LIGHT & LOCAL
|||Island ways of eating|
The other day, I was reminiscing about my family, and how we used to sit around the kitchen table and have the greatest meals — mostly Chinese food. My mom's favorites were beef tomato, stuffed bitter melon, and sweet sour cabbage and pork. Interspersed with Chinese were the other haole and ethnic dishes like hamburger steak, spaghetti and curry stew. On the weekends, we would get special dishes such as vinha d'alhos (Portuguese pickled pork), nishime (Japanese vegetable stew), tripe stew and chicken hekka.
Hekka was one of my favorites, because it was always so tasty and satisfying. Mom would usually serve this with hot white rice. It also tastes great the next day because the flavors have a chance to blend. Similar to Korean chap chae noodles, it's great for a potluck or picnic because it doesn't have to be served hot.
There are many versions of this recipe. Mine here is simple and quick to prepare. You can be creative and substitute other ingredients. You can use beef, pork or tofu instead of chicken. Why not use baby bok choy or choy sum instead of watercress? Use yellow onions instead of green onions or both. For crunchiness, add water chestnuts or jicama. There is one thing you can't substitute and that is the brand of long rice. It's gotta be Nice brand (no pun intended) found in all your local supermarkets and Chinatown.
Hekka is basically a stir-fry with precut and prepared ingredients. I always wondered why they called it hekka. Is it because after they stir-fried the mixture, they couldn't identify the individual ingredients and said "what the heck is that?" Or was it because they just couldn't come up with a name and said "Heck with it." All I know is, wherever it came from, this hekka is a winnah!
(Note: Research by Kona chef Mark Noguchi, with aid from the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai'i, indicates that hekka is the Hiroshima word for sukiyaki; hekka is just a homey, one-pan version of that dish.)
EZ WHAT THE HEKKA?
Cut the chicken and long rice into 1 1/2-inch pieces. Soak the long rice and mushrooms in water until soft. Pour the sesame oil into a large frying pan and saute the chicken and the teriyaki sauce. Add the bamboo shoots, chop suey mix and mushrooms and vegetable broth and cook until tender. Stir in the long rice and green onions. Simmer for a few minutes.
Makes 4 servings.
Want a local recipe lightened up? Write: Light & Local, Taste Section, The Advertiser, P.O. Box 3110, Honolulu, HI 96802; or email@example.com. Carol Devenot is a Kaimuki-raised kama'aina teacher and recipe consultant, and author of "Island Light Cuisine" (Blue Sea Publishing, paper, 2003).
Want a local recipe lightened up? Write Light & Local, Taste Section, The Advertiser, P.O. Box 3110, Honolulu, HI 96802; or firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.