My husband and I went to Kauai a few years ago, and since we can’t afford the fancy resorts, we opted to rent a (legal) condo near Hanalei Bay. The great thing about a condo (aside from the price) is that they come with kitchens, and Kauai is one of the best places in the world for dining in. And if you’re thinking “Ugh, I don’t like to cook while I’m on vacation!” then you can probably stop reading now, because this is all about the joys of cooking while on vacation. 😉
Just about any grocery store in Kauai has an incredible seafood section – fresh caught, sashimi grade. But, for North Shore travelers, the Hanalei Dolphin Fish Market or the Kilauea Fish Market are even better. Plan your trip around the almost daily farmers markets (see Kauai farmers market schedule here) to pick up greens, atulfo mangoes papayas, and limes – at minimum. I go a little crazy at farmers markets. Just remember to get the basics too – green onions, regular onions, salad, lilikoi goat cheese…
My favorite two seafood recipes for making use of all this glorious fresh produce are: Sesame-seared Ahi, and shellfish saffron risotto.
For the Risotto – you need
- 1 Cup of arborio rice
- 2 shallots
- a splash of dry white wine (cheap, over-oaked chardonnay is my favorite)
- 1 pinch of saffron
- 3-4 cups chicken bouillon
- grated Parmesan
- rinsed, prepared (ie. de-veined, de-bearded, etc.) shellfish
Chop your shallots fine and saute them in a large pan. Start the bouillon simmering in another pot, with a ladle at the ready. Once the shallots are browned and beginning to caramelize, add in your rice and stir slowly until it’s slightly golden in color. Pour in a dash of dry white wine (this releases the starches to give you creamy, delicious risotto). Once the white wine is absorbed, start ladling in your bouillon, waiting until each spoonful is absorbed before stirring in the next. When the risotto is nearly done, stir in your pinch of saffron. Then, on low heat, dump in your shellfish and cover the pot until your shrimp turns pink. *If you’re using mussels, steam them with the bouillon and white wine until they open, then add to the risotto last. Add Parmesan to taste. **Some fun extras: a dollop of pesto, shredded tarragon, and light sprinkling of old bay seasoning on the mussels.
For the Ahi – you need
- 1 long ahi tuna steak
- sesame seeds
- soy sauce
- chopped green onion
- *Optional – chopped mango and avocado for garnish
Marinate the tuna steak in the soy sauce briefly, while you pour the sesame seeds (black and white sesame seeds look really cool) onto a plate. Roll your ahi in the sesame seeds and press them in so they coat the entire steak. In a large plan with a little oil, sear the ahi evenly for about a minute on each side. Cut into sushi-like pieces and serve over a bed of fresh greens. Garnish with chopped green onions and sprinkle with more soy sauce (a variation is to use a soy sauce salad dressing instead like I did in the photo). Serve with a nice crisp Crios Torrantes (my go-to white wine for seafood and sushi).
What local ingredients do you like to play with when traveling? Tell me about it in the comments, and don’t forget to join the link party for WanderFood Wednesday!
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