Asian

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

 

  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 !

Subscribe! 

It is free and don’t miss out on all the food and fun

to be had here in Hawaii!

 

  Aloha !

 

from Nigella Lawson’s new book   Cook, Eat, Repeat

 

Fish Stick Bhorta

 

Nigella’s recipe for Fish Stick Bhorta, inspired by controversial British journalist and political activist Ash Sarkar’s Fish Finger Bhorta, is sure to dust up some controversy of its own in the media, but no matter. Nigella has this uncanny way with words that turn her books and recipes into a page turners! Her inquisitive enthusiasm for food and cookery is nothing short of compelling for anyone who loves to cook and eat.

I am sure you are asking yourself, as did I, what is a Bhorta anyway? The short answer is a Pakistani, Bangladeshi, or Indian highly seasoned mashed up of vegetables stir-fried together in mustard oil. That description is most likely not going to convince you to give this recipe a try, but I was won over on the first go around.

Cook, Eat, Repeat was written during the pandemic and focuses on inventive home coked meals for one or two people, with ample leftovers, made with what is on hand. Cooking your way through a year of relative isolation has had its challenges as well as its rewards for all of us. But having had the time to experiment, savor, and reflect on how and what we eat and how we prepare our food enriched our daily lives during a year of uncertainty.  

Fish Stick Bhorta

Serves 2 with some leftovers

For the pickled onions, make in advance

  • ½ red onion
  • red wine vinegar or lime juice

Make your pink-pickled onions as far in advance as you can: at least 2 hours and up to 24. Cut your red onion in half- or use a whole onion if you prefer, as you will easily find yourself adding them to much else- into fine half moons. Put these in a jar with a lid, or simply into a bowl that you can cover. Pour over red wine vinegar (or lime juice) pressing down the onions until they are all just immured. Put the lid on the jar or cover the bowl and leave the onions to steep.

For the Bhorta

  • 2 regular onions (approx. 10 ounces)
  • 2 small red (birds eye) chiles
  • 2 fat cloves of garlic
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger
  • 12 fish sticks
  • 3 tablespoons cold pressed vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons English mustard ( Colman’s) from a jar
  • 2 teaspoons flaky sea salt or kosher salt (or 1 teaspoon fine sea salt)
  • 4 oz young spinach
  • 1 lime
  • 2 tablespoons roughly chipped cilantro, plus more to serve

preheat the oven to 425 f

Peel and slice your 2 regular onions into fine half moons, seed the chiles (or not if you prefer) and slice them thinly, and peel the garlic. Peel the ginger and grate it finely to give 1 tablespoonful.

When the oven is hot, and your ingredients are assembled and ready, put the fish sticks on a baking sheet and cook for approx. 20 to 25 minutes, which may be slightly longer than the package directs, but will ensure the bread crumb coating is really crisp.

Meanwhile warm the oil in a large skillet or wok, and cook the onions over medium low for 20 minutes stirring regularly, by witch time they will be pale gold and soft.

Add the sliced chiles and cook, string all the while, for 3 minutes, then stir in the grated ginger, minced or grated garlic, and cook, still stirring, for another 2 minutes. Spoon in the mustard and salt, stirring to combine, then add the spinach leaves and let them wilt in the pan for 2- 3 minutes, stirring regularly, then squeeze in the juice of the lime.

Take the pan off the heat while you get the fish sticks. Break them up a bit with a spatula then add them to the frying pan or wok. Toss everything together, breaking up them up further and mashing them into the frying pan, then sprinkle in the cilantro.

Serve topped with the pink-pickled onions, adding extra chopped cilantro if wished.

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