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From Kau Kau to Cuisine

KauKauCuisine_WEBHawaii’s contemporary cuisine is indelibly influenced by its small-town plantation past. From Kau Kau to Cuisine: An Island Cookbook, Then and Now is a unique culinary guide to that connection between old and new. In this lavish, hardcover collection of 60 recipes, time-proven local dishes are paired with new creations inspired by the same flavors and ingredients.
Food historian Arnold Hiura provides the fascinating backstory of Hawaii’s culinary journey from roots in tight-knit communities to how—and what—Islanders eat today. Hiura points out, for instance, that common foods once consumed out of necessity, such as offal cuts or native plants, have once again become popular. The buzzwords of modern cuisine—sustainable, homegrown, foraged—are in fact age-old practices; many old-timers never stopped sourcing, cooking and eating their foods in these ways.
In From Kau Kau to Cuisine, Big Island television personality and KTA Super Stores executive vice-president Derek Kurisu and Oahu executive chef Jason Takemura of Hukilau Honolulu and Pagoda Floating Restaurant, have teamed up to present 30 pairs of recipes. Each pair matches a “Then” dish from Kurisu—a classic plantation or traditional local-style favorite—with a “Now” dish from Takemura—a reinterpretation of Kurisu’s version or a new creation drawn from the same ingredients or cooking style. The result: Grilled Opihi are reimagined as Baked Oysters with Truffle Hollandaise; Kabocha with Dried Ebi evolves into Roasted Kabocha Risotto; Portuguese Sausage–Hamburger Patty Loco Moco is remade as Sake–Soy-Braised Short Rib Loco Moco. Each dish is accompanied by lush color photography, while accompanying features offer tips on step-by-step processes used by both Kurisu and Takemura.
Born and raised in the sugar plantation town of Papaikou on the Island of Hawaii, author Arnold Hiura is an independent writer, editor and media consultant. He spent several years researching Hawaii’s culinary traditions to compile Kau Kau: Cuisine and Culture in the Hawaiian Islands (Watermark Publishing, 2009), which received the Hawaii Book Publishers Association’s Ka Palapala Pookela Award of Excellence in Cookbooks. Hiura also co-wrote James Beard Award-winning chef Alan Wong’s cookbook, The Blue Tomato: The Inspirations Behind the Cuisine of Alan Wong (Watermark Publishing, 2010), which received the Ka Palapala Pookela Award of Excellence in Cookbooks and was named the International Association of Culinary Professionals’ Book Awards “Chefs & Restaurants” category winner.
Like Hiura, Derek Kurisu grew up in a plantation town north of Hilo, where his father worked for the Wailea and Hakalau sugar mills. In addition to serving on numerous boards and committees promoting local business and agriculture, he is the on-air host for the television show Living in Paradise and co-host of Seniors Living in Paradise.
Chef Jason Takemura worked at several leading California restaurants—including Roy’s at Pebble Beach, Montrio Bistro, Seven Hands on Higuera and the Inn at Spanish Bay—before returning to Hawaii and serving four years at Chai’s Island Bistro under the tutelage of Chef Chai Chaowasaree. He joined the new Honolulu Hukilau in 2007 and now also oversees all food service operations at the Pagoda Hotel & Floating Restaurant.
From Kau Kau to Cuisine: An Island Cookbook, Then and Now is priced at $29.95 and is available at bookstores, other retail outlets and online booksellers.