What adventures I’ve been having:
Went to a party at the home of a Samoan family members of a large clan named Maae,, in Kaneohe; my son works with one of the family members, Josh. The food was the usual Island-style potluck: grilled chicken, hot dogs, meat sauce from Zippy’s, rice, mac salad, noodles, etc. etc, The boys drank their Buds and Heinekens and Grandpa (the birthday boy at 80-plus years looked on from his wheelchair), and I had a thoroughly satisfying talk with the Mama of the house about Samoan-style celebrations: palusami (their laulau), squid luau (but with coconut milk only, no taro leaf), taro and ulu (breadfruit) either steamed in the umu (their imu), boiled, baked or fried — they’ve got a recipe for these two tubers for every day of the year, I think.
She slices ulu medium-thin (not as thin as a potato chip and fries it for snacks for the kids, with a sprinkling of salt). There was also another recipe that involved baking the ulu with a whole stick of butter (well, you could put alligator tails in a whole stick of butter and I’d eat ’em!).
We lamented the scarcity of canned wahoo (their canned tuna), which is superior, in my opinion, to anything but Italian olive-oil canned tuna. She said the cannery had closed.
We speculated about why corned beef is so important in Samoa and why it has to be Palm brand. It has to be Palm brand because it’s packed in more oil, much more tender and melting than our favorite Libby brand. She told me a recipe that I’m going to get spanked for passing on because it’s something you’re NEVER supposed to do: Boiling an unopened can. So, you’ve been warned and don’t bother scolding me. You take the can (inspect it carefully to be sure it has no punctures), put it in a pot of water to cover the can well, cover the pot, bring it to a boil and “when it’s done” (she didn’t say how long that was but I assume a very few minutes of boiling would be enough). Turn off the heat, move the pot to a heatproof surface, uncover, let the steam escape, put on some good oven gloves (the best are the ones made from silicon, which can withstand 500 degrees) and use a pair of canning tongs or some other tool to remove the can. Open the can (you’re still wearing the gloves, remember?) Eat. Mama likes it straight from the can but hot rice is good, too.
Finally, when there was enough food laid out for thee times the people who were there, Josh served his grilled chicken (he’d made 100 pounds!). I’m not a big fan of grilling chicken; it dries out. This was the most broke da mout’ chicken I ever ate. Period. We made one whole plate to bring home and I begged for the secret. Easy like crazy.
Use skin-on chicken on the bone. Marinate overnight in Sam Choy’s teriyaki marinade. Drain sauce. Place chicken on a hot grill and cook just until golden brown on both sides. The chicken will not be cooked through. Put it in a baking dish or one of those aluminum party trays (these people party often and they had a stack Costco high!). Cover with aluminum foil. Place in a low oven (250 or so) and bake about an hour. The chicken will be done and moist. They didn’t say, and I forgot to ask, if you add back any of the drained sauce, but I would — not so it was floating but a half inch or so on the bottom to prevent sticking.
Now they may have left a secret ingredient or two out but I don’t think so. Sam’s stuff is pretty darned good.
Try this one for your next big family party. In the garage. With paper plates. And music playing. And elders to tell you about their lives. If you’re anything like me, you’ll be in paradise on earth.
Bless all of you this holiday season, especially the large, loving Maoa family, who shared so willingly with this little local haole girl.