Let’s Talk Food: Using local products

During these times, I hope we are buying more local products. The CSA produce boxes support local farmers, and when we have a box full of fresh, wonderful produce, we will certainly find ways to make a great meal.

Large green papayas are readily available to us. You just need a good julienne peeler and you can make a great Thai som tum salad. Everyone has their special way of making it, and each recipe is different.

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I shared with my readers a recipe that my friend Busakorn from the Chiang Mai Vocational School gave me some years ago. This recipe will have similar results, but when I was taught how to make this salad, the Thai mortar and pestle was an essential piece of equipment to not only mash the dried shrimp and garlic but also to mash the julienned green papaya to soften them. I like to peel the skin off with a vegetable peeler and then just use a julienne peeler that I bought in Thailand to shred the papaya until I get close to the seeds, then stop peeling. I do not have to deal with the seeds this way.

Thai Green Papaya Salad or Som Tum

Serves: 6 (for a light lunch, serve with grilled shrimp or tofu)

5 tablespoons fresh lime juice

3 tablespoons palm sugar* or golden brown sugar (packed)

2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons fish sauce (nam pla)

3 tablespoons dried shrimp, chopped

4 garlic cloves, minced

3 Chinese long beans, halved crosswise or 15 green beans 1- to 1 1/2- to 1 3/4-pound green papaya, peeled

10 large cherry tomatoes, halved

1 cup chopped fresh cilantro

2 green onions, very thinly sliced

1 fresh red Thai chile with seeds, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons coarsely chopped salted peanuts

Whisk first five ingredients in medium bowl. Set dressing aside. Cook beans in medium saucepan of boiling salted water until crisp-tender, 5 minutes. Rinse under cold water. Cut into 2-inch pieces. Using julienne peeler, peel enough papaya to measure 6 cups. Place in a large bowl. Add tomatoes, cilantro, green onions, chile and green beans. Pour dressing over; toss. Sprinkle peanuts over and toss. Sprinkle peanuts over and serve.

*Palm sugar is so hard that it will be difficult to measure 3 tablespoons, so place the cube of palm sugar in a little hot water to dissolve. Measure 3 tablespoons with the thick syrup of palm sugar.

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Here’s a recipe using local Big Island goat cheese and the wonderful mangoes that are now in season.

The recipe comes from Chef Beverly Gannon of Hali‘imale General Store, a converted 1920s building.

“I serve fresh local food and lots of it,” says Gannon.

The naan at her restaurant is served with the mango salsa, a garlic-ginger yogurt and a tomato-mint sauce. Gannon admits dabbing on all three at once might be a bit excessive, but being a Texan and Jewish, where food abundance is very important, she thinks it brings much satisfaction!

Chef Beverly Gannon’s Goat Cheese-Onion Naan with Mango Salsa

Makes: 4 breads

1 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons plain yogurt

1 cup crumbled soft fresh local goat cheese

3 tablespoons butter

3 1/2 cups sliced Maui or other sweet onions

Olive oil mango salsa (recipe follows)

Sift first three ingredients into bowl. MIx in yogurt and 1/4 cup goat cheese. Knead on floured surface until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Form into ball. Return to bowl; cover with plastic. Let rest 2 hours (dough will not rise).

Melt butter in large skillet over medium heat. Add onions, saute over medium heat. Saute until deep golden, about 25 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Cool, set aside.

Return dough out onto floured surface, Divide into 4 pieces. Form each into a ball. Roll out into 8-inch rounds. Brush heavy medium skillet with olive oil; heat over medium-high heat. Add 1 dough round and cook until brown spots appear all over bottom; about 5 minutes. Turn bread over and cook until brown spots appear all over bottom, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a large baking sheet.

Repeat with remaining dough rounds. (Can be made 2 hours ahead. Cover onions and bread separately; let stand at room temperature. Re-warm bread uncovered in 350 degree oven for about 5 minutes.)

Preheat broiler. Spread onion mixture on breads. Sprinkle with 3/4 cup goat cheese, broil breads just until cheese begins to melt, watching closely to avoid burning, about 2 minutes. Cut breads into wedges. Serve with mango salsa.

Mango Salsa

Makes: About 2 3/4 cups

2 cups peeled, chopped, pitted local mango

2 cups chopped red bell pepper

2/3 cup chopped green onions

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

4 teaspoons olive oil

Mix all ingredients in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper. (Can be made 6 hours ahead. Cover and chill.)

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Correction: I forget the flour mixture for Thomas Keller’s Fried Chicken: 6 cups all-purpose flour, 5 tablespoons garlic powder, 5 tablespoons onion powder, 4 teaspoons paprika, 4 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper, 4 teaspoons kosher salt, 6 cups buttermilk, 12 cups peanut oil for deep frying. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. Mix flour through salt. Place buttermilk in another. Dip each chicken piece in flour mixture to coat, shake off excess. Dip pieces in buttermilk, coating completely, then dip into flour mixture again, coating thickly (do not shake off excess). Place chicken on prepared sheets. Let stand 1-2 hours at room temperature to dry. Now continue on to fry.

Email Audrey Wilson at audreywilson808@gmail.com.

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