Hale Aina Cookbook: Island Harvest

Throw a great dinner party with six gourmet recipes from Hale Aina Award-winning chefs.

It’s a match made in heaven, or at least in Hawaii: In recent years, our state’s newly diversified agricultural scene has flourished in tandem with chef-driven restaurants that source locally grown food—not for virtue alone, but also for pleasure, because food just tastes better when it doesn’t have to deal with jet lag. Now, in addition to fresh seafood and tropical, backyard and plantation crops, you’ll find staples from all over the Western world that have spent their entire lives within earshot of “howzit”: tomatoes, corn, shallots, onions, eggs, goat cheese and a cornucopia of vegetables and flavorful garden herbs. Here are six ways to partake of our local bounty, from three Hale Aina Award-winning chefs with cosmopolitan roots and locally stocked pantries.

List of Local Ingredients :
Kona Kampachi, Ono, Keahole lobsters, goat cheese, eggs, sugar, tomatoes, shallots, Maui onions, corn, asparagus, fennel, herbs (parsley, basil, cilantro, thyme, lemon verbena, tarragon, chives, oregano), lemons, strawberries. 

Don’t know where to get locally grown food?  Read how to find local food sources.

Locally grown Kona Kampachi, tomatoes, fennel, parsley.

Photo by: Monte Costa

Crispy-Skin Kona Kampachi with Hauula Tomato and Big Island Fennel Ragout

Serves 2  

12th Avenue Grill

2009 Hale Aina Finalist, Best Bistro/New American Cuisine


Kampachi, a sustainably farmed ocean fish with sky-high Omega-3 levels, with one of Hawaii’s most tantalizing new vegetable crops, baby fennel.


Kona kampachi is garnering national attention for its health benefits and rock-bottom contaminant levels. Like other local ingredients, it’s available at Hawaii supermarkets according to season and supply. Find it online at www.kona-blue.com. However, if kampachi eludes you, try salmon or rockfish.

2     6-ounce pieces of Kona Kampachi (skin on)
2     Hauula tomatoes, one red and one yellow, diced
4     baby fennel bulbs, quartered
1     teaspoon chopped garlic
¼   cup black olives, pitted and halved
1     tablespoon Italian parsley, coarsely chopped
¼   cup extra-virgin olive oil


1. Start the ragout:

Put half of the extra-virgin olive oil in a pan on medium heat. Add the fennel, and sauté about 10 minutes, until fennel is quite tender.

2. Cook the fish:

Salt and pepper the Kampachi and place (skin side down) in the same pan, along with the garlic. Cook Kampachi about 5 minutes on this side.

3. Finish the ragout:

Flip Kampachi, add tomatoes, olives and parsley. Salt and pepper to taste. Cook about 3 minutes.

4. Plate it:

Remove Kampachi from the pan and place on mashed potatoes, rice or pasta, skin side up. Pour the tomato-fennel ragout over the fish. Drizzle the remaining olive oil over everything to finish.

Local foods are so much fresher. The flavors are so much better.”—Chef Kevin Hanney


Photo by: Monte Costa



Chef Kevin Hanney majored in alternative energies in college, and his first restaurant job was a farm-to-table affair in Upstate New York. He’s kept the faith since then, starting 12th Avenue Grill five years ago, just in time to catch the new wave of Hawaii’s diversified farmscape. Hanney says it’s a win-win situation for farmers and restaurants: “You build long-term relationships with farmers, who often grow things specifically for you.”




Locally grown:  Kahuku corn, eggs, shallots, thyme.

Photo by: Monte Costa

Savory Kahuku Corn Pudding

Serves 4  

12th Avenue Grill


4     large ears Kahuku corn
1½ cups cream (or half-and-half)
1     large egg
1     tablespoon chopped shallots (or onion)
½   teaspoon fresh thyme
salt to taste





Photo by: Monte Costa


1. Prep the corn:

Cut the corn off the cob and lightly sauté, or roast in a hot oven for 10 minutes. Salt to taste. Let cool, and fill four ramekins or small baking bowls (5- to 6- ounce capacity) evenly with the corn.

2. Do the rest:

Combine all other ingredients in a bowl, and mix. Pour the cream mixture over the corn till the ramekins are about ¾ full.

3. Bake the pudding:

Put the ramekins in a hot-water bath (water should come halfway up the sides) and bake covered at 350˚F for about 30 minutes. Uncover and bake for another 20 to 25 minutes, until the top starts to brown. The pudding should shake a little, like firm Jell-O. Serve warm.


TIP: Gorgeous and low maintenance: Make these puddings ahead of time and rewarm in the oven at 350˚F, covered, for 10 minutes.



Heirloom Tomato Salad with Crispy Feta and Strawberry Vinaigrette

Serves 4


Merriman’s Kapalua 

2009 Hale Aina Award, Gold, Best New Neighbor Island Restaurant

Locally grown: tomatoes, Maui onions, strawberries, feta cheese from Surfing Goat Dairy, sugar.

Photo by: Ryan Siphers


Looking to the traditional Caprese salad for inspiration, this salad highlights one of the world’s most delicious food pairings: tomatoes and cheese (which chef Philip Wang calls “a yin and yang combination, the best kind there is”). Local strawberries and multicolored heirloom tomatoes add a touch of whimsy.

1½  pounds mixed heirloom tomatoes
½    pound local strawberries, trimmed and quartered
½    Maui onion, shaved thin
8     basil leaves
¼    cup sherry vinegar
3      tablespoons sugar
½    cup extra-virgin olive oil
1      package Surfing Goat Dairy feta
½   cup flour
1     egg
½   cup panko crumbs
4    cups vegetable oil, for frying



1. Bread the cheese:

Slice the feta crosswise into four smaller, equally sized pucks. Roll the pucks in flour, shake off the excess and drop into beaten egg. Remove from the egg and toss in panko. Set aside.

2. Make the vinaigrette:

Marinate strawberries with sugar and sherry vinegar for one hour and drain, reserving the liquid. Add the olive oil to the strawberry liquid and mix.

3. Turn on the juice:

20 minutes before you want to serve the salad, heat the vegetable oil in a large pot to 350˚F, using a candy or frying thermometer.

4. Assemble the salad:

Wash, trim and core tomatoes. Cut them into bite-sized pieces and transfer to a mixing bowl. Toss them with the shaved Maui onion and marinated strawberries. Tear the basil leaves by hand and toss them in. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper, and dress with strawberry vinaigrette.

5. Start sizzling:

Fry the breaded feta cheese until golden brown. Remove to a draining towel and season lightly with salt. Divide tomato salad between plates and garnish with fried cheese.

Photo by: Ryan Siphers



For Merriman’s Kapalua, rising culinary star Philip Wang has searched out local producers who take advantage of Maui’s multiclimate landscape. “Everything we can possibly source locally, we use locally, and directly from the source,” says Wang. “It’s a little more work, but the product we get is pristine.”

Photo by: Ryan Siphers



TIP:  Fruit sometimes looks better than it tastes (and vice versa). How to choose a sweet berry? Wang suggests that you inhale: “A lot of times, with fruit, I go by the smell. If it smells really sweet and flavorful, then it will be.”




Herb-Grilled Ono with Glazed Asparagus, Tomato Compote and Salsa Verde

Serves 4  

Merriman’s Kapalua

The flavors of this meal are fresh and unfussy, and every bite complements every other. Grilling adds a light smokiness to the fish. If you haven’t yet experienced the bold, surprising flavors of salsa verde (which is almost, but not quite, entirely unlike tomato salsa), here’s your chance.

Locally grown: ono, asparagus, shallots, sugar, salt, cherry tomatoes, lemons, herbs.

Photo by: Ryan Siphers

For the Tomato Compote
 2     large shallots
¼    cup extra-virgin olive oil
3      tablespoons sugar
1 ½ tablespoons salt
¼    cup red wine vinegar
2     pints cherry tomatoes

For the Salsa Verde
1      garlic clove, chopped
½   teaspoon anchovy paste
1     teaspoon lemon zest, chopped
2     tablespoons chopped Italian parsley
1     tablespoon chopped chives
½   tablespoon chopped tarragon
½   tablespoon chopped oregano
1     teaspoon chopped cilantro
¼   cup extra-virgin olive oil

For the Fish
4     6-ounce pieces of ono
2     pounds local asparagus, trimmed of woody parts
¼   cup extra-virgin olive oil


1. Make the tomato compote:

Peel and slice the shallots thinly. Place in a nonreactive sauce pot and add the olive oil, salt and sugar. Cook over low heat, until the sugar and salt are dissolved. Add the red-wine vinegar and tomatoes, and bring to a boil. Continue to boil, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is reduced by half and all of the tomatoes have popped. Set this aside to cool to room temperature.

2. Make the salsa verde:

Mix all of the ingredients together and season with salt and pepper.

Photo by: Ryan Siphers

3. Prep the asparagus:

Blanch asparagus quickly in boiling water until tender. Transfer to an ice-water bath to chill and drain.

4. Grill the fish:

Preheat the grill, and pull the fish out to temper for about 15 minutes. Brush the fish with a bit of salsa verde, and grill to preferred temperature (for ono, an interior temperature of about 140˚F is perfect).

5. Plate it:

In a sauté pan, heat the asparagus in the olive oil until hot, and season with salt and pepper. Transfer the asparagus to plates, and set the fish on top. Add a generous dollop of tomato compote, and spoon some salsa verde around the plate.


TIP: Local lemons, unlike most long-traveling varietites, aren’t waxed—so zest away.



Keahole Lobster Ravioli with Goat Cheese, Roasted Garlic Cream and Pesto

Serves 4  

Tango Contemporary Cafe

2009 Hale Aina Award, Gold, Best New Oahu Restaurant


Don’t let the length of this recipe scare you; it’s composed of contemplative tasks like plucking basil leaves and stirring sauce. You can make the pesto ahead, the garlic cream is not hard to put together, and then all that’s before you is some chopping, mixing and playing with pasta: an unhurried way to achieve an eyebrow-raising level of culinary elegance.

Locally grown: Herbs (basil, parsley, chives), shallots, Maui onions, Keahole lobsters, Hawaii Island Goat Dairy goat cheese, eggs.

Photo by: Monte Costa

For the Pesto
1     cup packed fresh basil leaves
½  cup packed fresh parsley
4    cloves fresh garlic, peeled
¼  cup pine nuts
1     cup olive oil
2     tablespoons Parmesan cheese
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the Roasted Garlic Cream
1     cup white wine
1     tablespoon minced shallots
½   cup chicken stock
1     bay leaf
¼   cup heavy cream
1     teaspoon roasted garlic paste
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the Ravioli
1     tablespoon butter
1     tablespoon finely diced Maui onion
2     tablespoons finely diced red bell pepper
2     tablespoons finely diced green bell pepper
1     clove garlic, finely minced
2     Keahole lobsters, cooked, shelled and finely diced
4     ounces goat cheese
1     tablespoon finely minced chives
2     eggs
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Fresh pasta sheets (cut into 3-inch rounds)


Photo by: Monte Costa

TIP: If pasta sheets are not available, round won-ton wrappers will work, too.

1. Make the pesto:

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend to a smooth paste.

2. Make the roasted garlic cream:

Place white wine, shallots, stock and bay leaf in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, simmering until mixture is reduced by half. Add the cream, and reduce by half again. Blend in garlic paste, and season with salt and pepper to taste.

3. Assemble the filling:

Melt butter in a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add onion, bell pepper and garlic, and cook. Transfer cooled onion mixture to a bowl. Add the lobster, goat cheese and chives, and mix together. Season with salt and pepper. Beat one egg and fold into lobster mixture.

4. Make the ravioli:

Beat remaining egg and brush on pasta sheets. Place a tablespoon of filling on each sheet, top with another sheet and press edges together tightly. Set aside until ready to cook. Bring salted water to a boil in a deep pan. Cook ravioli for a few minutes; when they float, they’re ready. Remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to a serving dish. Top generously with roasted garlic cream, and garnish—just a Jackson Pollock flourish—with pesto.




Locally grown: sugar, lemon, verbena, eggs.

Photo by: Monte Costa

Lemon Verbena Creme Brulee

Serves 6  

Tango Contemporary Cafe

Sometimes, after dinner, you feel like playing with fire. Here’s one of the most dramatic, and uncomplicated, ways to do it. Lemon verbena, a spiky-leafed herb scented with citrus and grass notes, adds a hint of astringent virtue to a sinfully rich dessert.

4    cups whipping cream
¾  cup sugar
1     large sprig of lemon verbena
1     egg
6    egg yolks (separated from the whites)

Photo by: Monte Costa

1. Steep the cream:

Preheat oven to 325˚ F.  Place whipping cream, sugar and lemon verbena sprig in a thick-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, dissolving sugar. Turn off heat and let steep for 10 minutes.

2. Add the eggs:

Beat together egg and egg yolks in a medium bowl. Remove the verbena sprig, and add the warm cream to the egg mixture, beating as you blend. Pour the mixture through a fine strainer into another bowl.

3. Bake:

Ladle mixture into six individual ramekins or brûlée dishes. Place dishes in a pan and fill pan with hot water, halfway up the sides of the dishes. Bake for 25 minutes, or until set. Let cool. Refrigerate at least one hour, or overnight.

4. Brulee:

Sprinkle sugar thickly over the top of the chilled crème. Fire with a crème brûlée torch for a few seconds, until the sugar is bubbling and brown.

TIP: Lemon verbena grows in Hawaii, but it is a seasonal herb. Stash a bag of fresh stuff in the freezer, as they do at Tango, to use all year round.




Goran Streng has cooked his way across the world, starting out in his native Finland and progressing through Yugoslavia, the Bay Area, Hawaii and Singapore (where he re-opened the flagship Raffles Hotel) before returning to Hawaii and, a few years later, opening Tangö, his first independent venture.