While I was in Hawaii, I took the opportunity to prepare many of our meals. It was even more important on Moloka‘i, because of the dearth of restaurants. We had a basic kitchen setup in the Bamboo Paradise, so it was natural to cook at home. Here's one of the more interesting concoctions I came up with - a nice, well balanced meal using local ingredients.
This recipe uses some exotic ingredients, and in fact, Annie harvested the ‘ulu from a tree over on the east end. If you don't have a ocean and tropical trees near your house, you can replace the walu with any tender whitefish (lake trout would be a good choice), and the ‘ulu with another starchy root vegetable, like potatoes or turnips. A vegetable side would be good as well, although we didn't have one that day.
Pineapple-Glazed Walu with ‘Ulu
- 8-12 oz. walu (Hawaiian butterfish)
- 2 green onions
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 tbsp. butter or margarine
- 1/2 cup pineapple, diced small
- 1 medium-sized ‘ulu (breadfruit)
Bring 4 cups of water to boil in a large saucepan. With a large kitchen knife, slice off both ends of the ‘ulu, place it upright on a cutting board, and remove the peel. Longitudinally slice off the white portion and dice it into 1/4 inch chunks, discarding the inner core with the seeds. It's OK to use chunks with some cavities, as long as seeds are not present. During preparation, place the chunks in a bowl of ice water to absorb the milky sap and prevent browning. Rinse the chunks 2-3 times in fresh cold water, then place directly in the pan of boiling water, cover, and turn heat to low.
Divide the walu into two portions. Season both sides of the filet with a pinch of salt and light cracked pepper. Moisten the bottom of a pan with some of the butter and fry the fish, skin side down first, over medium-low heat. When cooked through to the middle of the filet, flip once and cook until the entire filet is flaky. Be warned that walu falls apart easily when cooked, and should be disturbed as little as possible. When cooked through, turn the heat off and tip the pan slightly to allow the fat to drain away from the filets.
To prepare the glaze, mince the white portion of the green onions, and both garlic cloves. Sauté the butter, onions and garlic in a small saucepan over medium low until soft. When the ‘ulu chunks are fork-tender, drain and reserve the water. Add the pineapple chunks to the sauté and cook for 2 minutes until the pineapple starts to fall apart. Add 1/3 cup of the starchy ‘ulu water and bring the mixture to a boil. It should thicken somewhat; plate the cooked walu and pour the glaze over it. Serve with lightly buttered ‘ulu on the side.