kruizing with kikukat

Monday, June 25, 2012

Almost Boots & Kimo's: Pulehu Short Ribs

Summer vacation for me will be over in three weeks, and I have no plans in sight for a Honolulu trip.  Sigh.  I've spent so much time on the road this summer that I think I could've easily driven to Oahu and back!  Double sigh.

I guess I need to celebrate small victories of the first half of summer:  clearing the dining table (it remained clean for a day), swimming in water colder than 87 degrees, biting the bullet and buying the handheld cordless Dyson.  I would also like to recognize Kennie for protecting our family again and killing that ugly centipede.
Hilo weather has been, well, typical Hilo weather.  We had a few days of solid sunshine, followed by the second coming of winter... not kidding.  I'm going to be positive and hope that more sunny days will be in the forecast before I need to head back to work.  I love sunny days because that means its hibachi time...time to heat those ManGrates and start grilling.  My favorite grilled food (yes, even more favorite than rib eye steak) is pulehu short ribs. 

In 2005, some nice coworkers took me to breakfast at a hole-in-the wall in Kailua, Oahu:  Boots & Kimo's.  I ordered corned beef hash, but they insisted I try the macadamia nut pancakes and pulehu short ribs.  Once again, there I was, wishing I had ordered something else.

I never considered pulehu short ribs to be a breakfast food, but I'm no longer a doubter.  Of course, pulehu short ribs are good for any meal, and my recipe for pulehu short ribs definitely represents.  While it may not taste exactly like Boots & Kimo's, it can definitely hold its own.  Btw, pulehu is a Hawaiian word meaning to roast over a fire.

This recipe uses the same cut of short ribs used for khal bi (korean broiled short ribs), the flanken cut.  For more info on the different short rib cuts, click here.  For this recipe, do not be tempted to buy the boneless variety.  It just won't taste as good without the bones.

The picture on the left is a family pack of short ribs.  If you are worried about cholesterol, it might be a good idea to save this recipe for your periodic splurge because short ribs are a fatty cut.

If anyone out there has a good copycat recipe for the real star of Boots & Kimo's (the macadamia nut pancakes), please post a comment so we can discuss your price!

 click on recipe title for printable recipe
Pulehu Short Ribs

     3-4 lbs short ribs
     2 tbsp sugar
     2 tbsp rock salt
     3 tbsp shoyu
     1 1/2 tsp sesame oil
     1/4 tsp shichimi togarashi powder

Combine all ingredients (except short ribs).  Rub mixture onto both sides of short ribs.  Let stand at 30 minutes to 1 hour.  Grill on both sides.

We celebrated a belated Father's Day with The Rents at Hilo Bay Cafe.  Grampy ordered some wheat beer which he said was unreal sour.  I personally think they played the Jedi Mind Trick on him with the lemon slice on the glass.  Nevertheless, it took two silver bullets to wash the sour taste from his mouth. 
The Ds with their favorite victim.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Joong Practice

Today's post is in honor of the upcoming Dragon Boat Festival (June 23 or so, 5th day of the 5th lunar month).  I hope you will be fortunate enough to enjoy joong.

When I lived in Honolulu and went to Chinatown on the Saturdays to buy snacks, I would often buy a joong from the pastry shop.  It was also a frequent selection from the steam cart on occasions for dim sum.  On my last trip to Honolulu, I went to my favorite pastry shop (since resurrected in a similar storefront), Sing Cheong Yuan, to buy some macadamia nut candy to bring home for "moonyagi" (bastardized version of "omiyage", courtesy of my Portuguese-Italian friend in Kihei).  In addition to the box of macadamia nut candy blocks, and a baggie of li hing bittermelon (for Mom and Dad), I left with a longing to eat joong.  The shop had several varieties of joong sitting on the pastry case, and I was so tempted to buy the pork-egg joong.  Practicality got the better of me, and I left empty handed, but not without a cause. . .I would make my own joong.

I already had a jar full of salted eggs, so all I needed to buy was a few things and look for some help with seasoning.  Seemed simple, and the gathering of the ingredients was the easy part, especially when I opted to use ti leaves (instead of bamboo leaves) to wrap the joong.

Call me what you will, but my idea of joong uses black-eyed peas instead of mung beans.  I also added lup cheong for additional flavor.

mochi rice and black eyed peas (soaked overnight)
seasoned pork belly
raw salted egg yolks
sliced lup cheong
mise en place ingredients
joong composition:  rice, pork, yolk, lup cheong, rice.  Popo Wu in Taiwan adds a chestnut too.
wrapping joong
tying joong
boiling joong

Joong is ready!
 I tested out my joong with D1's friend Ashley, whose family hails from Taiwan.  Ashley does not say "joong" the way those of us who grew up in Hawaii say it.  In fact, her dad referred to is as "tzongshe", which sounds like something I can't even spell.  I made Ashley repeat it over and over, yet I still cannot say it.  In spite of my shortcomings in pronounciation, Ashley and her parents said they loved it.  They said it tasted very similar to what her Popo in Taiwan would make around the time of the dragon boat races (5th day of the 5th lunar month).  I took it as a compliment. 
 click on recipe title for printable recipe

     2 lbs mochi rice
     4 tbsp (scant)  rock salt, divided per recipe directions
     1/2 c black eyed peas
     10 salted duck/chicken egg yolks, raw
     1 lb pork belly
     2 lup cheong, each sliced diagonally into 5 pieces
     1 1/2 tsp 5-spice
     20 ti leaves, cleaned and de-ribbed
     string to tie

Begin the night before by washing mochi rice.  Add water to cover and add 2 tbsp rock salt to the water.  Rinse black eyed peas and add to mochi rice.  Let soak overnight.  Cut pork into 10 pieces.  Season with 5-spice and remaining 1 1/2 tbsp salt.  Chill overnight.

The next day, heat a large pot of boiling water.  Roll 2 ti leaves into a cylinder and plunge into boiling water.  Lay flat.  Repeat with remainder of ti leaves.  Drain rice/bean mixture.  Arrange all ingredients.  Take 2 ti leaves and overlap them with a 2" stagger.  Fold in half to form a corner.  Place 1/2 c rice/bean mixture into corner.  Place 1 yolk, 1 piece pork, and 1 slice lup cheong onto rice.  Cover with another 1/2 c rice/bean mixture.  Fold ti leaves to completely encase rice and filling so a 4-sided pyramid is formed (3 faces and a base).  Use string to tie bundle securely.  Place joongs in a large pot.  Cover with water.  Add 1 tsp rock salt, and bring to a boil.  Lower heat to simmer and cook for 3 hours.  Remove joong from pot and place on a rack to drain.  Serve immediately, chill, or freeze.  Leftovers may be reheated in the microwave.

I was busy last week, catching up with friends.  I had lunch with Edz on Wednesday and Brucie on Thursday.  Edz leaves on Thursday for the City of Brotherly Love, and Brucie will be on his way to the Forbidden City soon.  I wish both of them safe travels.
This week should be interesting...I'm lunching with the Rents today (belated Mother's/Father's Day celebration),  brunching with A tomorrow, and going into the office again on Wednesday.  I wish I could escape work.  I think I will try and make this the last day of work for a while.  I need my summer.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Har Gao

I'm gonna do a lot of venting/bitching, so before I go on my rant, I need to congratulate D1 for making the HHS cheerleading squad for SY 12-13.  Way to go, D1!  I am so proud of her...managing all her activities and still maintaining a great GPA.  If only I could add "cleaning room" to the list of things she does well.

Deep breath. . .

Divide dough into equal pieces.  Flatten to a 3" circle.
Make 5 pleats close together.
Place filling in indentation.
This past week was a total bummer.  I wasted two-and-a-half days working.  I worked on Wednesday in Pahoa, half of Thursday at the office, and Friday was spent in the conference room at the office. 

At the meetings on Wednesday and Friday, the boss suggested working through lunch with early release.  Bullshit.  No way!  I've been fooled before, and I'm not letting it happen again.  I'm not giving a dishonor another chance.  

Fold edges together, pinching edges to seal.
This week, I'm reporting to work for a half day on Wednesday.  I am meeting with coworkers to work on a training.  I plan to count the hours I show up at the office.

Gently bend dumpling into a crescent shape.
The High Commander offered me an opportunity to work at the end of the month, and I may take her up on it.  It could be 1, 2 or 3 days, but I don't think I could take all 3 days, so I'm thinking of just doing it for 1 or 2 days.  The High Commander also praised me for my San Antonio slideshow.

In addition to working this week, I'm having lunch with Edz and Brucie.  I hope Edz is feeling better.  He had a rough week (maybe several weeks), and I hope that the person responsible for his misery receives his just desserts.  What an asshole!  I should kidnap him and tickle his feet with a feather.  The Ds will work him over and he will never be the same again.  

My driving job continues as well.  With the happy news of D1, I will be driving her daily to practices.  D1 & D2 both indicated a desire to continue with sewing classes for the second session, so I'll be on the road on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  The Gemini internship won't be starting until later this month, so I have a bit of a reprieve now.

Last week I noticed that the cats' fur around their butts was getting long and unruly, so both Desiree and Kendra got a nice summer trim.  Now that both are finally speaking to me again, I'll try and get pics of them with their lion cuts. 

Since school let out for the summer, I've been trying to exercise more.  The iPad app, RunKeeper, has been helpful for tracking the time and distance of my treadmill walks.  I'm hoping that the results on my next blood test will show that all this walking is paying off.  All this exercising should also give me license to eat whatever I want, right?

Last week, The Help took me and the Ds to dinner at IHOP (my choice).  The idea of having breakfast for dinner was very appealing, and I was thrilled to see red velvet pancakes on the menu.  They were actually good, and it got me thinking that its been a while since I've been to Boots & Kimo's on the Windward side (of Oahu).  Now I'm ono for their mac nut pancakes.

 I'm still hoping to get to Honolulu before I need to go back to work.  Boots & Kimo's might be out of the question if its an overnight trip, but dim sum is not negotiable.  And I could not have dim sum without ordering har gao.  Har gao is one of the indispensable dim sum dishes no matter where you go (and I've eaten dim sum all over America).

Har gao at restaurants tend to be small and dainty.  At home, I make them the size of potstickers!

click on recipe title for printable recipe
Har Gow Filling

     3/4 lb shrimp, chopped
     1/4 c bamboo shoots, chopped
     1 tsp salt
     1 tsp sesame oil
     1/2 tsp sugar
     1 egg white
     2 tbsp cornstarch

 Combine all ingredients.  Chill for 1 hour.

     1 c wheat starch
     1/2 c tapioca starch
     1/2 tsp salt
     1 c boiling water
     2 tbsp oil

Combine dry ingredients.  Add boiling water and mix.  Cover and let rest for 10 minutes.  Add oil and knead until a smooth dough forms.  Cover and set aside until filling is ready.

Divide dough into 24 equal pieces.  Roll each piece into a ball then flatten into a 3" circle.  A tortilla press is very handy to have, but a rolling pin or a cleaver will also work. 

 Make pleats close together in one section of wrapper.  I usually make 5 or 7 pleats.  The pleats will naturally create a well.  Place filling (scant #60 scoop) in well.  Pinch edges of wrapper together.  Bend each dumpling to form a crescent.  Place on parchment paper in a steamer.  Steam for 15 minutes.  Serve with shoyu.

If you don't have parchment paper, you could also just oil the steamer surface, but I prefer to use parchment (perforated).  Some people don't care for the earthy taste bamboo steamers impart on food.  While aluminum steamers don't add any flavor, they are more prone to sticking so you have greater potential of ending up with a mess.


Monday, June 4, 2012

Strawberries Filled with Almond Cream

One week of work done. . .a killer one this week!  Yes, I am pissed about having to work for no pay during my summer vacation.  At some point, its not the $ that matters most...its the freedom to do what you want.  There are times when I feel working in a different field would have been much less complicated.  Arggghhhhh!!!

I have 3 meetings this week, and I'm expecting a less-than-favorable turnout for 2 of the 3 meetings.  The 3rd meeting is about the us drones getting more work so I'm sure everyone will be present. 

D1 received her internship assignment:  Gemini Observatory (the building, not the telescope site...whew).  I guess I'll be packing lunch for her on her "work days" or I'll need to send her to Imiloa with some $ to buy lunch.  I'm hoping she'll finish her 60 hours before the summer is over, and I'm hoping she'll get through her internship smoothly.  I think I'll try and help her out a bit by making this dessert to share.  Her contact has a British accent, so no doubt he is familiar with the strawberries and cream tradition at Wimbledon.

A month ago, when I went to Texas, I was so ono for strawberries.  I kept thinking that I would order tons of fresh strawberry desserts.  To my surprise, I came across NO fresh strawberry desserts.  The closest thing was a cheesecake at the Salt Grass Steak House which had a ribbon of strawberry goo swirled in.  While the cheesecake was good, it was not the flavor I was searching for...sweet/tart fresh strawberries.

I have a go-to list of fresh strawberry dessert recipes:  pie, pie with a cream cheese layer, sauce for ice cream, bundt cake, layer cake, frosting, etc.  But nothing was sounding like "the" thing to make.  I remembered seeing a Taste of Home post on Facebook for filled strawberries, and that is where this journey began.  Because of my personality when it comes to cooking, I try and find several different recipes for a dish before I decided on the dish to try.  After the Taste of Home recipe, I found several other recipes worthy of trying, but I settled on a recipe from a Good Housekeeping cookbook.  Unfortunately, when it came time to actually make the recipe, I discovered I was short on some of the ingredients.  I had to make do with what I had on hand, but it turned out well.  In fact, it turned out better than the actual recipe (I tried it later) because the filling was stiffer.  The stiffer filling means that this can be prepared the night before.

Both D1 and D2 gobbled several of these (these were jumbo sized berries).  D2 insisted on taking one to her teacher the next day.  D1 wanted to bring this to her Biology class party on the last day of school, but the 2 supermarkets I went to were both completely out of strawberries, and I did not feel like paying the ransom for Waimea strawberries at Island Naturals.  Don't be sad for D1; she ended up taking Rainbow Jello instead.

Sewing lessons for D1 & D2 begin tomorrow.  I took both girls to the fabric store to choose supplies.  It didn't go too well...D2 wanted to buy everything, and D1 took a long time to decide what to sew (she took sewing lessons before so can begin with a pattern, rather than a tote bag or pillowcase).  D1 will need to schedule her internship hours around sewing, but I don't anticipate that being a problem.  Luckily, the Rents, now iPad users, haven't asked us for too much tech support (although there are several of us who can share the pleasure).  Now if I could only get this inconvenience called work out of the way, I'd have way more time to do the things I WANT to do on MY vacation.  

 click on recipe title for printable recipe
Strawberries Filled with Almond Cream

     25 jumbo strawberries
     3/4 c heavy whipping cream
     3/4 c milk
     1 small box vanilla instant pudding
     1/2 tsp almond extract

Wash and dry berries.  Slice off stem end.  Using a sharp paring knife, slice an "x" deep into berries without cutting all the way down.  Beat heavy whipping cream until stiff peaks form.  In a separate bowl, combine milk and pudding.  Beat for 2 minutes.  Add almond extract and whipped cream.  Fit a pastry bag with a #10 or #12 round tip (depending on the size of berries).  Fill pastry bag with pudding mixture.  Pipe pudding into strawberries, spreading petals open with fingers to allow more cream to fit.

A word to the lazy:  an alternate way of serving this would be to quarter or slice the strawberries and serve the filling in a small dish.  The filling can be spooned over the cut strawberries.  Slicing the strawberries and using them as scoops for the filling works well too.

If you're still with me, please allow me to share some pics I took this past week:
Nymphaea Devin M.A. Medeiros:  plant given to me by Gu.  I've been waiting a long time for this to bloom.
Stephanotis:  I've been waiting a long time for this to bloom too.  I think I finally have enough blooms to make a lei.  I just don't need a lei at the moment.  The vines are so thick that some cardinals made a nest amongst the growth.
Finally got a pic of both babies together.