A Really Smokin’ September

Diana Helfand
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Wednesday - August 27, 2008
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September is almost upon us, and Ed Wary and his staff at Dixie Grill are getting the big steamers and smokers out into the parking lot in Aiea to gear up for the annual BBQ Fest.

This year’s festivities are Sept. 1-30, and the emphasis will be on smoking.

Knowing Ed, this means more than just throwing some mesquite or apple wood chips into the fire to season chicken or brisket.

In fact, he’s promised the emphasis will be on cold smoking foods such as salmon, trout and chicken, which means infusing flavor without cooking the products. The restaurant also will be smoking its own sea salt and infusing coffee beans with chicory flavor; it will also continue to make its own catsup, ideal on Dixie burgers and fries. Plus there will be spareribs, lamb shanks and cracklin’ pork shanks with firecracker apple sauce on the menu.

Here’s a recipe you can try at home - or head out to Dixie Grill on Kamehameha Highway (you’ll smell the barbecue grills a-going).

Smoking is the process of preserving, cooking or flavoring food by exposing it to smoldering wood or plants. Down through history, most farms had a smokehouse where they smoked and stored meats. Smoking, drying and salt-curing were used as preservation techniques.

Hot smoking exposes the food to heat and smoke in a controlled environment such as a smoker. If smoked at the proper temperature, most foods are fully cooked, stay moist and are very flavorful.

Cold smoking is a process where the food is exposed to smoldering wood for a short period of time and then roasted, grilled, baked or sautéed.

Some common smoked foods are bacon, ham, pastrami, brisket and salmon. Lapsang souchong tea leaves are smoked and dried over cedar or pine fires. Some cheeses, such as Gouda, are cold smoked.


Dixie Grill puts the fresh trout fillets in an iced-down cooler and injects the cooler with smoke from burning kiawe wood for about 25 minutes. This gives the trout a nice smoked flavor without cooking the fish.

* 1 12- to 14-ounce cold-smoked trout fillet, boned, head off, tail on, press open flat

* flour, seasoned to taste with salt, pepper and spices

* 1teaspoon butter

* 1 teaspoon olive oil

* 1 lemon

Rinse the fillet well in cold water. Dredge in seasoned flour. Shake off any excess flour. In a large saute pan, melt butter with olive oil. Fry the trout in the butter/oil for about 2-3 minutes on each side, depending on size. Fillet should be nicely browned on both sides. Remove fish to platter. Squeeze the juice from 1/4 lemon wedge over fillet and garnish with a tablespoon of gremolata (recipe below) and lemon wedge. Serve with baked beans, collard greens and green chili cornbread.

For Gremolata:

* 2 tablespoons flat leaf parsley, finely chopped

* 1 tablespoon fresh lemon zest

* 1 teaspoon minced garlic Toss ingredients in a bowl.

Use as garnish.

(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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