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crouching tyler

Vegetarian Hawaiian Dishes

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I've been asked to contribute a vegetarian Hawaiian entree and/or salad for a party being thrown for a friend. She is from Hawaii, now living in Seattle, and a vegetarian. The party's hosts would like to surprise her with Hawaiian food, as made by a variety of non-Hawaiians. I am not sure of the wisdom of having a bunch of people attempt a cuisine they are unfamiliar with, as a surprise, but it is not my party, so why not?

Since I haven't yet had the pleasure of visiting Hawaii, and have limited time for research, I thought I would see if any of you have bright ideas for me. The party is this Saturday, June 10th, in the late afternoon. Seattle has a decent selection of Asian grocers, so I can probably track down tropical and/or Asian ingredients without too much trouble.

I'd appreciate any advice you might have for me....

Thanks,

Robin

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Tyler, you could try to find poi or haupia. I know haupia comes in a mix form, it's sort of a coconut pudding. The poi would have to be air flown, but it's pounded taro so it's definitely vegetarian.

Those would be my recommendations.

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"Vegetarian Hawaiian entree" is almost an oxymoron because so many authentic Hawaiian entrees rely on a combination of meat and vegetables.

A couple of thoughts, however.

Noh Foods (www.nohfoods.com) makes a Hawaiian Poke Mix that combines dried red seaweed with Hawaiian salt and chiles. It's generally mixed with cubes of raw tuna to make a popular appetizer called Poke (POH-key), but it's also good with cubes of tofu. You should be able to find it at Uwajimaya.

Portuguese Bean Soup is a very popular local dish. It's usually made with smoked ham and sausage, but you can make a reasonable facsimile with veggie sausage (such as Boca brand or others if they're available in your area). There's a nice recipe at http://onokinegrindz.typepad.com/ono_kine_...de_feijao_.html

Noh is also the company that makes powdered haupia (coconut pudding) mix -- that's a dessert, I know, not an entree or salad. I seem to recall posting a from-scratch recipe in another thread.

Hawaii isn't big on salads except for the ubiquitous potato-macaroni salad (a combination of potato salad and macaroni salad, heavy on the mayonnaise). A tropical fruit salad is always a good bet, though. For fancier presentation, you can pile it into half pineapple shells.

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Poke made with tofu sounds great.

With regard to salads, I was thinking that some Asian salads and side dishes(seaweed, tsukemono, even kimchi) are common enough in Hawaii to seem "Hawaiian." Some of the Japanese salads are apt to be seasoned with bonito so I am not sure about picking them up ready-made. I imagine that vegetarians in Hawaii also eat a certain amount of Thai food but you would have to make it without fish sauce.

I am fond of a Hawaiian salad of sliced onion with pink alaea salt but you may not be able to find that salt inexpensively where you are.

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Poke made with tofu sounds great.

I am fond of a Hawaiian salad of sliced onion with pink alaea salt but you may not be able to find that salt inexpensively where you are.

Hmm, I have a jar in the kitchen, but it may have been a gift from someone returning from Hawaii - or it might be available in bulk locally - no doubt at the Spice Merchant in the market.

What about saimin salad?

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Thanks for your suggestions. As I have been browsing through the discussions in the Hawaii forum, I have noticed an absence of vegetarian items.

At this point, unless I come across new information, I am leaning towards making some sort of Thai salad - with either mango, or papaya - based on the idea that these fruits are avaialable in Hawaii. Weak, I know. But I am reluctant to attempt poke - given that I would be substituting an essential ingredient into a dish which I have not yet tasted in its original form.

I clearly have some exploring to do though. It should be fun.

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I am reluctant to attempt poke - given that I would be substituting an essential ingredient into a dish which I have not yet tasted in its original form.

The tofu isn't really a "substitute" as the recipe suggestion is right on the package of seasoning mix. It's really tasty and I make it for my vegetarian son-in-law wheneve he visits Hawaii. I've mailed him care packages of the mix, too. I think vegetarians at the party will be pleased because it's something out-of-the-ordinary to do with tofu.

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I am reluctant to attempt poke - given that I would be substituting an essential ingredient into a dish which I have not yet tasted in its original form.

The tofu isn't really a "substitute" as the recipe suggestion is right on the package of seasoning mix. It's really tasty and I make it for my vegetarian son-in-law wheneve he visits Hawaii. I've mailed him care packages of the mix, too. I think vegetarians at the party will be pleased because it's something out-of-the-ordinary to do with tofu.

Hmmm. Good to know. Maybe I will have to give it a try - While not a vegetarian myself, I am pro-tofu. For some reason, I had thought Poke, by definition, involved tuna. But given that I know next to nothing about hawaiian food, I am not surprised that I am wrong.

Thanks for the clarification.

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How about macaroni salad? Had it with every plate lunch when we were there. Basically: cooked macaroni mixed with mayo, sometimes with a few shreds of carrot mixed in. Simple but good.

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I am widely known to boe addicted to fatty meats. I will spare you the details. Nevertheless, I have minded other, more healthful cuisines.

From my perspective, the vegetarian glory of Hawaii is its fruits. The summer bounty now includes the lychee family, including rambutan and loong an. Kamiya Papaya and Apple bananas are other luxuries. Coconut and Macadamia nut items are also hot, especially combined with Hawaiian chocolate.

Then there is Hawaiian Kona Coffee beans, combined in various mixes with Hawaiian Vanilla, Hawaiian Chocolate, and the like. If your group was not averse to dairy products, a very wicked ice cream could be concocted. If dairy was not permitted, there would be a number of items yet possible.

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