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Food & Dining // Heart-y Chef
Diana Helfand

Making Salad Sing With Spicy Wasabi

For Maui’s Kawika Regidor, music, cooking and family go hand-inhand. Whether he’s touring the globe to promote Hawaiian culture and music or sticking close to home, Regidor is always cooking up something enticing.

The Na Hoku Hano Hano Award nominee’s latest endeavor is the new CD release Hawaiian Style Love Songs, a compilation featuring two of Regidor’s songs together with Island music of Troy Fernandez, Justin, Norm, Reality, Herb Ohta Jr. and many more.

When not on stage or in the studio, you’ll find Regidor lending a hand to support the Haiku Schools community, including projects that promote physical fitness. On Oahu, he recently visited schools as part of the “Music With a Message” program, talking about the negative effects of tobacco smoking.

For the father of two young keiki, cooking together is part of the Regidors’ everyday routine.

“Because there is a strong Mexican influence on my wife Heather’s side of the family, cooking is very much a tradition of cooperation and fun involving all members,” explains Kawika. “Our family can often be seen with children lined up across the kitchen, each one contributing to making a meal for the whole family. A special memory for me is when my 8-yearold-son Kawika Jr. and 6year-old daughter Kuleana locked my wife and me out of the kitchen as they prepared pancakes and fruit smoothies for us.”

Regidor ‘s Cajun Seared Ahi Salad is a perfect “team cooking” opportunity. Slicing, mixing and searing it’s got it all, kind of like his music. If a trip to Maui is in your future, be sure to check out kawikaregidor.com to see where he’s performing next.

Wasabi is sold as a root that can be finely grated to make a paste, and also is sold in tubes. The flavor is like a hot mustard. Fresh wasabi leaves also can be eaten; they have a hot flavor. Covering wasabi until ready to serve preserves the flavor.

KAWIKA REGIDOR’S CAJUN SEARED AHI SALAD

* 4 ahi tuna steaks
* 8 teaspoons Cajun seasoning or equal parts of red, black and white pepper (enough to coat your ahi steaks)
* vegetable oil or cooking spray, for brushing the grill pan
* mixed prewashed baby salad greens
* 5 to 8 radishes, sliced
* 1 1/2 cucumber, peeled and thinly sliced
* 2 teaspoons wasabi paste (more or less, to taste)
* 4 tablespoons white vinegar or rice vinegar
* 4 tablespoons shoyu
* 10 to 12 tablespoons olive oil
* salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
* optional: won ton strips for topping the salad

Coat your ahi steaks with Cajun seasoning. Heat a grill pan or griddle over high heat. Spray grill surface or coat with a thin layer of oil. Add ahi steaks to the pan and sear two minutes on each side. Remove from heat. Combine greens, radishes and cucumber in a bowl and sprinkle with a dash of salt and black pepper. In a small bowl, whisk wasabi, vinegar and shoyu. Whisk in oil. Drizzle dressing over your salad and toss. Slice tuna on an angle and arrange over the salad. Note: For children, use a sesame or Asian vinaigrette over the salad and a simple shoyu or tartar sauce for ahi dipping.

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