I’ve spent a lot of time dreaming about Hawaii over the past year, which makes me a good part of the US – as that recently reportedTourists have already started flocking to the islands. Sheldon Simeon, head chef at Maui’s Tin Roof, noticed this trend. And while the third-generation local greets visitors, he admits the past few weeks have been a bit overwhelming. „I think our community wasn’t ready for so many tourists to return to the state,” he says. „I think it’s our duty to educate them and be respectful of what we have.” His new cookbook, Cook real Hawaiiis in part intended to do just that.
Embedded in recipes for foods that feel typical of Hawaii – like chicken hekka, the Simeon as “something Janese-rooted and Janese-based, but it’s not found in Jan; it can only be found in Hawaii ”- Simeon and co-author Garret Snyder examine the colonial history of Hawaii and the people and forces that led to its unique, vibrant food culture. „The outside perception of Hawaii is very resort-like, amusement park-like – it might just be the hula skirts and the mai-tais and that stuff, but when you dig deeper it’s a lot richer,” says Simeon. „I hope so [Cook Real Hawai‘i readers] have a different idea of what hawaii is. „
Simeon also hopes that the people who buy his book will actually cook from it. „Nothing is worse than a cookbook that you can’t cook from,” he says. And so the recipes are accessible and at the same time show the diverse influences of Hawaiian cuisine. Take the Butter Mochi chocolate birthday cake recipe, for example. It’s a tin roof variant of the Filipino Bibingka and, according to Simeon, “so easy to prepare” – in addition to a very entertaining meal with rainbow sprinkles and (optional) pop rock. „It’s one of those things that people place an order on and look down and say, ‘I need one of these,'” he says.
A visit to Tin Roof is still out of reach for most of us, but doing this is a very close, next-best thing.
Chocolate Birthday Cake Butter Mochi
For 12 people
Butter mochi is the best. These coconut and rice flour cake bars (a cousin of the Filipino Bibingka) are the perfect mix of chewy, mushy, dense and sticky and are some of the most popular island desserts around.
Plain old butter mochi is great, but the kind we do at Tin Roof – developed after hours of „research” – is on another level. Stoner food to the max. We’ll start with chocolate butter mochi, which has the texture of soft-baked brownies, then spread it out with an absolutely plain frosting of creamy peanut butter, raw sugar, and pop rocks. Finally, we shower the top with rainbow sprinkles because it’s like throwing yourself a mini birthday party. What more do you want
For the butter mochi:
12 tablespoons (1½ sticks) of salted butter, cut into pieces, plus more for greasing
1 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 cups of granulated sugar
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
1 (12 ounces) can evorier milk
1 (13.5 oz) can of full-fat coconut milk
3 cups mochiko (sweet rice flour)
1 tablespoon of baking powder
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
For icing and topping:
1 cup of creamy peanut butter
1 cup of demerara or turbinado sugar
¼ cup Pop Rocks candy (optional)
Step 1: For the butter mochi: Preheat the oven to 350 ° F. Grease a 9×13 baking pan.
Step 2: In a microwaveable medium-sized bowl, microwave the butter and chocolate chips to melt in 30 second increments, stir as needed, and repeat until just melted.
Step 3: Pour the granulated sugar into the melted chocolate and stir until everything is well mixed. Add the eggs one at a time and mix well after each addition. Stir in vanilla, milk and coconut milk.
Step 4: Mix the mochiko, baking powder and cocoa powder evenly in a large bowl. Fold the chocolate mixture into the dry ingredients, stirring, until everything is well mixed. When the batter is completely smooth, pour it into the prepared pan.
Step 5: Bake for about 1 hour until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool slightly.
Step 6: In the meantime, for the frosting: In a bowl with an electric mixer, beat the peanut butter and demerara sugar together vigorously until they have the texture of a frosting.
Step 7: When the butter mochi is still slightly warm, spread the frosting evenly over the top. Sprinkle with Pop Rocks (if used) and sprinkle over the shower. Allow to cool to room temperature, then cut into 2-inch squares and serve.
Reprinted with permission from Cook real Hawaii by Sheldon Simeon and Garrett Snyder, Copyright © 2021. Published by ClarksonPotter / Publishers, reprinted by Penguin Random House.
Photography copyright: Kevin J. Miyazaki © 2021.