Hawaii – Day 4 – Ko Olina

In 2013, tonemanblog lost a library of photographs leaving many broken links on older posts.  The following post is a restored version from a trip in 2011 trip to Hawaii.

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The Ko Olina Wedding Chapel

Destination weddings are big business in Hawaii.

Destination weddings are big business in Hawaii.

We got to the resort and they had a saltwater pool of beautiful fish like you would see in an aquarium.  All different colors and as we watched a gorgeous sting ray glided past.

Sting ray in the pool!

Sting ray in the pool!

The resort is luxurious!  We sat at this opulent seaside pool and ordered lunch, a healthy one at that!

No sting rays in this pool!

No sting rays in this pool!

A completely local meal, Hawaiian hebi with papaya salsa and a purple Hawaiian sweet potato.Watching the luau hula from our restaurant table!

A completely local meal, Hawaiian hebi with papaya salsa and a purple Hawaiian sweet potato.Watching the luau hula from our restaurant table!

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Tin Fish – Fabulous Fish Tacos in San Diego!

Directly across from the San Diego Convention Center is Tin Fish (http://thetinfish.net).  It is a small restaurant with most of its seating outdoors–not a problem in sunny San Diego–and it serves primarily one thing, fish tacos. They do serve hamburgers and chicken nuggets; so if your convention partner doesn’t like fish tacos, bring them anyway.

Californians take their fish tacos seriously and here you can get your choice of 6 different kinds of fish and preparations.  The important thing about this is that the world over convention centers offer the epitome of pre-packaged inedible food.  I have experienced convention center food in at least 12 major American cities each and they all make airline food look appealing.

But here, just a short walk across the street is this gem of a spot.  I went at lunch during a week-long conference, so drinks were not on my menu but it did look like a fun “beachy” bar to spend some time.  It also looks like a spot that would be crazy busy during  a Padres game since Petco Field is a block away.

The yellowtail fish taco at Tin Fish.


Tandoori Scallops

This dish was served at Saffron at Chapel Hill, in North Carolina.  The intense heat of the Tandoori oven is ideal for the quick, high temperature sear required for scallops.  They were done perfectly and the red marinade penetrated only partially through the scallops so when cut in half the cross-section had a red outer ring and a white center. 

The green sauce was lively and spicy but not particularly hot.  The dish is possibly the best Indian seafood I have ever enjoyed!


New England Clam Chowder using Homemade Fish Stock

This recipe began with the roasting of fresh whole red snappers.  As mentioned in that post, the ultimate goal of this was New England clam chowder.  Following is a recipe for what I consider to be some really excellent chowder; but first, one has to make the stock.  OK, one does not have to make the stock, but not only is fish stock much easier to make than, say, chicken stock, it also has a bigger reward.  You can buy decent chicken stock in the store but I do not feel that is the case with fish stock.

Homemade Fish Stock

The ingredients are:

  • Fish (bones, heads, lobster/shrimp shells, or even some inexpensive filets that were on sale.  Just make sure it is not from an oily fish)
  • Onions (2 medium, peeled and quartered)
  • Celery (2 stalks, coarsely chopped)
  • Mushrooms (not required but add nice depth to flavor)
  • Parsley (here you could use the stems, reserving the leaves for something else)
  • Peppercorns (whole peppercorns, about a half teaspoonful)
  • Bay Leaf (one)
  • Thyme (a tablespoon of fresh or a teaspoon of dried)
  • Fennel Seeds (just a few, like a quarter teaspoon)
  • Garlic (1 clove, chopped into 3 or 4 pieces)
  • White Wine (about 1-2 cups)
  • Water

    The bones from roasting whole fish may not look very pretty but they can be the basis for a few more great meals by using them in homemade fish stock!

Place everything but the water in a pot and bring the wine to boil for 3-5 minutes making sure it does not all cook off.  This blends the flavors of the fish, vegetables, and wine before the water is added.

Add the water.  You want the amount of water that you need for stock.  There will not be a lot of evaporation, so put in only what you need (plus maybe a little extra) so that you don’t dilute your ingredients too much.

Bring the water to a boil and turn down to a simmer for 20 minutes.  Let cool, strain into a container and discard everything else.

That’s it! It’s surprisingly easy and will make a huge difference in the taste of whatever you make with it!

Note:  There is no salt in this recipe.  While that will make the stock taste a little bland, it is because you want to reserve the control of how much salt is in whatever you make with the stock.

New England Clam Chowder

Authentic Virginia country smoked bacon gives this chowder a more rustic and hearty flavor and aroma.

New England Clam Chowder is usually light in color, gray to almost white.  For a few reasons, mine will come out more golden and while that may not set well with some purists, let your taste buds be the judge.

The recipe calls for bacon, and any store-bought bacon will do the job.  That said, every fall our family makes a trip to the Shenandoah Mountains and on the way home we stop at the legendary Sperryville Emporium where we buy a big Virginia country ham and smoked bacon. 

This bacon is very smoky and more fatty than commercially sold bacon.  Most of us would not want to eat a slice of this with our eggs for breakfast.  It is, however, superb as a flavoring ingredient in things like this chowder!

This time I would use this Virginia smoked bacon for my chowder and the results would be a smokier and deeper flavor.

The ingredients are:

  • Bacon, 4oz, cut in small pieces
  • Clams. canned, 1 qt with liquid
  • Fish Stock, 1 qt
  • onion, 1 med, diced
  • potatoes, 1 lb, peeled and diced
  • celery, 3 stalks, diced
  • flour, 1 1/2 Tbs
  • Worcestershire Sauce, 1 tsp
  • bay leaf, one
  • thyme, dried, 1/2 tsp
  • milk, 2 cups
  • cream, 1 cup
  • parsley, 1/2 cup, chopped
  • hot sauce, 1/4 tsp
  • s&p

Drain the clams and reserve the liquid.  Using the clam liquid (and a little fish stock if you need more liquid) simmer the diced potatoes until nearly cooked through.  You want them to still be hard because they will cook more at the end.

Strain potatoes and again, reserve the liquid.

Do not cook the potatoes completely because they will cook more at the end.

In the pot in which you will make the soup, fry the bacon.

Add the onion and celery and saute until softened.  Classic New England Clam Chowder would not allow the vegetables to brown and here is where I begin to develop the golden color mentioned above.  I allow them to brown just slightly.  The slight caramelization develops the onion, celery and bacon flavors a little more and again, the proof is in the flavor.

Add the flour to the mixture and continue to cook.  The flour will mix with the bacon fat and form a roux which needs to be cooked for at least a minute or two to cook out the flour flavor.  Do not, however, cook the roux to a dark color as one might do for, say, gumbo.

When the roux is ready, gradually whisk in the clam liquid, then the fish stock, and the bay leaf.  Allow this to simmer for 30 minutes.  In my opinion, here is where you are really making the soup!  The bacon and veggies, the homemade fish stock, and the clam liquid are now all reducing together and the real flavor is made right here!

Saute the bacon and vegetables until just beginning to brown.

At this point put the milk in a measuring cup or bowl and microwave it until it is warm.  This way when you add it to the dish it will not halt all cooking by throwing cold milk into the mix.  Add the warm milk to the soup and bring to a simmer.  

Add the potatoes and thyme and simmer until the potatoes are finished cooking.

Add the clams and season with Worcestershire, hot sauce, and s&p.  I have listed some suggested measurements above, but these are guidelines.  This step should be done to taste–your taste.  I would not add enough hot sauce to make the soup hot, that’s just not the style of soup we’re making; but, I would add a few dashes of it for just a slight bright note in the soup.

The final step is to whisk in the cream and add the chopped parsley.  Bring this to a simmer and immediately remove from heat. 

The finished product, a slightly golden version of this classic New England recipe.

Once you taste this soup, you will find it very hard to get clam chowder in lunch cafe!  At the very least you will have the satisfaction when you taste it of knowing that your own chowder is better!


Seared Tuna on Sesame-Soy Kale


This recipe is quick to make and a crowd pleaser!  It has an Asian tone.  A great compliment to this meal would be my Sesame Noodles!

The Tuna

Marinate tuna medallions in soy, white wine, sesame oil, garlic, and scallions.  (About 1-2 tablespoons of each liquid, two scallions chopped and 2 clove of garlic minced.)  You could substitute sake or rice wine for the white wine.  Experiment with the flavor you like best.

Let the tuna marinate for 30-60 minutes depending on the timing of other items.

Sear the tuna on both sides in a very hot skillet with some vegetable oil.  It will generate a lot of smoke so use the fan on your range hood!  The amount of time depends on the thickness and temperature of the fish, and the degree of doneness you prefer.  If your house is like mine, there are varied degrees of doneness preferred so I put a couple small pieces in a minute or two before the others for those who want it cooked through.

The Kale

Preheat oven to 400°. 

Strip the kale off its stems and chop.  Toss it in a bowl with a tablespoon of soy sauce, a tablespoon of sesame seeds, a sprinkle of vegetable oil, and a little rice wine vinegar if you have it.  (last ingredient optional)

Spread the kale mixture on a baking sheet and roast for 10-15 minutes, depending on how “toasted” you want it. 

Server seared tuna on a bed of the kale.

For more on roasting kale, see my earlier post on Roasted Kale.


Cooking and Serving a Whole Fish

This red snapper was about 3 lbs and came from the store dressed and scaled.

I wanted to make New England Clam Chowder but my recipe calls for fish stock.  I could buy fish stock but it’s not the same and I don’t make chowder all that often.  So this would be a 3 part recipe.

I found some nice red snappers at the fish market and bought two.  I would serve them for dinner and then reclaim the bones and heads for making stock.  Then I would make the chowder with that stock.

Serving a whole fish is rare in the United States and one could easily be intimidated by the prospect but it is not that hard and can make for a special presentation.

Cut diagonal slits in the fish right through to the bone.

Begin by cutting slits in the fish on both sides.  Cut them through the skin and flesh to the bone.  Season the fish with salt and pepper, both inside the fish and in the slits.

Make a paste of parsley, capers, garlic and a little olive oil. Chop them all and salt them as you chop so they grind into a paste.

Chop parsley, capers, garlic and olive oil into a paste using salt to blend them.


 Spread the paste over the outside of the fish pressing it into the slits.


Stand the fish up on a sheet pan, spreading it open if necessary to get it to stand up.  Roast it in a hot oven (400°) for about 30 minutes.  When you start to smell the warm delicious aroma in the house it’s probably done.

Stand the fish up on a sheet pan, spreading open if necessary. Roast at 400 for 30 minutes.

When the fish is ready, simply slide a knife behind the gills, slicing under the skin toward the tail.  You will feel your way with the knife so that it slides over the bones below.  Lift the filet from the fish and then pick up the tail and the entire spine and bones will pull away, along with the head and you are left with the bottom filet.

Slide a knife under the filet but over the bones from gills to tail, then left out the tail, bones, and head.

Put the filets on a platter and drizzle with fresh squeezed lemon juice.

Don’t forget to save the bones and head for making fish stock…that’s the next posting and it’s surprisingly easy.  Fresh stock is one of those things that makes home cooked food taste better than store-bought!


Grilled Mahi Mahi on Thai Style Vegetables

Grilled Mahi Mahi over Thai Style Vegetables

Tonight I had a variety of veggies and some really fresh mahi mahi.  The vegetables included a red onion, a small zucchini and yellow squash, a couple cloves of garlic and a green bell pepper.  I cut them into a fine dice and sautéed them in vegetable oil on medium high.

One little trick is to make sure you get the oil in the pan really hot, almost smoking, before adding the veggies.  You should hear a satisfying sizzle when they hit that pan.  Resist the temptation to stir constantly.  Let them sit a few minutes and then give one toss.  The idea is that you want them to brown and if you keep moving them they tend to steam more than they brown.

Meanwhile I heated the grill and brushed the fish with olive oil.  I then seasoned it with a coarse grain salt and fresh ground pepper.  For grilling leave the skin on as it will help the fish to hold together.  Start the grilling skin side up and always finish skin side down.

One reason for brushing the fish with oil is to be able to lift it from the hot grill and give it a 90° turn to get the nice grill marks.

While the fish grills, return to the vegetables once they’re beginning to brown and squeeze a whole lime over them.  Then add several heavy dashes of Asian fish sauce.  This smells quite strong out of the bottle and in the pan if you’re not used to it but the flavor is considerably more mellow and it gives food an exotic flavor.

Once the flavors have mixed, a minute or so kill the heat and leave in the pan until needed.

When the fish is cooked to the desired doneness, spread a circle of the vegetables on the center of a plate and top with he fish.  Drizzle with a little lime juice and sesame oil, garnish with a wedge of lime and enjoy!


Weeknight Dinner: Wahoo!

Grilled Wahoo with fresh sautéed summer vegetables on herbed quinoa.

The grocery store had this beautiful fresh Wahoo at the fish counter and it was calling out to me!  It grills up really white and firm and was completely delicious.  I hope we see a lot more of this fish.

I served it on a bed of herbed quinoa and with sautéed vegetables all local and in-season.  I even paired it with local wine, opting for a Virginia Viognier!  Start to finish, 30 minutes.


Recreating Hawaiian Flavor Back Home in Virginia

Grilled Mahi Mahi with caramelized Maui onions, Asian slaw and slices of fresh papaya.

So what to do when I’m not ready for the vacation to be over–but it is.  I just spent two weeks eating amazing food from 5,000 miles away and now it’s time to go back to eating local and in-season. 

This week’s CSA bag included a lot of greens, a head of purple cabbage, a lot of herbs, and broccoli.

I decided that gave me enough to work with and I would set to recreating some of the bright tropical flavors we had enjoyed.

I started with a treat I had brought back in my suitcase, some Maui onions.  These are sweet delicious onions similar to Vidalia onions.  I caramelized them and tossed them with a small amount of soy sauce and lime juice at the very end.

The dressing for the Asian slaw, peanut butter, soy sauce, rice vinegar and sesame oil.

Next I turned to the slaw.  I had a head of purple cabbage, green onions, and bunches of fresh cilantro and mint.  I chopped all of these and whisked a dressing of peanut butter, soy sauce, rice vinegar and sesame oil.  (proportions were about a half cup each peanut butter and vinegar, a tablespoon soy sauce and two tablespoons sesame oil.)

The vegetables were all locally grown and in season and the dressing gave it the tropical flavor.  The cilantro and mint worked together to give it a great taste.

The fish was simply seasoned and grilled so that the flavor of the fish did most of the heavy lifting.  I garnished it with the Maui onions and some sesame seeds.

Mahi Mahi simply seasoned and grilled; garnished with caramelized Maui onions and sesame seeds.

The final tropical touch was a fresh papaya which was neither local, nor–I suspect–in season when it was harvested.  It goes against everything the CSA stands for but really gave it that tropical touch!

I squeezed fresh lime juice over it and garnished with chopped cilantro. 

The tropical touch, fresh papaya slices with lime juice and cilantro.

It was a nice fusion of ingredients from this region and flavors from afar.  It was a great summertime meal with bright sharp flavors and an appealing mix of colors and textures.


Hawaii – Day 15 of 15

One last time...the Ahi Tuna Sashimi

Did I mention we’re actually on vacation for 17 days?

Tomorrow, Day 16 we leave Maui and return to Oahu in the afternoon.  At 9 pm we depart Honolulu for home.  It will actually be 3:00 eastern time Monday morning!  We get home Monday afternoon around 4:00 pm and it’s off to work Tuesday morning!

So it will be full immersion upon return, but I suspect the Aloha spirit will not leave us for at least 48 hours.

Today we did almost nothing!  We slept in, went to the beach, bobbed in the Pacific, and then moved to the pool.  We did a little shopping and pretty much had the day we might have on any vacation…until dinner.  At dinner we went to the hotel restaurant which overlooks the ocean and had one last Ahi Tuna Sashimi, Some Manila Clams with an Asian preparation, and raw oysters in Ponzu sauce and wasabi (my new fav).

I have traveled to Europe, to many islands in the Caribbean, and all over the United States and in my opinion, Maui is the most beautiful place I have ever seen.  I love Colorado, I love the coast of Maine, I love Antigua, I love Anchorage; but, acre for acre, I have never seen as beautiful a place as Maui.

I am a very fortunate man to have been married to a good  and loving woman for 25 years, and to have a mother who felt she needed to send us to Hawaii to celebrate our anniversary (and a father who made it possible for her to make that decision!).  I thank them all.

And while the final judgement is not quite in, it appears my three children did pretty well keeping the household going for two weeks without us.  I am proud of them and grateful.

I will take about a week off from blogging as I reintroduce myself to the world of technology and government contracting.  I will be back next weekend and ready to recreate some of the amazing food we enjoyed here in Hawaii.

Thanks to my many readers who shared their thoughts and comments on my blog.  While we were here my blog received its 5,000th page view since its beginning in February!  I loved sharing the experience and I’m happy you found it interesting.

Mahalo and Aloha!

...and one last time, sunset in Maui. This time the palm trees held the sun like a jewel in the setting of a ring.


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