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Book Review: Aloha Kitchen

April/May 2019 Issue
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Aloha Kitchen: Recipes from Hawai’i
By Alana Kysar
(Ten Speed Press)

In this book, Maui native and popular food blogger Alana Kysar captures the flavors of Hawai’i in a collection of recipes and photographs that portray the graciousness and natural beauty of the Aloha State. Hawai’i’s food is a hybrid of the cuisines of the many ethnic groups that migrated to the islands to work on sugar-cane and pineapple plantations—Japanese, Filipino, Chinese, Korean, Portuguese— and, of course, native Hawai’ians.

That hybrid is most vividly captured in the local staple of the plate lunch. It consists of three or four items: protein (Filipino chicken adobo, say, or Japanese teriyaki beef), carb (steamed white rice), mayo-y carb (macaroni salad), and veg (usually a pickle, such as kimchi). It’s Hawai’ian food culture neatly contained on a single plate. Kysar offers the recipes you need to create plate lunches any day of the week: Appetizers and sides such as Maki Sushi, Filipino Lumpia, and Pickled Onion. Mains like Char Siu Pork, Chicken Katsu, and Chinese-Style Steamed Fish. Noodles and snacks like Chow Fun, Pansit, Baked Taro and Sweet Potato Chips, and Pickled Mango. Plus drinks, sauces, and sweets. If you try just one dessert, make it the Double Chocolate Haupia Pie, in which intense chocolate filling is balanced with mellow coconut pudding and topped with fluffy whipped cream.

Recipe Spotlight: Loco Moco. This hamburger without a bun is served on white rice with a tangy sauce and topped with gravy and a sunny-side-up egg.

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