Published in 1965, this culinary glimpse of the past offers dozens of recipes that attempt (sometimes successfully, sometimes less so) to blend Asian and Pacific flavors with 1960’s mainstream USA tastes. Then-exotic food items like pineapple, papaya, coconut and macadamia nuts figure prominently in such delights as Cheese ‘n’ Pineapple Pupus, a concoction that involves dipping cubes of fresh pineapple first into Luau Mayonnaise, then into shredded coconut and grated cheddar cheese. Another pseudo Polynesian dish, Macadamia Nut Stuffed Eggplant, involves a somewhat standard preparation of stuffed eggplant (thankfully without pineapple or coconut) sprinkled with chopped macadamia nuts for that authentic island touch.
Apparently lobster was more affordable in the 1960’s, based on the number of lobster recipes included, among them Sandwich Islands Lobster Salad, Coco Lobster Soup, Seafood Curry in Papaya and Baked Lobster Waiohai. The last recipe was developed at Kauai’s Waiohai Hotel, which is now part of a large chain of time share properties. Other fondly remembered businesses that provided recipes and/or culinary assistance to the cookbook include Spencecliff Corporation, Waikikian Hotel, Coco Palms Hotel and Pan American Airways.
Asian-inspired recipes include Japanese Sweet Pickles, Teriyaki Sauce and Shrimp Tempura; Korean Kim Chee and Broiled Meat; and Chinese Chicken Fried Rice and an ambitious Pineapple Peking Duck. All are fairly authentic, though several include monosodium glutamate, a common flavor enhancer at the time.
The recipe for a whole Kalua Pig – “dig a round pit large enough to enough to hold a freshly dressed pig of at least 100 pounds” – describes the centuries-old process used by Native Hawaiians for roasting food in underground pits, or imu. Other Polynesian-inspired recipes include Tahitian Poi and Coconut Milk Spinach. A glossary of commonly used Hawaiian words is included at the back of the cookbook. Line drawings of island scenes and a section of color photographs contribute to the volume’s tropical feel.
Browsing through the cookbook provides a look at mid-century Hawaii as it became the “Crossroads of the Pacific,” a melting pot of cultures and their foods and flavors that thirty years later morphed into Pacific Rim Cuisine.
Stand by for photos of Coconut Tuna!