Our August gathering, hosted by Shelley, provided the San Diego Cookbook Club with a “taste of aloha.” Surrounded by tropical décor and island music, with many of us in tropical attire and wearing leis, we celebrated the cuisine of Hawaii.
Hawaiian cuisine is heavily influenced by the traditional foods of the many different groups of settlers who came to the islands over the last 200 years from countries ranging from Korea to the Azores. In addition to local staples like taro root, fish and tropical fruits, Hawaiian dishes often feature Asian flavors like soy sauce and ginger. Rice, pork and coconut are frequently on the menu, and Spam is a local favorite (although it did not make an appearance on our table this month!).
Rather than working with a specific cookbook, we found recipes from a number of sources both in print and online.
Some of our dishes were fairly straightforward takes on classic island cuisine. MaryLou made Instant Pot Kalua Pork, using banana leaves to add flavor and moisture to this luau staple. Christina made a classic Haupia (coconut pudding), decorated with tropical-drink umbrellas, and Shelley made Chicken Long Rice, a rice-noodle dish often found at island potlucks.
A few others took a classic dish to a new level: Mary’s Poi included sautéed onions and coconut milk, and was universally praised as being much tastier than the bland version some of us have tried before. Jackie created a vegetarian version of Poke, marinating cubed tofu in sesame oil, garlic and ginger and tossing it with brown rice and edamame.
All of our desserts featured the mighty coconut in some form: we enjoyed haupia custard, haupia cake, chocolate haupia pie, coconut mochi cake and a warm pineapple coconut tart with ice cream. With so many tempting choices, we needed to bring out larger plates!
As always, we enjoyed sharing food, stories, and knowledge with one another. A big “mahalo” to one and all for sharing your delicious dishes!
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