A Chopsticks & Wine Appetizer

Diana Helfand
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Wednesday - September 21, 2005
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For the past three years, the Honolulu Japanese Chamber of Commerce’s Chopsticks & Wine event has presented an evening of fine wines and gourmet delights. This year, the fourth-annual event will be held at the Sheraton Waikiki Hotel and Resort Wednesday, Oct. 12, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m.

Chopsticks & Wine 2005 features great food and a wide array of wines, beer and sake. And according to Wayne Ishihara, Sidney Hamada and Arnold Hirotsu, co-chairs of the event, it’s unique because you can actually order some of the wines and other beverages introduced that evening for your personal enjoyment. It’s a chance to taste old favorites and discover delicious new drink options.

Chopsticks & Wine 2005 is one of the signature fundraising efforts of the Honolulu Japanese Chamber of Commerce. Ten of Hawaii’s best restaurants will feature their signature dishes. In addition, beverage selections will be available from Awamori Spirits, Better Brands, Paradise Beverages, Southern Wine & Spirits of Hawaii and World Wine Tasting. Adding to the festivities will be ‘50s- and ‘60s-inspired entertainment and a silent auction.

Pre-sale tickets are $75 per person, or $100 at the door. Proceeds will benefit the Honolulu Japanese Chamber of Commerce. For tickets and more information, call (808) 949-5531 or go to their website www.honolulujapanesechamber.org

One of the featured chefs at this event is the executive sous chef for banquets at the Sheraton Waikiki, Dwight Yoshioka. Yoshioka was born and raised in Lihue on the Island of Kauai, and grew up in the business of cooking - Hawaiian style. His family owned a banquet/luau business.

From the early age of 5 to age 18, Yoshioka helped his family set up and break down luaus. In addition to the banquet business, Yoshioka’s mother was an avid cook and her specialty was Japanese cuisine.

Chef Yoshioka says he learned the most during his apprenticeship at the Sheraton Princess Kaiulani under Chef Yoshi Tajima, whose specialty was a mixture of Japanese, Continental and French cuisine.

Yoshioka has come a long way from his first job as a pizza cook for Magoo’s Pizza on Kauai, and describes his job as one of “big numbers, but trying to do a little of everything.” He has graciously given me this recipe to share with MidWeek readers.

SEARED SESAME CRUSTED AHI With Baby Greens and Tamari Balsamic Reduction

* 8 ounces ahi (tuna), block sashimi style
* 3 tablespoons black sesame seeds
* 3 tablespoons white sesame seeds
* 1/4 cup vegetable oil
* 2 heads lola rosa (lettuce)
* 2 bunches frisee (curly endive)
* 2 heads baby romaine
* 1 whole 5x6 tomato, cut into 1/8 wedges
* 2 cups tamari soy sauce
* 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
* 1/4 cup honey
* salt, to taste
* white pepper, to taste

In sauce pot, add soy sauce, vinegar and honey. Mix with a wooden spoon to incorporate all ingredients together. On medium-high heat, bring mixture to a boil. Let it simmer until two thirds of the volume has evaporated. The liquid should evenly coat your wooden spoon. Season with salt and pepper, and place on the side. Wash and separate lola rosa, frisee and romaine, leaving whole leaves to dry in colander. Coat ahi with sesame seeds by pressing ahi into seeds to make sure it sticks. In a non-stick frying pan, bring heat up to high and add vegetable oil. Sear ahi in pan for about 20 seconds on each side or until white sesame seeds turn brown. After searing all sides, let it cool. Make bundles using the romaine, frisee and lola rosa. Slice seared ahi like sashimi and lay on bundles of lettuce. Garnish with two tomato wedges and drizzle with tamari balsamic reduction.

Makes four servings.

(Diana Helfand, author of “Hawaii Light and Healthy” and “The Best of Heart-y Cooking,” has taught nutrition in the Kapiolani Community College culinary arts program.)

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