Around the table: Agriculture gets its day

The Taste of the Hawaiian Range is arguably our island’s major agricultural showcase and festival with something for every member of our ohana. This year’s 22nd annual event has planned activities on from 9 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 29. Moving upcountry, the free, outdoor festival will be at YMCA Minuke Ole Park, while indoor classroom presentations and the Taste evening gala are next door at the Mana Christian Ohana complex, 67-1182 Lindsey Road, behind the Parker Ranch Center in Waimea.

From 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., take the whole family to the free festival, featuring livestock displays, educational exhibits, local product sampling, food trucks and beverages. Keiki can enjoy games and farm animals; pony rides will be available for a small fee. Next door to the park, culinary and agricultural presentations will provide more learning opportunities from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Chef Edwin Goto of Village Burger and Noodle Club will lead a demonstration of cooking pasture-raised beef flank steak and pork belly; tickets for his special event are $10 at the door and include sampling.


The taste gala, held this year inside and outside the Mana Christian Ohana complex from 5:30-7:30 p.m., will feature more than 20 culinary stations preparing mouth-watering creations starring pasture-raised meats and local produce. I know from past events that wearing loose, comfortable clothes and shoes will keep a smile on your face as you sample so many amazing treats. Desserts by local culinary students are not to be missed. Tickets are $50 online and at Parker Ranch Store; they will be $60 at the door if available, but the gala is limited so advance tickets are recommended.

Sweet Braised Short Ribs

Kyle Keliiheleua, sous chef at Sam Choy’s Kai Lanai, will be attending Taste for the first time, though the restaurant has participated many times. Self-taught and 19 years in the industry, Kyle always wanted to be a chef and “feed the world, one mouth at a time.” He was born in Oahu but grew up Colorado, where he enjoyed eating the different game meats. This recipe is from Sam Choy’s Kai Lanai with a twist that Kyle often adds at home; makes 4 to 6 servings.

2 tablespoons Hawaiian salt (or kosher)

1 tablespoon course black pepper

4 pounds boneless pasture-raised short ribs

2 tablespoons cooking oil

2 cups Aloha shoyu

2 cups water

1 cup local Hawaiian honey (sugar optional)

3 cloves garlic

1 thumb-size piece of ginger, peeled

6 potatoes, peeled and cubed

2 stalks celery, chopped

1 large onion, chopped

2 carrots, peeled and chopped

½ bunch Chinese parsley (optional)

2 tablespoons corn starch

2 tablespoons water

In a small bowl combine salt and pepper; rub into each rib until completely covered. In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat the oil and brown the ribs to seal in juices. Once meat is brown on all sides, pour in liquids, honey, garlic and ginger; bring to boil. Once at a boil, reduce to low and cover. Simmer for 1 ½ hours.

Place all veggies in the pot; continue to simmer for 30 minutes to 1 hour, or until vegetables are tender. Remove meat and vegetables to a serving platter, leaving the liquid in the pot to create sauce. In a separate bowl dissolve corn starch and water; pour into pot, stirring until smooth. Bring to boil to thicken, then pour over meat and vegetables.

Jamaican Beef Dumplings

Sandy Barr Rivera is Taste’s culinary chairperson and a retired assistant professor of culinary arts at Hawaii Community College, Hilo. She also worked at Merriman’s Restaurant in Waimea and now owns a consulting business, I Mua Culinary. This recipe can be made in advance and frozen; makes 30 pieces.

1 -1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1/4 cup small dice onion

1/2 cup minced green onion (tops &bottoms)

3/4 teaspoon curry powder

1/4 teaspoon dried thyme

1/2 pound pasture-raised ground beef

Salt &pepper to taste

2 tablespoons dry bread crumbs


30 wonton wrappers (small squares)


Vegetable oil for frying

Heat the 1 -1/2 tablespoons oil in a sauté pan; add onion and green onion and sauté until tender but not browned. Add curry powder and thyme; sauté briefly. Add ground beef; sauté until beef is cooked through, then season to taste with salt and pepper. Add bread crumbs, mix, then season with Tabasco to taste. Remove mixture from heat; cool. On a clean surface, lay out wonton wrappers. Place a teaspoon of cooled filling in middle of each wonton; fold over to form a triangle. Seal edges with water and dust with cornstarch to keep dry and separate. Fry dumplings in an inch of hot vegetable oil until golden; drain on paper towels. Serve warm.

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