Thursday, March 31, 2011

Revisiting "Hawaii" and A Great Fish Recipe

 Fortunate to travel to New Zealand, I was interested to see how the Maoris, who comprise about 15% of the New Zealand population, are living today. While they suffered past injustices, they have revived as a community. We saw them participating in the Lake Taupo multi-cultural festival as seen here.

We visited the village of Whakarewarewa in which the Maoris still have an intact community. They have their own thermal pools and waters which they use communally for cooking and heating.

 The Maoris of New Zealand and the Polynesians or Native Hawaiians share the same origins. I was curious to refresh my memory of  Hawaiian history. I had read Hawaii by James Michener shortly after it was published in 1959. That was many moons ago and my reaction to re-reading it surprised me. I had the same feelings that I did when I recently watched I Love Lucy re-runs. Oh my God! That’s so sexist. The role and perception of women has changed so dramatically since Michener wrote Hawaii. When I read it the first time, I thought it was a very interesting fictionalized history. It still was. What surprised me on re-reading it was the depiction of the female characters. Except for three strong women characters, the females were almost invisible, existing only as wife, daughter, or prostitute.

I tried to keep the above in its historical perspective as I reread Hawaii. It was interesting to learn that before the missionaries and other white settlers arrived on the Hawaiian islands, the Native Hawaiian population was about 400,000. As a result of exposure to Caucasian illnesses and other destructive influences, by the end of the 1800’s, there were only about 30,000 Native Hawaiians left. Another blight on American history.

According to the 2010 United States census figures, there are now 1,360,301 people living in Hawaii of which only 10% (136,000) self-identify as native Hawaiian/Pacific Islanders.

In honor of the two island places one nation, one state, I give you this fish recipe from the New Zealand 20 minute cookbook 100 Favourite 20 Minute Dishes by Simon and Alison Holst. This recipe serves 2. (I tried to translate the metric system into the English system but they are approximations.)

                                                Sweet Chili Salmon on Sesame Noodles

About 2/3 pound (300 grams) salmon fillets
¼ cup sweet chili sauce
3-4 Tbsp chopped coriander leaves
1 Tbsp lime or lemon juice
1 Tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp sesame oil
½ pound (200 grams) noodles (Asian egg noodles, soba noodles, vermicelli, etc.)
10-15 cm telegraph cucumber (I didn’t know what this was so I guessed. You could use a bit of cucumber deseeded, julienned)
about 1/5 pound (100 grams) white radish julienned

1 Tbsp canola oil
1 Tbsp sesame oil
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp grated ginger
1 Tbsp roasted sesame seeds

Put the salmon in pieces in a plastic bag with the first five ingredients on the list. See that it’s coated. Let it stand.

Meanwhile, boil a pot of water to cook the noodles. While the noodles cook, prepare the vegetables. When the noodles are cooked, drain them and rinse briefly. Return the noodles to the pot and mix in the rest of the ingredients and toss.

Broil the fish.

Serve fish on top of noodles.

New Zealand, Hawaii, a great salmon recipe



Wendy said...

I enjoyed a family holiday in New Zealand a few years ago. We were entertained by a Maori group singing and they performed the Haka. We tried some traditional food at the restaurant at the top of Queenstown but it wasn't quite as tasty as this recipe of yours sounds. Will have to try it. Thanks.

Lisa Sachs said...

Thanks, Wendy. I was so impressed by the creativity of New Zealand cooking almost everywhere we went that I bought a New Zealand cookbook before we left. I've been trying the recipes since we've come back. They've all been good.