Saturday, June 25, 2011

What is Manapua in Hawaii?

Manapua means mea ono pua’a (“mea ono” for cake or pastry, and “pua’a for pork).  Chinese immigrants arrived in Hawaii during the 19th century to work on the sugar and later pineapple plantations along with other ethnic group.  With that they brought their customs, culture, and their cuisine.

Street food vending in the street was a common trade in the marketplace towns of China and still is. In Hawaii, food peddlers sold a variety of delectable items especially

their famous char siu bao. The peddlers would stack their foodstuffs in large aluminum cans and sling the cans by cords at each end of a pole. Hoisting the poles on their
shoulders, they roamed the neighborhoods with their savory-filled buns.  They were called the "Manapua Man".  Every little kid would come running with coins like the ice cream
trucks of modern day to buy their fill. Char siu bao immediately became a favorite among the locals, and was given the name manapua, or mea ono pua’a (“mea ono” for cake or
pastry, and “pua’a for pork).

The manapua man today can be found in a cargo vans run by independant business owners parked at beaches, small neighborhoods, near the business districts and other places
around the island. For many, eating a manapua can be nostalgic, bringing childhood memories of making a trip to the manapua man’s truck.

Over the years, the manapua’s size and filling changed. The late Bat Moi Kam Mau, former owner of Char Hung Sut in Chinatown, was well known for her local-style manapua. She
created the “big Hawaiian-size” manapuas that the island people love to eat. The once small manapua, was now super-sized by the locals. Not craving sweet pork? No problem.
Today you can find manapua with different savory fillings such as vegetables, curry, sweet bean, chicken, lup cheong (chinese sweet sausage), sweet potato, laulau, kalua pork,
and many more. Baked and steamed,  there is a wide variety of manapua that you can choose from.
If you go to the dim sum restaurants abroad you will see little char siu bao in little bamboo steamers along with the usual dim sum selections.  But only in Hawaii the char
siu bao or manapua is huge.  Manapua is so popular in Hawaii that it is sold at 7-11 convenience stores islandwide. 

Best Places To Get Some

Manapua can be found in chinese dim sum restaurants but Hawaii locals buy them in bulk to take to gatherings or on trips to the mainland, picnics, or even to sports events.
The best places to buy them are at Char Hung Sut, Libby's Manapua Shop, Royal Kitchen, Chun Wah Kam, Aiea Manapua and Snacks, and Island Manapua Factory.  All have their delicious versions of manapuas and have their fans.  For me if I want big bready and lean filling I'd go to Char Hung Sut or Libby's.  If I want baked manapua I'd go to Royal Kitchen since it's their specialty.  Chun Wah Kam and Island Manapua compete with their many varieties and othe dim sum specialties such as pork hash (siomai) and chow mein (fried noodles) etc.  To me the best manapua for the bun to meat filling ratio is Island Manapua Factory hands down.  Theirs are light and fluffy with lots of meat filling.  Make sure your get them hot and steaming!

To local hawaii people seeing a pink or white colored box is a tell tale sign that someone has brought manapua to the office or home and you know it's going to be ono!!
So let's eat some manapua it's kaukau time!!


Sunday, June 05, 2011

Hawaiian Beef Stew

Hawaiian Beef Stew
"Chinese cooks at Hawaiian ranches made stew on an open fire, tossing the less-than-tender beef into a pot of water to simmer all day long, then adding vegetables shortly before the cowboys (paniolos) came in."


2 pounds stewing beef (recommends chuck roast, oxtail, short ribs or a combination of)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 large onions
2 (8 ounce) cans tomato sauce (or 1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste)
6 medium potatoes, peeled and quartered
2 large carrots, cut to the 1-2 inch pieces

2-4 stalks celery, cut into 1-2 inch pieces (optional) I add to mine.
6-8 cloves garlic
2 inch fresh ginger sliced in half and crushed.

1-2 bay leaves ripped in half
Hawaiian salt (coarse sea salt) to taste

fresh cracked black pepper to taste

4 tablespoons flour or cornstarch
pinch of sugar or stevia sweetener
1 tablespoon soy sauce (light soy sauce)
1 cup water


Finely mince the garlic and half of one of the onions.  Heat the cooking oil in a large pot.  Add the garlic, ginger, bay leaves, and onions and brown.  Add the beef and salt and saute until beef is thoroughly browned.  Add tomato sauce and enough water to cover the beef.  Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down and simmer covered, until meat is tender - a half an hour longer (longer for short ribs).

Meanwhile, cut the remaining onions into wedges (six to an onion).  Add the potatoes to the pot and again bring to a boil.  Replace the lid and simmer another half hour.  Add carrots and cook 15 minutes; add the onions; simmer another 15 minutes.
Mix the thickener ingredients (flour, sugar, soy sauce and water) in a small bowl.  Make sure to get all the lumps out. Bring the stew back up to a boil.  Add thickener, stirring constantly until well combined and thickened.  Simmer another 10 minutes. 

Serve on plates over steaming hot white rice with a side of macaroni salad for a authentic Hawaiian style plate lunch!

Make sure you got a big pot before anything else!  The beef stew will be better the next day as the flavor gets richer.  Skim off the fat at the top before reheating portions.

Secret tip: add a tsp of white or apple cider vinegar to the stew so it lasts longer especially if you bring it to the beach and you don't want it to spoil from reheating.  The acidity keeps it under control.

Serves 6 to 8

let's eat kaukautime!!  :D

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Cold Somen Salad Recipe


1pkg. somen noodles - I used four bundles  
1/2 head of lettuce shredded
ham or char siu pork, cut "matchsticks"
2 eggs + 1-2 tsp sugar, cooked into thin sheets, cut "matchsticks"
1 pkg of kamaboko, cut "matchsticks"
3 stalks green onions, chopped
1 Japanese cucumber (optional) cut into matchsticks

Somen Salad Dressing:

6 tbsp sugar
6tbsp cider vinegar
2tsp salt (or to taste)
1 tsp pepper (or to taste)
2 tsp sesame oil
1/2 cup oil
1 tsp shoyu (soy sauce)
lemon wedges to taste

Cooking method:

Cook somen per package instructions.
Chop, cut, shred ingredients and set aside.
Prepare eggs and fry on nonstick frying pan and fold into sheet and cut thin.

Add all ingredients for dressing and whisk up in mixing bowl.

Add all ingredients in a bowl and drizzle dressing over ingredients for a colorful refreshing cold noodle salad on a hot summer day!!

So ono enjoy!!

7-11 in Hawaii sell these like this!!

Kamaboko (red fish cake)

Romaine Salad with Chicken, Cheddar, Apples, Spiced Pecans and Cranberry Vinaigrette


1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 3-4 medium)
Salt and black pepper
1 tablespoon canola oil
1/2 cup water
1 large head romaine lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces (about 8-10 cups)
8 ounces sharp or extra-sharp cheddar cheese, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 Granny Smith apple, cored and chopped or sliced thin
1/2 red onion, sliced thin
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1 cup spiced pecans, store-bought or following the simple recipe below

1 recipe Dried Cranberry Vinaigrette, see below for recipe


Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and season both sides with the salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a large 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat until the oil is shimmering and hot. Add the chicken and cook until it is nicely browned on one side, about 3 minutes. Flip the chicken over, add the water, and cover the skillet. Cook the chicken, letting it poach, until it is cooked through, about 5-7 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and let it cool slightly before carving.

Toss the lettuce, cheese, apple, pecans, onion and dried cranberries together. Divide the salad among the serving plates. Slice the chicken on a diagonal and arrange over the salad. Serve with the vinaigrette. I prefer to let everyone douse their own salad with dressing, but you could toss the salad with 1/2 cup or so of the vinaigrette before assembling it on the plates and serve the extra dressing on the side.

Quick Spiced Pecans:

2 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
2 cups pecan halves
1 tablespoon sugar

Melt the butter in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Stir in the spices and then the pecans. Toast the nuts, stirring often, until the color deepens slightly and they are lightly toasted, about 5-7 minutes. Transfer the nuts to a bowl and toss with the sugar. Let them cool completely before tossing with the salad.

Dried Cranberry Vinaigrette:

*Makes about 1 1/2 cups dressing

1/4 cup cranberry juice or water
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup red wine or raspberry vinegar
1 shallot, peeled and quartered
1 small garlic clove, peeled
2 teaspoons fresh thyme (or 1/2 teaspoon dried)
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Combine the cranberry juice (or water) and cranberries in a small microwave-safe bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and microwave on high for one minute until hot. Process the hot cranberry mixture, vinegar, shallot, garlic, thyme, mustard, salt and pepper in a blender until the shallot and garlic are finely chopped. With the blender running, add the oil and continue to blend until the dressing is smooth and well-combined. Thin the dressing, if needed, with additional cranberry juice. 
Serves 4-6
Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Enjoy good kaukau!!  :)

Monday, May 02, 2011

Basic Balsamic Vinaigrette


1 garlic clove
1/4 cup quaity Balsamic Vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Dijon Mustard
pinch of salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste
3/4 cup quality extra virgin olive oil
sugar or sweetener optional to your taste or none for a zero carb dressing


Add the Balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard and salt, pepper, and garlic.

Give it a quick whisk  allowing the mustard and vinegar to combine and begin to emulsify.

Or you can cheat like I do and use my salad dressing mixer shown below which I purchased from Pampered Chef along with the garlic press!

Begin to slowly add the olive oil until well combined, being careful to add just a little bit at a time so the dressing will emulsify, the mustard should help emulsification so don't leave it out. 

You can add other ingredients, herbs and spices to kick it up a notch it's up to you.  But this is the basic recipe I use.

Store in a glass jar for about a week.

Ono!!  Enjoy with your Apple Orchard Chicken Salad!!


Kamaboko (Japanese Fish Cake) & Crab Dip


1 block Kamaboko (the pink and white one)
1 (8 oz) package of imitation crab meat
1 block cream cheese    
1/4 cup Mayonnaise
1/2 cup Green onions
Salt to taste
Black pepper to taste
1 box of Nabisco Ritz Crackers

Cooking Instructions:

Shred or chop the Kamaboko. Mix all 4 ingredients together.
Place all ingredients into a food processor and blend well, adding more mayonnaise if necessary to get the mixture to medium dip consistency.
Add salt or pepper to taste.

Serve on Ritz crackers, townhouse or rice crackers.

Best when eaten with either Ritz Crackers or Townhouse.

Not to mention a great filling for won tons!! which become none other than Crab Rangoon!!  :D

Enjoy and don't get addicted!!  LOL

Restaurant Style Egg Foo Yung


5 large Eggs
1 tsp Salt (if using canned crabmeat, reduce to 1/2 teaspoon)
1 tsp Dry sherry
Dash Black pepper
1/2 C Fresh or canned crabmeat (or shredded cooked pork, chicken, ham, beef or shrimp)
1/2 C Julienne celery, no leaves
1/2 C Dried black mushrooms, softened in hot water for 15 minutes, squeezed dry, stems removed, and shredded
1 C Fresh bean sprouts (or drained and shredded bamboo shoots)
1/4 C Thinly sliced onion
3 Tbsp Canola, corn or peanut oil    

Restaurant-style Brown Sauce:

1 C Chicken broth
1/2 tsp Ketchup
1-1/2 tsp Light soy sauce
2 Tbsp Flour, mixed w/ 2 Tbsp cold water into a smooth paste

Cooking Instructions:

Gently beat the eggs with the salt, sherry and pepper. Add the crabmeat, celery, black mushrooms, bean sprouts and onion and mix well. Heat the oil in a non-stick wok or stir-fry pan over medium-high heat until the oil is hot but not smoking. Test by dipping the end of a spatula into the egg mixture and then into the oil; it should sizzle. Add the egg mixture to the hot oil. Let the eggs sit without stirring until the bottom is slightly set but the top is still runny. With a spatula, turn sections of the eggs over. Continue turning the eggs until the mixture is set on both sides. Serve immediately.


Mix the ingredients together in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wire whisk. Bring to a boil and stir until sauce is thickened. Simmer 2 minutes to eliminate the raw taste of the flour. Pour the sauce freely over the cooked eggs.