The story of Hawaiian cooking, by a two-time Top Chef finalist and Fan Favorite, through 100 recipes that embody the beautiful cross-cultural exchange of the islands.
ONE OF THE TEN BEST COOKBOOKS OF THE YEAR: The New Yorker • ONE OF THE BEST COOKBOOKS OF THE YEAR: The New York Times, The Washington Post, NPR, Taste of Home, Vice, Serious Eats
Even when he was winning accolades and adulation for his cooking, two-time Top Chef finalist Sheldon Simeon decided to drop what he thought he was supposed to cook as a chef. He dedicated himself instead to the local Hawai‘i food that feeds his ‘ohana—his family and neighbors. With uncomplicated, flavor-forward recipes, he shows us the many cultures that have come to create the cuisine of his beloved home: the native Hawaiian traditions, Japanese influences, Chinese cooking techniques, and dynamic Korean, Portuguese, and Filipino flavors that are closest to his heart.
Through stunning photography, poignant stories, and dishes like wok-fried poke, pork dumplings made with biscuit dough, crispy cauliflower katsu, and charred huli-huli chicken slicked with a sweet-savory butter glaze, Cook Real Hawai‘i will bring a true taste of the cookouts, homes, and iconic mom and pop shops of Hawai‘i into your kitchen.
Two-time Top Chef competitor Simeon celebrates Hawaiian cuisine in this enticing collection. A third-generation Filipino-Hawaiian, Simeon details what it means to be Hawaiian and the important role that ethnicity plays in that definition: "See, in Hawai‘i we identify ourselves ethnically rather than geographically. On the mainland people might say ‘I'm a New Yorker,' but here it's ‘Lyndon? He's Portuguese Chinese Hawaiian.' " He offers a brief history of the islands and describes local eating customs, including ohana food served family style; the plate lunch served with rice and mac and cheese; and pupus, an array of bountiful appetizers guaranteed to satiate even the most ravenous appetites. The recipes reflect the wide array of ethnic influences at play in Hawaiian culture, including Japanese shoyu dip with sesame crunch, Korean kimchee dip, and Filipino boiled peanuts with "oxtail spice." Dishes such as garlic shrimp, "chop steak" cooked with ginger and onions, and pocho (steamed clams with Portuguese sausage) are drool-inducing. Some meals, such as Okinawan pig's feet and lahaina fried soup made with Spam, may be an acquired taste, but in Simeon's capable hands, even these unusual meals can be appetizing. Those looking to bring the tastes of Hawaii into their home will find no better guide.