Sunday, December 28, 2008

Watching turtles and fish, eating loco moco

I haven't been writing in my blog because I have been out of wireless range in Hawaii. We just moved to an oceanfront place and it has wireless, so here I am. We are about halfway through a very relaxed trip, and I am doing a couple of my favorite things, cooking with local ingredients and watching sea life.

There are a few sea turtles that frequent the tidal pools and rocky shores under our lanai here. They like to come up in the afternoon and sun themselves while munching on the seaweed growing there. About 50 feet out in the deeper water there are several schools of yellow tangs that are easy to pick out when the sun is shining on the water. Their presence tells me that there are a lot more cool fish hanging out there around the lava shelf. But there is a lot of surge down there and it would be challenging to get to, so we shan’t climb down to snorkel there. We will, however, walk south about 100 yards on a path to a little sandy beach and walk into the water to see what we can see. I am scared to death of the water – nearly drowned when I was about 10 – but my desire to see the neato fish pushes me forward anyway. Probably tomorrow.

Brunch this morning was loco moco. This is a very Hawaii-specific dish. In its basic form it is white rice topped with a hamburger patty and a fried egg, covered with brown gravy. Sometimes served with a scoop of macaroni salad. (More on mac salad, Hawaiian-style, in a minute.) Our version was a little more luxe. Last night I made fried rice with diced Portuguese sausage, carrots, egg, and green onions. It was a huge batch, meant to last for a week of breakfasts or lunches. So I heated up two portions of fried rice, and cooked some patties I made by mincing tenderloin trimmings. I also made some Knorr brown gravy and fried some eggs. (Knorr is closest to the traditional gravy I get.) I cook the eggs sunny-side up but cover them to ensure that the white is still cooked with a runny or very soft yolk. Rice goes on the bottom of the plate, then meat, eggs, and gravy. Put a scoop of mac salad on the plate and VOILA! A deluxe loco moco.

Hawaiian mac salad is quite different from macaroni salad you may have had. It consists of a grated carrot, a pound of overcooked macaroni, and a cup or more of Best Foods/Hellman’s mayonnaise. Some salt and pepper, and let it sit until everything is well-absorbed. Then add a little more mayo if you like it moist. I happen to like it very much, and Costco here on the island used to sell a very good version. I couldn’t find it this time so once we got to a place with a wireless connection I did some research to find some recipes that resembled what I wanted. The result was very close to what I have enjoyed at the greasy spoon “plate lunch” places around here. If you’ve never heard of “plate lunch,” it is an entrĂ©e like fried chicken or fish or teriyaki beef or curried beef stew served with two scoops of white rice and a scoop of mac or mac/potato salad. It is usually an inexpensive, wickedly bad for you, and quite yummy meal.

Back to turtle watching and working on a “healthy glow” on my face, while sipping some champagne.

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