Category: Food & Ingredients

Jana McMahon’s Radishes With Compound Butter And Salt

 

JANA MCMAHON’S RADISHES WITH COMPOUND BUTTER AND SALT

Photo by Jana Morgan
The French had it right pairing mild spring radishes with good butter and sea salt. This is what spring tastes like! Serving with smoked and citrus salts keeps this simple dish interesting and fresh.
Course: Side Dish, Snack
Author: Jana McMahon

Equipment

  • Food Processor

Ingredients

Compound Butter

  • 4 oz. Butter (Softened; Grass-Fed Or Local Butters Are Best)
  • 1 tsp. Thyme Leaves (Fresh, Chopped)
  • 1 tsp. Rosemary (Chopped)
  • Zest of 1 Lemon

Radishes

  • 1 Bunch of Radishes (Washed Well And Tops Removed; Keep Just A Bit Of Stem For Dipping)

Instructions

Prepare Compound Butter.

  • Place all the ingredients into a food processor and pulse until everything is well incorporated. Put the butter into a small dish for dipping.

Presentation and Serving.

  • Arrange radishes on a large platter or cutting board; serve alongside herbed compound butter and assorted salts for dipping. Each smoked salt has a different flavor unique to the wood it’s smoked over. Same with citrus salts. Enjoy!

Bringing The Hawaiian Heat

Hot or not? Our writer sampled over 30 Hawai‘i-made hot sauces; here are her notes on what’s worth a shake (or two).

Story by Vanessa Wolf
Illustration by Bambi Edlund

Build a Raw Pantry: Nine foods to keep stocked for natural, gourmet meals

Story by Renée Loux

The best way to conjure up a great meal at the drop of a hat is to make sure your pantry is stocked with the right ingredients. With the right long-lasting staples on-hand, you can take advantage of foods that are fresh in season, try out new recipes without extensive shopping, or pull together a delicious meal with whatever is in your fridge.

Here are nine pantry staples to enhance a multitude of meals:

1. GINGER

GingerFlavor: Warm, spicy, bitter, sweet
Aroma: Refreshing, woody undertones, sweet citrus overtones
Benefits: Ginger increases circulation, improves digestion and assimilation of nutrients, has anti-inflammatory properties and strengthens immunity.
Buying and Storing: Young ginger has a thin, pale skin and tender, milder and less fibrous flesh; Mature ginger has a tougher skin that generally requires peeling. Look for smooth skin and a fresh, spicy fragrance. To keep ginger fresh for up to three weeks, store in a zip-top bag or sealed container in the fridge.
How to use it: Peel and mince finely to add to dishes. Peel, chop and blend into dressings, marinades, sauces and soups. To extract ginger juice, peel, finely grate and squeeze.

2. NAMA SHOYU (unpasteurized soy sauce)

Flavors: Salty, savory, umami
Aroma: Deep, complex, savory
Benefits: Shoyu is traditionally brewed soy sauce that is aged in wooden casks for several months to several years, which converts soy’s complex proteins and starches into easy to digest nutrients. Nama shoyu is unpasteurized and abundant in healthy microorganisms such as Lactobacillus, which aid digestion and assimilation of nutrients, and help balance intestinal ecology.
Buying and Storing: Look for “shoyu” rather than soy sauce to ensure it is traditionally brewed and cultured, which yields a more robust flavor (and to dodge chemical extraction and solvents used in commercial products). Look for “organic” or “GMO-free” products because most conventional soy products contain genetically modified ingredients. Store nama shoyu in the fridge after opening and it will keep indefinitely.
How to use it: Use nama shoyu as you would use soy sauce to enhance marinades, dressings and sauces.

3. UMEBOSHI PLUM VINEGAR

Flavors: Dynamic, salty, tart, fruity
Aroma: Bright, clean, mildly tangy
Benefits: Umeboshi plum vinegar is the brine from pickling umeboshi plums (it’s not technically a vinegar because it’s not fermented and it contains salt). Its alkaline minerals balance the body and are highly valued to aid digestion and assimilation of nutrients. With a dynamic flavor, it boosts and enhances the flavors of a wide variety of other foods, herbs and spices.
Buying and Storing: Look for umeboshi plum vinegar that does not contain preservatives or colorants. Store in a cool, dry place or in the fridge. Keeps indefinitely.
How to use it: Add to dressings, marinades, sauces and soups to boost salty, bright flavors. Sprinkle on steamed or sautéed vegetable or cooked grains. Umeboshi plum vinegar can be used instead of fish sauce, though the flavor is fruitier and lighter (just be sure to adjust the salt in the dish as umeboshi plum vinegar is quite salty).

4. LEMON

LemonsFlavors: Tart, sour, bright
Aroma: Clean, zesty, sweet overtones
Benefits: Lemons are acidic in taste, but alkaline-forming in the body and help restore the body’s pH balance. They’re loaded with immune-boosting Vitamin C, citric acid and antioxidants to neutralize free radicals and renew the body and skin. Valued as a digestive aid and liver cleanser, lemons also have antibacterial and antiviral properties.
Buying and Storing: Look for lemons that are firm, yet yield a bit when squeezed. Avoid fruit with soft spots and discoloration. Hard lemons can be ripened on the counter for a few days and stored at room temperature for about a week, or in the fridge for 2 to 3 weeks.
How to use it: Add a squeeze of lemon juice to water when blanching veggies to retain bright colors. Try adding 2 tablespoons of lemon juice with the water used to cook rice to prevent it from becoming sticky. Grated lemon zest has a bright, concentrated lemon flavor to add zip to sweet and savory dishes.

5. UNREFINED SEA SALT

SaltBenefits: Unrefined sea salts are alkaline-forming in the body. They are a valuable source of trace minerals, which aid the immune system, as well as electrolytes that maintain hydration and support nerve and muscle function. The best sea salts are dried by the sun or at low temperatures to preserve precious elements, minerals and delicate flavors, whereas refined table salt is devoid of minerals and may contain additives such as aluminum silicate and chlorine derivatives for a uniform white color.

Types of Sea Salts:

  • Celtic Sea Salt: This pure, naturally moist pale grey sea salt is hand-harvested from Brittany, France and sun-dried using traditional methods that date back 2,000 years. Available in coarse and fine grind for a clean taste and delicate finish.
  • Hawaiian Red Sea Salt: This burnt-crimson colored salt is infused with the legendary, medicinal red ‘Alae clay of Hawaii and has a slightly nutty flavor.
  • Hawaiian Black Lava Sea Salt: This glistening, charcoal colored salt is infused with lava rock for a complex flavor and mineral finish.
  • Himalayan Crystal Salt: This rosy, pink colored salt is harvested from salt veins in the Himalayan mountains from sea salt beds that are 250,000 million years old (yes, really). The crystals are very dense and intensely salty so a little goes a long way. Himalayan salt is available in fine and coarse grind.
  • Maldon Sea Salt: This flaky salt from the UK’s North Sea has a delicate, pyramid-shaped crystal that provides a salty crunch for finishing a dish.
  • Smoked Sea Salts: These salts are naturally smoked over wood fires to infuse a deep, distinctive smoky aroma and flavor. Look for natural smoked salts that do not contain artificial flavors.

6. AGED BALSAMIC VINEGAR

BalsamicFlavors: Pungent, sweet, tangy (the older, the smoother and sweeter it is)
Aroma: Pithy, piquant overtones, sweet undertones (the older, the more complex the bouquet)
Benefits: Balsamic vinegar is mineral-rich and loaded with antioxidants, which counter free radical damage and also help the body digest and absorb proteins. Aged balsamic vinegar is more mellow and sweet and lends a complex flavor to balance and boost recipes.
Buying and Storing: Look for balsamic vinegar that has been aged at least 10 years (and up to 25 years) and has a thick, syrupy consistency. Usually, the longer it is aged, the thicker the consistency (because more water has evaporated from it) and the deeper, sweeter and more complex the flavor.
How to use it: Aged balsamic lends complex flavor to dressings, marinades, sauces and grilled foods. Try a drizzle of it over strawberries or pineapple for a surprisingly delicious complement of flavor.

7. COCONUT OIL

Flavors: Buttery, mild to strong quintessential coconut flavor, slightly sweet
Aroma: Mild to strong scent, sweet, floral coconut
Benefits: Coconut oil is highly digestible and a great source of fuel for the body. Its medium-chain fatty acids boost metabolism and can be directly converted into energy by the body instead of being processed by the liver or stored as fat. Coconut oil is loaded with lauric acid, which is great for the immune system. Plus, it’s an extremely stable oil that can hold up to cooking without breaking down and its rich, buttery texture and taste is incredibly satisfying.
Buying and Storing: “Virgin” coconut oil is naturally extracted without heat and has a stronger coconut scent and taste, which works well in recipes that the flavor will compliment. Refined coconut oil has a milder flavor and aroma, which is suitable for a wider array of recipes, including baking and sautéing. Just be sure to look for coconut oil that has been expeller-pressed without the use of chemical solvents, and which doesn’t contain hydrogenated oils.
How to use it: Coconut oil is a delicious plant-based alternative to butter. It acts just like butter – semisolid at room temperature, solid in the fridge – with a delectable, buttery texture that works well in both savory and sweet foods. It can also be used the same way as other oils, such as olive oil or grapeseed oil, in dressings, marinades and sauces.

8. MISO

MisoFlavors: Salty, savory, umami; varies with type of miso; some sweeter, some stronger
Aroma: Rich, complex, nutty, sweet
Benefits: Miso is a probiotic-rich food that aids digestion and assimilation of nutrients and balances intestinal ecology. It’s an enzyme-rich fermented food that is easily digestible by the body and known to boost the immune system and help the body process toxins. Plus, its deep, full-bodied flavor enhances many dishes with complex, umami taste.
Buying and Storing: Lighter colored miso is sweeter, milder and less salty than darker colored miso. Look for some of the most exceptional, locally produced miso at the Kula farmer’s market on Maui. Miso should be stored in the fridge and will keep indefinitely.
How to use it: Traditional miso soup is a familiar association, but miso is a delicious addition to other soups as well as in marinades, dressings and sauces. The enzymes and probiotics in miso are sensitive to heat, so keeping it below 150˚F will ensure maximum health benefits.

9. RAW HONEY

Flavors: Sweet; varies with type of honey; lighter honey is mild and floral, darker honey is more complex with hints of malt and molasses
Aroma: Distinct honey scent; varies with type of honey; flowery, fruity, caramel
Benefits: Honey contains all of the essential amino acids (the building blocks of protein) and a high concentration of minerals and nutrients, including B-complex vitamins. Raw honey is rich in enzymes, friendly bacteria and antioxidants, plus antibacterial and anti-viral properties; and unfiltered raw honey contains small amounts of bee pollen and propolis, which boost the immune system and protect the body. The bee pollen in local honey may even help thwart seasonal allergies.
Buying and Storing: Look for raw honey that has not been pasteurized or heated; it will have the most flavor and the most benefits for the body. Local honey is the most valuable and sustainable choice to support local farmers.
How to use it: Raw honey is best used at low temperatures (high temperatures will destroy many of its precious properties). Use raw honey for savory and sweet dishes as an alternative to sugar, maple syrup or agave nectar.

 

Eat Well, Live Well: A Game Plan for Health with Chef Leslie Ashburn

O‘ahu-based macrobiotic chef and life coach, Leslie Ashburn, lays out a fail-safe game plan to live and feel better in the new year, one meal at a time.

Story by Leslie Ashburn
Photos and food styling by Ja Soon Kim

Now that the new year has arrived, it’s a perfect chance to set a healthful course for 2014 by reflecting on your diet and lifestyle. This year, “spring clean” early by focusing on the foods you eat and changing a few habits.

To undo the bad stuff (who didn’t splurge this past holiday season?), there are several gentle steps you can take to cleanse and detox. For the purposes of this article, this means aiding your body to release accumulated toxins and create the optimal conditions for your body’s organs to function most efficiently. The simple ways laid out for you here will naturally prepare your body and mind for success. My suggestions are meant for long-term, sustainable health — there are no magic bullets here. And, as you’ll see, cleansing can be gentle and actually quite delicious!

Diet Dos & Don’ts

First, DO take the middle path with your diet and DON’T go to extremes. Strict fasts (such as liquid-only diets) may produce short-term results. Their severity, however, often results in a yo-yo effect, sending people back and forth between overeating and not eating enough. If you greatly restrict your calories, it is inevitable that you’ll end up with a strong urge to binge. Situationally, a fast may be appropriate on a sojourn in the woods or while on a meditative yoga retreat, but for people who need to show up for a full-time job, parent, or who like to exercise, it is neither functional nor practical.

While it’s not healthy to overly restrict your diet, it is important to limit certain foods. DO avoid consumption of antibiotic- and hormone-laden animal foods, refined sugar, too much coffee, alcohol and anything containing nitrates, food colorings, preservatives and additives. If your goal is to clean up a polluted ocean, river or lake, it makes little sense to continue to dump toxins into it. In general, your best bet is to avoid anything processed. If it has gone through a factory of some kind, is in a box, a can or is pre-made, then it’s processed!

DO eat wholesome, nutritious regular meals three times per day to keep your blood sugar levels even. Eat your last meal at least three hours before you go to bed. Your liver and kidneys work their detox magic at night and need all available energy to do so. Dealing with a full stomach zaps energy from other organs, leaving you feeling tired and sluggish when you wake up.

DO switch your thinking. Sometimes overly concentrating on avoiding certain foods makes them even more tempting — like that chocolate cake in the fridge that you absolutely “shouldn’t” eat. Instead, turn your focus to adding new, amazingly healthful things into your daily diet.

The best possible diet you can adopt in order to rebalance and cleanse your body is a whole-food, plant-based diet with ingredients grown as close to the source as possible with organic farming methods. Eat this way as often as possible. This diet is easy for your body to digest, freeing up energy that would otherwise be spent trying to clean and filter your organs. It is also fills your system with good stuff — valuable nutrients, vitamins, minerals and more.

My suggestions for a whole-food, plant-based diet include: unrefined starches and whole grains, such as organic brown rice, quinoa, barley, oats, sweet potatoes, taro and breadfruit; a wide variety of vegetables prepared in different ways, including root vegetables like burdock root (gobo), round vegetables like kabocha, and hardy, dark leafy greens like kale; beans and bean products; sea vegetables; naturally fermented vegetables like kimchee or sauerkraut; and lastly, fruits, nuts, and seeds. These foods are low in calories, high in fiber, and you can pretty much eat as much as you like.

You absolutely DON’T need to deprive yourself, ever! DON’T feel that you’re going to be eating sticks and rocks, either. There is a world of incredible food out there just waiting for you to discover! In fact, Forbes rated well-crafted vegan cuisine as one of the top trends of 2013.

Food is Medicine

While eating a variety of unrefined, plant-based foods is the most important thing you can do to give your system a rest and help it rebuild, it’s also important to know how foods affect your body. After all, food is medicine!

Easy first steps include adding the following items into your diet. First, homemade soups are an excellent way to fill up, not out (avoid adding too much sodium and fat). Soups are very gentle on your digestion, which can often be taxed due to overconsumption of the standard American diet. In particular, miso soup made from “unpasteurized” or “unrefined,” organic soybeans is an excellent way to build immunity, cleanse your blood and alkalinize your system.

Limu, or seaweed, is an often over-looked food that is rich in essential minerals. It helps your kidneys function well, and aids in removing heavy metals from your body. I highly recommend certified organic, in this case.

Sauerkraut and other fermented foods aid digestion and help your liver in assimilating oily foods and fat. These are especially important for us to eat in the spring. Sour flavors are also great for cleaning out the liver, such as umeboshi plums (without MSG), and fresh-squeezed lemon juice. Other fat-dissolving foods include daikon radish and dried shiitake mushrooms.

Kale and other dark leafy greens are what I consider the secret fountain of youth. In fact, in Oriental medicine, they are associated with spring cleansing and liver purification.

Kukicha tea is a full-bodied and flavorful tea (available in your local health food store) that is alkalinizing and cleansing to the blood.

Eat, Breathe, Rest

While food is a critical component in cleansing and detoxing, it’s just one piece of the health puzzle. Just as important is gentle exercise. Activities like gardening, yoga, or going for a walk, hike, surf, SUP or swim enable you to breathe in fresh air and sweat out toxins.

Lastly, practice a daily body scrub so that your skin, the largest organ in your body, can more easily release toxins. Pamper yourself with massages. Practice meditation. Turn off the TV or close the newspaper while you’re eating your meals (your entire environment is “food”). Get ample rest to allow your body to heal from stress.

“What do I have to look forward to?” you ask. The list is long: getting along better with your loved ones, easier weight management, clearer skin, deeper sleep, better moods, more energy, reduced cravings, and protection and healing from a wide variety of lifestyle-related illnesses.

Here’s to YOUR healthful 2014!

Leslie Ashburn is an internationally trained personal chef, educator, blogger and life coach. She is a Level 3 graduate of the Kushi International Extension Program in Osaka, Japan, mastering in “Samurai Macrobiotics,” a holistic approach to well-being. She loves challenging stereotypes about what it means to eat healthy.

 

At the Chef’s Table: Maui Executive Catering’s Gourmet Laboratory in Haʻikū

Tucked in a quiet corner of rural Haʻikū is a kitchen producing some of the most impressive locally-sourced cuisine on the island. Here, you are invited to pull up a chair at the prep table for a feast of the senses. A notable group of Maui culinary talent did just that recently; here’s what happened.

Story by Shannon Wianecki
Photos by Mieko Hoffman

The chefs rolled in like a gang, excited to escape their own kitchens for a night and curious to see what the buzz was about. Jeff Scheer, owner of Maui Executive Catering, had invited them to a private dinner at his commercial kitchen in Haʻikū, Maui. Scheer’s guests hailed from the island’s top restaurants and represented the new guard: young, hungry and über-talented. One was fresh off the set of Top Chef; another had recently traveled the world with Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto. Not an easy crowd to impress—but if the evening’s host felt any trace of intimidation, he didn’t show it.

Maui Executive CateringScheer sported a spiffy chef’s coat and wild dreadlocks barely restrained by a bright bandana. He welcomed the entourage into his immaculate kitchen, where he was about to prepare a seven-course feast—live and unrehearsed—in front of them. His knowing guests eyed the machinery, the spit-shined industrial stoves, the enormous walk-in, the sous-vide cooker and the dehydrator. They took their seats around a stainless steel prep table that had been transformed with elegant place settings.

Scheer and his business partner, Jason Hacker, explained their mission: to provide next-level cuisine for catered events and to open up their kitchen for exclusive chef’s table dinners, like this one. Maui Executive Catering’s headquarters may be off the beaten path, said Scheer, but it benefits from close proximity to island farms. Everything on the evening’s menu—from the octopus to the heart of palm—had been harvested nearby.

And with that, the banquet began. Scheer produced one mesmerizing course after the next. First came a tomato water teaser, playfully studded with chia seeds and a dollop of rich crème fraiche. This acidic shot across the bow was followed by octopus crudo—a slice of edible stained glass that shimmered beneath coconut water gelée. The tender white flesh was crowned with micro mustards, nasturtiums, and rainbow radishes sliced as thin as fairy wings.

“Food is art,” Scheer said. “You taste it first with your eyes.”

MHH_6010The chefs snapped photos, posting them to their social media accounts with glowing descriptions. And then they ate, murmuring and nodding as they savored each bite. Everyone fawned over the venison rillettes—irresistible shreds of braised rib and shank meat rolled in house-made granola, set on a generous smear of puréed fennel and accented with a whimsical dab of oat foam. It was a deeply satisfying dish, perhaps something Red Riding Hood’s hero would have feasted on before slaying the wolf.

Next came an organic rib eye slathered in rich bone marrow, which Scheer torch-seared into a crust. Tucked alongside was braised oxtail ragout, heart of palm and faux bone marrow in a playful bamboo “bone.” By this point, the chefs who were tweeting gave up listing individual ingredients—who could keep up? Clearly impressed, they began to wonder: Who is this guy?

One of the attendees knew the host well: Kyle Kawakami, a former instructor at Maui Culinary Academy. Scheer had been a promising student there just a few years back. After graduating in 2006, the Ohio transplant catapulted into a full-time catering career. He started out cooking for dive boats in the wee hours, in a borrowed pizza kitchen. He’s since built a brag-worthy kitchen of his own, returned to teach at his alma mater and quietly ratcheted up the standards for private dining on Maui.

Maui Executive CateringIn addition to attending Maui Culinary Academy, Scheer studied at the Culinary Institute of America and “staged” (that’s chef-speak for apprenticed) at Bottega and Flour + Water in California. In Honolulu, he did stints at Mavro’s and Town. Perhaps most significantly, for two years he spent every Monday elbow-deep in the soil at Kupa‘a Farms down the road, where he grew the vegetables he’d later cook.

Hacker, a long-time friend from Ohio, joined him in 2008. “We were working around the clock for the first few years,” says Scheer. The boats needed provisions 365 days a year, so the men didn’t get a day off. But on New Year’s Day in 2010, a rainstorm flooded Kihei and the boat trips were cancelled. Rather than celebrate or rest, Scheer and Hacker rang in the New Year by relocating their business to Ha‘iku , the heart of Maui’s farmland.

Maui Executive CateringThe small space in Ha‘iku Town Center was a shambles; the men transformed it into a gourmet laboratory. They painted the walls persimmon and rewired the electrical outlets to handle the commercial equipment they’d acquired. Among their investments: an enormous deck oven with steam-injection and a stone baking surface. “It cost a fortune to get it here,” says Hacker.

It was worth every penny: Scheer’s sourdough baguettes and loaves of multi-grain—made with fresh-milled flour—will make artisan bread fans weep with gratitude.

Today, Maui Executive Catering is the go-to choice for event planners with clients who are serious about food. It’s the primary caterer for Ha‘iku Mill, one of the island’s prettiest, most exclusive wedding venues. Catering allows Scheer to be more responsive than a typical restaurant chef. He can craft meals entirely around a client’s desires and neighboring farms’ freshest produce. His commitment to quality is impeccable; he makes everything from scratch. In the hinterlands of Ha‘iku , he’s crafting hyper-local cuisine that could easily compete with the most sophisticated plates in Manhattan.

A single dinner takes Scheer around three days to prepare. Often he’ll start with a Flintstone-sized slab of organic beef from Beef & Blooms, which he expertly breaks down into recognizable cuts: ribeye, short rib, chuck. He grinds the extra bits for dumplings and sliders, simmers the bones into stock and gives the scraps to Kupa‘a Farms. This semester he’s teaching Maui Culinary Academy students how to do the same: not just to carve perfect cuts, but also to purchase meat directly from local ranchers and maximize every morsel.

Maui Executive CateringSo what compelled this ambitious young chef to summon the sharpest knives on the island over for dinner? He explained over dessert—a complex affair involving fresh-spun cardamom ice cream, mint gelée, coffee cake and passion fruit leather.

“We’re all passionate and have our own styles, but I think we agree that restaurants need to change the way they source food,” said Scheer, having just served a meal that amply backed his argument. “It’s important to stay connected. One person doesn’t have that much power, but together we have influence.”

He had invited his colleagues to share his kitchen and collaborate on chef’s table dinners; their response was one of giddy enthusiasm. Everyone talked at once about raising the bar within the island’s culinary industry, rallying support for small, local farms and, essentially, starting a food-driven revolution. The evening began to take on historic overtones. What will result from this meeting of culinary minds? Impossible to say. But when a chef’s imagination is stirred, everyone’s palate wins.

To experience the magic yourself, book a seat at Maui Executive Catering chef’s table. Scheer, or perhaps one of his new comrades, will wow you with the best Maui has to offer.

 

Not So Sour: Lemons in Hawai‘i

by Ken Love

Lemons are just beginning to get the respect they deserve and in Hawai`i we’re fortunate enough to have a large number of varieties to grow, market and use for a massive number of culinary creations. There are almost 14 million tons grown worldwide, with India and Mexico the largest producers. In Hawai`i we grow and sell less than 100,000 pounds and still import almost 4 million pounds. Pretty shameful considering how lemons go to waste in the state.

Most who study horticulture think the lemon originated in northern India as a naturally occurring hybrid between sour orange and a citron. Lemon made its way to Italy in 200 AD then Iraq and Egypt by 700 AD. By the end of the 12th century it had spread all around the Mediterranean. In 1493, Columbus brought it to Hispaniola and from there it went with the Spanish to California in 1751. Don Francisco de Paula Marin first brought lemon to Hawai`i in 1813 with other varieties coming in 1823 with traders.

Early territorial reports from 1904 to 1906, including a USDA Citrus in Hawai`i publication, listed Eureka and Lisbon varieties. These and other publications mention Villa Franca and Sicily, which I’ve yet to be able to identify in Hawai`i. The rough Jambiri came as a rootstock in the 1920s and started to produce prolifically by 1934 when the grafts died off. Ponderosa and its seedling American Wonder and a sweet lemon were all mentioned by 1934.

Often called “local lemon,” Rangpur and Kona are actually orange-colored limes.

The Rangpur lime came to Hawai`i as a rootstock but those grafts also died off. Over the next 175 years the trees evolved so that Rangpur has a puffy orange skin and very thorny branches. Its offshoot that is now called Kona lime has a tight skin and very few thorns.

There is also a primitive subgenus of citrus called Papedas, some of which also came to Hawai`i as rootstocks and now produce here. Ichang papeda is often mistakenly called or sold as Japanese Yuzu. Yuzu, however, also fits into this subgenus as does Suidachi, Yuko, Kabosu, Khasi, Melanesian, Kalpi and the popular Kaffir lime.

Kalpi (Citrus webberii)

Kalpi is arguably one of the most common lemons in Hawai`i. A natural hybrid found in the Philippines, one could only presume that it came here with the immigrants. The name comes from the Bicol region of southern Luzon. These trees are found all over the state and very prolific. They are often confused with small Italian lemons that are very recent imports and the larger rough-skinned Jambiri lemon. Kalpi is sometimes called Malayan lemon.

Here are some popular varieties:

Meyer (Citrus x meyeri)

The lemon was first found on a fruit-hunting trip by Frank N. Meyer, who was sent to China by the USDA’s David Fairchild. Of the more than 2,500 species Meyer introduced to the United States, this is the only one that bears his name. The Meyer lemon has dramatically increased in popularity over the past 20 years in part due to Alice Waters and Martha Stewart featuring them. They do very well in warmer climates like Hawai`i where other lemons may struggle with the heat.

The improved Meyer lemon is a selection found in the 1950s that is resistant to tristeza virus. It was released in 1975 as an improved version. Ever-increasing in popularity, it is sometimes referred to as the Sweetheart citrus.

Sweet Lemon (C. limetta Risso)

Called sweet lemons and, to a lesser extent, limes, this fruit found in some areas of Hawai`i. “Sweet” is somewhat of a misnomer as the fruit is generally insipid with only a very slight taste. A number of varieties were introduced from India and later Brazil and Mexico but they have never achieved any commercial value. The fruit is not without fans and there are a few named cultivars.

Jambiri (Citrus Jambhiri)

This rough-skinned lemon, originally from northeast India, was commonly used as a rootstock for citrus coming to Hawaii. Those grafts died off and the tree became a popular backyard tree. Recent studies, using molecular markers, show that it is a cross between mandarin and citron. The tree is somewhat resistant to a host of pathogens and extremely resistant to leaf spot although sensitive to Phytopthora and waterlogged roots. It is tolerant of both cold and Hawaii’s hotter than average, for citrus, climate. Its unclear if the fruit arrived in Hawaii with Marin in the early 1800s or later with the first Portuguese immigrants. The Spaniards are credited with bringing the fruit to Florida and the new World. There are a number of named cultivars; Estes, Milam, McKillop, Nelspruit 15 and Lockyer although it’s not known if these are in Hawaii. About 98% of the seeds planted are true to form and the tree is fast growing and early maturing. Some texts list the Volkamer or volckameriana lemon as being a type of Jambiri. Rangpur and Kona lime is also given the Jambiri name at times.

Ponderosa (Citrus limon)

Ponderosa and its protégé American Wonder are among the most popular lemons grown in Hawai`i. Elsewhere it’s considered an ornamental because of thick foliage and very large “showy” fruit. It came from a seedling grown in 1887 by George Bowman in Hagerstown, Maryland. It appeared in many nursery catalogs in the early 1900s. Sometimes classed as a citron hybrid, ponderosa fruit is extremely large. It has been confused with pummelo at some of Hawai`i’s farmers’ markets, although one taste makes it is obvious that it’s a lemon. There are some commercial plantings and the tree is often used as a rootstock for other lemons.

Eureka (Citrus limon)

The first Eureka originated from seed in 1858 in Los Angeles and was propagated in 1877 by Thomas Garey, who called it Garey’s Eureka. Its popularity rapidly increased, in part due to the tree being virtually thornless. The University of California lists 14 types of Eureka lemons. Depending on the source, Hawai`i seems to have a few of these: Old Line, Frost Nucellar, Allen-Newman and the Variegated Pink-Fleshed Eureka. The pink came from a shoot from a regular Eureka prior to 1931 when budwood was distributed. Pink Lemonade Eureka has become very popular in Hawai`i over the past 20 years.

Lisbon (Citrus limon)

Perhaps the most popular commercial lemon next to Eureka, its relationship to Hawai`i has always been marginal as it produces much better in cooler areas. The trees are more cold tolerant. The tree is most productive in California. Thick foliage better protects fruit from the sun. The thorns are considerable. The yield is about 25% greater than Eureka.

There is some disagreement as to the origin of Lisbon. What is known was that seeds were sent Portugal to Australia in 1924. The name Lisbon is not used for the lemon in Portugal. It was listed in nursery catalogs as early as 1843. It was introduced to California in 1849 and again from Australia in 1874 and 1875. Although continuously imported to Hawai`i, Eureka seems to be more popular. The University of California lists 12 types of Lisbons.

There are hundreds of other lemons around the world, which have not made their way to Hawai`i. With citrus greening disease (HLB) in many locations around the world, it’s doubtful many of these will ever come to Hawai`i. Lemons and lemon hybrids like Sicily, Femminello, Genova, Monachello, Perrine, Marrakech, Pear, Galgal, Karna, Sanbokan and Snow should be found in HLB-free areas or tissue cultured and given a chance to thrive in Hawai`i’s microclimates. Each of these unusual varieties represents a potential for niche marketing as fresh fruit or in value-added products for Hawai`i’s agriculture entrepreneurs.

Lemons in Hawaii

The Fishermen of Mama’s Fish House

by Heidi Pool

These Guys Are the ‘Reel Deal’

“Good morning, fishroom.” Mike Pascher, head fish cutter for Mama’s Fish House, fields phone calls from fishermen while deftly butchering a glistening, burgundy-fleshed bigeye tuna. “They call me right from their boats,” Mike tells me. “Sometimes I can hear the reel ratchets whirring in the background.”

Mama’s Fish House in Ku`au serves 1,000 customers daily, requiring Mike to purchase some 500 pounds of fish every day—most of it from Maui fishermen. “We wrote checks to 200 fishermen last year. Some came once; some came every week,” he says.

Executive Chef Perry Bateman stops by the fishroom to see how the day’s procurements are going. He tells me there are two types of fishermen: “heavies” and “lights.” “For ‘heavies,’ that’s their entire livelihood,” he says. “They fish every day to provide for their `ohana [family]. ‘Lights’ are weekend fishermen—they crack a beer and relax. If they catch, they catch; if not, no worries. It’s more of a hobby for them.”

Greg Lind from remote Hana town is a “heavy.” Greg and his family follow the traditional Hawaiian lifestyle of fishing, farming and raising cattle. He fishes his homeport of Hana Bay in his 25-foot boat, which he recently renamed Kaihawanawana after his 1-year-old daughter. He mostly fishes alone, although his 4-year-old son, also named Greg, accompanies him on weekends. He makes the 50-plus-mile drive to Ku`au on the infamous Hana Highway several times a week.

This morning, Greg backs his white Chevy flatbed truck up to the dock at Mama’s and offloads yesterday’s catch—mahimahi and ono—into a voluminous dark blue bin that Mike has placed on a rolling cart. Inside the fishroom, Mike, with the help of an assistant, hefts the bin onto a giant scale and weighs each species, noting the poundages in his spiral notebook: 78.4 pounds of mahimahi and 32.2 pounds of ono. He ducks into his cubbyhole of an office in a corner of the fishroom, prints out a check and hands it to a beaming Greg. As far as fishermen go, there’s no “Net 30” at Mama’s.

Quiet and unassuming, Greg tells me he’s learned a valuable lesson over the years: “Don’t call Mama’s until you’re done fishing for the day. Somehow, as soon as I make that call, the fish stop biting.” Greg’s next stop before returning home is to fill up with gas in nearby Pa`ia, where the price is currently $4.55 a gallon. “It’s $5.55 in Hana—I have a 50-gallon tank, so that saves me almost 50 bucks,” he says with a shy smile.

The next fisherman to bring in his catch is Jamie DeBussey, who primarily fishes off Maui’s north shore in his 21-foot vessel Blessed. Jamie moved to Maui from Florida in 1992 to surf. “I was a pro surfer,” he says. “I never dreamed I’d become a commercial fisherman.” But in 1995, he got hooked on windfishing (trolling while windsurfing), saved money from his job at a surf shop and bought his first boat—a 12-footer. A few years later, he built a 16-foot blue boat he never named. “It was such a ‘ghetto boat’ it wasn’t even worth naming,” he says. “People thought I was nuts for fishing 50 miles offshore in that boat all by myself,” he says. “I became known as the crazy guy in the little blue boat.”

A deeply spiritual man, Jamie believes a higher power watches over him every time he goes out fishing. “Deep-sea fishing is one of the deadliest occupations,” he says. Since he fishes alone, Jamie ties himself to his boat with a heavy-duty bungee cord and makes sure he’s always near the engine’s kill switch. A few years ago, he was fishing near Hana when a fierce wind came up and huge waves were breaking all around him. “I was icing my fish when an eight- to 10-footer [wave] hit my boat,” he recalls. “The boat started rolling over, so I quickly moved to high side. I knew at that moment I was in serious trouble—one more wave would roll me completely over. The engine was sputtering, and after what seemed like forever, the bilge pump kicked in. I was bailing like mad with a bucket, too, and it still took over an hour to pump out all the water.”

Today, Mike pays Jamie for 38.4 pounds of mahimahi. “You have to be obsessed to be a commercial fisherman,” Jamie says. “It’s almost like a sickness—like a young kid who wants to surf every day.”

At 35 years old, Layne Nakagawa is one of the youngest commercial fishermen on Maui, and one of only four bottom fishers. He started fishing when he was 4 years old with his father and grandfather. “I was practically raised at the harbor,” he says. His elders were demanding taskmasters, and he learned his craft well: “You can’t screw up on a boat—there’s nowhere to run,” Layne jokes.

Layne began fishing commercially while still in high school. Although he fishes alone on his 31-foot boat, named Naomi K. for his mother, he and other bottom fishers share information on wind patterns, ocean currents and moon phases, to determine where the best fishing is on a given day. “Bottom fishing is a highly skilled occupation,” he says. “You have to throw your anchor accurately within a hundred feet or so, and it’s all about pinpointing the right spot. The fish won’t come if you’re on the wrong side of the spot.”

Layne serves on the advisory board of the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council, which, among other objectives, protects fish stocks and habitats, and collects data to help determine how many fish are in the ocean. In addition to 27 pounds of opakapaka, today Layne has brought in a magnificent 20.8-pound long-tailed red snapper (onaga), caught at a depth of between 700 and 900 feet near the island of Kaho`olawe. Layne estimates the fish was well over 60 years old, and its brilliant scarlet hue is complemented by distinctive caudal fins that end in long, slender points. It’s the most beautiful fish I’ve ever seen.

“Mama’s Fish House gives us an opportunity to contribute to fishery science,” says Layne. Fish cutter Sean Asuncion has extracted the onaga’s reproductive organs so its sex can be determined (this one is a female who has already spawned, according to Layne), and will soon remove the otolith so the fish’s age can be verified. “The otolith is a structure in the inner ear where calcium carbonate is deposited throughout the fish’s life cycle, forming rings—much like tree rings,” Layne says. “By counting the rings, it’s possible to determine the age of the fish.”

After all fish business has been transacted for today, Mike goes back to the computer in his tiny office and updates the restaurant’s menu to reflect what the fishermen have brought in. Greg Lind’s ono will be served in a ti leaf, with coconut rice and papaya salsa; Layne Nakagawa’s onaga will be sautéed with Hamakua mushrooms, garlic butter, white wine and capers.

In May, Mama’s Fish House became the first private business in Hawai`i to fund a fish aggregation device—a deep-sea buoy that attracts pelagic species targeted by commercial, subsistence and recreational fishermen—for the benefit of all Maui fishermen, not just those who fish for Mama’s. “Mama’s asked me to build the buoy myself,” says Layne. “How could I say ‘no’? Mama’s has been supporting my business for 17 years.” Launched 30 miles off the coast near Ha`iku, Layne says the buoy will take the concept of sustainability in a whole new direction.

Chef Perry hopes other businesses will follow suit and fund additional community buoys. “There are plenty of fish out there,” he says. “Even if we had a hundred buoys, we’d never deplete the supply. Let’s all come together as a community to benefit everyone.”

Fishermen of Mama's Fish House