Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Mochitsuki - New Year's Japanese Tradition

Hawai'i is great because there are so many different cultures and traditions that get passed down from generation to generation. Mochitsuki, also known as mochi pounding, is a Japanese annual tradition that happens during the New Year. Family and friends of all ages get together for this fun-filled, hard-working celebration. I am very honored to be a part of this Komenaka family tradition every year.

First, rice is washed and soaked overnight. Right before the pounding starts, it gets put into this wooden steamer called a "seiro." 
Next, the rice gets dumped into a stone pot.

Once the rice is inside, it must be quickly "grinded" and mushed together before it stars cooling. Usually it takes three people for this step.
Next the pounding process begins. Anyone of all-ages can do this part. Two people get into a rhythm and take turns pounding the rice until it becomes a nice, smooth mochi texture.
Yes, even I can do it :p

The last stage of the pounding process is a one-man show where there is a "turn" between every pound. The turner is very important in the whole mochi pounding process to keep everyone consistent and on the right page. He is kind of like the "team captain." He also says when the mochi is done and let's everyone know when they should stop.
The mochi is then sent to get cut and shaped.
The size of the mochi depends on how it will be eaten. If in ozoni (mochi soup), it will be smaller. If to eat plain it can be larger. They are even stuffed with an (black bean) or even peanut butter.
Also enjoy fried with a little bit of sugar, shoyu, or even butter. Akemashite omedetogozaimasu (Happy New Year)!

Photo credits to Ryan Kawamoto and Travis Okimoto for covering this special occasion 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Chefs for Hope

It's been a while since I did a foodie blog, but am inspired and determined to post something once a week. I thought Chefs for Hope: A Fundraiser for Haiyan Relief Effort would be a great start to this goal.

As everyone knows, a devastating typhoon disaster happened in Haiyan, Philippines. Living in Hawai'i this kind of disaster hits so close to home, and it's incredible how everyone comes together to help in any way that they can. Last night, 34 of Hawai'i's top chefs participated in an event to help this cause. In a matter of just a couple weeks, Chef Chai organized this amazing affair where 100% of the proceeds went to the Salvation Army Haiyan Relief Fund.

The participating restaurants and vendors included: 12th Ave Grill, Alan Wong's, the Beachhouse at the Moana, Café Laufer, Centerplate, d.k Steakhouse, HASR Bistro, Hawaiian Spring Water, Hiroshi's, Japengo, JJ Bistro & French Pastry, Kakaako Kitchen, La Tour Cafe, Mariposa, Michel's at the Colony Surf, Morimoto, Nico's, Nori's, Ola at the Turtle Bay Resort, Paradise Beverages, Poke Stop, Rakuen Sushi Bar/Mercury Pub, Roy's, SALT, Sansei Sushi Bar & Restaurant, Side Street Inn, Southern Wine & Spirits, Tango Contemporary Café, The Pacific Club and World Sake Imports Beverages.

Today I will showcase my top 3 restaurant faves of the night (in no particular order).

On top of all the restaurants, wine, beer, and sake were all served.

1st fave - d.k. Steak House's infamous dungeness crab ramen with asian truffle broth. You can never go wrong with this dish!

2nd fave - Rakuen's sashimi. Anthony was very generous to serve 3 different types for the night: Hamachi, Salmon, and Ahi. Very popular, fresh, melt-in-yo-mouth, and such a great hit!

And last but not least, Vintage Cave's mushroom parmesan soup topped with truffle oil. So deeeelish, I seriously couldn't get enough of this. I guess I'll just have to go to the restaurant someday to get more ;)

One of the newest photobooth contraptions joined in too - Timestoppers Hawai'i! So awesome. Check out the real deal here: http://www.timestoppershawaii.com/cfh/056

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Filipino Longanisa Sausage

Sausage is one of those foods where some people are super skeptical about because who knows what the heck is in it. I, personally am not a huge fan, although there are a handful of ones that I'd eat, such as Vienna, Portugese, and Lup Cheong (Chinese). There is one in particular that's my fave, and most complicated to cook, which is called Longanisa.

Longanisa is a filipino style sausage that comes in different styles and brands. I have not tried them all yet but so far my go-to is the Pampanga's Sweet Hamonado one, which you can find in most Asian stores in the refrigerated section.

Here's how to cook:

Purchase the one on the right (red label).
In a pot, completely cover sausage with water (1-2 inches) & boil until all water evaporates (about 30-40 minutes).

When water is almost gone, poke sausages with fork so oils come out. Fry sausauges in the same pot until crispy, or your liking.

Pairs nicely with mimosas or bloody marys, and kimchi fried rice :)