Our adventures on the Big Island- Hawai’i this past week falls somewhere between magical and breathtaking. We hiked to volcanoes, across black lava flow, bathed in the sun on empty palmed beaches, and felt the mist of waterfalls on our faces. We also ate without regret. We ate at local fare restaurants and shopped at farmer’s markets. Beyond the plethora of fruit and veggies we found locally made goat cheese, local beer, and of course seafood. Hawai’i understandably has a mission to grow and eat locally and minimize consumption of imported goods, you appreciate the effort of getting goods to these islands when standing on their shores, they are geographically truly remote. With the diversity of micro-climates they grow very successfully and with bounty, and the markets leave you wanting for little.
One meal stands out in particular. It happened to fall on the last day of our vacation. As we headed to the airport with that little pang in our stomachs-already missing our vacation-we found comfort in this rustic little restaurant called The Red Water Café, in Waimea. My husband had the local catch sandwich and I had the saimin. Saimin is a traditional Hawaiian soup that finds its base and roots in Asia. Full of eclectic flavor, yet hearty and comforting at the same time. Another perk, The Red Water Café makes all their broth from scratch, and they use local, organic produce. Take that. So here is my effort to recreate this soup. This attempt was mostly a selfish effort to help our little family soothe the island withdraw, and ease back into mainland reality. Enjoy this little piece of island heaven.
Saimin with glass noodles and grilled veggies…
marinate (at least 1 hour):
½ package organic, firm tofu, cubed (keep separate)
½ Kobacha squash, cut in half through the equator, then cut into thin moons (really any hard squash you have works fine or even sweet potatoes/yams)
8-10 crimini mushrooms, quartered
Soy sauce to cover the goods
Then about 2 tsp toasted sesame oil
Then cook on grill either indoor or outdoor until nice grill marks appear and the squash tenderizes.
8-10 cups vegetable broth (homemade if you can)
2 tbs miso paste
1 large clove garlic, shredded (microplane)
1 tbs fresh ginger, shredded (microplane)
2 tbs soy sauce
let simmer on low heat to bring out all the flavors
1 package of Asian glass noodles, hydrate per the package instructions first, rinse, then add to broth.
1 organic bok choy, roughly chopped
2 heaping handfuls of bean sprouts
marinated and grilled squash and mushrooms
Let simmer to infuse all flavors. Then add salt and more shredded ginger to taste. At this point I used a specialty smoked sea salt for an extra dimension of flavor. Williams and Sonoma sells one that is pretty nice.
Serve with a spoon and chopsticks.
Eat together, toast to each other, and share!