Husband and I spent the last two weeks on The Big Island, Hawaii. We had a fantastic trip. And we managed to eat some good beans and grains along the way.
Before we left Texas, I did some research about beans and grains on the Hawaiian islands. As it turns out, Hawaii doesn’t really have a rich tradition of dried beans. I am guessing that is because they have a year round growing season that provides gorgeous fresh fruits and vegetables. Rice seems to be the grain of choice in Hawaii.
We stayed in a fantastic condo that had a nice kitchen. I had a few recipes that I found on the Internet for Hawaiian style beans and grains. I knew that there were several Farmers Markets that we could go to. So I went to Hawaii prepared to see what types of beans and grains I could find and how I could use the local produce to make some delicious meals.
On day one we went to the local supermarket. There were lots of bean and grain options. To my surprise there were several kinds of dried mung beans on the shelves. I don’t think I have ever seen that at my grocery. I had no idea what to do with mung beans (but it is on my list of things to learn more about!). I stuck with some tried and true options. This is what I came home with:
The following day we went to the Farmers Market in Waimea. The selection of fresh produce was absolutely incredible. I wanted to buy at least one of everything. Husband had to rein me in. There is only so much that two people can eat!
In addition to these goodies, we had a pineapple, some papayas and bananas.
The first thing that I made was a big batch of rice. I cooked the rice with several large pieces of ginger. When the rice was done I pulled out the pieces of ginger, but they left behind a pleasant flavor. We ate the rice as a simple side dish one evening and saved the remainder for future meals.
I also cooked a batch of white beans. Fortunately our condo had a crock pot. So I put the beans on to cook and we went to the beach and played.
I have told you that I am a vegetarian. What I haven’t mentioned is that I occasionally eat fish – though I never, ever eat mammals or birds, and certainly not reptiles! Since we were in Hawaii, surrounded by fresh seafood, I did eat some fish on this vacation.
Our next meal at home was fish sandwiches with Hawaiian Baked Beans. I found several recipes for Hawaiian Baked Beans. I read someplace that baked beans are often served at Luaus. I can’t give you exact measurements on this recipe. I was sort of making it up as I went along. Baked beans are essentially cooked beans baked with a barbecue-like sauce. To make the sauce I used ketchup, honey, vinegar, soy sauce and sambal. Sambal is a chili paste that you can buy at most grocery stores.
Then I added about a cup of chopped, fresh pineapple. That’s what makes it Hawaiian. I mixed the sauce and the pineapple with about 3 cups of beans and put it all in a baking dish. I topped it all off with some crushed Maui potato chips and crushed macadamia nuts. I was gilding the lilly. I baked that in a 350 degree oven for about 25 minutes, or until it is bubbling hot. It was delicious. The pineapple was fantastic. I will never again make baked beans without pineapple!
A day or two later, we got some fresh mahi-mahi so that we could make fish tacos. We had avacado from the Farmers Market so we could have some guacamole. We had tomatoes and chilis, so I made salsa. I cheated on the beans here…we bought a can of refried beans and topped them with grated cheese. I was on vacation – it’s OK to buy canned beans! Last but not least, I made some Spanish Rice. I cooked a pot of rice with a good spoonful of paprika, some finely chopped tomato, onion and bird chili. I served all of that with some corn tortillas. Very fresh and tasty.
Our next Farmers Market was in Hilo, on the other side of the Island, about 80 miles away. Hilo makes me think of Old Hawaii. It is sort of a funky little, laid-back town. The Farmers Market is enormous and a little weird. They have a lot of prepared foods and an amazing variety of produce. In general, Hawaii is pretty expensive. But you can get a lot of produce for very little money at the Hilo Farmers Market.
We didn’t buy any hot dog sushi but we did bring home some beautiful fruits and vegetables. We made a simple Farmers Market meal that consisted of corn on the cob (that’s a grain!), sliced fresh tomato, sliced avacado, and a cut up papaya. I had some fresh goat cheese from the previous Farmers Market. I served all of that with a baguette from the nearby bakery. In general, I am not all that crazy about corn on the cob, but this corn was delicious. The best I have ever had.
Finally, to use up the ginger rice that I had cooked earlier in the week, I made a big batch of Hawaiian Fried Rice. I stir fried carrots, onions, chilis, and cabbage. Then added cold rice to the skillet. After the rice heated through, I made a well in the center of the skillet and dropped in a beaten egg. After the egg set up, I stirred it into the rice mixture. I stirred in some chopped pineapple (that’s what makes it Hawaiian!), then seasoned the whole thing with some soy sauce and a little drizzle of sesame oil. I topped it with chopped macademia nuts.
I had lots of other bean and grain ideas that I just didn’t get around to. The fresh produce was so good that it really eclipsed most of my other ideas. But that’s how travel is; you go and see what your destination has to offer and then you roll with it. I was glad that I had cooked beans and rice in my refrigerator. But in this instance I think they were more in the background while the fruits and vegetables took center stage.
I still want to learn more about mung beans. We’ll save that for a future post!