Tag Archives: hawaii

SOK’s Autumn Vacation, Part One: Pig Ears and Haute Dogs

5 Oct

Wow, I can’t believe it’s been a whole month since my last post! Vacationing is hard work. And what did SOK do on summer autumn vacation? Why, eat New Things, of course.

Much of my time in Hawaii was spent fulfilling filial obligations like being my mom’s lunch date. (It’s a hard life.) My mom was keen on having xiao long bao, and has recently become hooked on the Yelp app, which is how we ended up having dim sum at a nearly empty Shanghainese restaurant at a strip mall in Kalihi. (Note for my non-Hawaii-resident readers: Kalihi is one of the quasi-industrial, non-gentrified parts of Honolulu. Let’s just say that this is the scene that Lost filmed in Kalihi, if you get my drift.) As I’ve written before, Shanghai dim sum is a bit different from the dim sum we’re familiar with in the US, so there were lots of unusual items on the menu, like . . .

Maybe you can't make a silk purse, but you can make a mean salad.

. . . Pigs’ ears. I’ve actually had pig ear before, but in fried form. Here, the ears are boiled until tender and then sliced thinly, making them much more recognizably ear-like.The results were actually pretty tasty, with that crunchy-chewy-jelly texture that seems to be prized in Chinese cuisine. (I have to admit, though, we ended up taking a good bit of this home, and it tasted a lot better doctored up with more herbs and lemon juice.)

In the spirit of the occasion, I also introduced my mom simultaneously to durian and bubble tea. I’m not sure how my mom had managed to live in a state with the largest Asian population in the US for over a decade and avoided bubble tea, but there you go.

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Market Wednesday: Sea Asparagus

6 Sep

20110905-061005.jpgHope everyone had a great Labor Day/Hari Raya/Merdeka Day weekend! This was supposed to be a Market Monday post, but SOK took the day off, too. I’ve been in Hawaii for the past week, so I visited one of my favorite farmers’ markets at the Kapiolani Community College. It’s become something of a tourist draw since I first started visiting — the number of buses disgorging Japanese sightseers is a bit disconcerting — but it’s still a great place to find unusual local products, like…sea asparagus.

Not to be confused with the shellfish of the same name, sea asparagus is a kind of saltwater vegetable that’s now being cultivated in Hawaii. It doesn’t look or taste much like asparagus; it’s crunchy and naturally salty from the seawater it grows in, and has a distinct vegetal bitterness. I didn’t blanch the sea asparagus, but I did soak them in water for about an hour to leach out some of the salt. Then I mixed it with tomatoes, sweet onion, and thinly sliced cucumber, plus some lemon juice. It was still quite salty, even after the soaking, but the crunch from the sea asparagus made it refreshing, like eating a salad by the ocean. And, since it’s Eat Local month in Hawaii, it was nice to make a dish where every ingredient can be sourced locally.

Sea asparagus isn’t widely available outside of coastal areas, but if you’re passing through an ocean-front city, look for it in the farmers’ market.

Oahu’s North Shore: Shrimp Trucks and Shave Ice

9 Feb

Sunset over Kaena Point. No, there's no food in this photo.

Back to recapping my Hawai’i trip! 20 years ago, the North Shore of O’ahu wasn’t really on the tourist radar — there was the Turtle Bay Resort, the Polynesian Cultural Center, and all those surfers, but most visitors stuck to the Waikiki area. Then Hale’iwa started attracting Japanese tourists about 10 to 15 years ago.

And then Lost happened.

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