Extreme Cuisine — Hawaiian
I’ve never been to Hawaii, but it’s definitely on my to-do list. However, there’s no reason why I can’t invest in some fake palm trees, play a recording of the sound of the ocean and scatter a few shells here and there. Ok, that’s cheesy. A better way to experience Hawaii when you can’t actually get there is to cook up some of the fabulous fare.
Since Hawaii sits comfortably right in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, it offers an absolutely wonderful array of seafood. The cuisine of the Pacific Rim has been influenced by a growing multicultural population and seasoned tourists who are looking for more than the Continental cuisine that would probably have been prevalent in decades past. Depending on where you live, the fish of the Pacific may be more or less difficult to find. If you have a knowledgeable fishmonger in your area, ask him or her to try to order in some Ono, Hebi, Mahi Mahi, Opah, Tombo, Ahi or Swordfish.
Hawaiian chefs are very aware of their roots. Traditional recipes feature food that’s prepared simply, yet that is full of fresh flavour. The hardest thing about cooking fish is making sure that you don’t overcook it. Err on the side of caution. It won’t matter if fish is undercooked because it will continue to cook as it sits. Look for a little translucency in the centre to tell you when it’s ready to be pulled from the heat. If you can get your hands on some top quality ahi or tombo (aka albacore tuna), forget about cooking it. Serve it raw with a squeeze of lemon or soy sauce on the side.
How to Cook Hawaiian Fish
• Cut off and discard skin; cut into serving size pieces and rub with olive oil.
• To Grill: Place oiled and seasoned fish on a hot grill. Cook, turning once or twice, about 5 minutes total.
• To Sauté: Heat a frying pan until very hot. Add 1 tsp olive oil and oiled and seasoned fish pieces. Turn once or twice to brown and continue cooking for about 5 minutes total.
Grilled Fish with Papaya Relish
Papaya Relish (recipe follows)
1-1/2 to 2 lbw Hawaiian fish, cut into 6 equal portions, grilled according to directions above
1/2 cup fresh cilantro
1/4 cup onion, minced
1-1/4 cups ripe papaya, diced
3/4 cup red bell pepper, diced
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1 Tbsp fresh ginger, minced
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp lemon juice
Combine all ingredients in a bowl.
Lay fish pieces on a platter. Spoon relish over top. Sprinkle with pepper and cilantro.