Archive for the ‘Recipes’ Category

Cook with See Dai Doo Society

September 19th, 2016


Pork belly and Chinese taro are covered in sauce, then topped with scallion and cilantro before being steamed to make kau yuk.

Kau yuk, ip jai, an East-West stir-fry of beef and bok choy, and vegetarian spaghetti, were on the menu when the See Dai Doo Society presented a cooking demonstration at its social hall on Sept. 18. (The recipe for kau yuk follows.)

I had been hearing about the event for months during Mandarin classes, where everyone was especially enthusiastic about biting into the ip jai, or steamed mochi dumplings, which few people make these days, save for special occasions.

Ip jai filled with black sugar. Below is a more savory version of the steamed mochi dumplings, filled with a mixture of ham, mushrooms, dried shrimp and water chestnuts.


Charlene Chang led the demos for the ip jai and kau yuk (pot roast pork), before the men took over the burners to round out the feast to come. Bixby Ho showed how to make easy vegetarian pasta, while See Dai Doo president Wesley Fong, with the help of daughter Cecilia, showed how to make a simple stir-fry of flank steak and bok choy.

He offered up one of the Chinese secrets for tenderizing meat, which is to soak it in water with a little baking soda and massage it for 5 minutes.

He said, "The reason I cook is because I was told all good Chinese husbands cook."

See Dai Doo Society president Wesley Fong, with daughter Cecilia, takes a hands-on approach to leadership. He prepared an East-West stir-fry of flank steak and bok choy. People kidded him later, "What was West?" because beef and bok choy are both eaten by Chinese.

Fong's finished dish.

My father cooked, even if his idea of cooking meant getting an assist from Hamburger Helper.

That we were all there to enjoy the event is the result of the foresight of forebears more than a century ago. The society was founded by 18 men, immigrants from the See Doo (Sidu) and Dai Doo (Dadu) districts of Zhongshan county in Guangdong, on May 10, 1905.

As a matter of survival and mutual support in overseas communities that did not always welcome them, clan groups formed to provide banking and loan services, secure housing, host social events and invest for the future.

In 1910, See Dai Doo members contributed what was then a fortune, $5,000, for the purchase of the Wong Siu Kin School building at 285 N. Vineyard St. to serve as the group's headquarters. Today, rentals provide income that allows the society to function, and public events such as the cooking demo are their way of preserving their heritage and giving back to the community.

When the demos were pau, it was time to eat. The demos represent a two-day commitment, because food prep to feed the crowd took place a day ahead.

Someone brought sliced sugar cane for dessert and for the taking. It was so good and sweet. Not like the dried out canes often inserted into tourist cocktails. I grew up in Waipahu, so we were very familiar with sugar cane.

It all starts with pork belly.

Recipe courtesy Charlene Chang

1-1/2 pounds pork belly, cut into approximately 2-inch-by-3/4-inch slices
1 half Chinese taro, cut into 2-inch-by-1/2-inch slices
1/2 bottle red nam yi (red fermented bean curd
1/2 bottle white nam yi
Oyster sauce, to taste
Brown sugar, to taste
1/4 cup whiskey or cooking wine
Scallion and cilantro (Chinese parsley) stems

In a bowl, mix red and white nam yi, brown sugar, oyster sauce and cooking wine. Set aside. Sprinkle a little sugar on the pot belly. In a skillet, brown the pork belly on all sides on medium heat.

Arrange alternating slices of pork belly (skin side down) and taro in a large bowl. Pour the wet ingredients on top of the pork belly and taro. Layer scallion and cilantro stems on top of arrangement.

Place in hot steamer; steam at least 1-1/2 hours. Allow kau yuk to sit in the pot for another 1/2 hour.

Lift the bowl out of the steamer and pour the sauce out. Place a platter or plate on top of the bowl. Turn the bowl over so the skin side up is facing up and ready to serve.

Pork belly and taro are arranged in alternating slices before sauce is added and it all goes into a steamer.

Nadine Kam is Style Editor and staff restaurant critic at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser; her food coverage in print in Wednesday's Crave section. Contact her via email at and follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Rebel Mouse.

Easy Chinese cooking, Popo style

March 22nd, 2016


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.

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

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.

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.

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.

Ready for New Year detox?

December 31st, 2012

green juicingDrink your way to good health in 2013.

By now, you're probably up to your ears in cookies, chocolates, mochi and other treats, which doesn't bode well for getting in shape in 2013. Too much holiday cheer means you need detoxing. Now.

Cleanse America is on mission to transform the health of the nation, and is aiming to inspire 1 million Americans to participate in its 10-day raw food cleanse, running Jan. 4 to 13. You can join the cleanse at

Omega Juicers is on board for a 3-day cleanse ritual to help people eliminate harmful toxins, restore their internal system and reset their bodies through juicing.

I haven't tried it myself, but one of my friends was beginning to develop a rough, ruddy complexion due to stress, and the only change she made in her life was to start green juicing with spinach, kale and fruits, and her complexion cleared up in about a week of drinking her vegetables three times a day.

Here are Omega Juicers recipes for one day of cleansing:

The vitamin C in oranges enhances the absorption of the iron in the spinach by 30 percent.
4 oranges
1 bunch of spinach

Juice and drink.

Bee Fruity
There are a thousand different variations of fruit salads. This one makes a great first meal of the day.
2 bananas
1 mango
2 cups of blueberries
2 tablespoons of bee pollen

Cut the banana and mango into bit sized pieces. Put into a bowl and add blueberries topped with bee pollen.

Get Rooted
Beets are powerful health foods, containing compounds that may reduce blood pressure, ease digestive disorders and control heart disease. They can also raise HDL (“good”) cholesterol and lower bad cholesterol and triglycerides, respectively, by 30 percent and 40 percent.
3 carrots
1 beet (palm size)
Thumb size of ginger

Juice and drink.

Green Machine
Blending produce makes the process of absorbing protein and minerals more efficient. If you are drinking the green machine after a workout, add double hemp seeds and a few more greens. When you drink a smoothie with a lot of protien 30 minutes after a workout, the protein synthesis is about 75 percent compared to only 30 percent beyond that time.
2 large kale leaves (or 2 handfuls of other leafy greens)
2 bananas (frozen)
2 tablespoons hemp seeds
1-½ cups of hemp milk
1 tablespoon spirulina

Place all ingredients in a juicer or high-speed blender and blend until smooth. Top with hemp seeds.

Lemon Apple Blast
Apple and lemon contain a lot of vitamin C and citrus acids. This assists in dissolving gallstones which are deposits of a composite of calcium salts such as oxalates and carbonates.
2 small lemons
3 apples
2 inch piece of ginger

Juice and drink.

Celery Stalker
1 cup coconut water
3 celery stalks
1 handful of greens or 1 bunch of spinach
1 cucumber
1 apple

Juice and drink.

Sweet victory for Maui Onion Festival Recipe Contest champ

May 8th, 2012

orecipejojoNadine Kam photos
Chef Jojo Vasquez of Banyan Tree Restaurant at Ritz-Carlton Kapalua claims his glass onion trophy from Ramsay Wharton as the winner of the Maui Onion Festival Recipe Contest, the final contest of the event on May 5. His recipe is at the end of this post.

The 23rd Maui Onion Festival with a recipe contest involving seven of the festival's featured chefs. The dishes prepared by Maui chefs Joey Macadangdang of Roy's Kaʻanapali, David Paul Johnson of David Paul's Island Grill, Jojo Vasquez and Oahu chefs Russell Siu of 3660 on the Rise and Kevin Hanney of 12th Avenue Grill and SALT Kitchen & Tasting Bar was amazing.

Siu took time off from his busy schedule that has included a spate of fundraisers, and L'ulu, the Leeward Culinary Arts Gala that was taking place the same evening as this competition. He had to prep 150 pounds of Shinsato Farms pork for 650 portions of Southwest-style dish his restaurant was serving up at L'ulu. Who says you can't be in two places at once!

In the end, Vasquez was the winner, beating Macadangdang by a mere point, and as one of five judges, it really could have gone either way. Vasquez wowed us with the silkiness of his liver (foie gras), onion and egg combination, while Macadangdang's Vietnamese-style lemongrass chicken bao with Maui onion curry also wowed us with the well-considered precision, complexity and layering of flavors and textures. His recipe appears at the end of this post.

orecipeOnion fans could get up close to judges and the food up for top honors. To pace ourselves, we could take only a few bites, so we offered attendees a bite of the delicious leftovers. There were many a dish I wanted to finish, but alas, I had reservations at Alan Wong's new restaurant Amasia that evening, to maximize my stay on Maui.

orecipe9From left, chefs participating in the Maui Onion Festival recipe contest were Joey Macadangdang of Roy's Kaʻanapali, David Paul Johnson, Kevin Hanney of 12th Avenue Grill and SALT Kitchen & Tasting Bar on Oahu, Jojo Vasquez, Russell Siu of Oahu's 3660 on the Rise, and James McDonald, with Whalers Village marketing manager Lisa Donlon, and at right, host Cutty Cutler.

orecipe2Chef Jojo Vasquez's winning dish of rich chawanmushi-style liver (foie gras) and onions presented in an eggshell cup.

Chef Kevin Hanney of 12 Avenue Grill  and SALT Kitchen presented savory Maui onion French toast with Waimanalo crimini, frisee salad, local fried egg, Maui onion and housemade pancetta.

orecipe3Russell Siu offered up caramelized Maui onion horseradish-crusted Kurobuta pork belly.

orecipe4Chef Ivan Pahk of Cane & Taro's dish was pan-roasted opakapaka served over housemade linguine, with Hamakua mushrooms, Kahuku corn, red radish, pickled red chili and Maui onion demiglace.

orecipe5I'o and Pacific'O Chef James McDonald's offering was an inspired Maui onion tart tatin as sweet as apple pie, served with Irish whiskey onion Anglaise sauce.

orecipe6Fellow judge Ayngelina Brogan, the blogger behind Bacon is Magic, was eager to polish off David Paul Johnson's grilled island beef and Maui onion sliders. Me too, but I had to rush off to dinner at Amasia in the Grand Wailea.

orecipe7Chef Joey Macadangdang of Royʻs Kaʻanapali added the adjective "Inspired" to the name of his lemongrass chicken bao with Maui onion curry, topped with crisp onion rings, pickled carrots and daikon, and the combined flavors were truly inspired. His recipe follows. (more…)

A sip of Maui onions

May 8th, 2012

onionNadine Kam photos
Fans of the Maui Onion Festival found many of the dishes being created on stage t be finger-lickin' good! This is the aftermath of their getting a taste of chef David Paul Johnson's sweet Maui onion fritters with caramelized Maui onion aioli. Yum! His recipe is at the bottom of this post.

In the afternoon at Maui Onion Festival 2012, fans of the Maui Kula® onion could watch demonstrations or line up for a taste of onion rings being cooked up by Hula Grill Kaanapali executive chef Chris Schobel and his team. People were in line all day for a taste of the 1,000 pounds of onions that went into the deep fryer.

They were so good, crisp on the outside and soft and melty on the inside, without the stringiness that usually has you pulling them out of the bready ring at most, if not all, restaurants. His recipe is at the end of this post.

Chris said the secret is steam that from the water in the onion when the rings hit the oil. Unfortunately, you won't find these rings at the restaurant, because frying them this way is a messy task and he said those onions would take up too much space. So, if you want great onion rings, you'll just have to fly over to the festival next year.

With the festival falling on Cinco de Mayo this year, there had to be a cocktail and margarita contest to commemorate the occasion, and I was called upon to judge six drinks created by Dennis Day of Leilani's, Aloha Dave of Hula Grill, who came up with an avocado-lime margarita, and Sean King of Cane & Taro.

All of their creations were great, and Sean King took home the glass onion trophy for his Maui Wowie Maui Gold pineapple and strawberry margarita and Volcano cocktail, both with a strawberry and Maui onion muddle. His recipes are at the end of the post, minus the onions though.

onion1Hawaii News Now's Ramsay Wharton with chef David Paul Johnson of David Paul's Island Grill after his demonstration. Ramsay did a great job on stage from about 10 a.m. until the last competition ended at about 5:30 p.m., talking and tasting her way through the events. I could never talk that long!

onionlineLined up for Hula Grill Maui onion rings.

onionringsMaui resident Derek Takahashi with his rings, also shown below.


onionagMae Nakahata was manning the Maui Farm Bureau booth, showcasing the bounty of six of the island's farms.

Sean King of d.k. Kodama's Cane & Taro restaurant was one of three Whalers Village mixologists competing in the Cinco de Mayo mix drink contest in the afternoon.

onionsipLisa Donlon takes a sip of Sean's showy cocktail creation, with its strawberry and Maui onion muddle. (more…)

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