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Poi Battered Fish & Fried Green Tomatoes

The Hawaiian Chef – Poi Battered Fish with Local Tomatoes, Sea Asparagus, Mandarin Oranges and Hawaiian Chef Dressing. $7.50

This past weekend I paid yet another visit to KCC Farmers’ Market, on the hunt for more unusual and exotic eats that abound at this weekly grand event. This time going for bad and good at the same time. As in good, healthy ingredients, deep-fried for what I’m hoping will be “bad ass” onolicious texture and flavor. How’s that for an expletive adjective oximoron? lol

In my last write-up on KCC Farmers’ Market, I noted that at the next opportunity, I’d try The Hawaiian Chef’s Poi Battered Fish ‘n Chips…

The Hawaiian Chef – Hawaiian Scottish Poi Battered Fish & Chips. $6.50

Just fried stuff was a bit too heavy on an early Saturday morning, so I instead opted for the Poi Battered Fish with the Mandarin Orange Salad, as shown in the first photo.

With that, on my NEXT opportunity, I”ll be sure to try this delicous sounding Kabocha and Granny Apple Soup!…

The Hawaiian Chef – Hawaiian Vegetarian Kabocha and Apple Soup: with Kabocha, Granny Apples, Onion, Curry Powder, Mustard Seed, Fresh Ginger, Vegetarian Broth, Lime and Yogurt. $5

Damned, that sounds good.

Here we have Juanita “The Hawaiian Chef” on the side cookin’ it up…

Juanita Kawamoto “The Hawaiian Chef” of Fresh from the Farm

Juanita took time explaining to me her company’s mission, which I’ll simply copy and paste directly from their website:

“Our mission is to play a key role in the sustainability of regional farms and agriculture in the state of hawaii by providing island farmers an alternative source to direct market their produce to earn a fair return and gain the recognition and reward for their efforts and hard work.”

~ Fresh from the Farm

My impression by our very interesting conversation is that Juanita is highly educated and very akamai about native Hawaiian foods and culture. I asked her what exactly Poi Batter is and she gladly explained it as being simply thinned-down Poi (she makes her own, but you can use store-bought), with the addition of Mochiko Flour, Paprika and Garlic Powder. Here’s how the batter looks…

Essentially to the consistency of, well, what those new to poi say it tastes like… wallpaper paste! lol

So here’s my Poi Battered Fish and Salad…

The Hawaiian Chef – Poi Battered Fish with Local Tomatoes, Sea Asparagus, Mandarin Oranges and Hawaiian Chef Dressing. $7.50

Juanita said the fish she uses is both Ono and Shutome (swordfish), which sounds A-OK to me. Let’s sample it…

Still piping hot, the fish on this bite tastes like the Shutome, which was very moist, tender and flakey, while having that usual low-fat and mild flavor that Swordfish usually has when cooked this way.

The Poi Batter is the big question here. What’s the deal there? Well, it has a texture almost like it was made with cornmeal. It seems the poi (taro) turns into little particles as it gets cooked in the hot oil. That’s really it. It’s pretty good, and no doubt interesting, although I’d prefer if it had a little more glutenous and air body to it like a beer batter. Perhaps the addition of baking soda and/or more Mochiko flour would help.  I dunno, as I’m not a baker, but you get my drift.

The paprika and garlic didn’t shout out loud, but it did certainly taste “seasoned”.

As for the Salad with Hawaiian Chef’s dressing, that was fantastic and a welcoming fresh contrast to the light-yet-heavy deep-fried Shutome and Ono. The dressing tasted ike a simple sweet ‘n sour vinaigrette, which I’d actually probably prefer something more zesty with more “bite”, like say Cocktail sauce as the dressing, but as it is, this works fine.

Overall I’ll give The Hawaiian Chef’s Poi Battered Fish & Salad a poi-pounding 3 SPAM Musubi.

I also tried their Hibiscus Lemonade…

The Hawaiian Chef – Hibiscus Lemonade. $3

She said this is made from the “juices” of actual Hibiscus flowers that are wrung out. And you know what? It tastes just like drinking a flower pedal-laced Lemonade. You know how a rose pedal smells, right? Well, imagine drinking that, and that’s exactly what this tastes like, along with a sweet and mildly lemon-ee kick. Really, really ono. A refreshingly Saturday morning delicious 4 SPAM Musubi.

I’ll be back for that Kabocha & Apple Soup for sure! Mahalo Juanita!

Moving on to our next good-meets-bad delight, we have Two Hot Tomatoes Fried Green Tomatoes…

Here’s their menu…

Here we have their Combination Basket of Fried Zucchini and Fried Tomatoes…

Three orders of Fried Green Tomatoes ready to feed the masses at KCC Farmers’ Market…

And when I say masses, I mean it, as Two Hot Tomatoes booth ALWAYS has a long line of mostly Japanese Tourists. Fried Green Tomatoes are a novelty for me, and it surely must be for them.

In fact, having little to ZERO exposure to southern cuisine, this is indeed my first time trying Fried Green Tomatoes. This just isn’t something you don’t see much of,  if at all here in the islands. Well except for here at KCC Farmers’ Market!

Wanna’ make ’em yourself? Get some of Two Hot Tomatoes’ Batter Mix..

Notice they individually hand-paint each bag. I suppose that validates the $10 price tag.

Here’s my order…

Two Hot Tomatoes – Fried Green Tomatoes with wasabi lemon and basil lime sauce. $7

Notice it includes 2 dipping sauces: wasabi lemon and basil lime sauce. Both of which their flavors are very subtle, making taste predominantly like, well, mayo’. If anything, I could taste the wasabi the most, yet even that was subtle. I say “gas” da’ wasabi, baby!

Here you can see how the’re made from while slices of green (unripened) tomatoes that are cut about 3/8″ thick…

I didn’t ask the owner what’s in their “secret” batter, but I did read a recipe in a magazine I have which uses Polenta Cornmeal, with Buttermilk as the “binder”.  It’s then finished with a light sprinkle of Paprika and kosher salt. That’s the magazine’s recipe.

I do know this batter is very light, with a fine and gritty texture (cornmeal?) that goes nicely with the acidic and “meaty” green tomatoes inside. The green tomato itself being cooked slightly under al dente, so it had a semi-raw taste, which I actually prefer, as I wouldn’t want it cooked through. The way it was here was perfect.

Summing it up, I’ll give Two Hot Tomatoes’ Fried Green Tomatoes a thumbs-up 3 SPAM Musubi, with my only complaint being its price at $7 a tray, which is kinda steep for what it is.

The weekend earlier at KCC Farmers’ Market, Two Hot Tomatoes had actually SOLD OUT of Fried Green Tomatoes, which I’m not surprised by, given the long lines they get. So on that visit I tried their Fried Zucchini and Fried Sweet Island Onion Rings as a combo’ set…

Two Hot Tomatoes – Fried Zucchini and Sweet Island Onion Rings. $7

These come with the same Wasabi Lemon and Basil Lime sauce.

Let’s sample some cuz’…

Yeah, that’s the way to do it. Nice ‘n sloppy. lol No, but seriously, again, like the green tomatoes, the zucchini is only partially al dente or semi-cooked through, so it comes across as snappy and fresh-tasting. In fact, I like this equally as much as the green tomatoes. The green tomatoes’ main advantage is its higher acidity level, so you get that mild tartness to cut through the richer flavor of the golden-fried batter. Yet they’re both equally a satisfying snack.

3 SPAM Musubi for their Fried Zucchini.

Now let’s sample the Fried Sweet Island Onions…

Yeah, diggin’ this one too. Me and onion rings are best friends, and this is certainly a fantastic spin on the classic with its more gritty batter, which I’m assuming is cornmeal. The onions are indeed sweet and also not overcooked and limp, but still retaining some shape of its natural conical shape. Very, very nice. Not surprisingly, the two mayo’ based sauces complimented the onion rings the best.

Summing them up, I’ll give Two Hot Tomatoes’ Sweet Island Onion Rings a “Maui-licious” 3 SPAM Musubi.

I’ll sign off with more sights around the market on this most recent visit…

“Lemonade Man”…

Speaking of colorful flowers, here ya’ go…

The following are hybridized Hibiscus by Jill Coryell, the “Hibiscus Lady”. As you may know, Hibiscus is Hawaii’s state flower…

See you again this Saturday at the KCC Farmers’ Market!

17 thoughts on “Poi Battered Fish & Fried Green Tomatoes

  • May 6, 2010 at 10:02 am

    Pomai, I always enjoyed your KCC entries on the web. I am a fan of the movie Fried Green Tomato but they in film use a batter to make it. I think it the southern style they make it more like fritter style.

  • May 6, 2010 at 10:13 am

    Thanks for reporting back! I think if I ever see the poi-battered fish & chips, I’ll have to give it a try.

  • May 6, 2010 at 10:21 am

    Pomai, I try batter for my tomato can’t find at time very green ones. It beer batter and also use bread crumb and both recipe is fine with me. Seen movie it a Chick Flick Film which I had enjoyed it. Yes KCC Farmer Market is really up scale also in cost which it OK since it special food sold there.

  • May 6, 2010 at 11:51 am

    Pomai, parents planning to head to KCC Farmer Market on Sat. now would like to try the green tomato mix plate and fish. Wonder is if I could buy some green tomatos to take home to make it too. Plan a special Mother Day for mom how about you? Food at KCC is very you might say Chic and Up Scale but where can find such special kind of food they sell. This is no everyday farmer market and food stalls selling one of a kind food and other products.

  • May 6, 2010 at 1:42 pm

    Hey Pomai, this must the second or third time you wrote about the poi battered fish. They should give you a plate for free in doing so. When I there I go for one of a kind food and always found it interesting eating there. No Zippy stuff for me.

  • May 6, 2010 at 1:52 pm

    Ooh, I tried that at Leeward CC. I think it may have been subsidized for students so was only $6! I loved the fish and balanced with the salad was good too. I’m not a fan of mandarin orange though…

  • May 6, 2010 at 5:15 pm

    That poi-battered fish sounds really ono!

    I love fried green tomatoes but have never had to pay for them. Seeing how I live in the Northwest, which has a pretty mild climate, most summers I have a bumper crop of green tomatoes that never get a chance to ripen. Just slice them thickly, coat in some seasoned flour or cornmeal, and fry ’em. It’s even more ono when you make it at home! In fact, every once in a while we get a really hot summer, and then I have to be sure to pick some green tomatoes before they turn red!

  • May 6, 2010 at 8:57 pm

    pomai ya done it again–like other posters have said, i really enjoy your farmer’s market posts :) the pics of food + flowers are all so scrumptious. eat & stay healthy !!!! :)

  • May 7, 2010 at 6:51 am

    Pomai, look like we all need to grow our own tomatos to get green one for dish. Not easy to find green tomatos to make it. It really easy to grow it I kept seeds from tomatos I brought and planted it now sprouting seedlings. Plant it in pot for and got indoor garden supply with lamp too. Grow your own herbs .

  • May 7, 2010 at 8:06 pm

    Poi batter for fish?! Now that’s something unusual I have to try for myself!

  • May 8, 2010 at 10:04 am

    Midge, what kinds of Taro dishes to they have in P.I.?

    Aaron, I live in a condo’ where we have a community garden on the rooftop. Now that you mention that, I might start my own little herb garden up there. I know Basil and Rosemary grow really well here. Not sure Thyme and Green Onions. I’ll have to try it.

    Raph’, glad you appreciate the efforts. Mahalo!

    Jenny (and everyone else), here’s that recipe I found in Cuisine at Home magazine:


    Fried Green Tomatoes
    Recipe courtesy of Cuisine at Home magazine
    1 lb. green tomatoes, cored and cut 1/4″ thick
    1 cup buttermilk
    1 tsp. Tobasco or hot pepper sauce
    3/4 cup dry polenta cornmeal
    2 tsp. kosher salt
    1 tsp. ground black pepper
    Peanut or vegetable oil for frying

    Preheat oven to 200ºF; line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Heat 1/4 inch oil in large saute pan over medium heat until cornmeal grains sizzle when dropped in oil.

    Combine buttermilk and tobasco in a bowl and set aside.

    Stir together cornmeal, salt, and pepper in a shallow dish; set aside.

    Dip tomato slices in buttermilk mixture. Let excess drip off. Dredge slices in polenta, coating both sides.

    Fry coated tomatoes in oil in batches until golden brown, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer slices to the prepared baking sheet and keep warm in oven.

    Serve with Ketchup or your favorite dipping sauce.


    Robyn, awe, you don’t like Mandarin oranges? I love them!

    Kimo, yeah, I showed photos of this booth several several times previously, but now I finally got around to actually trying it!

    Kelike, all I’ve got planned is to spend time with mom and cook breakfast for her and my aunt. As for buying green tomatoes, North Shore Farms at KCC Farmers’ Market would be the place to find them. Check out their heirloom tomatoes as well. They’re gorgeous, and I’m sure very tasty.

    Amy and Erica, I have yet to see the film ‘Fried Green Tomatoes’. Although I’m not into “chick flicks”, this is a movie I’ll definitely have to check 0ut. I like “foodie” movies!

    Debbie-chan, speaking of fish and CHIPS, I think Juanita should consider using taro as the “chips” instead of potatoes. Poi Battered Fish & Taro Chips! That sounds brilliant, I must admit. Not cheap, but brilliant!

  • May 8, 2010 at 2:10 pm

    Oh. definitely! There used to be restaurant in Berkley, Ginger Island, that served “Island Fries” — a mix of matchstick potatoes, sweet potatoes and taro. So good!

    I still miss those.

  • May 8, 2010 at 9:51 pm

    @debbie-chan i google’d up Ginger Island–it was on 4th st. eh? closed now huh :( potato, sweet potato, and taro sounds like a winner hehehe hurry someone should do this!!!!! :)

  • May 11, 2010 at 6:39 am

    Pomai, been researching on mini vegetables and fruits to grow at home and it great for you get a harvest of it in just 2 months not like 3 to 4 months with regular ones. Found mini bitter melons, watermelon, and other type of seeds to buy online for my garden.

  • May 11, 2010 at 6:19 pm

    Aaron, our friend is growing Choy Sum and Bok Choy on his condo’ balcony, and so far they’re doing very well!

    Raph’ and Debbie, next time I see Juanita I’ll pitch the Poi Battered Fish and Taro Chips idea to her.

  • May 13, 2010 at 3:26 am

    Pomai: Love your blog and read it faithfully. But I have to call you on your misuse of “pedal” for “petal”. Otherwise, your commentary is very articulate and descriptive. In the past you also confuse the verb “marinate” with the noun “marinade”. You can tell I’m an English major. I have taken notes on all the places I want to try when I’m on Oahu this summer. Keep up the good work; I believe your superior photography makes your blog stand out. Mahalo!

  • May 13, 2010 at 5:40 pm

    LanaiLady, all I gotta’ say is OOPS! I inadvertently make spelling and grammatical errors all over the place on this blog due to not proofreading before hitting the POST button. Only to have me go back over and over again fixing stuff as I read my own work. I wish I had a little “proofread ferry” (besides spell check) that would fix all that for me. Until then, I just must be more diligent in my own proofing process.

    Being an English major, I highly recommend you check out Scrivener’s excellent blog on the subject at http://www.DailyWritingTip.com.


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