For locals, few things say “home” as much as poke. Here’s the story of the evolution of this quintessential Hawaii food.
About 50 years ago—Sam Choy remembers being less than ten years old—Choy and family friends threw a net into Hukilau Bay and ended up catching a few moi. His mom’s friend decided they would make poke, so they sent him to pick limu manauea from the river mouth. Then they had him digging out roasted kukui nuts from ashes, cracking the hard shells and taking the meat out as they scaled and gutted the moi, sliced them crosswise—“poke” cuts—bones and all. They seasoned the fish with salt harvested from the ocean, threw in the chopped limu and sprinkled the crushed kukui nut (‘inamona) over it all. After letting the mixture sit a moment so the flavors would meld, Choy recalls, “I took a mouthful of it and went ‘wow’…Right at that moment, I knew that this was my love. Something as natural and pure as taking a fish out of the water, creating some magic to it.”
Whether it was the work he had put into creating that bowl of poke (he remembers the long walk to the river mouth to gather limu and the seemingly endless number of kukui nuts that had to be fished out of the ashes, cracked, the meat scooped out), the romance of the setting—sitting on the beach with friends and family, or whether it was the natural appeal of fresh, just-caught fish paired with the crunch of seaweed, whatever it was, that moment tipped Choy’s passion, a passion that would influence the future of poke.
Sun, earth, water. It’s easy to see how these three elements factor into farming. What may not be so obvious—at least to those of us who rely on the widely used Gregorian calendar—is the importance of the moon in planting, gathering and harvesting food. If the impact of lunar cycles on farming seems somewhat… well, alternative, to put it gently… one doesn’t have to look far to see examples of the moon’s influence on our physical world.
Continued at: http://www.ediblecommunities.com/hawaiianislands/summer-2010/gardening-by-the-moon.htm
The browns, greens and dark reds of seaweed lose out to their more colorful land counterparts. It’s easy to be enamored with the vibrant colors of tomatoes and the unique markings of heirloom beans, while leaving seaweed to wave quietly in the ocean, surfacing primarily in Japanese cooking in the dried forms of nori and kombu.
But fresh limu, the Hawaiian word for seaweed, is worth seeking out for its briny crunch that adds texture and flavor to poke and salads. These days, seaweed’s health benefits garner more public attention, but the nutritional value of seaweed is something many Hawaiians have long known—the traditional Hawaiian diet was once a trifecta of limu, poi and fish.
More here: http://www.ediblecommunities.com/hawaiianislands/spring-2010/edible-seaweed-limu-salad-from-the-sea.htm
Don’t expect a Foodland version of Whole Foods at the new Foodland Farms in ‘Aina Haina, which opened two weeks ago. For the most part, this is still a traditional supermarket–there’s the floor-to-ceiling case of cigarettes, a liquor aisle and aisles of high-fructose corn syrup (soda, chips and candy–the stuff that’s explicitly banned in a natural-foods store). And while the meat, seafood, bakery and deli counters are new to the ‘Aina Haina location, Foodland Farms isn’t fundamentally different from other Foodlands that have meat and deli counters, as well as R. Field Wine Company installations, which offer food finery such as cheeses, pates and charcuterie.
Daniel Anthony says I’m the reason he’s in trouble.
A few weeks ago, I took a picture for another publication of Anthony pounding taro at the Ward Farmers’ Market, prompting a visit from a health inspector who informed Anthony that he was in violation of health codes by selling poi “off the board.” Not that Anthony really operates under the radar– clothed only in a malo, with his sometime-mohawk, he’s hard to miss; he’s the outspoken celebrity chef of the taro-pounding circuit.
Read the rest here: http://honoluluweekly.com/restaurants/2009/11/ae-ai/