chinatown when he came upon Thaira's booth serving "the most delicious home-style Lao cooking. They had unique dishes that you don't find here in Hawaii such as Nam Khao Tod (Lao crispy rice ball salad) and this amazing larb sticky rice burger."

PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.com

Look mom, no wheat! Gluten-free rejoice! The larb sticky rice burger was the highlight of a popup at Wang Chung's.

Ashley Thaira shows her green papaya salad, also below.

larb salad

The burger is of minced pork, and the patty is dipped in a sweetened fish sauce before being layered with cucumber, cilantro and green onions between two sticky rice buns. Yummers! What's more, it's perfect for this gluten-free era.

Also on the menu was a green papaya salad, Nam Van, a dessert of fresh fruit and tapioca in coconut milk, and Sa Dok Bua, lotus tea scented with pandan leaves.

Beyond the popup, Homestyle Meals and Thaira's $8 larb sticky rice burger can be found at the Mahiku Farmers Market at Iroquis Point 3 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesdays at 5105 Iroquois Ave. She's looking for more venues in downtown Honolulu. Let's hope that happens soon and I'll keep you posted when that happens.

Wang Chung's is in the Stay boutique hotel at 2424 Koa Ave. in Waikiki, behind the Hyatt Regency Waikiki. Open 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. daily. Call (808) 921-9176.

Inside Wang Chung's.

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Nadine Kam is Style Editor and staff restaurant critic at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser; her coverage is in print on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Contact her via email at nkam@staradvertiser.com and follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Rebel Mouse.

Playing mixologist for an eve

February 15th, 2016
By



PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.comI was on the winning team of foodies that came up with a jalapeño-accented Phoenix Rising cocktail for the Year of the Monkey.

PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.com

I was on the winning team of foodies that came up with a jalapeño-accented Phoenix Rising cocktail for the Year of the Monkey.

Most people would jump at the opportunity to play mixologist for an evening, and the Moana Surfrider is providing just that with the launch of "Love of Libations: Mixology 101."

The first installment took place Feb. 12, with hosts from Southern Wine & Spirits, Micah Suderman and director of mixology Chandra Lucariello, who offered up her own cocktails before setting guests free to concoct their own libations. It's not every day one is set loose to play with all the booze they want!

We were divided into four teams with the aim of coming up with a cocktail. On my team were Sean Morris, Pam Davis, Emi Hart and Catherine Toth. Pam had a thirst for ginger beer, so going from there, we had to figure out what would work with ginger.

PHOTO BY RITSUKO KUKONU / poohko hawaiiMioxologist Chandra Lucariello gave a demonstration and instructions before setting novices loose with alcohol and other ingredients.

PHOTO BY RITSUKO KUKONU / poohko hawaii

Mioxologist Chandra Lucariello gave a demonstration and instructions before setting novices loose with alcohol and other ingredients.

I know from years of writing about food that themes and the naming of things are as important as the flavor of a dish, so based on timing so close to the Lunar New Year, I wanted a drink with an Asian orientation.

At the ingredient bar, we pulled together raspberries and limes that would work with ginger, going outfield by using basil instead of the more expected basil. Next, we pulled kaffir lime leaves from a display. It all smelled good after muddling, but Sean decided to try one slice of jalapeño. That proved to be the stroke of genius. I loved the heat and it differentiated the cocktail from all others. Immediately, I thought of the name Firebird, which became Phoenix Rising for the new year.

PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.comKaffir lime leaves from the event display helped put our drink on top.

PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.com

Kaffir lime leaves from the event display helped put our drink on top.


We added neutral vodka to the mix, and after straining into a martini glass, we topped it off with the ginger beer. After tasting the rest of the competition, with standard fruit or cucumber flavors, I knew we had a winner on our hands, and so it was!

I was so excited. I never had dreams of trying mixology because I'm not a big boozer, but apparently, if you can imagine the flavors of ingredients together, you're not far from creating winning cocktails. The competition was fun but I could never be a mixologist IRL. It requires speed and I'm not into the live theater aspects of the work.

The next event takes place 6 to 9 p.m. March 11 as part of the Moana's 115th birthday bash. The cost is $75 and includes light fare and beverages provided by Koko Head Cafe, Mac 24/7, MW Restaurant, The Pig and the Lady, RumFire, Scratch Kitchen & Bakeshop and Square Barrels. Proceeds will benefit the Life Foundation and tickets are available at honoluluboxoffice.com.

With shelves of ingredients to choose from, we were drawn to the raspberries and limes.

With shelves of ingredients to choose from, we were drawn to the raspberries and limes.

I wanted to use bacon but when that wasn't happening, I did the next best thing and ate some.

I wanted to use bacon but when that wasn't happening, I did the next best thing and ate some.

More ingredients, including basil that went into our  Phoenix Rising cocktail.

More ingredients, including basil that went into our Phoenix Rising cocktail.


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Nadine Kam is Style Editor and staff restaurant critic at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser; her coverage is in print on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Contact her via email at nkam@staradvertiser.com and follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Rebel Mouse.

Eating SF: Heaven on earth at b. patisserie

April 10th, 2014
By



kouign amann
SAN FRANCISCO — When you live in Hawaii, far from any great land mass, you at one point will become a mule. You know the drill. You're getting on an airplane to get off this rock. Friends find out. They tell you beforehand to deliver this to so-and-so, and bring back things. Even if you don't speak to them beforehand, they will find out from Facebook or Twitter posts and text you.

So it is that I received a text while in San Francisco to go straight to b. patisserie and bring home kouign amann. "You have to go! It's orgasmic!!!!"

OK, so it's hard to ignore that many exclamation points, so I made friends with my cab driver and had him at my beck and call on the day of my departure. After dropping me off at the Persian restaurant Maykadeh for lunch, I promised a pear croissant in his future if he picked me up a few hours later and took me to b. patisserie en route to the airport later in the afternoon.

b. patisserie is the work of Belinda Leong and Michel Suas, founder of the San Francisco Baking Institute.

Leong began her career as pastry chef at Gary Danko, before leaving for Europe and working at restaurants and patisseries in Paris, Barcelona and Copenhagen. She seems to have brought back all their secrets because her pastries are divine.

People are particularly enamored by the kouign amann, a caramelized croissant with light candy crunch exterior and fluffy interior, that originated in Brittany, France. The ones I ordered were filled with chocolate, at about $4.50 apiece but soooooo worth the trouble of lugging them onto the plane.

I went straight from the plane to dinner, and they still tasted fantastic 11 hours later as my friends and I surreptitiously gobbled them up after dinner, like drug addicts in the dark parking lot beneath the restaurant.
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If you want to go or have a friend headed to San Francisco soon, b. patisserie is at 2821 California St. @ Divisadero St., Pacific Heights. Call 415.440.1700.

Hawaii chefs need votes for Food & Wine honor

March 25th, 2014
By



Food & Wine magazine is inviting the public to help discover The People’s Best New Chef. The award, an extension of the Food & Wine Best New Chefs award, honors talented up-and-coming innovators who have run their own kitchens for five years or fewer.

The field of 100 nominees for the award includes 10 chefs in 10 regions across America. Restaurant devotees can cast their votes on foodandwine.com/the-peoples-bnc through 11 a.m. March 31.

Nominees from the Northwest/Pacific region include Hawaii’s Chris Kajioka (The Vintage Cave, Ala Moana Center), Kevin Lee (Prima, Kailua), and Sheldon Simeon (Migrant, Kihei).

The chef with the most votes in each region will be named a finalist; the finalist with the most votes overall will be named The People’s Best New Chef, to be revealed online on April 2. The winner will also be featured in the July 2014 issue of Food & Wine, the same issue that profiles the Best New Chefs. (Nominees for The People’s Best New Chef award are also eligible for the Best New Chef award.)

To learn more about the 100 nominated chefs, visit foodandwine.com/the-peoples-bnc.

Meet the chefs:

chris

kevin

sheldon