Oh, my cooking ‘ohana, what a day. I did the thing that always gets “Top Chef” candidates in trouble: I cooked in a kitchen I’d barely seen before. When the chefs get thrown into one of those crazy challenges and find themselves using sous vide equipment, instant nitrogen freezing devices and other tools they have never used before, to me, it’s like watching a horror movie when the stupid victim opens the door and you know they’re gonna get killed. I want to scream” NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!”
I have electric. The stove was professional gas. The grill was bigger than my dining room table. I couldn’t even figure how the dishwashing hose worked! Despite the prep that had been done for me, I got lost just trying to find the sugar! There were whole fish to be butchered out and the only thing I kow about whole fish is how to eat them deepfried at Kenney’s in Kamehameha Shopping Center or Nori’s in Hilo. My hands were shaking all day. And time? Hey, I wouldn’t have anything plated on time if I’d been on “Top Chef,” though we did get six plates done in a little over six hours with a very brief lunch stop.
I was working in a teaching lab at KCC and mine was the last photo shoot for the book I helped edit, coming out in spring from Watermark Press called “A Splash of Aloha,” about Hawaiian fish.
There is a great irony here because right now, we can’t get many of the fish we were writing about. Even Daniel Leung, the project manager, couldn’t find fresh moi in Chinatown — and he speaks fluent Cantonese. We (chefs and the food mediaO) taught people to eat and love this fish and now a large aquaculture operation has suspended operations and grocers can’t get deliveries. I had to fake it with opakapaka (poor me, huh?) And butterfish that hasn’t been made into misoyaki? The only thing we could find was previously frozen. Look for this book. It’s FULL of the kind of information you need if you are not ma’a to Island seafood…or if you love it. There are some amazing recipes. A couple of my recipes (I only contributed six; I was really supposed to be editing but I couldn’t stay out of the kitchen!)
Now I think I’ll swim into my houseclothes, put my feet up and fall asleep watching TV. There’s a ton of wonderful fish dishes in the fridge for my husband to forage for dinner but I feel about fish right now about like I felt about beef last week when I had to experience 36 courses in two days. I think I’ll become a vegetarian for a while.