A Culinary Class With Chef Elmer

Diana Helfand
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Wednesday - March 26, 2008
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Chef Elmer Guzman has worked in five-diamond and five-star restaurants alongside some of the best chefs in the country - including television celebrity Emeril Lagasse and Hawaiian Regional Cuisine luminaries Alan Wong and Sam Choy.

Maui-born Guzman is a cookbook author and chef-owner of Poke Stop, a gourmet takeout seafood restaurant and catering business in Waipahu (with a second location planned to open this summer in Mililani Mauka).

Chef Elmer also has teamed up with Gourmet Cooking Hawaii to lead a unique cooking class each Thursday evening in the beautiful Servco Appliance Showroom in Mapunapuna. These hands-on culinary parties lead participants through each step of a delicious appetizer, entrée and dessert that make the most of local produce and seafood. Everything is provided from ingredients to recipes to cooking tools, and everyone has their own cooking station.

Chef Elmer’s insider tips and easygoing ways also make for a fun time while you learn; best of all, the staff cleans up while you sit down to enjoy the fruits of your labor, complete with table service and wine pairings with each course.

Gourmet Cooking Hawaii owner Kat Lin-Hurtubise has hosted everyone from couples, bridal parties and birthdays to girls’ nights out and corporate team-building parties. Call her at 735-7788 for more information.

I would like to dedicate this column to Chef Elmer with a hearty thank you for sharing these recipes with MidWeek readers.


* 3 1/2 ounces sliced chicken thighs (or substitute breast to lower fat)
* 1 tablespoon Thai curry paste
* 1 tablespoon salad oil
* 1 teaspoon palm sugar
* 3 ounces coconut milk
* 4-5 leaves Thai basil
* 1-2 red Hawaiian chili peppers, sliced or smashed
* 4 ounces water or chicken stock
* 1 each Kaffir lime leaves
* 2 tablespoons eggplant, sliced
*2 tablespoons large-dice onions (optional)
* fish sauce, to taste

In a sauté pan, heat oil to medium heat. Add chicken and sauté for 1 minute. Next add red Thai curry paste, onions and palm sugar and cook for another minute. Add Kaffir lime leaves, chili peppers and eggplant and stir well. Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer for 2-3 minutes.

Season with fish sauce.



* 1 ti leaf
* 3-4 ounces uhu fillet (parrot-fish)
* 1 tablespoon ginger, juliennecut
* 1 stalk green onions, sliced
* 2 ounces lup cheong, juliennecut
* 1 teaspoon fermented black beans, mashed
* 1 sprig cilantro
* soy sauce, to taste
* sesame oil, to taste
* 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
* 1/4 baby bok choy, sliced
* 2 shiitake mushrooms, sliced
* salt and pepper, to taste
* sheet of foil

Place foil on cutting board or flat surface. Place ti leaf on foil followed by baby bok choy and shiitake mushrooms. Place seasoned uhu onto vegetables.

Add ginger, green onion, lup cheong, fermented black beans and cilantro. Drizzle soy sauce and sesame oil to taste and place a knob of butter on top of everything.

Wrap with foil by grabbing the top and bottom of the foil, folding it toward the middle and creasing it together. Fold the ends and place it in a steamer for 8-10 minutes till done.

Note: These recipes make one serving, and may be doubled or tripled, etc.

(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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