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Food & Dining // Heart-y Chef
Diana Helfand

A Poifect Fish Stew From NuiKealoha

Hawaii is recognized throughout the culinary world for innovative cuisine that fuses a wide range of cultural influences. Across the Islands, chefs such as Robert Kealoha Domingo are expanding our local menus in exciting ways.

An elevator repairman by trade, Kealoha combined his lifelong passion for food with his connection to the Hawaiian culture to found his catering business, NuiKealoha. In every dish, NuiKealoha combines authentic, traditional tastes with fresh local ingredients, all the while respecting the aina and Hawaiian beliefs and traditions.

Kealoha quickly made a name for himself in the catering world. Today, you’ll find him at many charity events, where he proudly shares his love of cooking and healthy foods.

Next up for the NuiKealoha team is Hawaii Conservation Conference, Community Connections Pau Hana July 17 (hawaiiconservation.org) and the Papahana Kuaola fundraiser, “Kupu’eu Hou ‘O Meheanu” Aug. 10 (papa-hanakuaola.com).

Here’s one of Kealoha’s simple, hearty comfort food recipes that he calls “Fish and Poi Stew.” It was inspired by fish stew made by Uncle Herbert Hoe of Hakipuu – a well-recognized ‘ai pono practitioner.

Taro is the root of the taro plant that grows in tropical and semi-tropical climates, and is an easily digestible starch. Taro root must be cooked thoroughly and is prepared in similar ways to potatoes, used in baking and desserts, and may be roasted, baked, boiled or fried.

Taro is high in fiber, low in fat, has no cholesterol and contains vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium, calcium, iron and magnesium.

NUIKEALOHA’S FISH AND POI STEW

* 8 quarts fish stock (make your own by boiling fish bones or scraps)

* fish sauce (optional), to taste

* pa’akai (Hawaiian sea salt), to taste

* 6 cups cooked and cleaned Hawaiian taro, cut into bite-size chunks (keep 2 cups separated)

* 6 cups cooked and cleaned ulu (bread-fruit), cooked, cleaned and cut into bite-sized pieces (keep 2 cups separated)

* 2 local round onions, cut into wedges

* 6 cups carrots, cut into 2-inch pieces

* 1/2 cup coconut oil or olive oil

* 1/2 cup minced garlic

* 1 hand ginger, peeled and sliced

* 1 pound day-old poi (optional)

* 6 cups local fish (ono, mahi, ahi, etc.) cut into 2-ounce pieces (as an option, use your day-old leftover poke), drained and lightly salted

Heat oil in large pot. Sauté garlic, round onions and carrots until onions are translucent. Deglaze with a small amount of fish stock. Add 2 cups each of the reserved taro and ulu chunks. Cover with remaining fish stock and simmer until carrots start to get fork tender. Add remaining taro, ulu and poi. Simmer. Stock will thicken as taro, ulu and poi melt.

Just before serving, remove from heat, add fish and allow to cook through. Garnish with sliced green onions, minced limu, Nagatani watercress or Hawaiian chili pepper and serve immediately. Goes great with poi or brown rice.

Makes one ohana-sized pot!

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