Paradise is certainly relative, isn’t it? All my Midwest buddies who visit me in February think I live in paradise. I’m not really one to argue, but nobody ever visits in August…I think Hawaii would classify as paradise no matter who or when you ask.
Having just returned from a great Hawaiian vacation I have so much fresh inspiration, plus my pool is open for business this weekend-what a perfect opportunity to make some Island style BBQ chicken in my own little corner of paradise!
I visited a food truck slinging local fare on Maui on the road to Hana just as we were about to enter the ‘forbidden zone’ to loop around. We certainly didn’t want to be left hungry as we had been warned how dangerous this unpaved road was (in reality there’s worse potholes in Chicago). Or maybe the BBQ chicken gives you super-human abilities You may see this dish called shoyu chicken, island BBQ, huli huli chicken or even teriyaki. Perhaps there’s differences but it seems the terms are interchangeable from what I can discern.
Hawaiian BBQ is definitely different than what most people on the mainland think of as BBQ. The chicken
I’ll be making today is marinated in a shoyu (or soy) based sauce, grilled, and glazed with that same sauce during the cook. I’ll be using bone-in thighs, you’ll usually see boneless if you go to the food trucks, accompanied by scoops of steamed rice and mac salad. And yes, the ice cream scoop is an imperative serving utensil.
Here’s how to make the sauce:
2 c. soy sauce
2 c. brown sugar
1 T sherry
1 T canola oil
1″ square of fresh ginger, grated
2 pressed garlic cloves
Heat oil in a small pan and sauté the garlic and ginger for five minutes. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and whisk well. Typically I will transfer this to a bottle as it will keep for several weeks in the fridge. This allows you to pour some in to marinade your chicken as well as save some sans raw chicken cooties for basting. You’ll want to marinade at least four hours in advance.
This will give us some time to get the mac salad together (and get some rice going):
1 c elbow macaroni
1/2 c Hellman’s/Best Foods mayonnaise
2 T milk
2 T grated carrot
1/8 t white pepper
salt to taste
Cook macaroni according to package directions until al dente. Drain well and rinse well with cold water to stop cooking. You do not want to mix mayo with hot noodles. Once sufficiently cool and drained, combine the cooked noodles with all the other ingredients. Hawaiian mac salad is very simple and relies on a good mayonnaise to be nice and creamy. You do not want to make this too far in advance as the noodles will absorb all the dressing.
Refrigerate the mac salad and now it’s time to start the grill!
Remove chicken from marinade and discard the liquid. Grill your chicken over a mild direct fire, there is a lot of sugar in the sauce which will burn if your fire is too high. Cook, basting often, until chicken reaches 170 degrees.
Do normal people travel with a head of garlic in their carry on? I have to suspect probably not but going on holiday for upwards of two weeks means taking certain measures, especially when you never know what will be available on the other side. California garlic is something I just don’t leave home without, and it just so happens to be a perfect partner for Maui sweet onions.
We have talked about going to the Maui Onion Festival for years and it finally came to fruition this year. The Maui Onion Festival is held at Whaler’s Village on the world renowed Ka’anipali Beach, and I have to say there are few finer spots for a festival than this. The festival is one of the smaller ones that I’ve visited over the years but still has plenty of live music, chef demos, and arts/crafts onsite to keep just about anybody happy.
We even ran into a chef you might have seen on TV:
I always find it fascinating to see what awaits us when we book a vacation rental. On this trip the condo was very well appointed generally but there’s no garlic press, no cutting boards and a lot of very dull knives. Big surprise…
Taking inspiration from our trip to the Onion Festival, we decided we needed to do our own dinner using local fare. To those unfamiliar with Hawaii, just about everything is stupid expensive. In Phoenix grocery stores it’s easy to find a gallon of milk for less than two dollars. I saw $6 in the Foodland…not good especially when you’re a cheapskate like me!
So, after perusing what was on sale our menu ended up being: Maui beef strip steaks, Chinese broccoli with garlic and shoyu, mushrooms and-of course-Maui onions braised in Longboard Lager. Everything was just outstanding and considerably less than what we would have spent at a restaurant. Hopefully this encourages you to cook local on your next vacation!
Thai food has long been a favorite of mine and there are a number of excellent Thai restaurants in Chicago that I’ve been to over the years. It took about eight years but we finally found some restaurants here in Phoenix that measure up.
To me, any Thai restaurant worth it’s salt must do quite a few dishes well (chicken satay with the crucially important peanut sauce, pad see u, pad kee mau) but if the red curry sucks I’ll never return.
Red curry paste is available in most Asian markets to make life a little easier for time-crunched
cooks. It’s a mix of chiles, lemongrass, garlic, shrimp and more. And it’s a home run with just about anything from chicken to tofu to pork. Today, I’ll be using it as a broth to poach some cod filets.
Now, if you do not like spicy food this probably is not a recipe for you.
For the broth:
5.5 oz can coconut milk
14.5 oz can low sodium chicken broth
2 t red curry paste-I use Mae Ploy.
1 t minced fresh ginger
4 pressed garlic cloves
Fresh pepper to taste
This will yield about 1 2/3 cup of broth, depending on how many filets you’re cooking and the size of your pan you may not need this much or you may need more. Whisk all ingredients together and you can certainly make this ahead of time and keep in the refrigerator until you’re ready.
For each six ounce portion of cod you will need:
1/4 c each thinly sliced onion, thinly sliced mushroom, and thinly sliced bell pepper
1/2 T peanut oil
2 pressed garlic cloves
Heat the peanut oil in a pan over medium heat and saute the vegetables for five minutes. Remove vegetables from pan and add just enough curry broth to coat the bottom of the pan. Add your cod filets then add more broth so the filets are about 1/3 of the way submerged in the broth. Cover the pan and cook until the fish registers 140 degrees approximately 7-9 minutes. Serve with steamed jasmine rice and chile paste if desired.