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Open Sesame, Then Add To Mahimahi

Donna Festa, owner of Lanikai General Store, moved to Kailua from Boston 15 years ago to join her brother Bob, and worked with him at Bob’s Pizzeria until she got her real estate license.

In 2008, Donna met a Hawaiian monk seal named Chester on Kailua Beach, and her focus turned to raising awareness about critically endangered Hawaiian monk seals. For the past five years, she has maintained a daily blog called monksealmania.blogspot.co m. She also works with school groups to educate them about endangered wildlife and being responsible.


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Donna Festa with boxed water at Lanikai General Store. Nathalie Walker photo

Donna always has dreamed of owning a small neighborhood store, and when an opportunity became available, she opened Lanikai General Store at Kailua Beach Center (next to Bob’s Pizzeria).

Her vision was to have a store that would offer residents and visitors a warm welcome as well as the quality goods and services of a convenience store. She tries to use local products, and often makes buying decisions based on environmentally friendly products – even selling boxed water, which she calls a small step to reduce the single-use plastic bottle. The store has gifts made by local artists, and a good selection of wines and beer.

Donna’s beloved dog, Bella, is gone now, but she keeps a water bowl by her front door for all of her doggie friends!

This column is dedicated to Donna.

Sesame plants were cultivated in Mesopotamia more than 3,500 years ago, and are believed to be among the first plants to be used for their edible oil. An Egyptian tomb dating back 4,000 years depicts a baker adding sesame seeds to his dough, and archeological remains show that sesame was grown in Palestine and Syria more than 3,000 years before the birth of Christ.

The edible seeds of the sesame plant are valued for their oil, which is very resistant to rancidity.

Dried sesame seeds are an excellent source of magnesium, potassium, iron, calcium, phosphorus, zinc, copper, thiamine, niacin, folic acid and vitamin B6. They are a good source of dietary fiber and contain riboflavin.


* 6 6-ounce mahi fillets
* salt and pepper, to taste
* 1/2 cup low-sodium shoyu
* 1 teaspoon sesame oil
* 3 small cloves garlic, crushed
* 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
* 1 tablespoon olive oil
* 2 tablespoons brown sugar
* 1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds

Season fish fillets with salt and pepper. In a shallow glass dish, stir together the shoyu, sesame oil, garlic and ginger.

Place fish in marinade, cover and refrigerate for one hour.

Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat, spreading oil around to coat bottom of pan (you also may use a cooking spray). Remove fish from the dish, reserving marinade. Sauté fish for four to six minutes on each side, turning only once, until fish flakes easily with a fork. Remove fillets to a serving platter and keep warm.

Pour reserved marinade into the skillet, and heat over medium heat until the mixture is heated through; add brown sugar and reduce slightly (stir a few times to incorporate sugar) until just syrupy.

Spoon sauce over fish, sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds and serve immediately.

Makes six servings.

Approximate Nutrition Information Per Serving:

Calories: 260
Fat: 5.8 grams (if using cooking spray, 4 grams)
Sodium: 488 milligrams
Cholesterol: 124 milligrams

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