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Food & Dining // Heart-y Chef
Diana Helfand

Sharing Mom’s Special Oxtail Soup

Kunani Blake, general manager of Romano’s Macaroni Grill, the award-winning restaurant at Ho’okipa Terrace at Ala Moana Center, is a food and beverage industry veteran.

Kunani was born in Waimea, Kauai, and has been with Romano’s Macaroni Grill for two years. He has held positions at his alma mater, Kamehameha Schools, as well as at Kincaid’s, Dave & Buster’s and Hard Rock Café in Hawaii and on the Mainland.

He and wife Debbie enjoy their days off cheering on their two sons at their basketball and football games, and he is an avid L.A. Lakers and Oakland Raiders fan.

Kunani would like to welcome moms to celebrate Mother’s Day “Italian-style.” Each mom will receive a beautiful rose and a special gift from Romano’s Macaroni Grill, and will be eligible to win dinner for four at the restaurant. Moms will be able to savor dishes from the a la carte menu, including favorites such as Seafood Linguine, Fettuccine Alfredo, Eggplant Parmesan and Lasagna Al Forno.

Their new Primo Menu is available Monday-Thursday, 4-6 p.m. and features a soup or salad, choice of entrée: Spaghetti Bolognese, fresh island fish or Chicken Parmigiano, dessert and beverage for only $25. For more information, call 356-8300.

In celebration of Mother’s Day, Kunani shares his mom Patti Blake Silva’s favorite Oxtail Soup recipe.

Oxtail soup is a thick, rich, gravy-like soup that dates back to as early as the 1600s in England, and was made from skinned and cut-up animal tails, potatoes, tomatoes and assorted vegetables. Different countries have many variations of the recipe, and with nose-to-tail eating in vogue, it has become more popular.

For less fat, chill and skim fat off the top of the soup.

GRANDMA BLAKE’S OXTAIL SOUP

* 4 pounds oxtail
* 1 cup raw peanuts*
* 1 piece ginger root
* 4 cloves garlic
* shiitake mushrooms , to taste
* 1-2 dates
* small tangerine skin, dried*
* 1 package fu chuk (dried bean curd dried in strips)*

In a large pot, brown ginger and garlic, then add oxtail. Add boiling water to the pot and boil oxtail, for one to two hours.

Add one to two dates, a small piece of dried tangerine skin and raw peanuts to the pot. Add salt, to taste.

Lower heat and let simmer until meat falls off the bone. If more liquid is required, you may add chicken broth.

An hour before serving, soak the fu chuk (bean curd) in hot tap water until soft and cut into 1-inch pieces; add to soup and bring to a rolling boil.

Lower heat and cook for about 30 minutes.

Serve with ground ginger (optional).

*Tangerine skin, raw peanuts and fu chuk may be purchased in Chinatown.

You can tweak the recipe to add more oxtail or vegetables.

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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