Romy’s Kahuku Prawns & Shrimp

Every once in a while our family takes advantage of the free Sundays when my mom isn’t sitting Open House, and takes a trip around the island. It is quite fun and while we always drive the same path, passing the same homes and see the same beaches, I actually enjoy being squished up in the car between my dog and sister.

Like any trip, the best part of the day is deciding what to eat. Dining options run aplenty, as we are going around the entire island and perhaps even harder than deciding what to eat is how much to eat! We’ll usually stop off at one or two places for breakfast/lunch and end up with a car full of Ted’s Chocolate Haupia pies, perhaps a Blueberry Custard from SunnySide and a dozen or so deliciously sweet hot and greasy deep fried Poi Mochi Balls. Such is a lazy day in Hawaii.

Where would lunch be today? Well we were on the “boring” stretch of Kamehameha Highway and with the 7am pancake breakfast at Jack’s long forgotten, my dad’s stomach started to growl. And the rule is: when one man’s stomach growls we must all stop to eat.

It looks like a hohum piece deserted piece land, but park your car, turn around, and what do you see?

Lo and behold, it’s a prawn and shrimp shack buzzing with business! The Kahuku portion of Kam Highway is known for having an abundance of shrimp stands, shack, trucks and pretty much anything you can imagine. They all boast, “THE BEST Kahuku Shrimp – LIVE, FRESH!” Who knows who’s actually “The Best,” but until we’ve tried them all I’ve yet to have disagreeable Kahuku Shrimp.

The plate lunch menu is simple and straightforward. You can opt between shrimp or prawns prepared one of five styles ranging from simply steamed or wrapped in thin rice paper and fried. At $11 a plate, it’s more than twice the price of your average loco moco, chicken katsu kine plate lunch, but then you are getting shrimp and prawns…and what the heck, we all deserve the occasional treat.

My mom and I went for the sweet & spicy prawns. These are giant meaty creations, succulent and dripping with juices. We requested to have it extra spicy, and they sure delivered. It came with a side of (cloyingly) sweet and sour sauce, which I thought was unnecessary and detracted from the already seasoned prawns. The shells with its sweet, tangy hot sauce were a joy to suck on and I’ll even admit to eating some of them…

Butter & garlic prawns is a classic pairing and it’s hard to go wrong with many many bits of garlic fried in butter. What then makes the dish memorable is the quality of the prawns, and I know I’ve already said it, but they were not only sweet and tender but huge! Like *that* big! It feels good to know I can justify that $11 :)

We sat at the wooden picnic tables enjoying our lunches alongside both tourists and locals alike. It was a messy, fun lunch, peeling the prawns with our fingers and getting them all sticky and literally finger-licking worthy. We enjoyed watching groups of people who signed up for the “Prawn Fishing” deal – $35 for a plate lunch and an hour of prawn fishing. I didn’t actually see anyone catch a single prawn, but I suppose it’s the experience that counts!

Romy’s Kahuku Prawns & Shrimp
56-781 Kamehameha Hwy
Kahuku, HI 96731
(808) 232-2202

Silly Mistakes

Ahhh, talk about being super stupid!

I started (yet another) new job baking pastries for the Honolulu Coffee Company yesterday. The central bakery/kitchen which supplies all the baked goods to the Coffee Company’s various shops and kiosks is located underground behind the shop’s Ala Moana location. I’m still working at the governor’s place on the weekdays, but at this job, where I bake in the wee hours of the morning – man, it’s lots of fun! The environment, while demanding is calm and very supportive. Maybe it’s the smell of croissants and scones that bring about such a cherry mood, but whatever it is, it sure makes me happy. There are about three or four bakers working at a time, with the earliest shift beginning at 2:30 am. Crazy isn’t it? So next time you have a haupia brioche with your morning latte, whisper a thanks to the individual who woke up at a rather insane hour just to make it for you :)

Now going back to the subject of my extreme stupidity…
On my first day of work, I baked 18 banana walnut loaves, mixed and shaped nearly 70 oatcakes and prepped the next batch of oatcake batter. People here eat a lot of oatcakes. I was a bit slow on the first day, learning my way around the kitchen, and silly but imporant bits such as figuring out that the buttermilk and whole milk have the same labels but are stored in different parts of the fridge and when to use whipping cream in place of heavy cream. I also saw entire fresh poha berry for the first time – a beautiful, tangy cherry like fruit. A nice perk is the free coffee we get while working, though I fear a daily mocha will have some detrimental impact on my future health. I left satisfied with my work but somewhat displeased with my work pace. I was sure everyone else in the kitchen could accomplish what I did in a fourth of the time. So I promised myself to pick up the pace.

And pick up the pace I did!
Today I mixed the batter for an enormous quantity of blueberry cream cheese scones, mixed, shaped and baked more oatcakes (why so many oatcakes people?!) but the recipe I was looking most forward working on was the CROISSANT BREAD PUDDING. I saw it on my baking list this morning and gesh, was sooo excited. Until I screwed it up. The scones came out fantastic, a moist fluffy and creamy creation dotted with sweet berries and the oatcakes were perfectly shaped dense rounds of pecans, dates cranberries and all the oats you could ever desire.
As for the Bread Pudding. I cut up ten pounds of golden buttery and flaky croissants. My that’s a lot of croissants. It’s a good thing they didn’t leave me alone in the kitchen otherwise that ten pounds would have been quickly reduced to five. hehe. In a separate container I cracked over two dozen eggs, poured in quarts of heavy whipping cream and whole milk along with a good dose of vanilla and plenty of cinnamon spice. Mmmm, man, it’s hard to describe just how excited I was. I blended the liquid mixture and soaked in the cut croissants for just under an hour. Instead of baking in a single hotel pan we spooned it into individual portions lined in a classic high rimmed gold and brown liners. Fantastic!
I sent it into the warmed oven with great gusto and high anticipation. Abby took it out an hour later and there could not have been a more pleasing sight. Each individual steamy custard round was perfectly brown, bits of crusty croissant stood out here and there while the majority of the pieces were buried in warm soft pockets of cinnamony custard. Together, we removed each serving from the pan and placed it on a separate tray to cool. Abby scooped up some of the baked custard that had spilled on the pan for a taste…
“Sugar? Kathy, did you add sugar?”
“What, of course I did – right…” I tasted some for myself. Holy crap. There was no taste. Oh no oh no, I thought! “Um…” I ran to the recipe book. I was SURE I didn’t miss anything. Oh shit. Caught between the lines of 10 pounds of croissants and the eggs was the sugar. Oh shit Oh shit Oh shit. I craped this one up like none other. “Uhhh, I forgot. I’m sorry, I’m so sorry.” Oh great. Now I sound like a really stupid screw up. I didn’t know what to do. I felt like I failed the whole world. Or this kitchen at least.

I’m lucky that Abby is so forgiving. She said that she could freeze the pudding, cut it up and rebake it again. But that doesn’t exactly repair my mistake. My extremely stupid mistake. Forget the SUGAR? Who the hell forgets SUGAR in a BAKED GOOD!!! I guess I did.

And that was the second day of the work. The girl who loves bread pudding forgot the sugar. FORGOT THE SUGAR.

I’m going to sleep.

Between Wednesday and Thursday I’ve learned that there’s absolutely no sense in attempting to control what and how much you eat at food shows. Food shows are rather dangerous (though delicious) events. All attempts to regard food in such a manner that would classify as “normal” failed. After suffering from a severely swollen stomach Wednesday night and numerous mutterings of, “I won’t overeat and behave like a mad glutton,” I nonetheless ended up consuming waaaay more than any human should ever consider. I’ll try knock the blame somewhere else – why did there have to be so much food!

The show was already crowded on day one but it seemed as if the numbers doubled on the following day and tripled an hour prior to the end of the show. I’d soon figure out this was because many people were keen on scooping up the last batches of food samples and hopefully some free goodies!

The majority were local vendors, many of whom you’ll see in the upcoming Made in Hawaii Festival next month. Salts, marinades, flavored sugar, cookies and more lilikoi curd than you could consume in a lifetime.

Trays of petit fours and hor’dourves running from garlic pesto shrimp wrapped in puff pastry to goat cheese and Maui onion tarts. The problem with having so much variety is that I feel obligated to try them all :)

Coffee and chocolate macaron samples from Sweet Street. The lilikoi, guava and pistachio were equally scrumptious but I them all before realizing I should have paused to take a picture. How the tiny creations simply melt away upon the first bite, miraculous!

Various bread samples…

And more bread…ahhh, the never ending carb fest. It’s the only way to go.

From the Maui Culinary Academy:

Similar to a crabcake, only with North Shore Cattle Co. beef and mixed with a savory tangle of onions, spices, carrots and peas over tangy bittermelon namasu. Oh joy! This was the first time I’ve had bittermelon that wasn’t in soup or a stirfry and I must say, I could easily get use to this!

From our booth, creamy mango mousse in little caps of smooth dark chocolate, various petit fours (the dark chocolate almonds were my favorite), a very heavy and sinful chocolate pound cake, almond brownies and blondies (which were affectionately marketed as “haoles!” – lol).

We also had over a dozen cakes that were just as, if not more attractive than the one above. About half were sliced up for samples, oh believe me, if I could magically blog one over to you, I definitely would have! The Weilers were so kind to offer me to take one home (in addition to a trio of tiny tiramisus), and who was I to refuse? :)

I had such a toothache last night from a severe over consumption of sweets! The coffee guys in the neighboring booth brewed up one too many lovely cups of hazelnut cappuccinos for me. Chef Ernesto at the other end of Y.Hata presented me a most magnificent plate with four types of meat: osso buco, tenderloin in a rich mustard sauce, seared sterling steak and the star of the dish: a fabulously fatty, juicy cut of pork belly. Oooooh tremble, I sometimes forget how much I love that fatty cut of meat. Tear me an end of your crusty baguette to go with the belly and I’ll fall at your knees! Oh god, why is my stomach starting to growl again?

Holy Crap. I’ve never been so FULL in my entire life. I feel as if my skin is stretched to its maximum limit and will burst any second. Don’t I sound appealing! What happened to me on this wonderful Wednesday (other than getting 5 Bagazilion pounds heavier)? Alas, wonderful things. My friend Sabine just happened (don’t we all wish this kind of stuff “just happens” to us!) to be the daughter of world renown pastry chef Hans Weiler and she being the super nice person she is, introduced me to her father.

He currently runs Hawaii’s premier pastry supply shop after retiring from a lifetime of baking (he baked for the king of Morocco!). I first met him when purchasing my very own pair of chef’s pants and shoes. Meeting Hans confirmed my belief that people who love food are not only good and happy people, but they are indeed the coolest type of people in the world. Oh man. I just used the word “cool.” How 7th grade! I was recently invited to help at his booth at the Hawaii Lodging, Hospitality & Foodservice Expo. A food show? Who would dare turn down such an offer!
Our booth, which was marketed as a division of Y.Hata & Co. showcased the uses of various pastry supplies and mixes. It was indeed tiring work, standing on your feet the entire day, but time flies when you’re piping pineapple-haupia mousse into little dark chocolate cups and arranging a glorious rainbow of pastries. The best part is being surrounded by food people. All the people, buyers and exhibitors alike, had at least one thing in common. They know food. And love food. And that simply makes any trade show better!

On to the issue of the day. Keep in mind that this is a FOOD show – the purpose of which is to eat. And hoo boy, we had plenty of samples to boot! That’s where the problem/blessing comes arises. Imagine over a hundred booths that looked very similar to this:

(This was the first and only picture I took today – god knows the camera was no longer of primary importance once the sampling began).
What’s a girl who really loves to eat supposed to do? INDULGE!!! And off I went. Ho, I dunno what was wrong with me. You’d think I was a starving cave man or something. I wish I had more pictures, but I was too busy relishing in the joys of the mere quantity of high quality samples that I completely neglected to take pictures – who wants seared ahi on their camera? Though not to fear! The show runs till tomorrow afternoon and while I’ll still eat plenty (I never seem to learn my lesson) I will do my posts justice with more pictures!

Well this is just for my record, but if you’d like to know, here’s what I ate throughout the day:

kalua pig on pistachio potato cake
rack of lamb
some really good vermont smoked cheddar mac & cheese with bacon
wasbi poke
ahi sashimi
pesto turkey panini
chocolate cream pies
crab cakes, three way
bread pudding!
a million macarons
chocolate pound cake
lilikoi mousse
chocolate torte
blondies, brownies and the like
breads: boudin sourdough, cranberry walnut, rustic country white, cormeal bread, dark rye, spelt, cheddar and blueberry
Ben & Jerry’s was there, I couldn’t help it
And so was Kozy Shack…they deserve something for bringing commercial rice pudding to the US!
lots of fresh lychee…and mango, papaya and pineapple
onion rings
lobster risotto
bluberry danish
Tropilicious (local ice cream company) in green tea, lychee, kona coffee, lilikoi and haupia
various coffee blended drinks from five different booths
an “italian ice” company
chocolate chip muffin
more than my share of petit fours
matcha mousse
lobster ravioli
maui onion tarts

Oh no. That even LOOKS like a lot in writing. But mind you, they were “sample” portion, so I didn’t have that much. I think. It kind of defeats the purpose of “sample size” when you have two or three of each sample.

Needless to say I didn’t need dinner. (But I had a small one anyway…hehe :)) Well I was just so excited about the show that I wanted to give a brief rundown. Actually, I was so bursting with excitement that my parents got very tired of (or maybe they were envious!) my insanely enthusiastic ramblings and so I must blog on it. I pass the burden on to you. Lol. It’s not really a burden, is it?

I’ll be back tomorrow with pictures – I promise! And I promise to not overeat!