Indonesian Hanukkah Fritters

Diana Helfand
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Wednesday - December 07, 2011
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Trudy and Al Wong. Photo from Diana Helfand

Hanukkah is this month, and I would like to dedicate this column to an extraordinary couple, Al and Trudy Wong.

“Our household and our family is truly international,” says Trudy. “Al and I have been hosting students through the East-West Center for most of our 35year marriage. Our son Ari and our daughter Shaaroni have grown up with more than 100 ‘siblings,’ as they all become part of our family ... connected to us for life. We have hosted students from India, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, across the U.S., Scotland, Iran, Bhutan, and the list goes on and on and on! We share our holidays with them Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Passover and they in turn share theirs with us! A truly ‘blended’ family!”

This year, Al was named the Happiest Man in America. It seems he was the only one who matched all the criteria compiled through a three-year survey and 1 million phone calls by Gallup Poll and Healthways. A New York Times article has created interest around the world, and Al has received calls, letters and requests to know his “secret” to happiness.

So why is Al the happiest man in America? He claims it’s because he says “yes, dear” a lot. Trudy thinks it’s because he is a winning combination of the true aloha spirit with an amazing outlook on life. He finds joy in everyone he meets!

Trudy says their joy comes from their family, biological and extended, and that happiness is sitting around a table filled with students from the far corners of the earth some from countries at war with the country of the individual seated next to them, and yet all finding common ground and happiness in the love and respect they receive from everyone at that table. The Wong family reflects that, as the holiday season approaches and thoughts of “Peace on Earth” resonate, they realize that hope, that dream, does not belong to one faith or culture.

These recipes are not only inspired by Hanukkah, the first battle won for religious freedom, but they reveal that, with respect and understanding, everyone’s “table” can be an inspiration of joy and peace.

The Wongs like doing Hanukkah with an international flavor. Trudy says, “One Hanukkah meal we love is with an Indonesian flair. It still has the ‘oil’ to reflect the miracle of the small amount of oil lasting for eight days, but it puts a totally different ‘light’ on your Hanukkah meal!”


* 1 cup flour (white, wheat or rice flour)
* 1/2 cup sugar
* 1 teaspoon baking powder
* 1 package onion soup mix
* 2 tablespoons soy sauce
* 2 eggs (may use egg substitute)
* 1/2 cup chopped green onions
* 2 cans corn (drain only one can, use the liquid in the second can), consistency should be a little thicker than pancake batter

Mix all ingredients above and drop in frying pan with approximately 1/2 inch of heated canola oil; flatten pancakes so they cook evenly. An alternative is to drop spoonfuls of batter in a wok with hot oil. Remove when golden brown. Makes a dozen small pancakes.

For an Indonesia Turkey Breast recipe, go to

(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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