Hawaii: Plate Lunch

plate lunch

Plate Lunch is an iconic meal in Hawaii.

Usually served with two scoops of white rice, a meat or two, shredded cabbage and macaroni salad, this is a favorite and economical (though not light!) everyday lunch in Hawaii.

We took the form and modified it for Supperclub. Instead of rice, we included plantains stewed in coconut milk, a dish Peter remembered from his field work in Samoa.  We included a second starch in the form of taro, boiled and then mashed like mashed potatoes.  This was our substitute for poi, the paste of fermented taro that is usually served with Hawaiian food, but an acquired taste for most outsiders.  For the meat, we served Kalua pork (also called Kalua pig), traditionally cooked underground in an oven called an imu. Lacking an imu,  we made it an indoor kitchen. To lighten up the plate just a bit, we served it with shredded raw cabbage (which is traditional) as well as cucumber kimchi.

Sam Choy’s Kalua Pig from Epicurious

Makes 8 servings

1 5- to 5 1/4-pound boneless pork butt roast
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons Hawaiian alaea sea salt or coarse sea salt
3 frozen banana leaves, thawed
6 cups water, divided
1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Using small sharp knife, cut 1/4-inch-deep slits 1 inch apart all over pork roast.
  3. Rub 2 tablespoons sea salt all over pork.
  4. Unfold 1 banana leaf on work surface and place pork roast atop leaf. Fold up leaf around pork, enclosing completely. Repeat wrapping pork in remaining 2 banana leaves, 1 at a time.  Tie with kitchen string to secure, then wrap roast in foil. Place pork in roasting pan; pour 4 cups water into pan.
  5. Roast pork in oven until very tender when pierced with fork, about 5 hours. Unwrap pork and cool slightly. Shred pork and place in large bowl.
  6. Bring remaining 2 cups water and remaining 2 teaspoons salt to boil in small saucepan. Add liquid smoke; pour over pork and stir to blend. Let stand 10 minutes to allow liquid to flavor pork. Serve.

Fa’alifu Fa’i  Samoan green bananas in Coconut Milk

Recipe adapted from http://www.ipacific.com/forum/index.php?topic=526.0


2 bunches plantains

2 cans coconut milk

1 chopped onion


  1.   Fill a pot with water to cover the bananas and bring to a boil.
  2.   Add bananas and cook until soft when poked with a fork.  Drain.
  3. Mix coconut milk, onions and salt, stir together, and add to the bananas.  Bring to another boil.Cook until the sauce thickens.



At this point, you probably won’t have much room left, but you should definitely save room for dessert, coming up next!  For the rest of the menu, please visit the overview.  Aloha!

Hawaii: Spam Musubi!


Anyone who knows Hawaiian/Pacific Island cuisine will recognize what this is. Did you know that Spam is so beloved in Hawaii that Hawaiians consume 5 million pounds a year? That’s 6 cans per person (children included) per year. That’s too much. And if you’re interested, beyond the pork, there’s more to Spam. According to National Geographic, Spam’s popularity in Hawaii is related to dark events in WWII history.

But all seriousness and data aside, let’s get back to the “meat”. Today I’m featuring Spam musubi, possibly one of the most popular creations involving the porky ingredient. This is not Spam straight-up. This is Spam prepared in one of the most beloved ways to people in Hawaii, including President Obama. Musubi is basically like Spam sushi. As simple and possibly frightening as this might sound, this was the hands-down favorite of the menu items at our Hawaiian Supperclub– our guests actually clapped!

Without further ado, here is my recipe for Spam musubi.

musubi aerial

* * *

Spam Musubi

Makes 10


1 can Spam

3 cups uncooked sushi rice

Soy sauce


Nori sheets (seaweed used for sushi)

Furikake (seaweed and sesame blend available in Asian markets)

Special equipment: musubi maker (available in Japanese supermarkets)



1. Slice the Spam into 10 even pieces.

2. Mix about 2 tablespoons each of soy sauce and sugar into a bowl and stir to dissolve.

3. Heat a large frying pan over medium high heat. Add slices of Spam.

4. After 2 minutes, pour the sauce over the Spam. Cook for another 2 minutes on each side until crispy and caramelized.

5. Prepare your musubi maker. (if you can’t get one, you could try shaping these by hand, but it will be messy.) Cut the nori sheets into one inch wide strips and lay them on a flat surface. Center a rice press on the sheet and press your rice (about 1/2 cup) firmly inside, then remove the press. Sprinkle furikake on top, then add a prepared slice of Spam. Wrap the nori around the rice and Spam and seal the edges with a dab of water.

sushi press

filling rice press

pressing rice
pressed rice

musubi 1

Repeat until you have used up all the rice and Spam. Eat immediately or wrap tightly in plastic wrap.


I bet you’re hungry now! Don’t get too full, the main event is coming up next– Plate Lunch! To view the entire menu, please visit the overview.  Mahalo and aloha!

Hawaii:Ahi Poke Napoleons

poke napoleon

Do you know poke? It’s been popular for ages in Hawaii, but is only now cropping up more widely on the Mainland.  In fact, poke has been named on of 2016’s food trends.

Poke, like sushi and sashimi, is made with very fresh, raw fish, usually tuna (ahi) or salmon.  It’s then marinated with soy sauce, sesame oil, and a range of other seasonings.  It is eaten sometimes as an appetizer and at other times as a meal in a poke bowl, served over rice.

We decided to fancy this up just a little bit for Supperclub, by stacking bits of poke between Japanese rice crackers, napoleon-style.


First, make the poke:

Ahi Poke

Recipe adapted from Food Republic , Jayson Kanekoa, Executive Chef at the Waikoloa Beach Marriott and poke champion.

Servings: 8


2 pounds sushi-grade Ahi tuna

1/4 cup Ogonori (fresh seaweed) or dried nori

2 tablespoons green onion, sliced

2 tablespoons roasted garlic, chopped

6 tablespoons soy sauce (Yamasa is preferred)

salt, to taste

hot chili flakes (optional)


Cut Ahi tuna into 1/2-inch cubes.

Mix all ingredients in a bowl.  Allow to marinate for at least 30 minutes before serving.


Serve as is, over rice, or stack between large Japanese rice crackers.


Up next: the showstopper, Spam Musubi!

To see the rest of the menu, please read the overview.


Hawaii:Tiki Drinks and Tall Tales


Dave, who was our bartender for the Hawaii edition of supperclub, doesn’t cut corners.  This means getting original recipes, infusing his own mixers, and making his own mixers.  And we wouldn’t have it any other way.  For our Hawaii supperclub, Dave donned his best vintage aloha shirt and treated us to not one but two beautifully crafted South Pacific themed drinks for the occasion.

And what are cocktails without tall tales? This one happens to be true, but it’s hard to believe.  Peter had been to Hawaii at least a few times before Linda’s first trip, which was in the summer of 1995.  Linda had just finished her first year of medical school, and sometime in the winter of that first year, had casually looked for summer internship opportunities.  One day, she read through the alumni notes section of her medical school magazine.  There was a feature on someone who had graduated about 10 years prior and was working at the University of Hawaii and had done some research on lifestyle factors in heart disease.  This was long before Linda realized that she would also one day get into the field of lifestyle medicine, but what caught her eye were the words “Honolulu, Hawaii.”  Ever the enterprising student, Linda send a letter to the alumna, which read somewhere along the lines of:

“Dear Alumna,

I am a first year medical student at your alma mater.  I read with interest about the research you have been conducting and am wondering if you could use a summer research assistant.



Into the mail it went (pre-email!), with dim hopes for a response.

A few weeks later, Linda received an unbelievable response!  It read:

“Dear Linda,

Thank you for your interest.  I do not need a research assistant, but you are welcome to stay with me.  I don’t have a guest room, but you can pitch a tent on the back deck.


Incredibly Generous Alumna.”

Call it naivete, but Linda decided this was an opportunity she could not pass up.  So she took some of her student loan living expenses and bought a roundtrip ticket to Honolulu.  Peter thought it was a good idea, too, so he did the same.

Summer came along, and somehow, it still seemed a reasonable idea to fly all the way from Providence, Rhode Island to Honolulu with the only plan being to stay with a complete stranger in a strange land.  Linda went alone, to be joined by Peter the next day.  She was greeted at Honolulu airport by the very friendly alumna who welcomed her like a long-lost sister, and drove her to her home.  There, she was also welcomed by the alumna’s boyfriend and her son, who was about 6.  “This is my son,” she said.  “Maybe you can babysit him one day.” Then she showed me a tent set up on the promised deck, which was along a canal.  “That’s where you will be staying.”  Finally, she handed Linda a ring of keys.  “Here’s a key to my extra car– it’s kind of a clunker.  And that’s the access key for the yacht club, in case you want to hang out there.”

So the next day, Linda drove in her borrowed car to the airport to pick up Peter, who couldn’t believe his eyes.  They spent one happy week on one beautiful island, and only good things, like sunsets and beaches, happened.

Their host shared her story.  Linda and Peter accepted it as truth, but in retrospect, it’s a bit hard to believe.  Their host said that after completing medical school, she wasn’t sure what field of medicine she wanted to go into.  So she pursued her other passion, sailing, and decided to crew yachts for people around the South Pacific.  This is how she found herself on Tonga, the Polynesian island Kingdom. While she was there, a young member of the royal family had a seizure.  She happened to be around, and using her very limited medical knowledge, helped stabilize the young boy.  Once he was stable, she examined him, and saw that he had an ear infection.  Thinking this might have been the cause of the seizure, she approximated a dose of penicillin for him from her own supplies, and he recovered.  She was rewarded for her efforts by being given her first medical license (from the Kingdom of Tonga), and use of a house, a horse and houseboy for the summer.  She named the horse “Ti’e Ti’e,” “stitches” in Tongan.


Skeptical? Don’t forget, Linda and Peter were told and believed this story at their impressionable young ages of their early 20s, and with perhaps more than an average amount of naivete.  Would they allow their children to follow in their trusting footsteps? Of course not! Would they do it again? Maybe… But they are so very glad that they did, tall tales or true stories regardless.

And they lived happily ever after.


South Pacific

1/2 oz pineapple juice

1 oz passion fruit juice

Juice of 1/2 lime

1 oz citron vodka

1 oz lychee liqueur

Shaken, served in citrus-sugar rimmed cocktail glass.


Homage to Traditional Trader Vic’s Mai Tai

1 oz pineapple ginger infused rum agricole

1 oz Jamaican rum

1/2 oz orange curaçao

1/2 oz orgeat (preferably home-made)

Juice of one lime

Shaken, served in tiki mug over ice with mint sprig.



Thirsty for more? Come back next week for our starters! For a overview of our Hawaiian menu, visit the first post.  Aloha!