With a few Asian ingredients and fresh vegetables, anyone can prepare these island favorites.

By Sophia V. Schweitzer
November 29, 2007
Jean Allsopp

Delicious fish from the waters surrounding Hawaii has alwaysstarred in island meals. Some cooks here follow the custom ofPolynesian settlers and grill fish over a fire until crispy brown,with merely a sprinkle of salt. Others dice raw, tender fish forpoke, an appetizer made from chunks of fresh fish marinated withseaweed, salt, and ground, sweet-tasting kukui nut. Another popularpreparation developed by ancient Hawaiian chiefs involves steamingmild, white fish in banana leaves.

Exotic flavors such as miso, sake, ginger, pineapple, cilantro,mango, and macadamia nuts have long enhanced Hawaii's simmeringmelting pot. Laborers from China, Puerto Rico, the Philippines,Korea, the Azores, and Japan introduced the ingredients when theycame to the islands to work the mammoth sugar plantations. Buttoday Hawaii can also claim a range of fabulous fresh produce,including earthy mushrooms, vine-ripened tomatoes, bell peppers,herbs, watercress, and other greens.

These recipes reflect the islands' rich diversity and the newfocus that Hawaiian chefs place on local ingredients andsustainable seafood. Like their ancestors, they spotlight theprecious qualities of the fish, with recipes that avoid heavysauces and handiwork, and emphasize time-proven methods. Andthey're all easy, fast, and flavorful.