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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Wine on the plate

Video: Wine cooking: A 'temperamental' sauce
 •  Sauce makes chicken pastries delightful
 •  Pomegranate's over, pear is hip
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 •  Culinary calendar
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 •  Ask for Chablis, you'll get 100 percent chardonnay

By Wanda A. Adams
Advertiser Food Editor

Hoku's chef Wayne Hirabayashi is focusing on wine as an ingredient in his menu this month.

RICHARD AMBO | The Honolulu Advertiser

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Among flavorings for Chef Wayne Hirabayahi's raw curried pate are (top to bottom, left then right): lemon, apple cider vinegar, honey, chopped dill, pepper, ground cumin and Madras curry.

RICHARD AMBO | The Honolulu Advertiser

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DON'T use expensive wine to cook (but don't use bad-tasting cheap wine, either).

"It doesn't makes sense to reduce down an $80 bottle of wine." But it does make sense to cook with a wine that you would be willing to drink. Never use so-called "cooking" wine.

MAKE SURE you use a wine that matches what you're serving.

If your dish is on the acidic or dry side, don't use a fruity wine, and vice versa. Wines that recommend themselves include sauvignon blanc and light or non-oaked chardonnays and, in reds, pinots or burgundy-style wines. (If you don't know much about wine, ask the shopkeeper or grocery wine manager to advise you.)

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  • Sauvignon blanc has an herbaceous, herbal, vegetable quality. Zinfandel provides berry or cherry, a great background for a richer sauce for pork or duck. Chardonnay is often used for a beurre blanc.

  • Wine can be used not only in cooking a dish but in a marinade beforehand with oil, herbs, spices and aromatics.

  • Use a small quantity of cream to stabilize your beurre blanc a tablespoon or less. "It acts like a backbone," said Hirabayashi, and helps to keep the sauce from "breaking" (dividing into solids and liquids).

  • When making a beurre blanc, the three keys are to reduce the wine to syrupy consistency, keep the butter pieces well chilled and keep the mixture warm (not hot) as you add the butter pieces. Add the butter gradually, not all at once, whisking well between so the fat is suspended in the syrup.

  • Don't allow the wine to overpower the protein; the lighter the centerpiece food, the lighter the wine.

  • Always reduce wine to remove the alcohol and concentrate the flavors.

    This is not for any puritanical anti-alcohol reason, but because the alcohol has a raw, acidic quality and extract the rounded fruit or herbal vegetable flavors. To reduce wine, simmer it gently until it is about half its volume, or less. Hirabayashi likes to reduce wine until it is cooked down to almost nothing, just a thick, syrupy slick.

  • You can add a splash of fresh wine at the end when you finish a sauce, but just a splash.

  • You can also use fortified (alcohol added) wines in sauces or gravies, such as sherry, port, marsala and vermouth.

    Be familiar with the wine before you use it, as these wines, because they're aged, have more pronounced flavors. Generally, sherry is dry, ports are sweet and vermouth has a herbaceous quality. Unlike unfortified wines, these are often added just at the end of cooking.

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    Palmina wine dinner

    Hoku's at The Kahala Hotel & Resort, June 13-16

    Reservations: 739-8760

    Amuse bouche: summer peach carpaccio with mint gelatin "pearls," lehua honey and balsamic reduction

    First course: 'ahi and Big Island abalone with sushi and Japanese-style clear broth with miso noodles

    Second course: Tasmanian salmon with Manoa lettuce braised in white wine, Kula tomato salsa and jalapeno foam

    Third course: char-grilled Allen's Bros. dry-aged New York steak with foie gras and asparagus tempura, garlic chips and caramelized Maui onion red wine jus

    Cheese course: Maui's Surfing Goat Dairy cheese with summer truffles

    Dessert course: Tatin Pacifica (pastry layered with caramelized bananas, mango cream, tapioca pearls, coconut ice cream)

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    Whether or not you like to drink wine, it's a very useful ingredient in the kitchen, balancing sauces with hints of fruit or sharp accents of acid, depending on the wine you choose, and the food with which you pair it.

    At The Kahala Hotel & Resort this month, chef Wayne Hirabayashi is focusing on wine as both an ingredient and an accompaniment. It's part of a new promotion he's created in which he focuses on a particular idea or ingredient each month, with special menus designed to entice local regulars to return for something different and visitors to enjoy the Islands' agricultural bounty. (And, he says, with all the new restaurants opening, he wants to be sure to continue to challenge and stimulate his staff, lest they move on somewhere else.)

    This month, he has partnered with winemaker Steve Clifton of Palmina wines, who will host a June 14 wine-matching dinner at the restaurant; the menu for that dinner will be available at Hoku's from June 13 to 16.

    Chef Hirabayashi offered these ideas for cooking with wine and demonstrated the most classic of wine recipes, a beurre blanc ("booor blahnk"), or "white butter" sauce.

    Chef Wayne Hirabayashi, of Hoku's at The Kahala Hotel & Resort, shared two very different ideas for cooking with wine: a classic beurre blanc ("white butter") sauce and a healthful, high-protein raw seed "pate" flavored with curry spices, served with flatbread for a light lunch or appetizer.

    As is typical of chef recipes, these recipes have lots of moving parts. Don't be intimidated. You can pick which parts to replicate and greatly simplify the preparation if you don't happen to have an assistant in the kitchen to do all the chopping and prep.

    For example, in the following recipe, grill mahimahi (or monchong or other white-fleshed fish you enjoy) and serve with the white butter sauce and skip the vegetable garnish. Make the beurre blanc without the peaches if you can't find good, ripe ones.


    • 5 ounces jicama, peeled and cut into thin strips

    • 5 ounces fennel, cut into thin strips

    • 2 ounces orange juice

    • 2 ounces olive oil

    • 10 ounces Chinese long beans

    • 2 cloves garlic, minced

    • 1 ounce olive oil

    • Peach tarragon beurre blanc (recipe follows)

    • 5 (6-ounce) fillets of mahimahi

    • Thinly sliced peaches for garnish

    Marinate jicama and fennel in orange juice and 2 ounces olive oil.

    Meanwhile, blanch the long beans by plunging into briskly boiling salted water; drain and stop cooking with cold water, drain well. In a saute pan, heat 1 ounce olive oil, add garlic and briefly saute long beans just until tender crisp and still bright green. Set aside.

    Make the beurre blanc; keep warm, careful not to over-heat (see recipe below).

    Grill or broil mahimahi fillets to desired doneness.

    Attractively place the long beans and drained jicama and fennel in a bunch in the center of the plate and place mahimahi on top. Drizzle beurre blanc over and around the plate. Garnish with peaches.

    Makes 5 servings.

    • Per serving: 425 calories, 24 g fat, 13 g saturated fat, 180 mg cholesterol, 160 mg sodium, 13 g carbohydrate, 4 g fiber, 2 g sugar, 35 g protein

    In this recipe, a fundamental one in French cuisine, you can add or subtract ingredients as your creativity dictates. The only essentials are the reduced white wine and the chilled butter. The small bit of cream helps to stabilize the sauce, which otherwise has a tendency to "break" (divide into solids and liquids). Key to a successful beurre blanc is reducing the wine to a syrupy texture, using well-chilled butter and, as you whisk in the butter, maintaining a warm but not hot temperature. Use a wine you like to drink: chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, riesling. Vary the herbs and aromatics as desired.


    • 1 ounce extra-virgin olive oil

    • 2 ounces roughly chopped shallots

    • 5 ounces roughly chopped garlic

    • A large pinch of fresh tarragon leaves

    • A couple of whole black peppercorns, crushed

    • 10 ounces finely chopped, unpeeled ripe peaches

    • 5 ounces dry white wine

    • 1 ounce heavy cream

    • 8 ounces chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces

    • Kosher salt and finely ground pepper to taste

    Using a medium saucepot, heat the olive oil over medium heat and sweat the shallots, garlic, tarragon, black peppercorns and peaches. Be careful not to brown; heat just until aromas develop, ingredients are limp and shallots are translucent. Add white wine and bring to a boil; reduce heat and reduce the liquid until it is almost dry and of a syrupy consistency.

    Whisk in heavy cream, reduce by half and slowly whisk in the cold butter, once piece at a time. It's important to do this slowly and to keep the sauce at a low, warm temperature; pull it off the heat as needed. Strain sauce through fine sieve, stirring with whisk to extract juices. Taste and correct seasonings, adding salt and pepper as desired; if the sauce is too rich, a little lemon juice may be added. Keep warm until needed. (One way to do this is to place the pan in another pan of warm water.)

    Many visitors to Hawai'i don't want to abandon their healthful eating habits even when they're on vacation. And chef Hirabayashi himself has pared away pounds by turning to more positive eating habits, raising his interest in placing such recipes on the menu at Hoku's. This innovative nut spread is an example — and it's easy to make. Just be aware what you have to start a day ahead, because the nuts are tenderized by being marinated in advance.

    Again, feel free to use or eliminate elements of this recipe. You can serve pate alone with crackers (i.e., low-fat whole-wheat Ak-mak). And you can use the delicious tomato-cucumber-mint salsa with grilled fish or chicken or in tacos or burritos.


    • 2 1/2 ounces raw, unsalted sunflower seeds

    • 2 1/2 ounces raw, unsalted pumpkin seeds

    • 4 ounces green zucchini, roughly chopped

    • 4 ounces lemon juice, or more, to taste

    • 2 ounces dry white wine, reduced by half until syrupy

    • 1 ounce curry powder, or to taste

    For the curry paste:

    • 1/4 teaspoon finely chopped garlic

    • 1/4 teaspoon madras curry powder

    • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder

    • 1 tablespoon fresh dill, roughly chopped

    • 1 teaspoon ground cumin

    • 2 tablespoons olive oil

    • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper

    • Splash of cider vinegar

    • Salt to taste

    • Tomato cucumber mint salsa (recipe follows)

    • Mixed greens salad (recipe follows)

    • Naan or other flatbread, or lavosh or crackers

    Marinate sunflower and pumpkin seeds in room temperature water for 8 hours. Drain well.

    Make the curry paste: Combine all ingredients and blend well. Taste and adjust seasonings; you may prefer more or less of some flavorings.

    Place well-drained seeds and zucchini in food processor along with lemon juice, reduced wine and curry powder. Pulse on and off to form a rough paste (take care not to process too long; a little rough texture is desirable). Add curry paste; taste and correct seasonings, as desired.

    Serve a mound of the pate garnished with tomato-cucumber mint salsa, mixed green salad and flatbread.

    (Pate can be stored in airtight container in refrigerator for up to 3 days; best served chilled.)
    Makes 10 servings as a light lunch or appetizer course.

    Portion size: 2 ounces pate, 2 ounces salsa.

    • Per serving (pate and salsa without salad or bread): 190 calories, 16 g fat, 2.5 g saturated fat, no cholesterol, no sodium, 8 g carbohydrate, 3 g fiber, 2 g sugar, 5 g protein

    This is a very versatile recipe you can use in many ways.


    • 8 ounces Japanese cucumber, peeled, diced and seeded

    • 8 ounces peeled and finely chopped tomatoes

    • 2 tablespoons roughly chopped

    • Italian parsley

    • 2 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh mint

    • 1 tablespoon finely sliced green onion

    • 1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic

    • 2 ounces extra-virgin olive oil

    • Juice of 1 1/2 lemons

    • Salt and pepper to taste

    In a bowl, mix vegetables, herbs and garlic. Toss with olive oil and lemons and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and store, covered, in refrigerator.

    • Per A-cup serving without salt to taste: 60 calories, 6 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, no cholesterol, no sodium, 2 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 1 g sugar, 1 g protein


    • 10 ounces assorted greens

    • 4 ounces watercress leaves

    • 4 ounces Belgian endive

    • 2 ounces extra-virgin olive oil

    • Juice of 1 1/2 lemons

    • Kosher salt and freshly ground

    • white pepper to taste

    Place greens, watercress and endive in bowl; dress with olive oil and lemon juice; flavor with salt and pepper as desired.

    • Per 1-cup serving: 120 calories, 12 g fat, 1.5 g saturated fat, no cholesterol, 25 mg sodium, 4 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber, 1 g sugar, 1.5 g protein

    Reach Wanda A. Adams at wadams@honoluluadvertiser.com.