For more on the Kaleberg Hawaiian Luau, see our Luau web page.

08/22/12 - Luau 2012

Yes, we held our luau this year. Yes, we had lau lau. Yes we had Polynesian chicken cooked in a banana leaf, even though bananas don't grow in Hawaii. Yes, we had Mai Tais, but the real winners were the Test Pilots and Hells in the Pacific, the latter made with seriously powerful rum.

Ahi tuna sushi and the cupcake heiau

Edamame, bar food and bar drinks

Our frosty sink of doom, chock full of cocktails

Keywords: hawaii, luau

08/29/11 - Watermelon Salad Recipe

We had this watermelon salad at the breakfast buffet at the Halekulani Hotel in Honolulu. We liked it so much that we had it a few times and reversed engineered it. At first, we thought the little white things were chunks of tofu, but further tasting revealed them to be mozzarella. It was an interesting salad and a real mixture of cultures, so we've adopted it as one of our luau standards. Either that, or make a jack-o-melon.

Watermelon salad - up close and personal
  • 1/2 a small watermelon, just the meat, cut into mouth sized chunks
  • 1 large purple onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 big fistful of fresh coriander, chopped
  • 4 oz mozzarella cheese cut into 1/2" chunks
  • 1 large or 2 smaller tomatoes, cut into 1/2" chunks
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 - 4 tbsp rice wine vinegar, to taste
  • black pepper
  1. Mix all the ingredients together in a big bowl.
  2. Serve.

SOME NOTES Use the best ingredients you can get. One family staying at Lake Crescent Cottage had a jack-o-melon on the cottage steps. We remarked that carving a watermelon in the manner of a jack-o-lantern was a neat idea. They explained that the watermelon had been so awful and flavorless that they couldn't think of a better use for it. It would have made an awful watermelon salad. So, buy a better watermelon than that.

Keywords: luau, recipe

08/23/11 - Hawaiian Luau

All the regulars were there for the 2011 Kaleberg Luau. The lau lau were front and center, flanked by our heavy on the turmeric Balinese chicken, and a plate load of ahi tuna sushi. The punch bowl was an ocean of Mai Tais, but the real favorites were the Test Pilots and Hells in the Pacific. There is nothing quite like a Hell in the Pacific served in a skull mug. We also had our traditional cupcake heiau, which is an important component of any true luau. One big favorite was the watermelon salad. It was a side dish, but so many people asked for the recipe, we'll include it in another post.

Test Pilots and Hells in the Pacific

This year's cupcake heiau

Lau lau in close up

Keywords: luau, kale

08/20/10 - Luau 2010

We held the annual Kaleberg Luau a while back, but we didn't post any pictures. We've been holding the luau since 2002, so it really has become a tradition.

That's the spread. It's not a luau without a pineapple.

Our motto: served in a skull. Those are South Sea Bubbles served in the champagne flutes. That's pineapple champagne, pineapple gum syrup and bits of pineapple.

Godzilla - in the spirit

Hawaiian spice chicken, made with Indonesian spices

Watermelon salad with tomato, coriander, sesame oil, rice wine vinegar and mozzarella, adapted from Spago Wailea

Lau lau - in action

Those are mai tais made with blue curacao - don't ask - in the punch bowl in front of this year's cupcake heiau.

Keywords: hawaii, food, luau, kale

08/24/09 - Edamame, Soy Beans to Munch

We aren't sure of where we got the idea for this dish, but it is simplicity itself and a great crowd pleaser. Start with a 12 ounce bag of frozen edamame, soy beans. Make sure you get the shelled ones unless you really like shelling beans. Chop up 3 or 4 cloves of garlic and perhaps an inch of fresh ginger root. Heat a tablespoon or two of sesame oil in a frying pan or wok. You might as well set the stove at full blast for this. Dump in the beans. Toss them around. Let them cook through. Wait for a few of them to get a bit seared. Remove the pan from the stove. Toss in the garlic and ginger. Then splash in a few teaspoons of soy sauce, to taste.

That's it.

Keywords: luau

08/23/09 - Aloha, Welcome to the Kaleberg Luau

Another year, another luau. Once again it was time for lau lau, ahi sushi, and Balinese chicken. This year we used Balinese fish spice instead of chicken spice, but nobody noticed. It's a long story. We also went a little crazy with the foldout pineapples, and the real one.

The Kaleberg Luau - Note the cupcake heiau in the foreground.

Welcome to the Pacific Ocean area.

Keywords: food, luau, kale

07/28/08 - Luau 2008

We should have posted sooner, but we were busy with our nearly annual Hawaiian luau. This year we built a cupcake heiau, incredibly loosely modeled after an old Hawaiian temple. As usual, we had lau lau, which is actually Hawaiian, and ahi tuna sushi, which is more Japanese. We also explored a new part of the Pacific Rim with a Balinese dish, chicken cooked in banana leaves. It was a surprise hit and a great way to use up all that turmeric root and galangal we had lying around.

You can find out more about the mechanics of the feast on our luau page.

The Cupcake Heiau with icings and toppings

Luau fixings: ahi tuna sushi, edamame, lau lau and Balinese chicken in banana leaves

Served in a skull

Keywords: hawaii, luau

10/16/05 - Home Cure: The Best Ham Ever

We just checked out our own home smoked Berkshire pig ham, and we were impressed. This is the second time we have bought a half a Berkshire pig from Nash Huber. The first time, we loved everything except for the ham. Unsmoked ham can be very dry, and roasting and braising just don't help very much. We managed to gret some of the ham down with sweet potatoes, Hawaiian style, but it was just not very good.

This year, we decided to brine and smoke our own ham, so we broke out our Alan Wong Hawaiian cookbook, from our luau, and found a recipe for pipikailua beef. We boiled up six quarts of water, 12 ounces of Kosher salt, three bay leaves, four tablespoons of light brown sugar, a tablespoon of black peppercorns, and a teaspooon of whole cloves. We let this cool, then chill in the refrigerator, then we dumped in the ham for 36 hours. We had a nice three inch thick slab of meat, so we figured that 24 hours might not be enough.

Then we fired up the classic Weber kettle grill with our Hasty-Bake hardwood charcoal and some of the old apple wood from a stump we had on our property. In went the ham, down came the lid. We poked at the coals every half hour or so, now and then adding a few more chunks of charcoal, but otherwise we just let the ham smoke. Sometimes the fire was a bit high. Sometimes it was a bit cool. With the lid down it averaged out just fine.

After three hours of smoking, we took out our ham. It had shrunk a bit, and it was brown and juicy looking. We cut off a bit. It was delicious. We let it sit on a plate in the refrigerator overnight to settle. This morning, it looked great and it was delicious. No, it didn't turn as pink as commercial cured hams. We didn't want to bother with curing salts. We just wanted to find a way to cook up our ham so we'd eat it, not preserve it for the winter. On the other hand, the wooly texture we associated with ham from the year before was gone. The meat was denser and moister. The flavor was rich and intense, without being too sweet or salty.

If you search the web for a ham recipe, you tend to get rather terse instructions, and they all call for curing salts. Think of this as a simple recipe for brined and smoked ham. With a little planning, you can make one yourself.


Keywords: food, luau, nash huber, winter, recipe

40 Lau Lau in a Pot

07/27/05 - Lau Lau for the Luau

We have wrapped up our luau and our lau lau. They may not look Hawaiian, but the little green packages ties up with string in the pot on the left are examples of the Hawaiian national dish, lau lau. What's inside? Kalua pork, pipikailua beef, and taro leaves. Curious? Want to try making your own? Check out our recipe for lau lau.

Keywords: luau, food, recipe

Long Peppers

07/20/05 - Long Peppers - An Unusual Pepper-Like Spice

Just a brief note on long peppers, an out of fashion spice that we ran into recently at Uwajimaya while shopping for our luau. Stay tuned for more on our luau.

Keywords: food, luau, seattle, shopping

10/08/04 - Non-Alcoholic Cocktails

- We recently held our Kaleberg luau, so we're still full of "Polynesian" rum cocktails. Some of them are pretty strong, but they all have great names like Suffering Bastard and Planet of the Apes. We've been speculating on what to call the non-alcoholic versions. How about Suffering Unfortunate? See some of our ideas on this.

Keywords: luau, food, kale

09/06/04 - Seattle Notes

We were in Seattle yesterday, but we weren't going to the Huskies game or Bumbershoot. We sort of avoid stuff like that. Instead, we checked out Uwajimaya on 6th and Weller. This is the anchor store for the International District and includes a good Pacific Rim (and Pacific Middle, since it includes Hawaiian food) food court, a great fish store, a book store and it even has apartments upstairs. We were checking out stuff for our upcoming luau, so we bought some fresh gold label nori for the ahi tuna sushi, poked at the taro leaves wrapped in bundles and waved a few bunches of ti leaves about.

The real find though was in the pig department. If you were ever a Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Angel the Whatever fan, you may remember that the good guys often needed a reliable supply of blood to feed to friendly or captive vampires. Whenever we pass the blood distribution center on 68th and Amsterdam Avenue in New York City, we always think of this problem of feeding vampires. Only in New York City would they have a vampire friendly blood bank that delivers. How convenient can it get? If that new prima donna or best selling author has unusual culinary needs, all you have to do is call for take out. (Do they stuff menus under your door?)

Since Buffy and Angel were set in California, they couldn't just pick up the phone and order blood. They tended to use pig blood. This just gets us to the problem of getting pig blood, and that gets us to Uwajimaya where they sell it frozen. More importantly, they sell pig skin and sweet little pig's feet. It is surprisingly hard to buy pig skin. Even if you have your own pig slaughtered, the skin and feet are usually wholesaled or trashed since they requires a lot of processing to make them kitchen friendly.

So, if you do want to make a proper cassoulet, you can get pig skin and pig's feet at Savenors in Boston, Faicco's in New York City or at Uwajimaya in Seattle. A French housewife would be right at home.

We also made our pilgrimage to The Spanish Table at the bottom of Pike's Market and bought some really good paella rice. Did you know that paella rice is drier that Arborio rice used in risotto? We didn't, but now we do. In a sort of conservation of pig's blood rule, The Spanish Table was out of morcilla, black pig's blood sausage.

Then we tried out Tom Douglas's new restaurant, Lola. Lola has great Greek food, with kebabs and spreads, lamb and octopus, and all through it a bit of Tom Douglas's trademark Northwestern style. Why not salmon kebabs? Why not a real lamb burger with pickled green peppers? Go for the roasted potatoes alone.

Keywords: seattle, food, restaurants, fish, luau, new york city, salmon