Okinawan Sweet Potato Salad

 

You are probably thinking where am I ever going to find purple sweet potatoes where I life? Well, Whole Foods does have them on their website, but Okinawan purple sweet Potatoes are gaining popularity so you may find them showing up in your local farm markets. They are delicious baked, or mashed, but with summer’s arrival why not splash out with a Colorful “Hawaiian” Purple Sweet Potato Salad!

 

Purple sweet potatoes are generally identified as Okinawan sweet potatoes where thy are revered for their nutritive contribution to the islander’s historic longevity. The Okinawa’s are more likely to attribute their longevity to their warm tropical climate and their easy lifestyle. But that said, these purple sweet potatoes are just loaded with nutrients and antioxidants and have replace rice in the local Okinawan diet.

The purple sweet potato’s origins goes back thousands of years to Central and South America where native farmers cultivated purple sweet potatoes. After the Spanish Inquisition Spanish merchants brought the purple sweet potatoes to the Philippines, and from there to China in the late fourteen hundreds, Okinawa in the sixteen hundreds and onward into south East Asia and East Asia.

Here in Hawaii purple sweet potatoes arrived with Polynesian island settlers. Over time the original plantings were replaced with the Okinawan variety that are grown on the island of Molokai. They available in local farm markets and some super markets across the Hawaiian-islands.

The recipe that follows is my  own riff on a…

Colorful “Hawaiian” Purple Sweet Potato Salad

  • 1 ½ lbs. Okinawa purple sweet potatoes

Peel the potatoes and cut them into ½ inch cubes. Place then in a saucepan and cover with water. Add a little salt and bring the water to a low boil. Cook until the potatoes are softened but still holding their shape. Purple potatoes will take longer to soften so be patient and attentive.

When the potatoes are done, drain and set them and set them aside to cool. when cool transfer them to bowl, cover, and refrigerate.

For the salad

  • ½ cup diced celery
  • ½ cup diced sweet Maui onion, or yellow onion
  • 1 six inch fresh red chile, seeded and finely diced
  • ½ cup diced canned pineapple, reserving the remaining rings that will be halved for garnishing before serving the salad.

Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl, cover and refrigerate.

For the Dressing

  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • ¼ cup full fat Greek yogurt
  • ½ teaspoon lime zest
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice + more as needed
  • 2 tablespoons pineapple juice
  • sea salt to taste
  • ¼ cup sliced fresh cilantro leaves 

Combine all the dressing ingredients and whisk until completely combined.  Taste and add more lime juice and salt to taste. Cover the dressing and refrigerate.

Assembly and Serving   

  • several large lad leafy salad greens
  • ¼ cup chopped roasted macadamia nuts, cashews or pine nuts
  • sprigs of fresh cilantro leaves
  • halved pineapple rings

Line a serving platter or large shallow bowl with fresh salad greens leaves and set aside

Remove the bowl of salad ingredients and add the cubed purple potatoes and fold everything together until combined.

Add the dressing and fold the salad together until is evenly coated with dressing.

Spoon the salad onto the prepared serving platter or bowl and garnish with sprigs of fresh cilantro. Place half slices of pineapple rings around the the edge of the salad. Scatter the macadamia nuts lightly over the top of the salad and serve!

 

Hawaiian Macadamia nut sables flavored with Pandan

Everyone associates macadamia nuts with the Hawaiian Islands and for good reason. They have either enjoyed a holiday in Hawaii or have receved a a colorful Hawaiian Host gift boxefilled with chocolate covered macadamia nuts ! Hawaii is one of largest producers of these irresistibly rich and buttery nuts from the Pacific islands. But there is a fascinating backstory as well. Macadamia nuts are not native to the Hawaiian islands. Macadamia nuts and their host the screw pine trees are native to Queensland in northeast Australia.

The first screw pine trees that produced macadamia nuts in Hawaii were brought to Hawaii around 1880 and planted in Kukuiheale on the big island of Hawaii. The rich volcanic soil from the Mauna Loa volcano proved to be the ideal and macadamia nut orchards thrived. The industry grew and flourished and Hawaiian macadamia nuts are now exported to the rest of the world.

Sables, essentially shortbread cookies that originate from Breton in France, seemed a likely match for macadamia nuts with their light crumbly texture and a lovely buttery flavor that blends seamlessly with the macadamia nuts subtle tropical flavor notes.

Several years ago I posted a Saigon cinnamon sables recipe (click here) that turned out to be a complimentary Asian  pairing as well

Macadamia nuts isolated on white backgrounds.

The macadamia nuts subtle flavor and rich coconut like texture makes them a perfect choice for baked goods. White chocolate is hands down the most popular pairing and indeed an excellent choice. But I was looking for a more local melding of flavors when pandan popped up in my head. Pandan is a local palm leaf that has a sweet aromatic flavor and scent as well as adding a very very pale green tint to whatever the application. It is the perfect alternative to vanilla and used throughout South East Asia to flavor rice, sweets, or in any recipe that calls for vanilla extract. This is an ingredient, like kaffir lime leaves, that can add a whole new dimension to your cooking repertoire. A few fresh or dried leaves of either cooked with rice will fill the kitchen with the most incredible aroma you could ever imagine. And yes macadamia nuts, pandan, kaffir leaves are all Available on line at.    See note following the recipe.

Hawaiian Macadamia nut sables flavored with Pandan

makes 36 cookies

Ingredients:

  • 2/3 cup / 5.2 ounces best quality salted butter (Kerrygold Irish Butter) at room temperature
  • 4 large organic egg yolks
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 ¾ cups all purpose flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1cup coarsely chopped dry roasted macadamia nuts with sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon pandan extract (thinned with a little water if using paste) or vanilla extract
  • 1 egg, whisked

In a mixing bowl, cream the butter using a silicone spatula until completely smooth.

In another bowl whisk the egg yolks while gradually adding the sugar until light and fluffy.

Sift together the flour, baking powder and gradually stir into the butter mixture until completely combined.

Stir in the pandan extract or vanilla extract until completely combined and then fold in the macadamia nuts until evenly combined.

Gather the dough together and transfer to a piece of cling film placed on your the work surface. Pat the dough into a rectangle loaf. Cover with cling film, and refrigerate for at least one hour, for several hours, or overnight.

Line two baking sheet pans with parchment or silicone mats and set aside.

When the dough is very well chilled divide the loaf in half and refrigerate the other half.

Place a sheet of parchment on your work surface, and dust it with flour. Place the dough in the center and dust lightly with flour. Begin rolling out the dough slowly, dusting with flour as needed, until it is about ½ inch thick.

Using a 2 inch round cutter, cut out circles of dough and, using a spatula or dough scraper, lift the cookies and transfer them to the prepared baking sheet ,placing them about ½ inch apart. Gather any scraps of dough and set aside.

Transfer the sheet pan of cookies to the refrigerator while you role out the remaining dough, cut out the remaining cookies and place them on the second prepared sheet pan.

Gather up the scraps of dough, kneed them together, roll out the the dough, cut out the remaining cookies and place them on the baking sheet. and transfer them the refrigerator. Discard any remaining scraps of dough.

preheat the oven to 350 f / 180 c Adjust the baking rack in the center position of the oven.
Beat the reaming egg until frothy and set aside.

For the best results bake each baking sheet of cookies separately.

Remove a tray of cookies from the fridge. Mark the tops with a crisscross pattern using a fork. Then brush the tops of each cookie with the egg wash.

Transfer the cookies to the oven and bake for about 15 minutes, rotating the tray half way through the baking time.

The edges of the cookies should be slightly browned and the tops are a light golden color. Do not over bake!

Remove the cookies from the oven and place the tray on a cooling rack. After about 15 minutes you can remove the cookies from the tray and placing them directly on the rack to cool completely.

Repeat the same sequence for second batch. When all the cookies are completely cool they may be stored in an airtight container for at least a week at room temperature.

Keu a ka ono !

 


Note: Ingredients available at Amazon.com

Oven roasted macadamia nuts with sea salt
24 oz / 1.5 lb $26.95 (they freeze well)

McCormic pandan flavor extract
2o ml $12.76 (2 pack)

Pandanus Leaves Dried 0.5 oz 9.99

Kaffir Lime Leaves Dried o.5 oz 9.99

 

Cinco de Mayo is a celebration of Mexico’s colorful  history, culture, customs and of course its irresistible food that is celebrated around the world on the 5th of May.

So let the celebrations start in your very own kitchen. The first thought that always comes to mind is guacamole that has been part of the Mexican diet since Aztec times and pairs well with any Mexican meal you may be planning. The process is quite simple and the results are sublime if you taste as you go. Avocados and chiles can vary greatly but can be brought together with a balance of heat, lime juice, salt, and an attentive palate. I’ve always find this ritual as comforting as it is ultimately delicious.

Ingredient quantities are approximated and  will vary to suit your own taste preferences.

Above all keep in mind this is an adventure in cooking that will continue to evolve every time you make a guacamole!

Best to prepare guacamole several hours before serving as it is best when chilled.

 

Ingredients

  • 2 or 3  ripe hass avocados, green with lumpy skin or Puebla avocados ,dark with smooth skin
  • a small yellow onion, finely diced, amount to taste 
  • serrano, jalapeno, and or red chiles, seeded and finely diced, amount to taste 
  • sea salt to taste
  • freshly squeezed lime juice to taste
  • chopped cilantro leaves to taste
  •  a tablespoon of avocado or olive oil ,optional, but it does add a nice richness and  texture. 

 

Cut  avocados  in half around the seed and and twist to remove the seeds, saving one to use later. Spoon the flesh into a mixing bowl and mash together with a bean or potato masher just until combined. 

Add the diced onions, dced chiles, and salt and mash together bearing down enough to release the liquid in the onions and chiles as you mash away.

Add lime juice and swirl in until combined. Then add the cilantro and mix until well combined.

Taste and add more chile, salt, and lime juice as needed until the guacamole’s flavors dazzle like a chilled  fresh lime juice margarita wit an assertive lingering heat.

Transfer the guacamole to a non reactive container and place the reserved avocado seed in the center. Legend has it that this will help keep the guacamole fresh and green. Press cling film directly onto the surface of the guacamole. Put the lid on the container and refrigerate until you are ready to serve.

Serve the guacamole along with margaritas and appetizers, with the main courses or a buffet. And do not be afraid to include guacamole with non Mexican meals as well. I’ll be having guacamole and salsa verde (see recipe here) with my Chinese stir fry tacos later this evening!

Chinese stir fry with guacamole

Buen Provecho!

 

 

  At My Kitchen Table has moved to Hawaii !

The last few of years have been a series of fits and starts and ever shifting priorities that have rearranged everyone’s lives, my own included. I found myself longing for the easiness of my day to day  life I left  behind in the tropics. A  plan was quietly fermenting for an eventual return. So when a window of opportunity finally arrived I jumped at the chance and  booked a flight to  Honolulu.

Once again I was” figuratively” packing up “my kitchen table and heading back to the Asia Pacific. A serendipitous offer for a place to  live in the middle of Honolulu’s ethnically diverse Chinatown was a cooks dream. I have been exploring every imaginable Asian cuisine in the street, as well as restaurants, shops,  and markets all within a few short blocks of my own kitchen.

 

Luckily  I also  live directly across the street from Sing Cheong Yuan Bakery at 1027 Maunakea Street where you will find Honolulu’s most popular Char Siu Manapua (Hawaiian) Char Siu Bao (Cantonese) steamed buns filled with Asian barbecued pork. Crowds queue up at the door every morning at 7am sharp!

 

Char Siu Baoare Chinese steamed buns filled with barbecued pork have got to be my favorite alternative wake up and smell the coffee breakfast, be it in a Chinatown coffee shop in New York, LA, Honolulu, or from my local 7 Eleven back in Chiang Mai! Steamy hot billowing white clouds of dough bursting with the aroma of barbecued char siu pork along with a  seriously strong cuppa java with a pinch of Hawaiian salt kick starts the day Asian style.

You may also want to try making your own char siu bao at home. It requires  a few easy steps  but  well worth the effort as well as an open invitation to get creative with seasonings and flavors added to the filling.

I posted a recipe for Char Siu Bao back in 2014 (Clicke here for recipe) which you might enjoy, especially  if they are not available where you live.

Honolulu’s  Kekaulike Market place at 1039 Kekualiki Street in Chinatown is 

Open daily. Best to get there early for local produce, meats, poultry, seafood, herbs and spices, woks, kitchenware’s, and you name it.

Hawaiian favorites as well as the ethnic cuisines from all over Asia are all available right here in Honolulu’s Chinatown.

Chinatown also has a burgeoning art scene well worth exploring!

Join in on the fun !

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to be had here in Hawaii!

 

  Aloha !

 

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