Random Notes from Hawaii
I went to Hawaii recently! And while I've got a lot of photos to process, and posts to write, I thought that I might start with all the random things that I thought was interesting in Hawaii.
Spam sushi anyone?
SPAM is HUGE in Hawaii. Apparently, the people of Hawaii consume more SPAM per person than anywhere else in the US. Even on the shelves in the local grocery store, there are more varieties of SPAM than I've ever seen anywhere else. Musubi (pictured above) is an example of the omnipresent SPAM, mixed with the distinct Japanese influence from migrants after the war. A slice of SPAM is fried, coated in a terriyaki sauce, and placed on top of a shaped handful of sushi rice, secured with a piece of nori (seaweed).
I would suggest you give it a go if you visit Hawaii for the cultural aspect. It didn't exactly rock my world in terms of flavour combination or innovation, but it's still pretty cool and good fun. And surprisingly filling too, though for a complete meal I would suggest supplementing with some fruit/veg. ;)
In my late night prowling of grocery stores - they need more 24hr grocery stores around here! - I also found this!
These sugar cane stirrers are about as unprocessed a form of cane sugar you can get, I think. I'm sure that it would be great to sweeten your coffee or tea - they remind me of the Persian rock sugar stirrers that you can get - I bought some because I thought it would be cool to use as a sweetener/decorative item for a cocktail. The original thought was that I'd use it to sweeten a Caprioska, but I haven't opened the packet yet. Given that Hawaii used to be known for its sugarcane plantations, these are not as common as I would've thought, but you can still get them in grocery and convinience stores.
Also in the grocery store - have I mentioned how much I love Foodland? - are their selection of ready-to-eat items.
My favourite breakfast while I was there was a simple half of a ripe papaya, with a squeeze of lime over the top. Simple but satisfying.
Poké is another ready to eat item from the grocery store, and I've developed a mild addiction to it. I've been back in Sydney for about a week now, and I'm still suffering from withdrawals.
From left: Tako poké, spicy ahi poké
Poké, from my understanding, is raw cubes of fish (or pieces of seafood), in a variety of marinades. Common ingredients in the marinade include garlic, ginger, shoyu, green onions. Spicy poké commonly uses kochujang, a korean chilli paste. Limu poké uses limu, which is the Hawaiin word for seaweed.
The most common fish I've seen used is ahi, which is tuna. Tako (Octopus) and salmon poké are also widely found.
If snacking on tub after tub of raw fish is a bit much for you, you can also get poké bowls, which are bowls of rice topped with poké. At about $5 a pop, those bowls became my go-to lunch options. There are also other pre-packed rice bowls with other toppings.
$6.95!! I don't think I'd necessarily get a bowl with that much ikura that cheap in Sydney. Like I said, I'm suffering withdrawals big time.
And if you're feeling the heat after a satisfying lunch, then try to drop by Waiola for a Hawaiin shaved ice. Delicious and refreshing, it's basically finely shaved ice that melt like snowflakes on your tongue, covered in syrup. I got a banana and lime one - green and gold! - but you can get a whole variety of flavours, with various toppings like pearl and mochi.
The biggest thing that I've found is that the people of Hawaii are just so nice and hospitable. Every local that I've asked has happily told me their recommendations for foodie destinations, and even what their favourite dish on the menu is.
I miss Hawaii already. =(