Friday, November 8, 2013

"The New Cuisine of Hawaii - Recipes from the Twelve Celebrated Chefs of Hawaii Regional Cuisine" - Stir-Fried Chicken Satay with Rice Noodles

 Date I made this recipe:  November 3, 2013

The New Cuisine of Hawaii - Recipes from the Twelve Celebrated Chefs of Hawaii Regional Cuisine by Janice Wald Henderson
Published by:  Villard Books
ISBN:  0-679-42529-2
Recipe:  Stir-Fried Chicken Satay with Rice Noodles - p. 50 (Recipe by Chef Jean-Marie Josselin)

A little while ago, I wrote about how one of my kitchen adventures turned into my own version of the Food Network Show, Iron Chef America.  Today is round two at my house and tonight's secret ingredient is...rice noodles!  (Let's all take a moment to ooh and aah, just like the contestants on the show do).

A while back, Trader Joe's, a store that just keeps on giving, carrying products I never would have thought about buying if they hadn't told me to, featured these rice noodles in the refrigerator section.  I bought them, put them in my own refrigerator, and then went on a hunt for a recipe containing rice noodles.  Surely with a recipe collection as vast as mine, containing several Asian cookbooks, I would find a recipe right away, but no.  Lucky for me, these noodles had a long "shelf" life, ending this coming Thursday (well, not "ending" ending but that was the suggested "use by date"). 

In the end, it turned out to be a case of good timing that I waited so long because I ended up using one of the used cookbooks I acquired on a recent trip to Hawaii provided just the recipe - Stir-Fried Chicken Satay with Rice Noodles.  And so whew--right there in print was the secret ingredient - rice noodles.  You have no idea how hard that was because most of the other cookbooks listed every other noodles but rice noodles or listed rice itself but not the noodles.  So...success.

What almost derailed me from making this though, was the other secret ingredient:  red Thai curry paste.  I must say, the combination of Thai + curry scares me.  I expected it to be tongue-blistering hot but then again, the other ingredient, coconut milk, provides a balancing cooling effect.  So there was that.  And the peanut butter in the sauce definitely smoothes things over (hahahaha).  The result was a wonderfully rich and not-too-hot satay sauce.  I loved it.

But alas, the rice noodles did not fill me with love or even affection...or anything closely resembling either of the above.  For this I blame myself:   Instead of following the recipe instructions, I followed the package directions to the "t" and the package cooking time and the recipe cooking time differed by a minute. And in retrospect, I should have known that a 2-minute cooking time was too much.  We ended up with a soggy, messy glob of noodles prompting me to suggest to Andy that we eat the satay sauce leftovers with rice this time around.  Rice, I can cook:  rice noodles?  Apparently not so much!

As to the "new" cuisine of Hawaii, of which this recipe is a part, happily, this cuisine is no longer new as our 11-day sampling vacation proved to me and my husband.  Many more Hawaiian chefs are making their marks in the culinary world, and a couple of Food Network shows have had Hawaiian chefs as contestants.  In fact, we ate at Next Food Network Star's Ippy Aiona's restaurant on the Big Island (and got photos--he is as nice in person as he was on TV).  So that's a big plus.  But the way was paved by the twelve chefs from this book so let's discuss:

Alan Wong - once cooked for President Obama; now owns three restaurants in Oahu and Maui.
Amy Ferguson Ota - once cooked with Julia Child (be still my heart); now runs a catering business in Kailua-Kona on the Big Island. 
Beverly Gannon - owner of the Hali'imalie General Store (we've eaten there) on Maui and other of a cookbook by the same name.  Hers was one of the first cookbooks I used for my blog.
Gary Strehl - has moved back to the mainland and continues in his role as general manager/executive chef for several high-end hotel groups.
George Mavrothalassitis - born in Provence, Chef "Mavro" is chef/proprietor of Chef Mavro's, a fine dining restaurant in Honolulu.
Jean-Marie Josselin - after venturing out to the mainland to open a restaurant in Las Vegas, Chef Josselin returned to Hawaii to Kauai to operate Josselin's Tapas Bar and Grill.  Had we known of him when were in Kauai, we would have stopped in for a bite but alas, I shipped this book, purchased in Hilo, Hawaii, before we stopped over in Kauai for a few days before returning to Minneapolis.  Oh well--next time.
Mark Ellman - This guy is busy!  In addition to a few restaurants in Maui, he owns/operates nine Maui Taco stands in three different Hawaiian Islands.  (Not that we ate at his stand, but we could not get over the wide variety of taco stands seen on all the islands.  Who knew?)
Peter Merriman - I only had to wait 10 years to eat at Peter Merriman's "original" Merriman's Restaurant on the Big Island (Waimea) but it was well worth it.  For whatever reason, I was aware of Peter Merriman the first time I went to the Big Island in 1997 and his reputation has grown exponentially since then.  Merriman pretty much started the local food movement on the Big I and has not strayed from that notion one iota, as evidenced by his "island-grown" notations on most of his restaurant items.  Trust me when I tell you to get the locally raised grass-fed beef filet.  "Sublime" is the word that comes to mind.  Absolutely sublime.
Philippe Padovani - The sad news is that Phlippe had a restaurant, then closed it, then reopened then closed it.  Alors.  But the good news is that he is now making chocolates in Honolulu.  That said, let me just say that all Hawaiian islands seem to love to make and sell chocolates, but people, I inadvertently left a Caramello bar in my purse in Kauai and despite the fact that I took my purse everywhere, it melted all over the place and I had quite the mess.  Do not however, let this deter you from a purchase:  instead, exercise caution!
Roger Dikon - Here's another chef who moved around a bit after a long stint of chefing in Hawaii only to return once again.  He is currently living in Honolulu
Roy Yamaguchi - Having eaten at two of Roy's restaurants in Maui and the Big Island (and waved at him while driving by his restaurant on Kauai), I feel like I know the guy but alas, have never met him.  Born in Japan, Roy has been busy building a restaurant empire with restaurants all over Hawaii as well as in Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Nevada and Texas.  Everything we've eaten is outstanding but Roy's Chocolate Soufflé (a/k/a Molten Lava Cake) is memorable.
Sam Choy - I've been hearing about Sam Choy for years but didn't see much of him and then overnight, he was on all these Food Network shows.  Sam's restaurant, Kai Lanai, is located in Kailua-Kona on the Big Island.  We drove past it but alas, didn't have time to stop.  Next trip!

All told, I think that's a pretty impressive set of biographies of these chefs who paved the way for Hawaii to become a powerhouse in the culinary world.  And I'm really pleased that I've eaten in a few of their establishments and eaten well, my friends.  It is not for nothing that several people on this list have been nominated for or received James Beard Awards.  Let's hope they continue to impress.

And now for our recipe - aloha!

Stir-Fried Chicken Satay with Rice Noodles - 4 servings
1 1/2 cups canned unsweetened coconut milk
3 tablespoons red Thai curry paste
1 teaspoon tumeric
1/4 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 cup natural-style peanut butter
1/3 cup chopped roasted peanuts
1/4 cup (or more) water
12 basil leaves, julienned
Noodles and Chicken
1 package (6 ounces) rice noodles (mai fun)
4 tablespoons peanut oil
1 tablespoon peeled, minced fresh ginger
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, diced
1 small carrot, julienned
1/2 cup snow peas, strings removed
1/2 cup sliced bok choy

For the sauce:  Bring the coconut milk to a simmer in a heavy, medium saucepan.  Add the red curry paste, tumeric and curry powder and mix well.  Whisk in the peanut butter, roasted peanuts, 1/4 cup of water and the basil.  season to taste with salt.  (Can be prepared 1 day ahead.  Cover and refrigerate.  Bring to room temperature before using, thinning with more water if necessary.)

For noodles and chicken:  Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Add the noodles and cook until just tender, about 1 minute.  (Ann's Note:  the package said 1 1/2 to 2 minutes and as previously noted, 2 minutes will get you rice paste.)  Drain; return the noodles to the pot.  Add 1 tablespoon of oil and toss well.  Heat the remaining 3 tablespoons of oil in a wok over high heat.  Add the ginger and garlic and stir-fry for 15 seconds.  Add the chicken and stir-fry until almost cooked through, about 3 minutes.  Add the carrot and stir-fry 1 minute.  Add 2 cups of sauce and cook to heat through.  Mound the rice noodles on plates.  Top with chicken sauce and serve.

Ann's Note:  Chef Jean-Marie Josselin recommends serving a sweeter wine to soothe the palate from the curry sauce.  Either a German Riesling or an American Gewurztraminer will do the trick if you like white wine.  For red, (which he didn't recommend), I think a fruity merlot is probably your best bet.  For the record, I had neither but instead opted for my favorite beverage, a martini.  If anything helps cool down the hotness of curry sauce, it's gin.  But that could just be me....

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