“lobster kona style,” sam choy

In my post “christmas 2011???” I indicated that my husband and daughter prepared our amazing holiday meal. They were my personal gourmet chefs, if only for a day. But I’m not complaining. Each dish tasted as fabulous as it looked. Had I done the cooking, I’m not sure I would’ve fared as well. Sometimes I overfuss; my husband never, ever even fusses. He’s simplicity personified. And my daughter was the perfect sous chef. She fusses, but she doesn’t overfuss.

From renowned Hawaiian chef, Sam Choy’s cookbook, “Cuisine Hawaii,” I found the main dish for our Christmas dinner. I love lobster, especially dipped in warm, melted butter. I no longer indulge in the dripping delight, because of health reasons. Something I’ve spoken about ad nauseam. “Lobster Kona Style” may be a healthier, and tastier, alternative.

In a sidebar to the recipe, Chef Choy told how he and his staff caught the lobsters used in his recipes. I thought it was interesting, since I’d only known of lobster traps in Maine, and elsewhere on the east coast. I thought it was worth repeating. Natives like me might be surprised, and tourists who visit the islands might be intrigued.

Fortunately, lobsters like to gather in the waters right in front of the Kona Hilton, so that’s where my kitchen staff and I go to catch them during lobster season, which runs from September through May.

In preparation for catching the lobsters, we put pieces of fish into our traps, which measure about two feet wide by three feet long. Then we hang the traps over the sea ledge near the hotel, letting them down to between 30 and 40 feet deep.

We leave the traps there overnight, and during that time the lobsters crawl into them backwards with their feelers to get the food. The opening is shaped like a big funnel, with the smaller part on the inside, so once the lobsters get in, they can’t get out. In the morning we return to the traps, which usually have attracted not only lobsters but rock crabs and big eels. The trap holds from six to 12 lobsters.

If  the carapace of the animal is smaller than three inches, or if it’s a mother with eggs, we throw it back. Then we take the keepers back to the kitchen, because lobsters taste best if they’re alive and lively. We move as quickly as possible to prepare them for a gourmet meal like Lobster Kona Style. In this recipe, the rich buttery flavor of the lobster is offset by a tangy sweet and sour sauce. Enjoy!

Years ago when we lived in Redding, Connecticut, a styrofoam chest containing live Maine lobsters was delivered to our door. It was a thank-you gift from one of my husband’s clients. Unable to get my husband by phone, and not knowing what to do with the shellfish, I put them in the freezer. Later that night when my husband arrived home, he informed me he didn’t think I’d done the right thing. Telling him I didn’t want the lobsters to die, he reminded me that I killed them anyway, by freezing them to death. “Oh, yeah right,” I said. Lesson learned,… at the lobsters’ expense.

Without further adieu…Lobster Kona Style…

2 whole lobsters (1 pound each)

Sam’s Seafood Marinade: 1/2 c shoyu, 1/2 c oil, 2 T mirin, 1 egg white (lightly beaten), 1 T minced garlic, 1 T minced ginger, 1/2 t salt, 1/4 t white pepper, 2 T cornstarch, 1  1/2 t brown sugar. Combine shoyu, oil, mirin, egg white, garlic, ginger, salt and white pepper. Mix together cornstarch and brown sugar and stir into shoyu mixture; blend well. Makes 1 1/4 cups.

Oil for deep-frying

Sweet & Sour Sauce: 1/2 c tomato  catsup, 1/2 c vinegar, 1/2 water, 2 t shoyu, 1 c sugar, 1/2 c orange marmalade, 1 1/2 t minced ginger, 1 t minced garlic, 1/4 t hot pepper sauce, 2 T water. In a medium saucepan combine tomato catsup, vinegar, 1/2 c water, shoyu, sugar, orange marmalade, ginger, garlic and hot pepper sauce; mix well and bring to a boil. Blend cornstarch and 1 1/2 tablespoons water to make a smooth paste. Stir cornstarch mixture into sauce. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring frequently until thickened. Makes 2 cups.

Remove lobster meat from tail sections, leaving head attached to tail. Cut lobster tail meat in half, then crosswise into four sections. Marinate lobster meat in Sam’s Seafood Marinade for 45 minutes. Steam lobster shells until shell is bright red; set aside. Heat oil to 375 degrees. Dip lobster meat into Tempura Beer Batter, then deep fry in oil until golden brown. Arrange lobster meat in the empty tail shells. Pour Sweet & Sour Sauce over the lobster meat. Makes 2 servings.

Tempura Beer Batter: 1/2 c flour, 1/2 c cornstarch, 1 t salt, 2 egg yolks, beaten, 3/4 c ice-cold beer. Combine dry ingredients and blend well. Stir in egg yolks. Gradually add beer, stirring constantly, and blend until smooth.

bon appetito!…hugmamma

christmas 2011???

Not quite! More like Christmas 2010 is still liking our “digs,” and has decided to stay put a little longer. Truth be told, it’s not like the holiday decor has had a choice. It’s more that I’ve been slow to pack it away. So here come the excuses.

You know I was ill for awhile. I’m better now. Thank you very much. But as a result we weren’t able to entertain friends who wanted to see our decorations. Now that it’s February I think most of them will have to wait until it really is Christmas 2011, except for my good friend Cindy. She’ll be over Friday for lunch. She so enjoys how I intermix antiques, collectibles and holiday items to create a vintage wonderland. Another reason for her visit is to peruse my Venice travel guides. She’s hoping her family will make the trip there sometime this year.

Speaking of Christmas past, and being ill, my husband and daughter were fabulous to prepare the entire holiday meal, from appetizers to dessert. As one who is totally anal about details, I resisted at first. But while the brain might have been up for the challenge, my body dug in its heels and said “No way! Uh, uh. Can’t do it.” So I sat back, more like laid on the sofa, and let husband and daughter “have at it,” as the Brits like to say. Well, they knocked my gourmet socks off…way off! I had chosen the recipes, but they came up with masterpieces. I decided on the spot, that I wasn’t the only cook allowed in my kitchen. Someday I might even relinquish my chef’s hat altogether. Now when’s my hubby retiring? Hmmm…I’ll gain a cook, a gardener, maybe even a housecleaner…

Since this post is a Christmas hodgepodge of sorts, I wanted to include photos of nearby homes which exploded with holiday spirit. Our family’s favorite is the window that displays the fish-net stockinged, woman’s leg, lamp and shade, from the 60s “The Christmas Story.” Until recently it was only a favorite of my husband’s. In years past I’d grimace whenever he spoke of watching it replayed on TV. This year, however, my daughter and me purchased the DVD as a present for him. I MUST be getting older, and mellower, because I did find the movie endearing. It reminded me of the good days. Old folks are always a sucker for reminiscing about the past. I’m no different it seems.

So now you know my Christmas secrets. We’re still celebrating the holidays. Yes, I still light all 5 trees. However, I refrain from flipping the switch on the outdoor lights. The neighbors might think we’re loony. I didn’t cook the annual holiday meal. And I’ve been won over by a movie I use to think was so corny. But you know what? Extending the season just means we continue to have lots of “good will toward men,” and God knows we on earth could use several mountains worth, especially now.

ho, ho, ho…and a merry christmas to all…and to all a good night…hugmamma. (good morning, actually, since it’s 10:19 a.m. where i am.)