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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, September 6, 2006

Spices jazz up familiar entrees

By Carol Devenot

 •  Asparagus of the sea

The flavors in Kaiulani Spices are maximized because they're roasted and mixed by hand.

JOAQUIN SIOPACK | The Honolulu Advertiser

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One of the best open markets on O'ahu is held on the grounds of Kapi'olani Commnity College. Every Saturday morning, you can find fresh produce, homemade cooked and baked goods from 7 to 11 a.m. On my first visit, I enjoyed meeting an enthusiastic and creative entrepreneur, Kaiulani Cowell of Kaiulani Spices. Her bamboo steam baskets caught my eye. In each basket she has placed three different spices and topped the cover with a pair of chopsticks bound by raffia. I tested her recipes and found them very interesting and flavorful.

We met for lunch over Cambodian food, and I found out that she has been cooking since childhood. Coming from a large family, she had to invent ways to deal with inexpensive ingredients, such as hot dogs, hamburgers and beans. This early experience developed her passion for food. She attended the Culinary Institute of America in upstate New York. She also has worked in the kitchens of several major hotels.

She blends a total of 21 exotic spices in her five different rubs and seasonings using the freshest of ingredients. All her spices are purchased in their natural seed, pod or stick forms. To maximize their flavors, she has roasted, ground and mixed them by hand. Kaiulani Spices have been used by local restaurants such as Sam Choy's and Gourmet Express. You can capture the essence of her spices by trying the recipes below. Besides the Farmers Market at KCC, you can find her spice mixes at R. Field in Foodland, The Complete Kitchen, Executive Chef, Gourmet Express in Kahala Mall, Daiei stores, Dole Plantation, Oliver, Tamashiro Market, Kokua Market, Tamura's and Native Books.


  • 6 skinless chicken breasts

  • Kaiulani Spice Chinese Five Spice Rub and Seasoning (brown sugar, Hawaiian rock salt, fennel, star anise, cinnamon and other spices)

  • 4 Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut in half lengthwise

  • 4 large carrots, peeled and cut in half lengthwise

    Rinse the chicken and pat dry with paper towels. Rub generously with Kaiulani Chinese Five Spice. Place on roasting pan lined with aluminum foil. Place in the oven and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Sprinkle the potatoes and carrots with the rub and place them alongside the chicken and bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until chicken is cooked through and vegetables are tender.

    Makes 6 servings.

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  • 1 pound ground buffalo hamburger, shaped into 3-inch diameter patties*

  • or Boca Burgers, flame-grilled

  • Extra-virgin olive oil spray

  • 2-3 tablespoons Kaiulani Hawaiian Coffee Rub & Seasoning (brown sugar, Hawaiian rock salt, ground Hawaiian coffee, cumin, garlic black pepper and other spices)

  • 4 whole-wheat hamburger buns

  • 4 cups shredded Romaine lettuce

  • 4 Roma tomatoes, sliced in 1/4-inch slices

  • Wasabi paste to taste

  • 1/2 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise

    Mix the wasabi paste and low-fat mayo thoroughly and set aside. Sprinkle coffee rub generously over the patties. Grill or fry with extra virgin olive oil spray. Spread the hamburger buns sparingly with wasabi mayo, add the burger of choice. Top with lettuce and tomato.

    Serves 4-6.

    * You can find buffalo hamburger at some Star Markets and Safeway stores.

    Want a local recipe lightened up? Write Light & Local, Taste Section, The Advertiser, P.O. Box 3110, Honolulu, HI 96802; or taste@honoluluadvertiser.com. Carol Devenot is a Kaimuki-raised kama'aina, teacher and recipe consultant, and author of "Island Light Cuisine" (Blue Sea Publishing, paper, 2003). Learn more at www.islandlightcuisine.com.