Friday, October 25, 2013


One recent evening, our son Toby and his girlfriend came over for dinner.  Jen suggested that we have a surprise party for Toby’s 30th birthday.  What a great idea!  So we came up with Hawaiian as a theme.  I refined the menu over the course of the next week, shopped and prepped. 
Lilikoi Cheesecake

Spam Musubi
Macaronic Salad

Banana Leaf Roasted Pork
Jen's Hawaiian Coleslaw


Tofu Poke

Seafood Poke

Fried Rice

Lilikoi Cheesecake – The cheesecake was purchased from Costco, and then I topped it with my Passion Fruit Jam.
Spam Musubi – This is a ubiquitous snack available all over Hawaii.  It is composed of rice and Spam wrapped together by a strip of nori.  Spam was introduced to the islands during the Second World War when it was brought over by the military.  Since then, Spam has become part of numerous dishes in Hawaii.
Macaroni Salad – Macaroni Salad or sometimes, Potato-Macaroni Salad is an integral part of a “Plate Lunch”.  A Plate Lunch consists of a meat dish (such as teriyaki, laulau, fried shrimp tempura, chicken adobo, etc.), 2 scoops of rice, and a scoop of macaroni or potato-mac salad. 
Banana Leaf Roasted Pork – I debated with myself for several days on a pork dish and finally I came up with this.  The concept was borrowed from Kalua Pork and Pork Laulau.  I used 2 boneless pork picnic shoulders and seasoned them with patis (Filipino fish sauce) and Hawaiian sea salt, and wrapped them with fresh banana leaves.  Then I baked them in a 300°F oven for 6 hours.  Everyone raved that the meat was moist and tender!
Jen’s Hawaiian Coleslaw – Jen made this dish.  She added Mandarin orange segments for flavor and color.
Poi – Poi is the traditional Hawaiian staple made from taro root.  It is boiled or steamed and pounded to form a paste.  Oftentimes it is allowed to ferment slightly to develop a sour taste.  This poi came from Hawaii!
Tofu PokePoke is popularly known as a dish of seafood cut into blocks and seasoned with salt, seaweed, soy sauce and sesame oil.  I made this one with firm tofu, sesame oil, chile pepper flakes, sliced scallions, Alaea red Hawaiian sea salt and fresh ogo.  Ogo is a thin purplish-brown seaweed from Hawaii.
Seafood Poke – I used the same seasonings but on baby octopus tentacles and fresh salmon.
Fried Rice – This is a Filipino version of fried rice.  To steamed white rice I added: minced garlic, diced pork, diced chicken, sliced Chinese sausage, peas and carrots, soy sauce, ground white pepper, and strips of egg omelet.
Not pictured are: Shoyu Chicken, Chuka Salad (seaweed and sesame seeds), and sliced carved fresh pineapples.
I love planning for a party, particularly if there is a theme.  It is exciting to research dishes and traditions and put together a menu!  This is a great way to get to know someone else’s culture.  In this case Hawaiian culture as we know it today is a mélange of different ethnicities.  First of course are the Polynesians who came to the islands from the Marquesas, and later from Tahiti.  Then Captain James Cook discovered Kauai in 1778 and a succession of Europeans and Americans followed him.  The next wave of immigrants followed about 100 years later comprised of Chinese, Japanese, Okinawans, Koreans, Puerto Ricans, Portuguese from the Atlantic islands, and Filipinos.  This mixture is reflected in the luaus or feasts where you may find Okinawan Konbu Maki right next to a Portuguese Vinha d’Alhos.  The majority of people living in Hawaii are haole, or mixed. 
As I mentioned above, some of the ingredients I used came from Hawaii.  Being a bit of a purist, I strive to be as authentic as I can.  And obtaining authentic ingredients is part of the fun; it’s like a treasure hunt!  To obtain these ingredients often means having to go into ethnic grocery stores which is an adventure in itself because you’re sure to find new foods and ingredients, and then learn how to use them!  It’s a never-ending journey!
So, how far do you go to obtain authentic ingredients?

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