The Esmeles at KMC
By Rochelle delaCruz
Jimmy and Mel Esmele spent over three years at Kilauea Military Camp (KMC) which is located in the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on the island of Hawai`i. KMC is a joint-services camp established in 1916, the same year as the National Park, and is located on 50 of the park’s more than 300,000 acres. In its 90 years of existence, KMC has served as a training facility, housed a Navy camp and hosted dignitaries such as General (later President) Dwight D. Eisenhower. It also was briefly an internment camp and prisoner-of-war camp during World War II.
Jimmy was in the U.S. Navy and spent his career in Food Services, operating dining halls, cafeterias, bakeries and commissaries. His assignment at KMC was from 1967 to 1971, where he and Mel lived with their two children in one of the houses in the camp designated for personnel. This was at the height of the Vietnam Conflict when the camp was bustling with servicemen and their families on R&R (rest and recreation.)
During his tour of duty at KMC, Jimmy, a Commissaryman First Class (CSI) was assistant cafeteria manager. The cafeteria at KMC is one of the few places to eat at the national park and popular with all who have a U.S. Department of Defense or National Guard connection and their guests.
When his three-year tour of duty was up, Jimmy asked for an extension, wanting to remain at KMC in order to retire on the Big Island. “It’s a quiet, relaxing place and I like the people,” he said. But the Navy had other plans for Jimmy and the Esmeles eventually retired in Seattle.
One of their memories at KMC is the dance held every New Year’s Eve which was followed by a breakfast of steak and eggs at the cafeteria. Here are some of Jimmy’s recipes for pūpū that were served at holiday parties at KMC:
Broccoli on Prawns’ Back
2 lbs. prawns, peeled and deveined
2 lbs broccoli with long stems
½ c. oyster sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 ounce ginger (about the size of a thumb) minced
1 small can of sliced water chestnuts
1T. cornstarch dissolved in 3T. water
- Cut broccoli in florets with long stem. Blanch in boiling water for about 2 minutes. Cool in iced water
- Using a paring knife, make a small cut on the back of the prawns through the belly. The slit should be the size of the broccoli stem. Skewer the shrimp with the broccoli stem.
- In a shallow non-stick frying pan, sauté the prawns a batch at a time turning one side only once (Careful not to dislodge the broccoli from the prawns.) Set aside and keep warm.
- Using the same pan, sauté the garlic and ginger for about 3 minutes.
- Add the oyster sauce, water chestnuts and cornstarch/water mix.
- Pour the sauce over the prawns.
- Serve with rice or as pupus with Primo beer!
1 lb. ground pork
½ medium onion, minced
3 stems green onions, minced (include the greens)
1 small can water chestnuts, chopped
3 large eggs (save one egg white and set aside)
1 box lumpia wrappers
- Mix all ingredients; season with light soy sauce, salt and pepper to taste
- Put filling in lumpia wrappers and wrap into very thin rolls. Seal edges with a lightly beaten egg white
- Using a pair of scissors, cut lumpia into desired length
- Fry in deep hot oil until golden brown
- Drain on paper towels and serve hot with either bottled sweet and sour sauce or Vietnamese sweet chili sauce
Ran into something you might want to check out. As most Hawaii folks do, we yearn for the good eats from back home and make sure any visiting ohana bring the right 'omiyage' for us. Besides Poi and Laulau, we often ask for Portuguese sausage, especially for Franks Foods if you are from Hilo.
Believe it or not, I did find a brand up here that is very close to the genuine Hilo stuff. Our local Super 1 market just started carrying it. Check out www.zennerssausage.com for their linguisa which is mild and just right! If you like it bit hotter, try the andoullie. Comes in links about 12 inches long, 3 make a pound, and at $2.99 a pound retail not bad. They make it in Portland, Oregon and I hate to say it but beats the others I have tried from Seattle and parts of California.
In true Hawaii style, I like to make noise about the good stuff I find but keep quiet about the stuff that doesn't ring my bell...I just no buy em anymore! As you well know, every Hawaiian going to Vegas heads for the Plaza seed store on the 3rd floor of the Plaza Hotel for the dried shrimp! The Hawaiian grapevine is super fantastic!
Mele Kalikimaka a me Hauoli Makahiki Hou from another Big Islander.
Hawaiian Beef Jerky
1 piece flank steak
Marinade: 2 T. shoyu
1 t. fresh ginger juice
1 clove garlic, crushed
Pound steak on both sides with back of knife blade or mallet. Cut into 4x2x ½” strips.
Combine marinade ingredients and marinate beef strips 1-2 hours. Place beef on rack in shallow roasting pan and sun-dry or place in 225º oven. Time: 5-7 hours. Slice and serve, or it may be broiled or pan-fried and additional seasonings added.
From Miuriel Kamada Miura’s Hawaiian Pupu Party Planner, 1974
Toasted Coconut Chips
Remove meat from fresh coconut and slice paper thin with knife or potato peeler. Spread on cookie sheet and sprinkle with salt. Bake at 300º F until golden brown (about 20 minutes) stirring twice to ensure even cooking. Cool and store in air-tight container. Serve as pupus and with beverages.
From Hawaii Cook Book, edited by John Fitzgerald, Pacifica House Inc. 1965
Exotic Chicken Livers
Cut ½ lb chicken livers into bite-size pieces. Marinate in 2T Hoisin sauce for two hours. Dip chicken liver pieces into batter and deep fry. (The batter will be streaked with sauce.) Serve with hot mustard.
Fritter batter: 1c. flour
1 ½ t. baking powder
1 t. salt
2/3 c. water
Yellow food coloring
Combine ingredients and beat until smooth. When deep fried, this batter will be crisp. It has the advantage of remaining crisp when reheated.
To prepare ahead: Fry chicken livers in the morning. Reheat by spreading on a shallow pan and placing it in a hot 400º oven for 5 minutes.
From Hawaiian Cookbook and Backyard Luau – Elizabeth Ahn Toupin, Silvermine Publishers, 1964
Copyright © 2004-2009 by Northwest Hawai`i Times
All Rights Reserved