Kamuela Kimokeo’s Killer Salsa

Diana Helfand
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Wednesday - December 28, 2011
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A quick Internet search on the new Hawaiian music group Hi’ikua will tell you a few quick details: members (Kalehua Krug, Kamuela Kimokeo and Blake Leoki-Haili), debut CD (2011’s Aia I Hi’ialo), band interests (surfing, traditional Hawaiian tattooing, spending time with family, impact eating), and more.

What the page won’t tell you is that Kamuela Kimokeo also makes killer salsa. The slack key guitar and ukulele virtuoso shares his serious passion for eating and for Hawaiian music with his band mates, who are currently promoting their new CD and playing a series of concerts on Oahu.

As Kamuela says, “Food, like music, often carries with it stories and cherished memories.”

These stories are the inspiration for Aia I Hi’ialo, which figuratively translates to the idea of “our past being in our future.”

“One of Hi’ikua’s messages is that in order for our culture to continue to thrive and live, we must continue to create new stories and dialogues while utilizing and honoring the knowledge of those who have come before us,” says Kamuela.

“What we create is a huge kuleana (personal sense of responsibility) because each of us becomes someone’s ancestor; therefore we must ensure that what we sing, do and say are pono.”

This is the message that Kamuela, Kalehua and Blake live and breathe every day, both onstage and off.

For Kamuela, it reaches into the community, where he is helping to create a Hawaiian music program for The Boys and Girls Club of Nanakuli.

According to Kamuela, his salsa was inspired by “my Grandpa Hank Magana (pronounced maganya), who used to own Mexican restaurants throughout the Islands. He has since passed away, but I cannot help but think of him when I make this dish.”

Kamuela’s Salsa, a recipe he learned from the Stokes family of Arizona, can be used as a dip, a dressing, a garnish or a topping. Warning: When cutting the hot serrano chilies, gloves should be worn to avoid hands burning!


* 4 red tomatoes, diced
* 2 green onions, chopped
* 1/2 red onion, diced
* 3 cloves garlic, diced
* handful cilantro (remove stems and dice leaves)
* 2 serrano chilies (use gloves to remove seeds)
* 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
* 1 teaspoon kosher salt
* juice of 1 lime (squeeze into mix; watch for seeds)

A food processor may be used for everything but the tomatoes (you don’t want the tomatoes mushy).

Mix it all up, then cover and let it sit for about 20 minutes.

For a chicken dish, marinate four chicken breasts overnight in Montreal steak seasoning and the juice of one lime.

Grill and top with salsa.

(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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