Kimchi Pancakes

Cooking, Hawaiian Living

In Hawaii we have Asian cuisine down! Mexican and Italian food is another post, for another day… This recipe comes from years of researching (read: eating) these savory pancakes that have originated in Korea. Every cuisine has its’ version of the savory “pancake”: latkes, blinis, mu shu, chive pancakes, pita, roti…

KimChi Pancake with Dipping Sauce

KimChi Pancake with Dipping Sauce

When the topic came up about traveling to Japan, Taiwan, or say Korea to try the cuisine, I was informed that “we have the best of all Asian food here in Hawaii. Why go to Asia for food?” While this is a good point, you also get the culture along with the food when you actually eat the cuisine in the country it originated.  As least that was my story, and I was sticking to it.

Here is my version of kimchi pancakes, well, actually two versions:


1 Cup                       Flour

1 Cup                       Kim Chi, Chopped

3/4 Cup                    Water (For added heat, use liquid from the kimchi)

3 TBS                       Egg Whites or 1 Whole Egg

2 TBS                       Chives, Chopped 3/4″

1/2                            Uzumaki, (fishcake) Sliced (optional)

Vegetable Oil

Ingredients for Kimchi Pancakes

Ingredients for Kimchi Pancakes

Mix the pancake batter first, then add the rest of the ingredients, except for the uzumaki and vegetable oil.

Kimchi Pancake Batter Before Adding Kimchi, Chives, and Uzumaki

Kimchi Pancake Batter Before Adding Kimchi, Chives, and Uzumaki

For the regular kimchi pancake: add 1 TBS oil to a 8″ sauté pan on medium heat, then add 1/2 of the batter to the pan and cook until browned on one side about 5-7 minutes and flip over to cook the other side about another 5 minutes.

For the uzumaki kimchi pancake: after putting the batter in the pan, add the uzumaki to the top of the pancake, then flip and lower the heat to medium low and cook for 7 minutes checking to make sure the uzumaki is not over cooking.

This recipe will make two 8″ pancakes.

Kimchi Pancake with Uzumaki

Kimchi Pancake Before Flipping with Uzumaki

Serve with the following dipping sauce on the side.

Pancake Dipping Sauce:

4 TBS         Low Sodium Shoyu

4 tsp           Mirin

2 tsp          Chili Garlic Sauce

2 tsp          Sesame Oil

2 tsp          Light Brown Sugar

Mix all ingredients together and spoon a little over the pancakes before serving.

There are two things about the recipe that I changed, the eggs and the addition of table salt.  I’m not a fan of either of those ingredients, not that they are bad, they are necessary for all aspects of cooking and baking.  When I can, I eliminate adding table salt and whole eggs to recipes.  So, dear reader, if you would like to add salt to the pancake recipe, .5 tsp should be enough for the pancake served with the dipping sauce.

Enjoy and Aloha!

Fresh Herbs – Buying and Storing

Cooking, Hawaiian Living

Fresh HerbsHawaii has good soil and weather to grow fresh herbs all year ’round.  I don’t really have a green thumb, so I only have rosemary and Chinese chives, which don’t require much more care than sun and water in the yard.

Local farmers markets are the best place to buy fresh herbs because they have been cut and sold in days or hours, not weeks like some of the herbs in the grocery store.  And they are less expensive, which is always a bonus here in Hawaii!

Looking at all the fresh herbs and you think to yourself, “Self, I can’t possibly use all those herbs all at once!”  Buy them.  There are a few ways to store and keep those herbs for the next time you need them.

If you are going to be using your herbs over the next few days, you can rinse and cut, then put them in jars or vases with water and keep them on your kitchen counter (see above photo). At the end of the day, put them in the refrigerator and they will keep 3-4 days.  You can also put plastic bags over the jars of herbs, which will help them stay fresh 1-2 days longer.

You can also rinse your herbs and wrap them in paper towels, then put them in plastic bags to store in your vegetable drawer, if you don’t have space for the jars.

Fresh Herbs

Fresh Herbs

Now that you have used the herbs and you still have a good amount left, you can dry them and keep them in jars.  Store bought dried herbs are non-existent in my house.

To dry your herbs:

  • Warm up your oven on the lowest temperature for about 5 minutes and turn it off.
  • Take the leaves off the stems, if they have pliable stems (basil, mint,) and put on paper towel lined wire racks. If the herbs have firm stems (rosemary, thyme), they can be left on the stem and taken off after they have dried.

    Herbs Ready for Drying

    Herbs Ready for Drying

  • Place rack in the warmed oven and let dry for 2 hours.  I check after 30 minutes to make sure the herbs are not too hot, then again after the 2 hours.  I usually leave the herbs overnight.
  • If you don’t want to do the oven method, you can also leave the herbs on the rack and dry them on the counter in the sun.  I like this method, but it can take 2-5 days for the herbs to be dry.
  • Place the dried herbs in air-tight containers and don’t forget to label the herbs.  I’m not the only one who cooks in our house and there have been several close calls.
    Dried Herbs

    Dried Herbs

    It’s always nice to cook with fresh herbs, they add flavor and color to your recipes.  When you use the dried herbs that you dried yourself, you will notice a difference from the store bought dried herbs in your recipes, too

Peace and poi!

Kitchen Tool Tips – Knives

Henckles Knives

Henckles Knives

Often overlooked is the kitchen knife.  Home cooks tend to use whatever they find at the department store or even a big box store.  This is not necessarily a bad knife, but once you use a professional chef’s knife in your kitchen, you will wonder why no one told you about his sooner!

Since I have been in the food service industry, I have supplied my friends advice and equipment to make their lives easier in their kitchens at home.  15 years ago, I gave one of my best friends a Wusthof knife that she has taken care of and still uses as her favorite kitchen tool to this day.  After she had used it the first time, she could not believe she had gone all these years with knives she had inherited from her mother and grandmother.

Wusthof Knives

Wusthof Knives

My favorite knife for home and professional use is the Wusthof “Super Slicer”.  It is the fifth knife from the left in the above picture, after the cleavers.  This knife has a thin, scalloped serrated edge that will slice through anything.  It makes the thinnest slices of bread, see-through slices of gravlax, it will peel and slice melons, and it carves meat thick or thin.

Morimoto Knives

Morimoto Knives

One good serrated knife, paring knife, and chef knife (8″ to 10″) will take care of most jobs in the kitchen for home cooking.  These knives might be a little pricey, but with proper care they will last a lifetime.  A sharpening steel will help keep them from getting too dull, but they will need to be professionally sharpened at least every two to three months, depending on how much you cook at home.

When storing your knives, keeping them in a wood block is good, if you would rather keep them in a drawer, you can get knife guards that cover the blades so that they can be stored safely. Do not wash you knives in the dishwasher!  The high heat and chemicals can damage the blade and warp the handles.  Always hand wash separately, do not put into the sink the other dirty dishes, in case someone else washes or you forget the knife is in the sink.  Dry the knives immediately and make sure they are completely dry before storing them.

Fissler Knives

Fissler Knives

If you can, buying from a restaurant supply store or a kitchen supply store will give you the best selection.  And gun stores.  We have one local gun store that has a nice selection of professional kitchen knives. Who knew?

Aloha and happy cooking!

Garlic Hawaiian Prawns

Cooking, Hawaiian Living

Fresh Hawaiian Deep Sea PrawnsThese are Hawaiian Deep Sea Prawns. They are only sold whole, with head and shell on. If you like shrimp, you will love these prawns.  They can be expensive, but the taste is worth it.  And the only way to enjoy them is with minimal seasonings and very little cooking.

This is one way I love to eat these prawns:

1#        Hawaiian Prawns

6 ea     Garlic Cloves, Chopped

Extra Virgin Olive Oil


Coarse Ground Pepper

Lemon Wedges

Put the prawns in a large bowl and toss with garlic, olive oil (to coat), salt and pepper to taste. Marinate for one hour to overnight.  *Note: I use the salt sparingly because the prawns are flash frozen straight from the ocean and they retain a bit of that saltiness when defrosted. Also, they are IQF, so you can cook them from frozen for this recipe.

From this point, you can grill them on a bbq, roast them in the oven, or sauté them on the stove.  Any of the methods works well, just make sure not to cook them until they dry out. 10 minutes by any of the cooking methods would be long enough.

Garlic Hawaiian Prawns

The prawns pictured here, were roasted under the broiler for about 6 minutes, then they were turned over a roasted for about another 3 minutes.  They are juicy, sweet, and melt in your mouth.  I do like to eat the head, too. And the shells can be saved to make shrimp bisque.  Locals don’t like to waste, it comes from Island living with limited resources.

A taste of aloha in your home from the Islands, enjoy!

Storm Preparations

Hawaiian Living

Sunrise at Kahala BeachThe hurricane season in the Islands is in full force.  It started June 1st and lasts until December.  There hasn’t been a hurricane that has hit any of the Islands for 22 years. But, today the Big Island and Maui are under “tropical storm watch” courtesy of “Guillermo”.

Here are a few tips that travelers and locals can use to help prepare for this predicted busy hurricane season:

– Cash is important.  Expect that all electricity will be limited to generators and that means computer systems will not function at full capacity. It’s risky to trust credit/debit card transactions during power outages and storms.

– Listen for any civil defense alarms.  If you hear the alarms, check your radios, phones, televisions, or hotel for current information.  (*NOTE: There is monthly alarm testing that happens on the first of each month, or the next business day if the first falls on a holiday or weekend.) This actually just happened for this current storm.

– Stay out of the ocean!  Locals, you know better…Tourists are the worst at following directions.  All I can say is: Turn around, don’t drown!

– Tourists are actually in a better position if there is a storm.  Hotels have generators, food, water, communications, and security. Locals will have to stock up on some of those things, plus: gas for the vehicles and generators, batteries, toilet paper, first aid supplies, tarps, duct tape…Shoots, I don’t have a landline at my house, I would have to go down the street to one of the neighbors’ house to find a landline!

– Don’t panic.  For some, it’s easier said than done.  Some locals tend to go a little overboard and not without cause.  If the power is knocked out, no worries, but if the container ships cannot off-load during a storm, supplies can be limited for a week or so. This is when the panic sets in.

Hence the toilet paper mentioned above.  Even if the containers are already in port, you cannot unload paper products in the rain.  So, quite a few years back, during a particularly rainy storm,  toilet paper was running out in the stores.  Can you imagine Costco and Sam’s Club running out of toilet paper, much less the grocery and drug stores?

– One last thing, the refrigerator will keep food cold for about 8 – 12 hours, if you don’t constantly open the doors.  And perishable food will last 3.5 to 4 hours at temperatures above 40 F.

This is an important time to live and love with the aloha spirit, so that we can all be prepared and safe during hurricane season and the storms that come with it.

Avocado Chive Hummus with Roasted Cauliflower and Asparagus

Cooking, Hawaiian Living
Chive Avocado Hummus with Roasted Cauliflower and Asparagus

Avocado Chive Hummus with Roasted Cauliflower and Asparagus

Avocados are one of my favorite ingredients to cook with and to eat! There are local avocados available year ’round, but they are best in the summer time.  And what better way to eat them but in hummus?  This hummus is good for sandwiches, as an appetizer (see picture above), and as a side dish.


Ingredients for Chive Avocado Hummus

Ingredients for Avocado Chive Hummus

1 15.5 oz Can Garbanzo Beans (Liquid Reserved)

1/2 Medium Avocado

3 TBS Extra Virgin Olive Oil

2 TBS Chives, Chopped

2 TBS Lemon Juice

1 tsp Smoked Paprika

2 ea Garlic Cloves

TT Salt and Pepper

Pulse the ingredients in food processor or blender, except for 1 TBS of the chives, the garbanzo liquid, and the salt and pepper.  After pulsing, add liquid a couple tablespoons at a time until you get the consistency you like.  Then season with salt and pepper, to taste. After you take out the hummus, fold in the rest of the chives. This adds a little texture to the hummus and their color looks nice.

TIP*: The chives I used are Chinese garlic chives, they are stronger than regular chives and they are flat, not tubular.  If you can’t find either, green onion can be substituted.

The platter I made with the roasted cauliflower and asparagus is easy and quick to prepare for a side dish or an appetizer platter for bbq or picnic.  Slice the cauliflower whole, after cutting the bottom leaves off, about 1/2″ thick.  Then put them on a sheet pan with the asparagus and drizzle extra virgin olive oil over all of them.  Then turn the vegetables around to coat them with the oil and season with coarsely ground black pepper and sea salt.  Roast under the broiler for about 7 minutes, check them and take out the asparagus and broil the cauliflower about another 3 minutes.  You can also grill the vegetables on the bbq or on a grill pan.

The leftover cauliflower and asparagus can be made into sandwiches with the hummus.  And if you made the hummus and/or the vegetables for a bbq, add in any left over meat, fish, or chicken for a really hearty sandwich.

Live and eat with aloha everyday!

I Must Look Smart When I am Shopping

Cooking, Hawaiian Living
Organic Cherry Tomatoes

Organic Cherry Tomatoes

Over the years, I have noticed that almost every time I am in a grocery store, someone approaches me with a question.  My first instinct is to say, “I don’t work here.”  I don’t think I have ever said that out loud, so my second instinct is to help in any way possible.  I thank my mother for the helping instinct and not offering a rude response.  And local people are very approachable, unlike other places I have lived.

One fellow customer did stump me the other day in the “Asian Foods” aisle.  He asked me if I knew where the “Jello without gelatin” was.  Well, I knew where the Jello was and I offered the location, but he said that he already checked there. But I was stumped.  What exactly is “Jello without gelatin”?

Assorted Jello with Gelatin

Assorted Jello with Gelatin

Of course, I had to go check the aisle for myself.  And the internet.  The only thing was agar-agar, which I found amongst the gelatin dessert assortment.

Jello Without Gelatin?

Jello Without Gelatin?

But I am still not convinced that was what that gentleman was looking for.  I know there are other forms of vegan and vegetarian gelatin options. I did ask him what he was using it for, but he was going from a shopping list that I am sure that his wife had wrote out for him. Hopefully he wasn’t sent back to the store!

If anyone has any ideas about what “Jello without gelatin” is, please comment below, I’m curious if I am missing out on something!

Aloha and happy shopping!

Aloha Friday

Cooking, Hawaiian Living
Music at the HaleKulani

Music at the Halekulani

BBQ at Kahala Beach Park

BBQ at Kahala Beach Park

Happy Aloha Friday!  In Hawaii every Friday is Aloha Friday, it means the end of the traditional work week and there is “no work ’til Monday”. The quote is from a song about what Aloha Friday is, so you know that it’s serious if someone wrote a song about it!

This also means for some local businesses that it’s aloha dress day.  Men wear aloha shirts instead of the traditional button-down shirts, suits and ties.  The women wear muumuus or dresses in aloha patterns instead of the usual business suits.

Locals take their weekends very seriously.  It’s a time for family to reconnect, spend time together and to see friends.  This is why on weekends, the freeways are still busy with traffic!  The beaches and parks are full and you can smell barbeques and smokers going full blast.

Rainbow and Surf off Waikiki Beach

Rainbow and Surf off Waikiki Beach

Enjoy your Aloha Friday where ever you may be!

Asiago Fig Toast

Cooking, Hawaiian Living
Plated Asiago Fig Toast

Asiago Fig Toast

Fresh local figs are hard to come by in Hawaii.  There are figs available at the specialty grocery stores, but they are from the Mainland and very expensive. Figs remind me of summer, because growing up we always had a tree and we would pick and eat them fresh from the tree. This recipe is another way to enjoy figs, if you can’t get them fresh.

This recipe is easy and fast.  It can be eaten for breakfast, as a side to a salad or soup for lunch, as an appetizer for dinner or a cocktail party, or as a dessert.  I used a locally baked whole wheat pita bread that is thick without the usual pocket of traditional pita bread and I cut it in half.  Another bread that I like to use, and that is locally baked, is a multi-grain baguette. I would use it the same way, and cut the baguette in half length-wise.

Cutting the Pita in Half

Cutting the Pita in Half

You only need four ingredients:


Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Fig Butter

Asiago Cheese

Asiago Fig Toast Ingredients

Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Pita Bread, Fig Butter, Asiago Cheese

I used a “robust” olive oil, it’s not as fruity as traditional olive oils and it is good with foods that are sweeter, like the fig butter. The fig butter I bought on the Mainland, but they have it some grocery stores and in the specialty grocery stores.

Drizzle of Robust Extra Virgin Olive Oil on Each Half of Pita Bread

Drizzle of Extra Virgin Olive Oil on Each Half of Pita Bread

Drizzle the olive oil on each half of the bread, then spread the fig butter on each half and top with the asiago cheese.

Spread Fig Butter on Each Half of Pita Bread

Spread Fig Butter on Each Half of Pita Bread

Asiago Sprinkled on top of the Fig Butter

Asiago Sprinkled on top of the Fig Butter

Toast in a 350 degree oven until the cheese has melted and the edges of the bread are golden brown, about 5-7 minutes.

And, yes, I did eat the toast pictured here for breakfast!

Shopping in Chinatown

Cooking, Hawaiian Living
Mauna Kea Market Place

Maunakea Marketplace

Chinatown in any city is always an experience. Here in Honolulu, the Chinatown area is a mix of new (See my post about  “Lucky Belly”) and “been here since the beginning of Chinatown”.  Maunakea Marketplace has been there pretty much when the area started.  I won’t go into the history of Chinatown, because that stuff can be “Yahoo’ed”.  I will share some finds from a recent shopping trip.  Some of these products can be bought as “omiyagi” or gifts from your travels.  They can take the place of the standard “My grandma went to Hawaii and all I got was this lousy t-shirt” souvenirs.

Assorted Jellyfish

Assorted Jellyfish

Okay, so jellyfish that you “just add water” to is not your typical souvenir or thing to pick up at the grocery store.  When I travel, I always look for local products that will survive a luggage ride or that can be mailed home.  It’s not a locally made product and you can find it on the Mainland, but how many times are you going to be able to buy it in Hawaii and give it to your co-workers?

Live Frogs

Live Frogs

Yes, those are frogs for sale…No, not as pets.  If you have never had fresh frog legs, it’s not as horrible as it sounds.  And they do have a taste similar to chicken.  And no, you cannot take these on the plane, or in your luggage…I would prefer to have them dressed, but other people prefer them whole to use all the parts for various dishes.

Chicken Feet

Chicken Feet

Now, these taste like chicken.  And once again, not good for “omiyagi” as with the frogs.  I am not a fan of chicken feet.  I have eaten them a few times, but I don’t go out of my way to order them or cook them.  As you can see, in Chinatown, there are a lot of fresh animal parts for sale, so those of you that are squeamish about seeing what the organs of a pig or cow look like, you have been warned.

One of the things that should be tried that is local and can be packaged to take to the Mainland is “baked manapua”. These are baked instead of steamed bao (buns).  They have many different fillings but char siu (Chinese bbq pork) is the favorite.   In Chinatown there are quite a few places to pick up fresh manapua.  Two of my favorites are: Sing Cheong Yuan Bakery and Royal Kitchen.  At either place you can ask to have your manapua packaged to go to the Mainland or outer Island.

At Sing Cheong Yuan, there are a lot of Chinese candies and treats that can be made into individual gifts, and they travel well.  The macadamia nut sesame candy is made fresh and is not to be passed up.  And make sure you make a separate package of goodies for you to eat on the plane, when I have time I have one made up with baked char siu manapua, some of the tea cakes, dried fruit and the sesame candies.

As always, if visiting Oahu, send me you questions before you travel.