Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Hawaiian Eats

Whenever we go to Hawaii we always come back with a luggage full of gifts and our stomachs full of all of our favorite local food. Last week we went to Hawaii for Emi's cousin's wedding. We decided to go early so that we had time to enjoy some sun and to of course eat our way through the island of Oahu.

Spam musubi courtesy of Emi's Auntie Jan. The perfect Hawaiian beach snack. If you haven't eaten a spam musubi then you haven't lived. The spam is marinated and fried up in a teriyaki sauce and wrapped up with rice by seaweed. The perfect mix of a little bit of sweet and salty.

Kapiolani Coffee Shop located in the Waimalu Shopping Center is well known for a Hawaiian local favorite, oxtail soup.

The key to a delicious oxtail soup is in the broth. Also for me it's in the meaty oxtails. The soup is flavored by cilantro, peanuts, and green onions. The soup is also served with fresh ginger that you mix with soy sauce to dip your oxtails into. Also like everything in Hawaii the soup comes with a couple scoops of rice, which also go great with the soup.

Deep fried, sugared, jelly filled Hawaiian donuts, also known as Leonard's malasadas. This is a picture of their flavor of the month, lillikoi, which was probably the best malasada I've ever had. I'll need to make sure to go back to Hawaii next March too.
We plan on putting up a few other posts relating to our favorite Hawaiian local food. The next post will be about Emi's favorite shaved ice place, Baldwin's.
- Kyle

Friday, March 26, 2010

Sumida Watercress Farm

In the middle of an urban sprawl, you can find a green oasis called the Sumida Watercress Farm in Aiea, Hawaii. My great grandparents started the farm in 1928 on land leased from Bishop Estate, about 2 decades after they immigrated from Japan. As Hawaii began to develop, there were many greedy, hungry developers that sought to take over our farm and turn it into a lovely parking lot or high rise condo building. In the 70s, these developers decided to put a mall in Aiea, and my strong headed, fighter of a grandpa stood up to these sharks and made sure that our farm was kept in tact. Now, if you ever visit Pearlridge mall, you will notice that the Sears stops right at our farm's property line, and that a monorail can take you from one end of the mall, to another, separate building of the mall on the other side of our farm. This was not a fun little ride made to enjoy the serene view of a quaint Hawaii local treasure; it is a living footprint of my grandpa's fight that the mall developers grudgingly left behind.
My great grandparents chose watercress as their main crop because it can be grown year-round in Hawaii and must be grown in fresh spring water. Our 11 acre farm has dozens of natural springs that bubble up the freshest water you will ever see. The combination of water and sun creates long, thick stalks of watercress that is unique to Hawaii and our farm. When the farm was started, watercress was one of the few, locally grown green vegetables available. Now, of course, with an increased emphasis on eating local and organic, there are many more options. You can call our family the pioneers of this movement!
If you go to a typical mainland grocery store and look for watercress, you will find a small, thin plant that is about 3-4 inches long. If you go to a grocery store in Hawaii, you will find a foot long bunch of our watercress that is almost a completely different vegetable.

Local chefs love our family's watercress. One of the farm's strongest supporters is the amazing Chef Mavro. He happened to be giving a tour of the farm to some local culinary school students this week so we got to meet him and talk with him and his wife, Donna. He said that when he came to Hawaii from France over 22 years ago, he discovered our family's watercress and immediately loved the peppery, crisp watercress we produce. He said in France they love to use watercress in their dishes and that our watercress is the best; that is why he continues to do at least one dish that includes watercress in every season's menu at his restaurant.
As a sidenote, our family enjoyed a meal at Chef Mavro several years ago and I believe it fueled our passion for food. If you have never experienced a true, perfectly executed french meal, then you have not lived--and Chef Mavro's is the ultimate example of five-star french cuisine with a Hawaii flare.

In addition to my childhood memories of running through our fields with my cousins, playing tag and "exploring" the same nooks and crannies that my dad and his cousins and siblings used to explore decades ago, I also now have fond memories of Kyle and my wedding "after party" luau. My whole family pitched in and helped us throw a wedding bash that had the best view in town. Above is a photo of Kyle and I next to a sign my Auntie Barb painted. The hut is a hallmark of our farm; if you ask people if they know our farm, they will often say, "oh, yeah, the place with that hut in the middle?". And to answer a FAQ, no, nobody lives in it.

We pitched tents and had a feast of traditional luau food that included, of course, a yummy watercress salad!

As the night went on, we turned on big Japanese lanterns that glowed brightly as we danced the night away to my Uncle Dave's beach band and treated ourselves to Kyle and my favorite Dave's ice cream flavors: lychee sherbet and coconut macadamia nut.
Our farm is on a year-to-year lease, and we always worry that Bishop Estate will choose the more profitable parking lot over our farm. My uncle and aunt who run the farm work hard to make sure that others understand and value the cultural and environmental significance of our farm by conducting tours of our farm for local elementary school students and culinary school students. My hope is that the farm will be around for many more generations to come so that one day my kids will be able to have the same wonderful memories I have.
Happy Eating,

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Recipe of the Week: Watercress Sandwich

Better late than never...I am writing this week's belated recipe of the week from paradise: my family watercress farm in Aiea, Hawaii. We are enjoying a week of fun in the sun before going to my cousin's wedding on Saturday.

As I sit looking across our green fields, I got inspired to share a recipe that highlights my family's prized crop. I am going to do another post on watercress and our farm, but here is a teaser for a fabulous sandwich that my mom came up with. If you can't get your hands on good watercress (there are a lot of limp, lifeless, wannabes out there), then you could probably get away fine with using arugula, which will also give the slightly spicy, crunch needed for this sandwich.

For a more carb-friendly version, you can make an "open face" sandwich and eliminate one of the slices of bread.


  • Two slices of good white bread (or whole wheat if you want to be healthier)

  • 2-4 slices of prosciutto

  • fontina cheese

  • a big handful of watercress

  • Olive tapanade

Olive tapanade (homemade, you can also just buy a bottle at a specialty grocery store!):

  • 1/2 cup of assorted pitted olives (kalamata and green olives are best)

  • 1/4 cup Parmesan

  • 1/4 cup Monterey jack cheese
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 garlic cloves

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and put in Tupperware--this should last at least a week so you can use it on many sandwiches!


Spread olive tapanade over both slices of bread and put in toaster oven or broiler until olive spread starts to bubble slightly. Add prosciutto and cheese and toast until the bread is browned to your liking and cheese is melted. Put a big handful of healthy and crisp watercress and eat immediately!

Happy Eating and Aloha,

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Recipe of the Week: Simple Pork Chops

I want to take this week's Recipe of the Week post to declare my love for garlic salt. And not just any garlic salt, Lawry's garlic salt, which I lovingly call the "green top" garlic salt. There are many brands out there, but this one by far has the best flavor and can make any meat or starch dish tasty in a pinch (of salt).
I have fond memories of this salt--it was a staple in our household growing up. From fried chicken, to fish, to roast chicken, garlic mashed potatoes, etc.; I think I will have images of the green top flash by me when I die.
Here is one simple recipe that uses my beloved garlic salt:
4 thick pork chops
1/2 cup flour
Fresh ground pepper
3-4 tablespoons vegetable oil
Green top garlic salt!
Sprinkle pork chops with lots of pepper and garlic salt. Use a pastry brush to spread flour over the raw pork chops in a light layer. Heat a large pan and add oil once hot. Add pork chops, 2 at a time, and cook about 5 minutes per side, or until each side is browned.
These are great as leftovers, so you could double the recipe if you want to have a nice lunch or snack the next day! As a sidenote, earlier in the year, I saw a nutrition article online that said that pork chops have "good fat" and is a good meal option to get protein for a cheap price tag.
Happy Eating,

Friday, March 12, 2010

My Dad's 60th Birthday

Again another post from an event that took place last Fall. This time it was my Dad's 60th Birthday and oh did we have an amazing seafood feast. What some of you may not know about me is that I love to tear into food like a caveman and eat with my hands. Which was why this was such a memorable meal.

My mom boiled two big pots of seafood with lemons and Old Bay Seasoning. Click here to check out the recipe. The reason for two pots was that I'm the only person allergic to crab, so I got my own little pot for myself. If you look closely at the photo the double boiler at the top is filled with melted delicious butter.

Look at that spread. We covered the table in newspaper and then dumped out the food on the table for people to dig in on. The crab boil included: corn, jumbo prawns, lobster, sausage, and of course crab for everyone else but me.

My Dad putting on his apron so he can start eating.

Everyone chowing down. The best part was the melted butter we dunked the seafood into.

The aftermath. Everyone had a good time and I highly recommend a crab boil for your next event with family or friends. It was pretty easy to prepare, the only drawback is the cost of the seafood.

My Dad with his Costco double chocolate cake. Everyone loves this cake. I'm not a big cake or chocolate fan, but even I like it, so I'm sure most of you will love it.
I'm hoping that the crab boil either becomes a yearly tradition or that we pull it out for another party sometime soon. Just writing this post made me hungry.
- Kyle

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Emi's Birthday Weekend

This is a post that should have been put together awhile ago. For a number of reasons back in the Fall we had a few fun food events that never made it to the blog. Mainly we were super busy, but also we got a little lazy. However to keep things fresh for our 12 followers I thought I would pull some photos out of the archives to share with you all. Photos of food look just as delicious today as it did months ago.

Back in September, Emi had a fun foodie weekend to celebrate her birthday. We started off the eating at our favorite place for brunch, Anthony's Homeport which is right on the water in Edmonds. Every Sunday from 10am-2pm they serve brunch. Buffet's are great and all, but we usually leave uncomfortably full. I have no self control at those sort of things. So that's one of the main reasons why we like Anthony's. You still get a lot of food, but don't have the feeling you have to eat everything in sight to get our money's worth. Maybe that's just me....

The birthday girl with her blueberry coffeecake which has to be our favorite part about eating brunch at Anthony's. The sweet, brown sugar crumble topping is amazing and to make things even more decadent, they give you a sweet cinnamon butter to lather on the cake. The blueberry coffeecake is unlimited so we usually get a couple baskets of it... Also they serve you a fruit platter with a really good creamy, yogurt sauce. Even in the winter their fruit is great. We could fill up on the fruit and coffeecake alone.

Emi's crab eggs benedict. Recently I've run into problems with a lot of places overcooking their poached eggs, but this has never been a problem at Anthony's.

My ham and cheese omelette, by this point we were pretty stuffed, but omelettes make great leftovers.

Birthday brunch ice cream! If anyone comes to visit we'll take you to Anthony's to experience this truly Pacific Northwest brunch.
That night we went to Emi's parent's house for a birthday dinner feast. Instead of going out somewhere fancy, Emi's parent's decided to put together a fun meal for her. It ended up being a pretty random meal, but of course like usual everything was delicious.

Emi's Dad steamed a fish as one of the courses, I think he poured ginger, cilantro, soy sauce, mirin, sesame oil and a few other things over the fish after steaming it.

Since Emi's aunt and uncle from Hawaii were in town they brought some Sumida Farm Watercress. Steve made this amazing side dish with it. For those of you who don't know about Emi's family farm in Hawaii or watercress, we'll have to have a post in the future about it.

Since Ezell's opened right down the street on Lake City Way we decided to pick some up along with their rolls. For anyone not from Seattle, their fried chicken is well known within the city and the urban legend goes that Oprah even has it flied out for her.

What Asian American meal doesn't have sashimi and sushi.

One of the Sumida's family friend's dropped off some kalbi for them. My contribution was that I BBQ'd it up for everyone, but had to dryclean the stink off of me afterwards. The kalbi was really good, even though I got all smoky from cooking it.

New York cheesecake for dessert. I think my Mom made it for Emi.

Emi had a fun birthday weekend and I was happy I got to share in on the fun and probably the few pounds we both put on as well. Until next year.
- Kyle

Monday, March 8, 2010

Eating Our Way Through The Olympics Part 3: The Best Dim Sum Ever

Even though I've never been to Hong Kong I imagine the food would taste like the dim sum we enjoyed our last day in Richmond. The photos don't do the meal justice, but hopefully the food looks as delicious as it tasted.

I wanted to start out the photos with pictures of food people would recognize. We ordered three orders of ha gao (shrimp dumplings). This is my favorite and a staple dish for any self respecting dim sum enthusiast.

We also got a few orders of shu mai (pork dumplings), but what made these amazing was the shrimp and tobiko (crunchy flying fish eggs) topping. Also they were sweeter than most shu mai. This is another staple dim sum dish.

We needed some greens so Pert suggest choi sum which is on the left. It's basically a leafy green pan fried in garlic. Similar to gai lan or Chinese broccoli, but not as dense. On the right is deep fried eggplant with shrimp which was delicious. Deep frying the eggplant made it tender and sweet.

Steamed chives and shrimp wrapped in a wide noodle served with a sweet soy sauce. As you can see shrimp is a popular dim sum ingredient.

Beef chow fun noodles - this ended up being the dreaded filler dish of the meal. I tried not to eat too much of this dish because I wanted to save room for everything else. This was probably the only dish that made it to a styrofoam take home box.

Salt and pepper fried squid, salty and delicious. Usually salt and pepper anything is good at Chinese restaurants.

Now we're getting in to the more "unique" dishes. This was the fried chicken leg joints dish. Literally chicken knees and elbows were deep fried for us to pop in our mouths like popcorn shrimp. I'm a fan of tendons and cartilage so I liked the crunchiness, but this is definitely not for everyone.

Steamed BBQ pork hum baos another safe, predictable dim sum dish. Can't go wrong here, unless you want to save room for other dishes.

Shrimp bean curd roll. It sounds weird, but it was pretty good. The outside bean curd is like an unsweetened, wet philo layer like in baklava. Not a lot of flavor, more about the texture and the inside deliciousness.

Another fun dish is chicken feet. I make everyone try it at least once. I understand if you never want to order it again, but if you eat dim sum with me you have to try it at least once. Another dish that's good if you enjoy cartilage and picking meat off of bones.

I don't know what the hell this was. It came late in our meal and we found out we hadn't ordered it so they took it away. My guess is curried baby octopus. Hey I'll try anything, but this looked gross.

Turnip cake which also had chinese sausage, mushrooms, and green onions in it. Basically it tasted a lot better than it sounded.

BBQ spareribs, these things are amazing and I always order them when I eat dim sum. The problem is that the garlic makes me smell for days, seriously, ask Emi.

The best and only way to finish off a dim sum feast, egg tarts. For anyone who hasn't had one before the warm, buttery, flaky crust melts in your mouth when you bite into the sweet, rich, creamy egg custard. The slight sweetness to the egg tarts is a great way to end a salty, decadent dim sum meal.

I think the 8 of us who shared this meal would all agree that this was the best dim sum we have ever had. They know their Chinese food in Richmond. Even though only a few of you read this blog I don't have a name or address for this restaurant to share, but I'm sure I'll be up across the border again soon. Until next time!

- Kyle

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Eating Our Way Through The Olympics: Part 1

A few weeks ago Emi and I got the chance of a lifetime to go up to Vancouver for the 2010 Winter Olympics. We went up with a group of friends to experience the Olympic festivities and of course to eat our way through British Columbia.

We stayed in Richmond which is a suburb outside of Vancouver. Basically it's Hong Kong Jr. The city is filled with Chinese people and with Chinese people comes Armani Exchange and great Chinese food. Not being big A/E fans we decided to focus on the food.

Emi ready to hit up the Olympics in her red, white, and blue gear

We got into Richmond around midnight and after hanging out with everyone at Calvin's condo, Pert got one his infamous late night cravings. So of course we decided to go find some late night Chinese food. We ended up finding a 24 hour Chinese restaurant that was still packed at 3am!

Garlic string beans with pork
Udon noodle stir fry. The Japanese udon noodles went great with this dish.

Chinese salt and pepper, garlic fried chicken, mmm mmm delicious, especially at 3am

Salted fish fried rice. I've never had salted fish before and by itself it might be too strong, but in combination with the fried rice it was amazing.

In general I couldn't think of a better way to start off the trip than with a Chinese, family style shared late night dinner with friends.

After sleeping off our late night Chinese food hangover we woke up and took the SkyTrain into downtown Vancouver to check out the Olympic Village. After walking around for awhile, we worked up quite the hunger so were lucky to fall upon a few food vendors for lunch.

Pert and I shared some cheap dim sum: shumai (pork balls), hau gau (shrimp balls), and some hum baos. Basically we got what we paid for.

One of the stranger foods I witnessed in Canada. Hurricane French Fries, "the new model of french fry". Basically it was a whole potato deep fried on a stick. None of us tried it, but I needed a photo of this bizarre snack.

Ali's chocolate, banana crepe, lunch of champions

Emi's friend, Katie and her bubble cake, Emi tried it and described it as sweet and crunchy

After perusing all of the vendors, I found someone making takoyaki. Takoyaki is a popular Japanese dumpling made of batter, pickled ginger, green onion, and tako also known as octopus. I was definitely excited to try out a cool Japanese snack, but things went sour quickly when I found out the two guys running the stand were from Hong Kong and the first thing the guy said to me was "I'm slow".

At least he was honest, it took him about 20 minutes to make 6 of these things for me which is outrageous because in Japan they crank these things out like hot cakes!

The finished product. After they cook up, they add on okonomiyaki sauce which is made up of ponzu, sweet mayonnaise, and bonita flakes (dried fish). It ended up being really good. Takoyaki is best served piping hot, so hot most people usually burn their tongues enjoying the sweet, doughy, chewy octopus balls.

After lunch we headed to Subeez Cafe in downtown Vancouver. Katie works there and hooked us up with a cool table and suggested we order some buckets of Whistler beer to enjoy before the Czech Republic vs Latvia hockey game. Katie thanks for the great recommendation!
Even though we were only in Canada from Thursday night through Saturday morning we ate so much that I'm going to have to split up a recap of our trip into three separate blog posts. Next up will be a post about Japa Dog.
- Kyle
ps - I messed up the timing of the posts, so read on below for Part 2 about Japa Dog.