Sunday, March 25, 2012

Ditch the SPAM: Eating Local in Hawai'i

Most of the food consumed in Hawaii is shipped in from the US mainland and points beyond. It's no secret why goods are so expensive on the islands. Buying and eating local can do a lot of good for the local economy, the environment, our health, and our taste buds (just ask my friend Sybil). I'd like to show just how easy it can be. 

Yesterday I gathered some friends, armloads of goods from the farmer's market, and headed to the beach for a meal made entirely of locally sourced ingredients. My friends at FoodBuzz were kind enough to have selected my proposal for their monthly 24x24 event where 24 food bloggers are chosen to prepare a meal and blog about it in the same 24 hours. I'll also be sharing some recipes at the end of this post. Fun! 

Keauhou Farmer's Market (look at that line for fish!)

This meals begins at the farmer's market. Since you never know exactly what you'll get, our menu evolved as the ingredients were selected. I scored some fresh ono (wahoo), pancetta made by When Pigs Fly Charcuterie, honey, ulu (breadfruit), sweet corn, purple sweet potato, beets, lettuce, green onion, poi, apple bananas, papaya, tomatoes, cucumber, macadamia nuts, cilantro, napa cabbage, ginger, oranges, lemons, and limes. 

At the grocery store, I was able to find some locally made mac nut oil, Maui rum, Kona coffee, grass-fed beef, and wai wai ole ogo (a type of seaweed). Friends had supplied me with avocados from their back yards, coconut milk zipped through a Vitamix, and smoked wild boar. 

After a little chopping, roasting, boiling, whisking, and stirring (with a lot of help from my wonderful assistants) we loaded up our treasures and headed to a favorite beach picnic spot along our lovely Kona coast. The grill flared with banana leaf wrapped fish as the children played in the tide pools and parents gathered around in beach chairs. Dark clouds swarmed the mountains behind us, allowing that dusky light to fill the table. 

We enjoyed plates of ono salad (see recipe below), steamed ulu with fresh coconut milk, a green salad with orange vinaigrette, coffee marinated steak (see recipe below), fruit salad of banana and papaya, grilled sweet potatoes (see recipe below), pink coleslaw, thick poi (cooked and pounded taro root), roasted broccoli salad (see recipe below), smoked wild boar with tomatoes, and sweet corn. 

We washed it all down with cups of cold Kona coffee, lavender lime water, or rum cocktails with honey and lime.  

Another meal in paradise. 

Before you run off, check out some of the recipes we made for this meal below. Eat fresh, eat healthy, eat local!

Ono Salad
serves 4

1 pound ono fillets
1 large, ripe avocado cut into bite sized chunks
2 large tomatoes, chopped 
2 cups wai wai ole ogo (seaweed) torn into small pieces
sea salt 
1 banana leaf, cut into 8"x10" pieces
1 lime

Prepare a hot bbq grill. Sprinkle ono fillets with some sea salt. Wrap the fillets in the banana leaves, leaving the end open, like a cigarette. Place the wrapped fish on the grill, grilling for 1-2 minutes on each side or until just cooked through. Ono dries out easily, so do not overcook. Leaves will burn a little, this is fine. 

Unwrap the fish on a cutting board and allow to cool for a few minutes. Cut the fish into bite sized pieces. 

Gently toss fish, avocado, tomato, and seaweed, with the juice from the lime. Add more sea salt if desired. Enjoy! 

Don's Grilled Sweet Potatoes
This recipe was borrowed from my friend Don Oshita. Such a simple recipe, but I can't get enough!

purple Okinawan sweet potatoes (you decide how many you'll need)
sea salt

Boil a large pot of water. Add sweet potatoes and boil 15-20 minutes depending on size of potatoes. They are done when they can be pierced all the way to the center with a fork. Drain and allow to cool. Cut into 1/3 inch rounds. Season with sea salt. Grill for 2-3 minutes each side, or until potatoes turn bright purple and form a brown crust on the outside. Enjoy!

Grass-fed Steak with Coffee Marinade
serves 4

1 pound grass-fed beef steak (round, flank, or sirloin)
1/2 cup rosemary, chopped
1/2 sage, chopped
sea salt
2 cups brewed Kona coffee

Trim fat from steaks. Please in a baking dish and season with sea salt. Add herbs and coffee (cooled first) to the baking dish, making sure steaks are covered on all sides with the herbs and coffee. Marinate for about 1 hour. 

Discard marinade. Grill steaks to desired doneness and season with sea salt. Allow the steaks to rest at least 5 minutes before slicing. Enjoy!

Roasted Broccoli Salad with Pancetta and Mac Nuts
serves 4-6

2 broccoli crowns and stems cuts into bite sized pieces
2 small beets with greens attached
2 TBL mac nut oil
sea salt
1/4 cup pancetta, chopped
2 green onions, chopped
1/2 cup salted and roasted mac nuts, chopped

Preheat oven to 425. Place broccoli pieces and whole beets (greens removed and reserved) on a baking sheet. Drizzle oil overall and sprinkle with sea salt, toss to coat. Roast broccoli and beets for 15-20 minutes or until broccoli is soft and a little browned. 

While the veggies are roasting, add the pancetta to a pan over medium heat and cook until it releases some of it's liquid fat. Add the onion, white part only, and the greens from the beets. Saute, about 15 minutes, or until the greens have softened. 

When broccoli is done, peel and chop the roasted beets. Toss, broccoli, beets, greens, mac nuts, and remaining green onion. Add more salt if desired. Enjoy! 


  1. I loved the pictures and the recipes that you have blogged - what a great day Saturday was - thank you for putting so much thought and care into creating a beautiful and delicious meal for all of us - we all appreciated it very very much!!!!!

  2. I really wish I could've been lucky enough to sample this meal. It sounds amazing. I'm definitely going to try the coffee marinade the next time we do steak. The ono salad sounds fascinating. There's a local fish stall nearby and I think it merits a visit so I can try this out. The broccoli and beet salad is definitely intriguing. I'm always looking for a way to incorporate beets so that they're tasty and the kids will be into them. This just looks flat out fun and pretty to eat though. The kids may have to fight me for some. I don't suppose you guys made the lavender and lime water or have a suggestion on how we can make our own?

    1. I just threw lavender flowers and lime slices into an ice cube tray, froze them, and added them to the water jug. So Martha!

  3. OMG....I'm drooling here! I love salted okinawa sweet potatoes. Healthy and tasty, can't beat that, right?

    Okay, promise me (take out your you will invited me to your next 24x24 event. Alright?

    The two recipes I'm going to try is the pink slaw and Ono salad....yummmm, that ono salad looks sooo good right now.

    It's always a fun time when Rum is involved, well, at least from my experience. LOL It looked like everyone enjoyed themselves.

  4. Hi There, Congratulations for 24x24 !!!!!!
    The menu is looking so delightful and appetizing. A very well made post with beautiful pictures. Loved all the dishes. I've bookmarked this special recipe of urs and wud love to give it a shot asap. Have a wonderful week ahead. Thanks & Regards, Sonia !!!

  5. Everything looks so fresh and tasty! Now that's the way to eat!
    Great idea and beautiful pictures Gwen

  6. No joke. This is a meal in paradise! Would absolutely have loved to join in this one!!!

  7. I need to try that coffee and steak thing. I keep hearing about it but have never tried it.


Aloha Saturdays with Maggy reader! Thank you for your comments, I love hearing your thoughts and feedback.


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