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Food & Dining // Heart-y Chef
Diana Helfand

A Crowd-pleasing Pupu To Sing About

Na Leo Pilimihana: Lehua Kalima Heine, Nalani Choy and Angela Morales. Photo courtesy Na Leo

For the members of Na Leo Pilimehana – Nalani Choy, Lehua Kalima Heine and Angela Morales – the marking of Hawaii’s 50th anniversary of state-hood in 2009 sparked the creative process that resulted in their new CD.

According to Nalani, it all started Aug. 21, 2009, while on tour in Japan: “On that day, we were in Osaka doing a concert tour and began reflecting about the changes that had occurred over the past 50 years, and how we were once at war with Japan, but now we are like sister countries and they love our music, our hula and our culture.”

The three childhood friends, who made Na Leo the most award-winning and biggest-selling female Hawaiian group, put their heads together to brainstorm ideas for celebrating this shared love, especially the love of Waikiki. The result is Romantic Waikiki (the first new Na Leo CD in five years), which Nalani hopes will reflect the romance and fun of the Waikiki of yesteryear.

This column is dedicated to Na Leo, with congratulations on the new CD.

Born and raised on the North Shore of Oahu, Nalani knows a thing or two about cooking for groups. Here’s an easy dip that’s healthy, too. Edamame are green soybeans in the pod that are picked before they ripen. The pods are boiled or steamed and salted, or spices are added. Edamame are rich in fiber, protein, carbohydrates, folates, manganese and vitamin K. They also contain vitamins and minerals such as B vitamins, iron and vitamin C.

NALANI’S MAKE-YOUR-OWN SUSHI BITES

For Dip:

* 1 kamaboko, grated
* 1/2 cup diced jicama, or substitute canned water chestnuts
* 1/2 cup edamame, cooked and shelled
* 1 large tablespoon mayonnaise (to lighten it up, use light sour cream or Greek yogurt)
* salt and white pepper, to taste

Combine all ingredients above to make a dip. Serve on a plate of warm rice with furikake sprinkled on rice, and with small, bitesize nori pieces.

Guests can scoop the rice onto the nori then top with the kamaboko dip mixture.

For Base:

* 3 cups white or brown sushi rice
* furikake, to sprinkle on top
* bite-size nori (sea-weed) pieces

Diana Helfand, author of “Hawaii Light and Healthy” and “The Best of Heart-y Cooking,” has taught nutrition in the Kapiolani Community College culinary arts program. Email heartychef@hotmail.com.

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