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July 2006


Poi, `Ohana, and the Ko`olau Mountains

By Mokihana White

One of the happiest times of my life was when I got to take the bus from my home in Mānoa Valley over to the other side of the island to visit my friends the Nakoa`ohana. They were keeping my horse at

Kanikapila at the Alohaworld Mini-Gathering in Tacoma 2005: (left to right): Andi and Nalu Kollars, Jim Mamac, Jason Cook and Mokihana White.
Photo from Mokihana White

their place out in the country, and every Saturday I’d get to leave early in the morning and spend the whole day over there. Now, in my head, I hear “’Round the Ko`olau Hills we’d ride on horseback, so long ago it seems it was a dream”, and the song haunts me, telling the story of my life. I would spend hours riding up and down the hillsides… even now I get an ache inside for those wonderful days.

When noontime came around I would head back to the Nakoa’s farm, and we’d all sit around the table eating together. I can still see the huge calabash of two-finger poi in the middle of the table. Today my mainland friends get weird looks on their faces when I talk of the glory of poi, and I get the usual “library paste” comments. No matter. There at the Nakoa’s, there was no poi shortage, and we filled up to our hearts’ content. Today poi is generally eaten from individual bowls, but back then, around the Nakoa’s table, adults and keiki alike, our fingers taking turns in the calabash, there was such a sense of community, all of us together in the sharing of the meal. The blood that ran in my veins was different than theirs, yet we were all connected; we were all `ohana.

Sometimes we’d have kalua pig; there was no imu, but Mrs. Nakoa would cook it in the oven. Because I was just a kid, I didn’t think to get her recipe, but I have been able to pretty well duplicate it. I call it Mrs. Nakoa’s kalua pig, because when the aroma of it fills up the hale with the promise of wonderful things to come, and when I eat it, I think back to those happy, sunshine-filled days in Kāne`ohe, sitting around the table at the home of my cherished friends.

Mrs. Nakoa’s Oven Kalua Pig

 1 5-lb pork butt, boneless
2-3 Tablespoons Hawaiian salt
1 tsp garlic powder
1 bottle liquid smoke
5-½ cups water
Large roasting pan

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Pour 1 ½ cups water into the roasting pan. Lay a large piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil on top of that, letting the edges come up the sides of the pan. Wash and dry the pork butt. With a knife, cut several (6 or 7) slashes in the pork, fat side up. Rub the pork with the garlic powder and Hawaiian salt, then place carefully on top of the foil in the roasting pan. Pour the entire bottle of Liquid Smoke over the pork. Now pour the remaining water around the bottom of the pork, letting it go into the pan. Wrap the foil carefully around the pork, and then put another sheet of heavy-duty foil over the top of that and seal tightly to the edges of the roasting pan. Put the pan in the oven and bake for 30 minutes, then turn heat down to 325 degrees and cook the pork for 5 hours. The aroma will make your mouth water, but be patient! Remove from oven; peel back the foil very carefully, allowing all the juice and the pork to go down into the bottom of the pan. Pull all the foil out, then, with two forks, shred the pork into all the wonderful pan juices. Serve with rice and lomi salmon.

Broke da mout’!

I was born on O`ahu; spent the first four years of my life on Tantalus and then we moved down to Mānoa Valley.  Wen grad UHS.  My dad was produce manager for Kapi`olani Supermarket and also Piggly Wiggly.  My summers were spent riding my horse both in Kāne`ohe and Kapi`olani Park.  One time my friend and I rode our horses all the way from Kapi` olani Park up to Mānoa Valley where we both lived, and ho, I wen get in big big pilikia!  When we weren't riding, we had kanikapila time, sitting around singing and playing our instruments.

We lived not too far from the old Chinese Cemetery, and would frequently walk down Mānoa Stream when it wasn't running too high.  We would go ti-leaf sliding down Motorcycle Hill (I get one hanabata days story about that) a lot, hike up Akaka Place and go pick guava.  Of course, there was the beach, too.  We would play in the water, riding the waves, till our lips would turn blue; we'd go lie out on the sand, then go swimming again.

Every year we'd go to the Bon Dances and to all the parades.  One of my best memories was getting to ride in the Aloha Week parade on a borrowed high-stepping parade horse!

For several summers, I'd get to sail to the neighbor island with a friend whose family owned a 43' sailboat; we'd leave Waikīkī Yacht Harbor in the evening and get into Lahaina the next day.  I got to sail to the Big Island and to Moloka`i.  These were the happiest days of my life!  I got to snorkel in Kealakekua Bay, swim in the now-gone Queen's Bath, walk through the Thurston Lava Tube and even sleep on the beach.  I am one of the lucky ones who got to see the Brocken Spectre at sunrise on Haleakalā.

I now live in Oregon , and though I get very homesick, have come to love the Pacific Northwest.  My husband and I live on a small farm with sheep, goats and llamas, and our two daughters live nearby.  I am an avid handspinner and knitter, and also do Hawaiian quilting and beadwork.  The Hawaiian language and culture are very important to me, and I am constantly seeking to learn more.   I am on staff at www.alohaworld.com and enjoy talking stories in pidgin with other ex-patriots who long for home.  Every year we have a small gathering near Tacoma, and I get to kanikapila with my friends, singing in Hawaiian, talking stories and eating all the onolicious kau kau that everyone brings.  I teach my haole friends about our wonderful Hawaiian culture, and bring local foods to potlucks so that they can experience some of the wonderful food that I grew up with.  I'm also a distributor for NWHIT, which brings me much joy, to spread the aloha all over the area in which I live. 




Myths Dispelled

By Ka’imioka’ono, et AL

Last month we ran a food story from Vinnie Shishido who told us all about the seasonal fresh fern (kakuma) and bamboo shoots (takenoko) she was enjoying in Hilo. She ended her article

Bamboo shoots (takenoko) from Rockridge Orchards in Enumclaw, Washington, for sale at the West Seattle (and other) Farmer's Market. Photo by Ka`imioka`ono

with “I’d send you the nishime recipe but no sense since you can’t get fresh takenoko and kakuma up stateside.” (to read Vinnie’s June column, click here.) Below is a reply to Vinnie from one of our faithful readers.

So…I was rushing through last month’s pepa in a hurry to get to the food section for the latest recipes and Ho! No recipes! Who is dis Vinnie? Just because we no can get da stuffs no mean we no like read ‘em anyway.

I am a foodie too, and it just so happens, Miss Vinnie, that fiddlehead ferns are one of the delicacies of spring in the Pacific Northwest. They can be foraged and even purchased at local farmers markets here in Seattle. Okay, so we no get bambucha kine hapu`u fern, but our local ostrich, lady and shield ferns can be ‘ono too, you know. (A bit tedious to clean, their small size makes rubbing that fuzzy coating off quite a project.) Historically, fiddlehead ferns were a staple among the region’s Native American tribes. Today they are enjoyed in cream of fiddlehead soup, tempura, simply sautéed with garlic and butter or even topped with cheese sauce. Fiddleheads can be prepared any way but raw as they contain thiaminase, a vitamin B-depleting enzyme. Cooking destroys this making them safe and good eating. No sense including a recipe because the season’s already pau.

Now for the bamboo shoots. We do have one species of bamboo native to North America. Arundinaria gigantea, or cane as it was commonly called, once formed forests that stretched for miles as far north as the Ohio River valley. Bamboo is widely grown in Northwest gardens, but I’d never seen or heard of anyone eating it fresh or selling it here. That is until last Sunday at the West Seattle Farmers Market. There I was with a fellow foodie, freshly dejected from Vinnie’s “no can find stateside” article, and lo and behold there were some bamboo shoots for sale! Wade Bennett of Rockridge Orchards in Enumclaw was selling them. When I told him about Vinnie’s article, he gave us a pound for free - it seems he has relatives in Hilo. Wade’s relatives send ginger each May which he field plants over one and a half acres. In September, he sells fresh ginger root at the farmers markets. But that’s a story for another day.

Without a recipe from Vinnie, we were forced to make do with Wade’s “light miso sauce” suggestion. We weren’t sure what he meant, so we improvised by sautéing the slivered shoots with miso, butter and mirin. The addition of homegrown gai lan made it more than ‘ono. We were preparing dinner for three that night, but one person was late. Too bad for him! The foodies split the shoots 50/50 as a first course, and da odda guy had to make do with the entrée alone. Oh, and the variety of bamboo shoots that Wade was selling did not have to be soaked changing the water every day for two to three days. We just had to wash and peel them. Wade says you can even eat them raw, but I wouldn’t because then you miss out on da ‘ono miso butter sauce!

So there you have it. We get plenty ‘ono kine stuffs here in da Pacific Northwest, too. Eh, Vinnie, why you no come forage wit’ me? Get choke maitake mushrooms up Mt. Rainier come August.

Rockridge Orchards also sells mizuna and other Asian greens, many plants including tea, wasabi, all kine shiso, and trees like Chinese peppercorn and banana. The banana will not fruit, but the leaves are great for wrapping meat and fish for da imu or grill. Look for Rockridge Orchards at your local farmers market.

Ka`imioka`ono travels the globe in search of delicious foods, their recipes and the stories behind them. She has friends from many cultures who share their culinary expertise with her and AL is one of them.

Since Vinnie Shishido’s comment about “no bamboo shoots in the Pacific Northwest” was dispelled, she sent us these recipes that should make all foodies like Ka`imioka`ono happy!


Here's my recipe for Chicken Hekka:


        3/4c. SHOYU
        1/4c. WATER
        3/4c. SUGAR
        1/4c. MIRIN
        1/2tsp. SALT
        1Tbs. MSG (optional)


        1c. ONION, sliced
        1lb. BEEF or CHICKEN
        1c. BAMBOO SHOOTS, sliced
        1c. KAKUMA SHOOTS, sliced
        1/2blk. TOFU. cubed
        1/2c. SHIiTAKE, sliced
        2c. WATERCRESS, cut into 2" lengths
        1c. GREEN ONION, cut into 2" lengths

Combine sauce ingredients in a skillet.  Arrange onion, beef or chicken, bamboo shoots, kakuma shoots, tofu cubes, and mushrooms attractively in sauce.  Cook 5 minutes, frequently spooning sauce over ingredients.  Just before serving, add watercress and green onions.  Serves 4 to 6.

There is also an excellent Filipino dish where the pohole (similar to warabi-type fern shoots in Hawai`i) is cooked with a can of broken pieces of tomato sardines, a few dashes of shoyu, and 1/2 tsp. of sugar.  I usually add 1/2 of a round onion, slivered to that dish too. 



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