Category: Summer 2016

Kimi Werner – Gather, Hunt and Share



To know Kimi Werner is to know her relationship with food, nourished from childhood with the mantra “Gather, hunt and share” to support herself and those around her. It is this practice that has led her time and time again to the deep blue abundance of the ocean and continues to frame the life of this woman, chef, artist, inspirational speaker, international spearfishing championship winner, and so much more (also known as the girl who swam with the great white shark!).

Kimi believes a healthy relationship with food is about awareness and responsibility- a commitment to understanding what it took to get that food to your plate. “A hundred years ago, when eating a meal, there was a basic understanding of where the food came from, whether you helped in the harvest or knew the source,” Kimi explains. “In the modern world, we are so caught up with convenience, easy and fast, that people are disconnected from where the food came from and the process that it went through to get to your plate. Having knowledge of where your food came from elicits a connection to that source. Without that, you are depriving yourself of a beautiful satisfaction.”

Take a dive with us into how this inspiring woman leads by example and reaps the rewards, both above and below the sea.


As a young child, Kimi remembers growing up on the remote north shore of Maui, knowing little other than family and nature. She helped out by gathering food from her surrounding environment; she collected chicken eggs and picked plants, but her favorite form of foraging was going into the ocean with her father. When she turned five, she was deemed old enough to accompany him on his adventures.

Kimi’s passion for food grew from the hard work, satisfaction and love of harvesting. “Understanding the true source of a meal is rewarding. From my earliest memories, I had connection to the food we ate because I helped with the process of gathering it. This process is interesting, educating and rewarding.” But it wasn’t until much later in life that she learned how to harvest fish from the sea with her own hands.

At the age of seven, Kimi’s life dramatically changed as her family transitioned from the remote countryside to the suburbs. With her parents making more money they could now afford to provide a “civilized” upbringing in a developed neighborhood, following the blueprints of a new way of life. Although it was considered progress, there was an inherent sense of loss as she felt separated from the mana (power). Years later, when she graduated from college with a degree in culinary arts and proceeded to get culinary positions with some of the top restaurants in Waikiki, she expected to feel complete. She didn’t. The last set of blueprints was done, but there was still a longing.

Working with food every day, but having no connection to it she thought back to the early days when there were no blueprints or prescribed paths. What would it take to return to that freedom? Living in a modern city, she thought the lifestyle she dreamt about was a thing of the past. It had gone extinct. Or had it?



After a paddling session one afternoon, some of Kimi’s friends emerged from the ocean carrying fish they had just caught with spear guns, bound for the BBQ. An “aha!” moment followed; she came to recognize the primal possibilities of the ocean that surrounded her, and was inspired to learn to hunt and provide for herself. The boys promised to call her and teach her to hunt, but the calls never came. So this headstrong wahine (woman) went and bought a spear of her own, an inexpensive and simple three prong with rubber slingshot launch.

Kimi describes her first spearfishing experience as akin to falling in love. “I caught four little fry fish, and emerged from the ocean with a spear in one hand and dinner in the other. I felt like a woman, like the lioness who stayed up all night to feed her cubs, able to come home and nourish her family,” she gushes. “It’s like that love that you kept daydreaming about, but always doubted that it would actually happen. I found that love I was looking for, and it was something that no one could ever take away from me. I held onto it with all my might.”

And like true love, going into the ocean to hunt for her food made her so happy that everything else in her life was also elevated. She pursued it to greater depths and eventually connected with national competitors – talented and selective divers – who took her under their wing. In the true fashion of “catch only what you can eat,” their challenge was to go deeper and choose the one specific fish they wanted for that day. One breath of air, one shot, one fish. “Once the spear goes flying, it’s a very primitive style of hunting.”

And this primitive style of hunting is a bold choice, a choice to be accountable, to be honest, and to get a first hand experience of what proceeds the eating of an animal. “A respectful hunter really puts their heart into honoring their prey and being accountable for the action of killing it- it’s not just a piece of flesh.”


Kimi holds a reverence for her prey, for the life that was taken out of the sea and the hard work and hours it took to do it. Not wanting to waste a single bite of the fish in its prime freshness, after catching a big fish she would even drive halfway across the island to deliver it to other people who would appreciate it. She soon realized that catching and sharing one big fish could provide her nourishment for a week; her ocean bounty could be traded for kale, collard greens, mango, chicken eggs, avocados, coconuts, and so much more.

Kimi now forages and trades for about 75% of her food. “When I learned to spearfish, I felt self sufficient. But soon after, I realized it wasn’t just about self, it’s about community.” Fishermen, gardeners, chicken farmers, fruit tree harvesters- a community was formed. “The food that I’m now eating daily is a combination of things that I have foraged mixed with an abundance of food that has been shared from the hands of people that I know. Thanks to the fish that I caught, I get to enjoy a beautiful piece of venison that my friend on Molokai shot, and kale that my friend watered every day with love. It feels like you are a part of something bigger than yourself.”

In Kimi’s world, ideal meals are whole and well-rounded experiences into which everyone contributes. They generally contain a hearty serving of vegetables and greens, some fresh fish, and something pickled and preserved (a great way to make the most out of your harvest and save for times when the weather is not cooperating). She loves to use a lot of flavor and seasoning; her favorite is Hawaiian sea salt gathered off the lava rocks, flavored with local lemon juice from a neighborhood tree. Her cooking is infused with respect for every ingredient, using each addition as resourcefully as possible.


“I don’t like to preach, but I do like to set an example and share what I’m doing, not in a self righteous way but in an effort of service, encouraging people to find their happiness in our hectic world. I want to share the gems in my life that make me feel the happiest and my body the best. I hope that if it resonates with people, it will inspire them to do something that they care about in the same way…explore whatever it is that makes them feel connected and pono (righteous). Grow your own vegetables or know your farmer, we all have ways to contribute with our own two hands. If it’s the right thing it will make your fingers tingle.”





Remove gills and guts of fish. Leave skin and scales on (aweoweo or nabeta only, all other fish, please scale). Score skin and meat on both sides. Season generously with Hawaiian salt, garlic salt and coarse black pepper. I like to slightly bend the fish as I season so that salt and pepper goes into the cuts and flavors the meat. Heat a thin layer of olive oil in a pan over medium high flame. If fish is too big for pan, chop in half. Place fish in hot oil. Cook until fish skin is crispy and golden brown. I also like to smash a clove of garlic and add it to hot oil for the last couple minutes of frying. Serve hot with chili pepper water.


Scale fish, remove gills and guts. Score skin and meat on both sides of fish. Steam fish. This can be done in a steamer with water, wrapped in foil on a BBQ, baked covered, covered in the microwave, etc; as long as it’s covered while cooking, it will steam. For this particular fish, I added an inch water to a big pot then put a plate in the pot. I cut the fish in half so that it would fit on the plate and covered and cooked on high. It only took a few minutes, but cooking time will always depend on the method of steaming and the size of the fish. Chopping the fish in half always makes it cool much faster.

In a separate pan I sauté greens (bok Choi/kale/ choi sum/etc) in olive oil and garlic. Plate cooked greens as a bed for kumu. Place kumu (putting both halves back together to form whole fish) on the bed of cooked greens. Pour shoyu over the fish letting it run through the fish meat and greens. Top with chopped green onions and cilantro. Heat small amount (around 1/4 cup for 2 lb kumu) of peanut oil until smoking. Carefully (stand back and better to do outside if possible) pour smoking oil over fish, allowing it to infuse the herbs into the fish meat and add a silky texture to the sauce. When eating, spoon this soy/herbal/peanut oil over your fish meat and greens.

Moringa Oleifera

Illustration by Matt Okahata

Moringa oleifera is the most widely cultivated species in the Moringa genus, which is the only genus in the family Moringaceae. English common names include: moringa, drumstick tree (from the appearance of the long, slender, triangular seed-pods), horseradish tree (from the taste of the roots, which resembles horseradish), ben oil tree, or benzoil tree (from the oil which is derived from the seeds). It is a fast-growing, drought-resistant tree, native to the southern foothills of the Himalayas in northwestern In-dia, and widely cultivated in tropical and subtropical areas where its young seedpods and leaves are used as vegeta-bles. It can also be used for water purifi cation and hand washing, and is sometimes used in herbal medicine. Many experts say that consuming the leaves raw, cooked or pre-pared as a tea has many health benefi ts.

Cha Ca La Vong



Recipe courtesy of Chef Andrew Le of The Pig and The Lady.Photography by Travis Sasaki.
Course: Main Course
Author: Chef Andrew Le


  • Blender or Food Processor
  • Sauté Pan


Cha Ca La Vong

  • 1 Pack of Vermicelli Noodles
  • 8 Ten oz. Fresh Catfish Fillets (Skinned)

Herb Mix

  • 2 Cups of Dill (Cleaned and Picked)
  • 2 Cups of Mint (Cleaned and Picked)
  • 2 Cups of Shiso (Cleaned and Picked)
  • 2 Cups of Rau Ram (Cleaned and Picked)
  • 2 Cups of Onion Sprouts (Cleaned and Picked)

Fish Marinade

  • 100 Grams Shallot
  • 300 Grams Galangal (Peeled and Chopped)
  • 160 Grams Fresh Turmeric (Washed Well and Chopped)
  • 150 Grams Ginger (Peeled and Chopped)
  • 25 Grams Dried Turmeric
  • 10 Grams Black Peppercorns
  • 325 Grams Olive Oil
  • 900 Grams Plain Yogurt
  • 150 Grams Fish Sauce
  • 60 Grams Sugar

Mam Tom Sauce (Make 1-2 Days In Advance)

  • 225 Grams Pineapple
  • 32 Grams Garlic (Peeled and Chopped)
  • 125 Grams Ginger (Peeled and Chopped)
  • 98 Grams Mam Tom Bac (Fermented Shrimp Paste)
  • 280 Grams Sugar
  • 380 Grams Lime Juice
  • 215 Grams Fish Sauce
  • 1 Can of Coconut Water
  • 125 Grams of Chili Sambal Oelek

Finishing Toppings

  • 1 Cup Fried Shallots
  • 1 Cup Roasted Peanuts (Chopped)


Prepare Mam Tom Sauce (1-2 Days In Advance).

  • Blend pineapple, garlic, ginger, mam tom bac, sugar, lime juice, fish sauce, and coconut water till smooth.
  • Add the sambal and mix well.
  • Store in refrigerator.

Prepare Fish Marinade.

  • Blend everything together until smooth.

Marinate Fish.

  • Marinate fish at least 4 hours, overnight preferred.
  • Once marinated, take out and remove excess marinade.

Prepare Herb Mix.

  • Mix all together, reserve.

Prepare Fish.

  • Over medium heat, warm a sauté pan with enough grapeseed oil to cover the bottom.
  • Once oil is hot, carefully put in the fish and cook for 3-4 minutes on each side till golden brown.
  • Once browned, take out of pan and reserve.

Prepare Noodles

  • Cook noodles per instructions on package.
  • Drain, rinse, cool, and arrange the vermicelli noodles in a bowl.

Plate and Serve.

  • Place the cooked catfish on top of vermicelli noodles.
  • Sprinkle a spoonful each of fried shallots and roasted peanuts.
  • Spread a generous amount of the herb mix on top and serve with the mam tom sauce on the side.


*VERY IMPORTANT* to make this sauce 1-2 days in advance for the flavors to develop and funk of the fermented shrimp paste to mellow out.

Canh Chua Chay Sweet and Sour Vegetable Soup


Recipe courtesy of Chef Andrew Le of The Pig and The Lady.
Photography by Travis Sasaki.
Canh Chua Chay is usually served with rice vermicelli as a noodle soup. It pairs wonderfully with fresh fish and shrimp, as well as meats like pork, spare rib or chicken legs.
Course: Soup
Author: Chef Andrew Le


  • Pot
  • Sauté Pan
  • Strainer


Canh Chua Chay

  • 1 ½ Cups Lemongrass Chili Satay (Recipe Below)
  • 1 Quart Tamarind Water (Recipe Below)
  • 1 Gallon of Water
  • 5 Roma Tomatoes (Cut Into Wedges)
  • 1 Pineapple (Medium Diced)
  • ½ lb. Okra (Cut into ⅓)
  • 1 lb. Bean Sprouts (Whole)
  • 1 lb. Taro Stems (Cut Into Obliques)
  • 1 Cup Fresh Shiitake Mushrooms (Sliced)
  • ¼ lb. Rice Paddy Herb (Rough Chopped)
  • 200 Grams Palm Sugar
  • 90 Grams Fish Sauce
  • 30 Grams Salt

Tamarind Water

  • 1 Gallon Water
  • 1 lb. Tamarind (Shells Removed)

Lemongrass Chili Satay

  • 1 Cup Chili Oil⅓
  • ½ Cup Onion (Diced)
  • 2 Cup Lemongrass (Minced)


Prepare Tamarind Water.

  • Combine in a pot and heat until tamarind melts.
  • Strain to remove seeds.

Prepare Lemongrass Chili Satay.

  • Cook in a sauté pan until evenly combined and heated through.

Prepare Canh Chua Chay.

  • Bring satay, tamarind water, and regular water to a boil and add the vegetables.
  • Simmer till cooked. Finish seasoning with sugar, fish sauce, and salt to taste. Should be sweet and sour.

Mama Le



A huge pot sits in the upstairs kitchen at The Pig and the Lady, dwarfing the cook beside it. Loan Le, a.k.a. Mama Le, is the diminutive grand dame behind her son Andrew’s wildly successful culinary popup-turned-juggernaut. “Put in the bones for me, please,” Le says, pointing at a 10-pound bag of pork bones. Chicken bones will follow, then a large cheesecloth bundle of charred onions, salted radishes and dried roasted squid. By late afternoon the pot will yield the rich, fragrant broth for Le’s hu tieu My Tho, a southern Vietnamese noodle soup layered with slices of pork loin, Kahuku shrimp and crab fat tomato sauce. Because of its complexity Le rarely makes it; when she does, for the Pig’s farmers’ market booth, it sells out.

Cooking came to Le as a passion and an afterthought, much as it did for her son. The difference was that for Mama Le, the world of food was framed in war. The thirteenth of 15 children, she was a child when Ho Chi Minh’s victory over the colonial French forced her family from their native Hanoi. In Saigon she met Raymond Le, whose family had fled Hue during the Tet Offensive. “Only when I married did I have to cook,” she says. “My husband is picky—he likes to eat out, so I had to learn how to cook like in a restaurant. I learned the three cuisines of my country: central from my mother-in-law, northern from my mother and sisters, southern from my husband taking me out to eat.”

As South Vietnam fell, the Les boarded a refugee flight to the States. They were pulled off at Hickam Air Force Base when a heavily pregnant Loan Le went into labor. Their first child, Anderson, was born the next day. Then came Alex, Andrew and Allison, and Le’s pots of noodle soup got bigger. After shifts at the family’s growing business, Toys ‘n Joys, she cooked from memory and from a bible of 100 northern, central and Southern recipes amassed by her older sister: savory northern-style pho; bun cha vermicelli noodles dipped in a tart-sweet broth studded with green mango and grilled pork meatballs; spicy bun bo hue, its ropey rice noodles twined with stewed pork, beef and banana blossoms. Her kids loved her food, she says, because she loved to cook it.

Cooking Fresh Family Photo Capture: L to R: Lawrence, Andrew, Mama Le, Alex. Addition-al photo: Allison

Acr14661991393280-2547728It’s not really surprising that Andrew, raised on the heady flavors of his mother’s kitchen, switched from design studies to culinary school. When he left Chef Mavro and struck out on his own, his early pop-ups progressing to farmers’ markets and then to a packed Chinatown restaurant and a new one opening at Ward Centre, he kept his mother’s flavors at the center of an eclectic menu. Every popup featured a Vietnamese noodle soup cooked by Loan Le as the fourth course. The Pig’s farmers’ market menus were centered around these noodle soups, with virtually the entire family coming together around them as they had in their home kitchen: Andrew at the pot, Alex running the operation, Allison or Andrew’s wife Teri taking orders, Raymond serving up Vietnamese iced coffee and Loan watching over them all.

Today she still oversees the farmers’ market soups, working six days a week surrounded by her children. Now, standing at her pot in the Pig’s upstairs kitchen, Le gets a call from downstairs. Andrew needs help perfecting her southern-style broken rice. “Andrew always says the flavors have to be right,” she says. “He says they have to be the flavors of his family.” And she hurries downstairs.

Tasting Kaua’i


As we travel throughout the Hawaiian Islands the question we ask ourselves most frequently is, “where should we eat?” When edible Hawaiian Islands travels to Kaua‘i we reach out to local food writer Marta Lane. She knows all about food on Kaua‘i and freely offers recommendations geared towards your taste.

We read Marta Lane’s book like a novel and now we would like to pass it on to you. Reading “Tasting Kaua‘i” will leave you feeling like an expert on Kaua‘i’s culinary scene. We are especially proud to share this book because it supports small publishers and our local food community. Thank us later, after you eat!

Pineapple Tea



Course: Drinks


  • Knife
  • Peeler or Spoon
  • Medium Pot


  • 1 Maui Gold Pineapple
  • 1 Knob of Fresh Hawaiian-Grown Ginger (thumb-size)
  • 2 tsp. Local Honey
  • Water


  • Wash pineapple and remove crown (top), which can be replanted.
  • Cut and remove skin from pineapple.
  • Peel ginger with knife or spoon and slice to ½ inch slices.
  • Add pineapple skin and ginger to a medium pot and cover with water.
  • Cover and bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.
  • Cool tea, remove pineapple skins and ginger, then stir in honey until dissolved.
  • Serve tea cold or hot. Add fresh mint or basil for garnish.

‘Olena & Ginger Infused Honey



Recipe and photography by Lily Diamond of Kale & Caramel.
Before I can name them, I smell ginger and wet earth, wild susurrations of the dense jungle that runs along Honopou Stream. This is where I come to remember. Here, in the quietness of water and green and soil, there is nowhere to turn that does not remind me I am also of this land.
My feet sink into soil infused with decades of ginger root, air perfumed with spice rising upward to touch leaf-refracted sunlight. Birds call. Water hammers relentlessly over rock. Lauhala branches murmur. White ginger blooms, defiantly. I am home.
Later, I infuse Kula honey with the most potent roots of the land I can find: Fresh `olena (turmeric) for protection and healing. Ginger for strength. Shades of gold and orange filled with curcuminoids, anti-inflammatories, antibacterials, digestive aids. Drizzle over fruit and yogurt. In hot water for a potent tonic. On toast. Sweet and spicy. Wild.
Course: Side Dish
Author: Lily Diamond


  • Knife or Vegetable Peeler
  • Knife or Fine Grater
  • Food Processor or Mortar and Pestle
  • Strainer (optional)


  • 1 Cup Filtered Honey
  • 1 ½-inch Piece Fresh 'Olena (turmeric) Root
  • 1 ½-inch Piece Fresh Ginger Root


  • Using a knife or vegetable peeler, scrape the skins of the `olena and ginger from the root and discard.
  • Finely grate the roots, or slice them into very thin pieces and place them in a small food processor or mortar and pestle.
  • Grind or process until the roots are finely ground. Mix with honey and let infuse, covered, out of the sun, until the desired potency is reached (1-7 days).
  • After infusing, leave roots in honey, or strain out, as desired. Use in every way you’d normally enjoy honey.


`Olena contains powerful natural dyes that will stain all they touch—including your skin and all kitchen utensils and surfaces.

Letter of Aloha

Dania KatzI spend a good part of my day reading just about anything I can get my hands on, especially cookbooks. I also receive nearly every edible publication each quarter, and proudly confess my status as a magazine junkie.

Last month I stole an entire day, cooked enough food to last a few meals, and took to my hammock with a stack of reading material and an ocean view (yes, the offi ce here has an ocean view). As I picked up my fi rst magazine, one particular headline struck me as odd, “Female Chef Wins Best Chef.” I wondered why the chef’s femininity need be mentioned in the headliner.

The theme to our summer issue is COOK, and, as I lay in my hammock, I started thinking about all the women that cook food. Amongst the pile of cookbooks and magazines I was going through, however, I found surprisingly few stories centered around women.

In most homes as we were growing up, especially in my generation, it was the women that dominated the kitchen, but in professional kitchen settings, both then and now, most of the chefs are male. This issue that you hold in your hands pays homage to women; each story, every writer and photographer is a female, well except one.

I am proud of this issue because it showcases talented fi shermen, creative artists, kickass mothers, and some incredible chefs. No other descriptor necessary.

P.S. Our 2016 summer issue is #37 and the start of our 10th year of publishing edible Hawaiian Islands Magazine. Number 37 is an auspicious number and it has a very special meaning to me. Thank you to everyone who has helped grow our magazine.

Dania N. Katz
Publisher / Editor Le? er of A