How to Cook ʻAhi
by Dennis Painter
Our favorite place to eat on the Big Island is out on the lānai (veranda) at Hale Pōhaku! Dennis grills ʻahi and we usually have Waimea butter lettuce or other fresh local greens with sunflower sprouts and papaya seed dressing (Original Hawaiʻi Hula Dressing), taro rolls from KTA, purple potatoes or local sweet potatoes, and macnut ice cream for dessert. ʻOno (delicious)!
- Rule number one, don't overcook ʻAhi.
- Cook it on the Jenn-Air grill.
- Coat both sides lightly with butter and squeeze a few drops of fresh lemon juice on each side.
- For ʻahi about ½" thick, grill for 2 minutes on each side.
- Add about 1 minute for each ¼" of additional thickness.
- For sandwiches using ʻahi about ¼" thick, grill each side for one minute, or a little less.
Note: ʻAhi is the Hawaiian name for yellowfin tuna, or Hawaiian wahoo, and it is our favorite fish! If you buy it in the market (we recommend KTA), look for a deep red color similar to raw beef (it lightens as it cooks). It is a wonderfully flavored fish! We like ours rare to medium-rare when grilled and even raw as sashimi.
Mahimahi or ʻŌpakapaka
- A great way to fix mahimahi or ʻōpakapaka (pink snapper) comes from John, another owner at Hale Pōhaku. He coats the fish with mayo and then sautés it in the mayo, which supplies the oil and the flavorings. It is great and easy!
Dennis has another way to prepare Mahi that is also wonderful. He just sautées it in a skillet with butter and Meyer lemon as a sauce until it is nicely browned on the outside, but still very moist on the inside! Don't overcook, as overcooking the fish destroys it. ;)
Note: Mahimahi is so-called "dolphin fish" but is in no way related to dolphins and is a true fish, not a mammal. It is a gorgeous fish with iridescent colors when in the water. It is a moist fish and takes well to baking and sautéeing.
ʻŌpakapaka is one of the most popular (and hence expensive) fishes in restaurants in Hawaiʻi. It is a mild flavored fish, but crisps up nicely with the mayo treatment, which also brings out its flavor.
Dennis also makes piña coladas, which we enjoy on the lānai in the afternoons, while we watch the naiʻa (dolphins) and honu (sea turtles). I prefer the taste of the dark rum, so these turn out a light to medium brown rather than white. But very tasty!
by Dennis Painter
½ 15-oz. can Coco Lopez coconut cream
1 cup pineapple juice
½ tray ice cubes
1 cup dark rum
2 to 3 tablespoons pineapple chunks (optional but highly recommended)
- Mix coconut cream, pineapple juice and ice cubes in blender until finely ground.
- Add rum and blend again.
- If desired, add the pineapple chunks and blend 10 seconds just to chop (we love it that way).
- Serve in tall wine glasses with a wedge of pineapple for a tropical look.
This is Sherron's favorite way to prepare ono, a firm white fish with a very nice flavor. The panko crumbs keep the fish moist inside, while the crumbs get nice and crunchy on the outside. And it's very easy and tasty! This serves 4, depending upon the amount of fish.
by Sherron Bull
½ cube butter, or more as needed
4 pieces of ono filets, about 1" thick
Soy milk to dip fish in (or use regular milk)
½ package panko crumbs (Japanese bread crumbs), enough to thoroughly coat the fish
Granulated garlic powder, to taste
Dried or fresh basil, to taste
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
- Preheat oven to 500° F. Cut butter into pieces into baking dish large enough to hold all the fish without crowding and place into preheating oven to melt. Remove from oven when melted and bottom of dish is well coated with butter (add more butter if bottom is not well covered).
- Pour milk into shallow bowl. Place panko crumbs on flat plate.
- Wipe fish clean with damp paper towel and dip the fish into the milk, then place on panko crumbs on plate and turn to coat evenly. Press crumbs into fish so that they stick and the fish is well coated.
- Place each piece of coated fish in butter in baking dish, then turn to coat other side with butter. It needs to be well wet with the butter in order for the crumbs to get crispy during baking. Hint: If there isn't enough butter, I will add slivers of butter to the top of the fish before placing in the oven to make up for it.
- When all the fish has been prepared and placed in the baking dish, sprinkle it with the garlic powder, basil and pepper. Place the baking dish in the oven and cook for 20 minutes (for 1" fish, less if the fish is thinner).
- Use a spatula to move the cooked fish from the baking dish to individual plates when it is done. I like to spoon the extra panko crumbs from the baking pan onto the fish portions, although they are usually quite brown by the end of cooking time.
- Serve with Meyer Lemon slices, if desired.
by Sherron Bull
- Another pūpū (appetizer) we really like is KTA's Mountain Apple brand (the brand they use for their locally produced foods) smoked ʻahi! I slice it into thin ¼" slices and briefly stir fry it for about a minute just until hot in a pan sprayed with oil! It is so tasty and smells wonderful!
You can also add a few sprinkles of soy sauce (we like San-J's Organic Tamari Sauce), to taste.
Dennis' Macaroni Salad
This macaroni salad is a favorite of our hānai son, Dave, who lives on the mainland. We always have to make sure that we have it made and ready for him when he arrives to visit. It is tangy with lots of dry mustard and pepper, and the Edelweiss dressing adds just the right amount of tasty zing plus gives it moisture. You can always reduce or increase the amount of dry Chinese mustard to suit your tastes.
by Dennis Painter
1 12-ounce package macaroni (we like the tri-color spiral pasta, as it holds the sauce better)
1 bottle Edelweiss Creamy Tarragon dressing
6 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, diced
½ red onion, diced
4-ounce can sliced black olives, drained
1 to 2 teaspoons dry mustard, or more to taste
Black pepper, to taste
- Cook macaroni as directed until just al dente. Drain and cool.
- Add ½ bottle Edelweiss Tarragon salad dressing and stir well.
- Add cheese, onions and olives. Mix well.
- Add mustard and pepper to taste.
- Refrigerate until served, for up to one week. Add more Edelweiss dressing, if needed to moisten, and stir well before serving.
Note: Even though the Edelweiss Restaurant closed its doors for good when Chef Hans-Peter Hager retired in 2007, his bottled dressing is still available at KTA and other stores. There are several different Edelweiss varieties.
Haupia Coconut Pudding
by Auntie Maebelle
This is a recipe from Auntie Maebelle on the Aloha Joe website. I use a larger can of coconut milk and reduce the water appropriately. This is very good and easy, but it can be a little difficult to get the servings out of the dish in one piece! We love it with crushed pineapple spooned over the top.
1 12-ounce can coconut milk, chilled (not coconut cream)
1½ cups water
½ cup + 2 tablespoons sugar
½ cup + 2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 7-ounce can crushed pineapple, in its own juice (optional)
- Combine all ingredients except the pineapple in a saucepan. Stir over medium heat until thickened.
- Lower heat and cook for 10 minutes, stirring constantly to avoid lumping or burning.
- Pour into an 8"x8" dish and chill until set. Cut into squares to serve. Spoon drained crushed pineapple over top of each square, if desired.
You can get a lot of local produce at the local Farmers Markets. I like the hoʻiʻo when they have them - they look like fiddleheads, which they are. They are a native fern and the young fronds can be eaten raw or cooked.
- Soak the fronds in cold water to help loosen any soil, then wash them gently as they are very fragile.
- Steam fronds very briefly for about 5 minutes in the top of a double-boiler. Serve hot or cold.
I like to sprinkle them with furikake, which is a Japanese seaweed and sesame seed "gourmet topping." My favorite is Urashima Ao Nori Goma Furikake, which contains only prepared seaweed and sesame seed. A lot of the other brands have sugar, salt, and a lot of other undesirable ingredients. The Urashima brand has become difficult to find lately, however.
by Sherron Bull
This makes a heavy, dense but tasty loaf. We love it with apple bananas (see Other Favorites for a photo), but it is also good with regular bananas. It is also very tasty made with macnuts instead of walnuts, which really gives it a tropical flair!
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
½ cup butter
1½ cups very ripe bananas, mashed (about 4)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 large eggs
2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup nuts, chopped macnuts or black walnuts
- Preheat oven to 325° F. Butter large glass loaf pan.
- Place butter and brown sugar in mixing bowl and cream together. Add eggs and mix well.
- Peel bananas and cut into chunks. Sprinkle with lemon juice, then coarsely mash (I use a potato masher). Add to sugar mixture and mix thoroughly.
- Mix flour, baking powder and salt together. Add to banana mixture and mix quickly.
- Add chopped nuts and mix briefly. Pour into prepared loaf pan.
- Bake 60 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center of loaf comes out clean. It tends to get a little crusty and dark on the outside before the inside gets done.
- Invert and remove from pan onto wire rack to cool. Slice to serve.
Other Favorites:These are foods and other items we have found that we really enjoy!
- Be sure you try apple bananas! They are small (about 3-6") and have
a tart apple-like taste and are delicious!
The regular bananas seem tasteless to me now in comparison! We go through a hand of the apple bananas every few days, at least. We like them so much, we have planted them all over our back yard!
They usually have a distinct "nipple" on the non-stem end, but just ask the vendor and they will tell you which they are. If really green, they can take 4-5 days or more to ripen. They are very popular and many vendors have them, usually for about $2-3 a hand (about 14-15 bananas) at the Farmer's Market. If you get them at the Flea Mart near the Kona Inn, expect to pay the same for only 4-5 bananas!! KTA does carry them, but they are always much larger than the ones available from the farmers markets. We prefer the smaller ones - our experience has been that the smaller bananas are more tangy and flavorful than the larger ones. There are several varieties, 'though, so the tanginess can vary.
- 100% Kona Coffee! We used to drink Kona Jacks 100% Kona Coffee all the time, but right now it is in transition.
bought Kona Jacks from the Kelleys and are converting it to totally organic. They are still selling it under the Kona Jacks brand in the stores and it is very much the same. However, we also found that we really like
own brand of coffee, too, so we have been drinking a lot of it. They are really great people and sell a lot of other wonderful products at the Keauhou Farmers Market, so you should stop by their booth. And be sure to try their Hawaiian Wake-Up Body Scrub — it does amazing things for your skin!
Sherron also really likes Sweet Spirit Farms 100% Kona Coffee in Honaunau, which is sold at the Keauhou and South Kona Green farmers markets. It is also one of the lesser priced coffees, which makes it an even better deal!
The farmers markets and flea marts also have many other brands of Kona coffee — watch out for (and avoid) the non-100% Kona ones! There are a great many brands of 100% Kona coffee, as the coffee is produced on many little farms, usually family owned, some of which produce their own labels. Many of them are very good!
A good place to check them out is the 100% Kona Coffee Farmers Association (KCFA) website, which works to promote legislation to protect the Kona Coffee name by requiring clear labeling of the 10% blends, as well as revision of the blend law to require a larger percentage of Kona Coffee in any coffee bearing the Kona label. If you love your 100% Kona Coffee, join the KCFA and help support 100% Kona! Other good coffees we have tasted include Kona Blue Sky in Holualoa, which is also good, but even more expensive. Mauna Kona Coffee is also very good and is reasonably priced. Paradise Found Hawaiʻi coffee is also quite good and moderately priced. There are many others to try and you are sure to find a favorite!
Here are a few of the websites of 100% Kona coffees we have tasted and liked:
- Luana Farm 100% Kona Coffee @ http://www.luanafarm.com/Luana_Farm/Welcome.html
- Sweet Spirit Farms 100% Kona Coffee @ http://www.sweetspiritfarms.com/
- Mauna Kona Coffee 100% Kona Coffee @ http://www.maunakonacoffee.com/
- Kona Blue Sky 100% Kona Coffee @ http://www.konablueskycoffee.com/
- Paradise Found 100% Kona Coffee @ http://paradisefoundHawaii.com/
- Kona Mountain Coffee, 100% Kona Coffee @ http://www.konamountaincoffee.com/
- Smoked ʻahi, KTA's Mountain Apple brand. Yummy! This makes a great pūpū
simply sliced and stir fried a minute. Delicious! Closest thing to bacon for those of us who no longer eat pork. ;)
- Ikari Tonkatsu Sauce. It is great on rice, tonkatsu and
stir-fry. Very flavorful! Bottled, available at KTA and other stores.
- Papayas! We prefer the regular orange-fleshed Solo variety, but you can
also find pink-fleshed Sunrise or Strawberry varieties at the Farmers Market
and flea markets (non-GMO). We like ours with a squeeze of lime!
If you can find them, the best local varieties of avocado we have tasted are
Linda, Kahaluʻu and Malama avocados. You will have to get them at one of the real farmers
markets like Keauhou or the South Kona Green Market (at Amy B.H. Greenwell
Ethnobotanical Gardens in Capt. Cook) where only local produce is sold, otherwise
all that you will find are usually Sharwil, imported, or unidentified "local"
varieties. We only buy local; we don't
buy imports. And in a recent article on a survey of consumers and restaurant
owners, the favorites pretty closely matched our own: Linda, Kahaluʻu, Malama, Yamagata (and
a few others). Imports came out last in the voting.
- Kona Chips (formerly Kona Kitch'n Cook'd potato chips), manufactured by
Sansei Chips, Inc., Capt. Cook Furukawa Potato Chips. On our trip in November
2001, we found Kona Kitch'n Cook'd potato chips had renamed and repackaged
their chips, but they are still great! They are now called "Kona Chips" and
are in a larger black bag, and their store/factory is now located right next
to the Manago Hotel. Crunchy, tasty chips!! (808) 323-3785.
- Waimea butter lettuce; hydroponics, no soil (KTA)
- Sunflower Sprouts, "Kona Grown", Jack Sprout Foods, PO Box 1805, Kailua-Kona,
HI 96745. Usually available from KTA, although they often are temporarily
out. We really like these on our salads.
- Edelweiss Tarragon Mustard salad dressing. This dressing is also
good on green salads, but we primarily use it to spice up our macaroni salad (see
recipe). We also love it as a sauce for steamed broccoli.
Note: even though the Edelweiss restaurant sadly closed in 2008, their dressing is available from KTA and other stores.
- Papaya Seed Dressing, Original Hawaiʻi Hula Dressing, Hawaiʻi Food Manufacturing.
- Feast from the East Sesame Dressing, whose motto is
For the Best Chinese Chicken Salad. This is a great dressing for salads of all kinds — including Chinese Chicken Salad. This is probably our favorite and is available from Costco.
- Urashima Ao Nori Goma Furikake, Japanese Gourmet Topping. Contains prepared
seaweed and sesame seeds only. I like this on my salads, potatoes, and other
vegetables. Very hard to find, but there are other varieties with additional
ingredients that aren't bad. You can usually find them on sale at Long's,
KTA and other markets. I also like to add this to the packaged udon noodles
to give them extra flavor. (9/19/2008)
- Purple fleshed sweet potatoes from the farmers market are beautiful and
taste good, but can be very dry so you need to compensate. Try adding coconut milk
for a nice flavor change.
- Blue potatoes (which look purple to me), are very pretty and have the same
texture and moisture as normal potatoes. (KTA and sometimes Food4Less).
- Molokai sweet potatoes. Cook on high in the microwave for 5 minutes, split
and eat! (KTA)
- White fleshed sweet potatoes from the Farmer's Market are no ka oʻi! They
are moist and tasty, but unfortunately they rarely have them anymore. We were
told that all the tourists want the "pretty purple ones" instead.
- Meadow Gold Guava Nectar or POG (Passo-Guava). We drink a lot of this in
Kona. Popular local brand available at KTA and elsewhere.
- Bagel croissants at the KTA in Kailua town. Make a nice dinner roll with
good flavor and texture. Heat 5 minutes in 350° oven. The KTA in town
used to carry them all the time, but now they do so only occasionally.
- Buttermilk donuts (
bowling ballshaped) at the KTA bakery are good if you want a sweet snack. These are my best friend's favorite! I like mine with chocolate, she likes hers plain. We heat them in the oven for a few minutes just to warm. The KTA in town used to carry them all the time, but now they do so only occasionally.
- Reed's Ginger Beer. Available from Kona Natural Foods in the Safeway/Denny's
shopping Center above WalMart or at Keauhou Shopping Center.
- Wild Berry Zinger or Cranberry Cove herb tea. Celestial Seasoning's teas are available at Kona
Natural Foods in the Safeway/Denny's shopping Center above WalMart or at Keauhou.
- Kona Coffee Chocolates, Paradise Farms Co., POB 739, Honolulu 96808. If
you like chocolate and coffee, these are very nice. CostCo carries them if
you don't mind buying three at a time.
- Strawberries and Cream 100% fruit juice (pineapple, strawberries, coconut
cream, apple) by Hawaiʻi Island Food Folks, PO Box 1544, Kailua-Kona, HI 96745.
Sometimes available at the Farmers Markets.
- Frank's Foods Portuguese Sausage. Much less fatty than the Miko and other
brands. Split lengthwise and grill on the Jenn-Air, then serve on grilled
buns with mustard for tasty sandwiches. Also a popular pūpū sliced into rounds
- Huli huli BBQ chicken. Occasionally, you will see the chicken grilling on
an open air grill on the main road near the south end of Kainaliu. Stop and
take one back to the condo to eat; it's very tasty!
- Kalua pork, imu prepared, in purple container from Wilson Mkt. Inc., Honolulu.
Much less fatty than the Miko and other brands. Remove any large pieces of
fat and heat in the microwave. Makes a tasty (but greasy) sandwich with a
little mayo on a sourdough roll.
- Beef and Pork Lau Lau, Kulana Foods Ltd., Hilo, HI 96720. Three lau lau (taro,
beef, pork, pork fat, salt) wrapped in ti leaves. KTA.
- Hawaiian Royal Gold Potatoes, Aloha Potato Company, PO Box 184, Kualapuʻu,
Molokai, HI 96757. Good if you can find them. Used to get them at KTA, but
haven't seem them in quite a while.
- Vegetarian Recipes. We've also included some of our favorite, but mostly non-Hawaiian vegetarian recipes for you to try.
Is it ono or ʻono? Ahi or ʻahi?
For the longest time, we thought that the fish "ono" had been given it's name because it was so delicious! Haven't you heard over and over that "ono" means delicious? Well, ʻono does mean delicious. The problem is that the actual fish is not ʻono, it is just ono. That apostrophe, actually a glottal stop, or ʻokina in Hawaiian, at the beginning of the word makes it an entirely different word! Ono does not mean delicious; it is a type of fish — but ʻono (with the ʻokina) does mean delicious.
The same is true for 'ahi. We long thought that the yellowfin tuna was named ahi for "fire," perhaps because of its deep red flesh. Wrong again! Ahi does mean fire in Hawaiian, but that is not the name of the succulent deep red fleshed yellowfin tuna! The Hawaiian name for the yellowfin tuna is ʻahi! Again, that ʻokina makes all the difference!
|So we have:||
ʻono = delicious
ono = a delicious fish
ahi = fire
ʻahi = yellowfin tuna with flesh the color of fire
ʻAhi, an ʻono fish!
Luckily the Hawaiians are a wonderful, warm and patient people and are very understanding of our lack of knowledge and familiarity with their language. So don't be shy about trying out the language!