Let’s Talk Food: ‘A Portuguese-Hawai‘i Kitchen’ cookbook

Wanda Adams has written a new, updated “A Portuguese-Hawai‘i Kitchen” cookbook featuring Chef George Mavrothalassitis, Bobby Camara and Sandy Tsukiyama.

Chef George Gomes was born on Oahu, but when he was little, the family moved to a cedar home in Ahualoa. They foraged, bartered and raised pigs, chickens, wild boar and ranch cattle, as well as vegetables and fruit trees. They smoked meat and made homemade sausage and fish that were the center of the plates. They did not have to go to the store; everything they needed was in the yard.


“It was about a true farm-to-table lifestyle,” he said.

While in Japan, Chef George encountered seafood tempura and created a version of the marinated fish dish called Escabeche. Little did he know that it was the Portuguese who first introduced tempura and frying to the Japanese.


Chef George Gomes

6 ounces fresh, boneless, slightly oily, white-fleshed fillets of fish (opakapaka, onaga, opah, mahimahi, moncong, cod or butterfish)

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

One recipe tempura batter

2 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh garlic

1/2 shallot, thinly sliced

1 small carrot julienned

2 fresh bay leaves (do not use dried)

1 teaspoon Thai fried garlic (optional)

1 teaspoon dashi powder

3 tablespoons rice vinegar

1 or 2 small ni‘oi (small, hot Hawaiian red peppers)

Pinch sugar

Pinch salt

2 tablespoons olive oil

Two sprigs leafy celery ends

5 to 6 ripe cherry tomatoes, halved

1 tablespoon minced flat-leaf parsley

Cut fish into 1-by-1 1/2-inch rectangles. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. In a bowl, prepare tempura batter. Set aside.

Prep the garlic, shallots and carrots (and other vegetables, as desired) as directed and place in individual bowls. Set aside.

In a bowl, combine dashi powder, rice vinegar, minced ni‘oi, sugar and salt. Set aside.

In a saute pan, heat olive oil gently over medium heat. Heat garlic and shallots just until limp and translucent; do not brown. Add carrots, bay leaves and fried garlic and heat until warmed. Remove from heat, place pan on cutting board and add dash vinegar mixture, stirring and allowing to cook in residual heat. Taste and correct seasonings.

Heat 2 inches of vegetable oil in wok or frying pan to 365 degrees. Drag fish pieces through batter and drain excess. Deep fry battered fish until golden. Place in pan with vegetables and sauce, spoon sauce over fish. Taste and correct seasonings. Place tempura vegetable mixture on warmed serving plates. Garnish with celery ends, cherry tomatoes and parsley. Serve immediately.

• • •

Camara retired from a 30-year career with Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and currently lives in the rain forest. He grew up in Honokaa near his grandmother Rapozo’s Pa‘auhau home, with the extended family of Camara, Carvalho, Rapozo and Castro.

You need to purchase the cookbook to get all the tips Camara has for making Gramma Rapozo’s malasadas, but here is the basic recipe. The directions also are much more detailed to make perfectly round doughnuts.

Gramma Rapozo’s Malasadas

1 cup whole milk

1 package yeast (3 rounded teaspoonfuls)

3 cups all purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup white sugar

4 eggs

1/2 to 1 teaspoon lemon extract

Vegetable oil for frying

Scald milk until small bubbles form around the edge of the pot, remove from heat. Cool to lukewarm, 100-110 degrees. Add yeast and stir to whisk to break any lumps; proof 2 minutes.

Place the flour, salt and sugar in large mixing bowl. Make a well in the center; stir to combine. In a medium mixing bowl, beat eggs until well blended but not foamy. Add lemon extract. Stir milk-yeast mixture into egg mixture. Pour wet mixture into well in flour mixture and stir with wooden spoon until incorporated. The batter will be rough, wet and sticky, somewhere between cake batter and soft bread dough.

Cover bowl with a dish towel and place in a warm, draft-free place to rise for 2 hours.

Pour oil in countertop frying pan or heavy-bottomed Dutch oven or deep cast-iron to depth of 3 inches. Heat to 365 degrees.

When oil reaches temperature, use a tablespoon to gather up around small tablespoon-sized clump of batter, scraping against the side of the bowl to remove excess and cut off any “strings.” Slide the batter into the oil by running your thumb down the bowl of the spoon. Cook till browned. Roll in sugar.

• • •

Since 2014, when the first “A Portuguese-Hawai’i Kitchen” cookbook was released, Adams learned so much more about Portuguese cooking and shared some of what she learned in her recipe for Lemon “Vinho D’Alhos” Pork Roast with Salsa Limao e Mateiga and her Brazilian Bean Stew.

Adams will be available for book-signings at 6 p.m. Nov. 30, at Kona Stories and 1 p.m. Dec. 7 at Basically Books in Hilo. This would make a perfect Christmas gift for the foodie in your life. And what is better than an autographed copy?

Foodie bites

Hawaii Community College’s Culinary Arts program is open today till Friday. Call 934-2559 for takeout orders.

Pumpkin pies made by the Culinary Arts students will be available for pick up from 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 27.

Cash and credit/debit cards will be accepted; no checks.


Bring your own bag or box for the pies when you pick them up. Call 934-2559 when placing orders, and if you are leaving a message, give your full name, phone number and quantity of pies.

Email Audrey Wilson at audreywilson808@gmail.com.

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