Babymoon success!!! Our trip to Maui was perfect in every way, from the dolphins we met to the donuts we ate to the fact that we wore the same clothes almost the entire time. Each morning we walked outside, did an arm stretch, and said out loud ahh, another day in paradise! And then we either picked up a spam musubi at the Foodland and went on an adventure or went to the breakfast buffet, read the newspaper, and then rolled outside for our daily dip. We swam in such wonderful settings, first snorkeling on Lanai where we saw the most beautiful florescent blue fish, then sunset beach floating near our hotel, then snorkeling near our other hotel where we saw two sea turtles (and they saw us! they waved!), and finally actual lap swimming at the infinity pool to burn off all of our musubis. My swimming skills still hover around Guppy, but boy do I love it. We read parenting books on the beach, ate hurricane popcorn and pineapple by the pound, and just generally got lost in daydreams of Poppy Seed. Eggboy took an interest in learning everything there was to learn about the tiny macaroni-shaped island that we could see from the beach in Wailea. And though we searched long and hard for the one legged chicken that I saw on my Maui trip three years ago, we did not find him.
Hawaii cured me of the cold that I denied having before I left and it made me feel readier than ever to tackle these next two months, even if none of my pants fit and walking up a flight of stairs feels like climbing Mount Everest. We’ve got baby classes to go to, a crib to set up, hospital bags to pack, and every single fluffy baby teddy bear suit to buy (omg).
Leaving Hawaii was so bittersweet because it really was the best week ever and I didn’t want to leave but as we left, Eggboy reminded me that the next time we’d be back, we’d have a little nugget in tow, armed with floaties and sand castle tools and everything! Oh I can barely imagine that without crying. I’m going to be a very weepy mum.
Here are a list of my Maui recs from this trip! There aren’t too many this time since most of the places we went were places we’d been to and loved before. For those recs, see this post and this post.
Trilogy’s Lanai trip! The best thing to do on the first day when you’re still on mainland time and can wake up super duper early is to do this sunrise boat tour to Lanai where you eat great cinnamon rolls and watch whales as the sun comes up and then spend the day snorkeling, touring, and eating.
Lineage: There were so many surprising delights at Lineage, like the salad covered in meat juice and pasta salad mayo meant to represent the bottom of a plate lunch, the fresh veggies from Oprah’s garden, and this thing called a Flying Saucer which was basically a meat and cheese Uncrustable.
Maui Cones at the Upcountry Farmers Market: This is Alana’s friend Kammy’s sushi and mochiko chicken cone stand and it is soo tasty. And the whole Upcountry Farmers Market is great! I got a super cute ube whale oreo.
Paia Fish Market: I just wanted more stomach space here so that I could squeeze in another fish taco.
In celebration of all things Hawaii (and in advance of the upcoming Chinese New Year), I’m sharing the barbecue pork bun recipe from Alana’s forthcoming cookbook, Aloha Kitchen!!! This is a book that you need, and that the world needs, because too many people (including myself until I became friends with Alana) have this impression that Hawaiian food is pineapple and ham. On a pizza. I mean, I love pineapple and ham on a pizza, but if there is one single most important thing that Alana has taught me (other than how to use a straightener to curl my hair haha), it’s the real definition of food in Hawaii. It’s vibrant and dynamic and it wears its history on its shoulders, with displays of Portuguese, Chinese, Japanese, Filipino, Korean, Western, and native Hawaiian influences. I was surprised to see how meat-centric the food of Hawaii is, but it makes sense when you consider the influences, and between the mochiko chicken and spam musubi recipes, I am so into it. I’m also extremely excited about the recipes for the kinds of fun snacks that make browsing in Hawaii grocery stores so fun, like li hing gummy bears and hurricane popcorn.
But of course the first thing I had to make from Aloha Kitchen were these barbecue pork buns, or manapua, which is a Hawaiian word that literally means “delicious pork thing.” This is Hawaii’s version of the Chinese classic, and I love that in Hawaii, you can get gigantic versions. It’s like eating a burger. I tasted tested these when Alana was testing them for her book, and they brought me right back to eating dim sum with my family when I was little. I used to remove the filling and only eat the bready parts, but I loved the sweet meaty flavor that the filling left behind. I think I just didn’t like the texture. These days though I love all of the parts of the bun, the fluffy outters and the chewy innards. They are the best. Alana nailed it with this recipe and you really ought to make these. They freeze beautifully and reheat quickly in the microwave too, so these will no doubt be on my list of freezer foods to make before Poppy Seed’s arrival.
Also pre-order Alana’s book right now please. It’s beautiful and incredible!
from alana’s aloha kitchen
for the bun dough:
3/4 c (177g) water, warmed (100º to 110ºF)
1 1/4 c (295g) whole milk, warmed (100º to 110ºF)
two 0.25-ounce packages (14g) active dry yeast (4 1/2 tsp total)
1 tsp plus 3/4 c (150g) sugar
4 c (520g) all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
2 c (260g) cake flour
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 c (100g) neutral oil, plus more for the bowl
for the filling:
1/2 c (118g) water
2 tsp cornstarch
2 tsp all-purpose flour
1 tb sugar
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1 1/2 lb char siu pork (recipe follows), minced
to make the dough for the buns, combine the water, milk, yeast, and 1 teaspoon of the sugar in a bowl and whisk together. let the mixture sit until the yeast is activated and foamy, about 10 minutes.
in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine both flours, the salt, and the remaining 3/4 cups sugar. mix the dry ingredients together on low speed. keep the mixer running and slowly pour in the yeast mixture followed by the oil. increase the speed to medium and knead the dough until it is smooth and pulls away from the sides of the bowl, 5 to 7 minutes. if it does not start to pull away from the sides, add more flour, a tablespoon or two at a time. turn the dough out onto a clean work surface quickly so that you can oil your stand mixer bowl. transfer the dough back into the oiled bowl, flipping once to coat both sides, and cover the bowl loosely with plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel. let the dough rise until doubled in size, 1 to 2 hours.
While the dough is rising, cut twelve 4-inch squares of parchment paper for the bottom of the manapua.
To make the filling, in a small saucepan, whisk together the water, cornstarch, flour, sugar, and salt and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Lower the heat to low and simmer for 1 minute, whisking continuously. Meanwhile, put the char siu in a bowl. Remove from the heat and pour over the char siu. Stir with a wooden spoon or toss with your hands to evenly coat the meat with the sauce.
Turn the dough out onto a clean work surface and divide it into twelve equal pieces. Transfer all but one piece back to the bowl, covering it with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel. Roll the piece of dough into a ball before flattening into a pancake with the palm of your hand. Use a rolling pin to roll the edges of the pancake out to a 5-inch round; you want the center of the dough to be a bit thicker—it should look like a little bump. This will help give the manapua a uniform thickness on the top and bottom. Add about 1⁄4 cup filling to the center of the round, then bring the edges up and around the filling, pinching them together to seal in the filling. With the seam side down and your hand in a cupping motion, gently roll the manapua into a ball with a few circular motions. Place the round ball, seam side down, on one of the precut parchment squares. Cover the ball with a clean kitchen towel and repeat until all the dough has been used. Let the dough rise for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to boil with the lid on. Set a steamer basket over it and lower the heat to low, keeping the water at a simmer. Place the manapua with the parchment squares in the basket, spacing them about an inch apart. If you are using a metal steamer or a glass lid, place a clean kitchen towel between the basket and the lid to capture the condensation. Steam until the buns are light and fluffy, 15 to 20 minutes; they should be touching or almost touching. Transfer to a wire rack, cover with a clean towel, and let cool for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.
Store leftovers in a ziploc bag in the refrigerator or freezer. To reheat, simply wrap in a damp paper towel and microwave for 30 seconds or resteam them in a steamer basket for 10 minutes until heated through.
char siu pork
serves 6 to 8; recipe can be halved
from alana’s aloha kitchen
4 lbs pork butt, cut into 1 1/2” wide strips
1 tb hawaiian salt (‘alaea)
1 c (200g) packed brown sugar
1/2 c (170g) mild honey
1 1/2 tsp chinese five-spice powder
1/4 c (64g) hoisin sauce
3 tb whiskey
3/4 tsp red gel food coloring, or 1 1/2 tsp red liquid food coloring (optional)
rub the pork butt strips with the salt and place in a wide rimmed pan or in a gallon-sized ziploc bag. in a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, honey, five-spice powder, hoisin, whiskey, and red food coloring for the marinade. whisk together until well combined. reserve one third in a bowl covered with plastic wrap for basting the next day. pour the remaining marinade over the pork strips and gently rub the strips with your hands to evenly coat them. cover the pan with plastic wrap or zip up the bag. transfer both the reserved marinade and the pork strips to the refrigerator overnight.
the next day, preheat the oven to 350ºF. fit a roasting pan with a rack that is at least 2 inches tall. fill the pan with a 1/4 inch of water. lay the strips over and baste with some of the reserved marinade. roast for another 20 minutes. flip all of the strips over and baste with some of the reserved marinade. roast for another 20 minutes. flip all of the strips one more time and baste again before roasting for another 20 minutes. transfer the strips to a wire rack set in a rimmed baking sheet to cool a bit. the pork can be served immediately or cooled completely before using for another recipe.