Celebrating ‘Kau Kau’ at the Pagoda

Feb. 9, 2014 | 0 Comments

BY JOLEEN OSHIRO / joshiro@staradvertiser.com

Pagoda executive chef Jason Takemura, left, and writer Arnold Hiura worked together to produce "From Kau Kau to Cuisine." Takemura provided contemporary recipes and Hiura authored the book. (Star-Advertiser photo by Joleen Oshiro)

Pagoda executive chef Jason Takemura, left, and writer Arnold Hiura worked together to produce “From Kau Kau to Cuisine.” Takemura provided contemporary recipes and Hiura authored the book. (Star-Advertiser photo by Joleen Oshiro)

Surimi and poke patties shared a spotlight with Roasted Kabocha Risotto and Braised Pork Belly Bao Bun Sliders at a dinner celebrating the release of “From Kau Kau to Cuisine: An Island Cookbook, Then and Now” by food historian Arnold Hiura.

The Saturday, Feb. 8 event at Pagoda Floating Restaurant Ballroom, which doubled as a fundraiser for the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai‘i, offered both classic plantation food and gourmet dishes featured in the book, released by Watermark Publishing in December.

“Kau Kau to Cuisine” traces the ties between the humble food of generations past and the gourmet cuisine being created in Hawaii’s restaurants today.

Dishes were prepared by Pagoda executive chef Jason Takemura, who contributed the contemporary recipes in the book.

“We’re coming back full circle,” he said, explaining that following a post-plantation era when importing food was the order of the day, “people are going back to the old ways” and supporting local food producers.

At Pagoda, Takemura has revamped the menu to feature locally raised foods such as Big Island kampachi and beef, and ‘Nalo Greens.

Takemura is also executive chef at the Hukilau Honolulu on Bishop Street.

Kalua Pig Hash Benedict with Lomi Tomato is a modern twist on a classic breakfast. The dish is served at Pagoda Floating Restaurant. (Star-Advertiser photo by Joleen Oshiro)

Kalua Pig Hash Benedict with Lomi Tomato is a modern twist on a classic breakfast. The dish is served at Pagoda Floating Restaurant. (Star-Advertiser photo by Joleen Oshiro)

The other contributor to the book was Derek Kurisu of KTA Super Stores, who shared plantation recipes he grew up eating. Kurisu was not able to attend but sent along a humorous video of himself eating at numerous Big Island restaurants.

Hiura, who grew up on a Big Island plantation, said he believes it’s important for people to remember the past and how it affects the present and shapes the future.

A side-by-side example of food from "then" and "now" — Kabocha pumpkin with dried shrimp and kabocha risotto, respectively. (Star-Advertiser photo by Joleen Oshiro)

A side-by-side example of food from “then” and “now” — Kabocha pumpkin with dried shrimp and kabocha risotto, respectively. (Star-Advertiser photo by Joleen Oshiro)

As he and Takemura autographed books, Hiura admitted he rarely ventures into the kitchen. When he does cook, he usually makes — what else? — simple plantation dishes.

His favorite? Sardines and onions.

Find “From Kau Kau to Cuisine” ($29.95) at stores that sell books and Watermark Publishing’s website, bookshawaii.net.

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