This is the recipe that got raves yesterday at a photo shoot from photographer and chef Adriana Torres-Chong. I’ve copied it here from the manuscript of the book it will be in called “A Splash of Aloha,” coming out from KCC via Watermark Publishing this spring. Auwe! I found some typos in it just as I was rereading it for this! (You simply cannot proofread your own work. Not possible.)
“Continuing with the Portuguese theme is this classic pupu, just made for beer, the back of the truck and pau hana. Every Portuguese home had a nioi (Hawaiian chili pepper plant in the yard, producing bright red or yellow explosions of fire and flavor) and a few thriving bunches of salsa (flat-leaf parsley). Adjust the amount of chili and garlic to your taste. Finally, one of the hallmarks of Portuguese cooking is the use of vinegar to perk up the palate; be sure to cut it a bit with water. Here, marinated uku is broiled; it’s also common to quickly braise the fish in the marinade. You can use bone-in pieces, steaks, even the collar (i.e. aku bone) or fillets; don’t overcook boneless fillets. It’s smart to wear kitchen gloves when working with chili pepper; whatever you do, don’t touch the eyes, lips or nose with chili juices on your hands.”
Portutugese uku pupu
For the pupu:
2 lb. uku steaks, fillets or other pieces*
1 small, fresh hot chili pepper, seeded and diced
2 tsp Hawaiian salt
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 c. cider vinegar
1/4 c. water
For the onion topping:
1 T. minced onion and a few very thinly sliced rounds of onion for garnish
1 T. minced parsley
1/2 small fresh chili pepper, peeled and seeded (optional)
1/2 tsp. Hawaiian salt
1 1/2 T. cider vinegar
Place fish in flat, nonreactive container with cover. In a bowl, stir together chili, salt, vinegar, garlic and water, pour over fish and allow to marinate, covered, for at least an hour, turning once. Combine onion topping ingredients and marinate 15 minutes or more. Preheat broiler and brush with olive oil. Broil 3-4 minutes, turn and repeat. Pour over hot fish. Serve with cold beer and crusty country-style bread for dipping up the juices.
Makes 4-6 servings.
This recipe is great with aku, too.
Tip: You can just pick it up with chopsticks, eat it with a spoon, dip in with your hands, or spread it on the bread. It’s a bit messy but sooooooo ono.