May 20, 2009

Fresh - Local

I love to travel. I don't particularly start cooking a cuisine that I have been exposed to. However, I do tend to incorporate some of the unique techniques and like to experiment with different foods and sometimes like to experiment with an international dish.

When I was in Thailand I definitely enjoyed the freshness of everything. If you have not traveled to Thailand you would be amazed at the quality and quantity of fresh food. Local women prepare food daily. The fresh mangoes and coconuts are abundant. I really enjoyed the fact that even "junk" food was still fresh and good for you. For example, dessert would be coconut sticky rice with fresh mangoes or sweet potatoes encrusted with coconut and fried.

Here in America it didn't always used to be easy to get "fresh" in every restaurant. It's easier to get farm to table more and more, but you usually have to pay a lot of money for these experiences. In Thailand, even the most inexpensive restaurants provide homemade everything.

The other week I prepared a French feast and even though I'm not trained in French cuisine I really enjoyed the challenge of being authentic as possible while incorporating the freshest of Hawaiian ingredients. I was able to create a bouillabaisse (fish stew from Marseilles) and located fresh Monchong, Blue Marlin and Opah. It was a good experience for me because it made me realize that a dish is only as good as the location where you get your ingredients. We are fortunate here in Hawaii that even in the local supermarkets local fish is brought in daily.

Wherever you are take a recipe that you know that you can locate fresh local ingredients or substitute items that you can incorporate into the recipe to make it your own. I know that my best recipes have been created from the local ingredients. One item that we get fresh here year round is corn. And so I have created fresh corn salmon cakes, or corn cheese pudding/souffle and corn with scallions and butter. With the local Big Island mushrooms I have come up with rosemary white wine mushrooms with chicken and special rosemary mushroom risotto.

It doesn't matter where you live. There are always local ingredients that are abundant at different times of year. And sometimes in your area you get an abundance of fresh ingredients from other areas as well. Be creative. Expand your culinary skills by being innovative while using local abundant ingredients.
Bon appetit.

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