Steamed To’au by Diner E

Da’ Makule Tako Hunters of Kalihi: Diner “Saimin Kaukau” E (left) & best friend Andy M. (right)


Howzit everybody!

OK, Pomai went ask me if I like blog something for da’ Tasty Island, and I said “SHOOTS Brah!” But I not going talk about places that I like to eat, ’cause most of the places he went blog is places that I told him fo’ go!

But first I guess you guys like know little bit about me, “Diner E”, a.k.a. “Saimin Kaukau”; one spin on Simon Cowell, ’cause I stay hosh (harsh) wit’ my SPAM Musubi ratings. You say 5, I say tree. LOL!!!

“E” is for Edmund or Eddie or Ed. Born and raised in Kalihi Valley on Kalihi Street, Kalihi Uka Elem’, Dole Intermediate, and of course, a Farrington Gov’. Always had good places to eat in Kalihi. Some places are gone, some still stay, and get some new place to find and try eat! But enough about me… my HEAD GETTING BIG!

Anyway, I like tell you folks about a fishing tale that happened last summer. I like to go Tako diving, and I usually go with my buddy Andy M. to the Windward side for dive. One of those days was pretty junk when we went looking for Tako.

My wife is filipino, and she no like Tako, always telling me to catch fish instead. I like to catch Tako ’cause I can just stand up when I get tired (shallow water LOL!). But you gotta’ either dive deep or dive under the rocks for poke fish, which, I get hard time stay down ’cause I stay too buoyant.

Cleaned and salted To’au (Blacktail Snapper)

Well, when I was looking for Tako that one day, I saw one big To’au (Blacktail Snapper) — maybe a pound or pound & a half — on a hook, stuck on the bottom of the rocks that looked like a fisherman’s lost catch… and my score! The water was pretty cold that morning and the fish was still fresh, but dead. However, the eye was still clear, so it was OK for eat. So I took ’um home and told my wife I went catch’um…hehehehehe! I never like tell her I found ’um stuck in the rocks! Would you?  Hehehehe!

So I went steam ’um for her that night, using Sam Choy’s cook book, as you can see a little of the book in the picture…

After I went clean ’um, I went rub da’ To’au with Hawaiian salt and cut up some ginger and green onions, then did a shoyu and sugar mix (eyeball style, no measure). Then put da’ buggah’ in da’ wok and steam for about 30 minutes…

To’au, in da; Wok, ready for cook!

Den’ when it was pau, I poured hot oil over da’ fish, with some more green onions.

Diner “Saimin Kaukau” E’s Steamed “small ‘kine borrowed” To’au (’cause nevah get Tako LOL!)

My wife was really happy and enjoyed eating the fish, prepared local style. It was the first time for her for eat one To’au, ’cause she usually eat fried Bangus or Tilapia LOL! But now I stay in trouble, ’cause now she expect me for catch fish when I go diving for Tako. AUWE!!!

Thanks Pomai for letting me try be one guest blogger!

Diner “Saimin Kaukau” E


He’e (Hawaiian for Octopus)

Some of the Tako I caught on one dive, Lomi Lomi with some Whiskey (Chivas Regal) & Hawaiian Salt, cook ‘um with coconut milk, then!…

Kalihi Tako Hunter Diner “Saimin Kaukau” E’s Tako Poke

Cut the Tako up, add some onions, tomatoes, chili pepper (Pizza Hut), Shoyu, Sesame oil and green onions & mix ‘um up! BAM!!!! Tako Poke, Eddie Style!!!
ONO! ONO!!!!

P.S. (this is Pomai writing now)
He’ah stay some Smoke Tako Diner E’s friend Andy M. wen’ make couple weekends ago…

Kalihi Tako Hunter Andy M.’s Smoked Tako

Brah, da’ sucka’ waz supah tendah! Not da’ kine “bubboh gum” ‘kine Tako. Da’ seasoning was supah simple… wen’ taste like jus’ had hawaiian salt and small kine Hawaiian chili peppah. Da’ trick is, he wen’ stay put jus’ da’ right amount of salt. Not da’ kine get stroke, or no mo’ flavah. Jus’ right! Maybe had little bit shoyu, but not too strong. Nevah get sugah. Smoke levels was perps (perfect); not too smokey, not too plain. Cherry, strawberry. lol

Kalihi Tako Hunter Andy M.’s Smoked Tako

Solid 5 SPAM Musubi from me for braddah Andy’s supah simple, supah tasty, supah tendah’ Smoke Tako. Dinah “Saimin Kaukau” E prolly (probably) geeve ’em 4. lol

Finally, Andy M. wen’ make some Hawaiian ‘kine grindz for his house warming party da’ odda’ weekend, and wen’ stay get so much choke grindz, Diner E. brought some fo’ share at da’ office, including Andy M’s own recipe fo’ Squid Luau…

Andy M.’s Squid Luau

You know da’ kine Chicken or Squid Luau usually get at big parties, no mo’ ‘dat much meat, eh? Brah, coming from one Tako huntah, ‘dis buggah had CHOKE Tako meat! Was mo’ like squid stew jus’ so happen wen’ get Luau leaves mix inside. lol

Da’ Luau leaves wen’ stay was cooked perfect, wen stay supah soft ‘n tendah, jus’ like da’ tako. Also, da’ coconut milk wasn’t da’ sweet ‘kine, ‘tank God. One ‘ting I no can stand is Squid Luau das’ too sweet. ‘Dis buggah was jus’ right for coconut flavah and seasoning! Also, wasn’t watery, da’ buggah was nice ‘n tick!

One nodda’ 5 SPAM Musubi for Andy’s Squid Luau. Broke da’ mout’ winnahz!

Diner E also brought some leftover Kalua Pig and Chicken Long Rice Andy made…

Andy M.’s Kalua Pig and Chicken Long Rice

You probably stay ‘tinking, “Is that peas and carrots in the Chicken Long Rice?”. Also, “Why is it red? Is there also tomato paste in in?” Rogah ‘dat, on all ‘tree guesstimitations. And you know what? Da’ buggah was’ ono! I still raddah have da’ classic Chicken Long Rice ‘with jus’ gingah and green onion on top stay inside, laddat. But dis’ “Err’ding plus da’ Kitchen Sink” version’zes wen’ stay ono laddat, too!  Oh, and Andy’s Kalua Pig? Braddah Cuz! One of da’ bes’ I wen’ evah taste! Next to my own, of course!

The Tasty Island related links:
Mele Kalikimaka 2012 Office Potluck
Time for Tako Poke

Shoukichi Kina!…

Haisai Ojisan…


Steamed To’au by Diner E — 51 Comments

  1. LOL, that’s a pretty funny story. No good deed goes unpunished. I see lots of Toau catching in E’s future (or possibly an angry wife)!!

    Great post!

    • h,

      Every fisherman has a tale to tell. I have another friend who’s family used to own a longline fishing boat. They’d pull-up all kine other stuff besides Ahi, like the usual bycatch of Mahimahi, Monchong, Ono and Opah, to Mako Sharks, which one almost bit his hand off while he tried to get it off the line. He said their biggest pain was Pilot Whales, who’d follow their boat underneath it (especially at night to early morning), then sneak-up and take most of their big Eye and Yellow Fin Tuna, leaving only the heads on the line. Just the heads! WTF? We’re talking BIG BUCKS $$$ in loss. Let me put it to you this way: to this day, he so does NOT LIKE Pilot Whales. LOL!

        • Yeah, like hand-feeding Pilot Whales Kobe-grade Filet Mignon all day and night, at the expense of big buck$ in fuel and time out from Hawaii 500 nautical miles south at sea. Plaza Club ain’t got nothin’ on that! LOL!!!

  2. Almost exactly how I prepare my he’e, but instead of shoyu I put in cilantro, the kind you grow yourself, not the tasteless one from the store.

    • Pat,

      Have you (or anyone else reading this) ever smoked Tako? No, not weed, Tako (as in Hawaiian Octopus). LOL! I have two Tako from Diner E that I wanna’ smoke, like SOON, and I’m searching for tips. Preparation method (for tenderness), marinade/dry-rub recipe and smoking time ‘n temp’.

      • You know i tried smoking tako once over a medium smoking heat like I used to do with fiah, a four hour smoke. But it shrank so much I never did it again. The Hawaii he’e is just too small in my opinion. So I would suggest an old fashioned rock salt lomi lomi, then boil until just about done or cook in very low heat, say 140 so there is no shrinkage hardly, then give a light smoke using cold smoking method.I would add honey and oil to a marinade based on Aloha Soyu BBQ sauce and some alcohol like a bit of whiskey or brandy, maybe even a fruit brandy. In Japan and now China, I do not think they actually smoke much anymore. I think they get flavor from liquid smoke.

      • Have you seen the movie “Jiro Dreams of Sushi”? The owner, Jiro (of the only sushi restaurant to get three stars Michelin rating), makes his apprentice chefs massage the tako for 50 minutes! Try it!

        • L,

          For a second I thought you were going to reference some mushy “chick flick” drama film. Ha-ha! Nope, never seen it.

          You know, for a guy into authentic Japanese Ramen, I have yet to see Tampopo. Never seen it yet! I once blogged a review on the film Ramen Girl, starring the late Brittany Murphy. It was surprisingly REALLY GOOD! A few tear-jerking moments in it.

          Massaging Br… I mean Tako for 50 minutes sounds erotic. Just make it a full hour, why not? lol

          Diner E said to use Hawaiian salt when massaging it to take out the slime. He noted that, since the Tako was in the freezer for a long time, it will probably thaw-out quite tender right out the bag. I don’t understand the science to that theory, but hey, tako hunters know their stuff!

          Anyways, thanks for the tip. I’ll add Jiro Dreams of Sushi to my movie must-see list.

          • Wowlaulau just saw Jiro movie on my sons kindle last night. Have amazon prime and it’s free to view. Awesome movie.

  3. Pomai,
    Thats the type of guest blogger I was expecting. OIA all the way! Now you know what to get Diner E for xmas…one bigga pyrex. Was Dinner E trying to make an optical illusion to make the fish look big? I like how Diner E used the pepper from Pizza Hut. For me raw tako with inamona is the way to go. Looking forward to more posts from Diner E.

    • Kobi,
      LOL! no I don’t need a bigger pyrex, I used the small one so it would fit in my 12″ wok..wanted it to steam it with the shoyu sauce that I poured over its nice and moist when it’s pau!

    • kobi,

      So funny. I had to actually Google your acronym “OIA”, only to realize you’re simply referring to the Oahu Interscholastic Association (Farrington Govs). Duh! lol

  4. 10 thumbs up for Diner E’s blog entry! I was cracking up that he said he used the chili pepper packet from Pizza Hut. I always take extra and save it to use on my food too. And “eyeball style, no measure” – that’s how I cook too. Da tako poke looks ONO!!!!

    • Gayle,

      The way Diner E wrote this post, is EXACTLY how he sounds in person. 100% Uchinanchu (Okinawan) by blood, 200% Uchinanchu/Hawaiian by heart! :-)

      As for saving fast food condiments for future use, no comment. LOL!

    • Ken & Sunny,

      Diner E’s guest blogger post is a great start, indeed! Here’s to many more from him!

      As you can tell, I’ve had a change of heart on guest bloggers. Mahaloz to everyone here for making things clear on what exactly you wanted, in that regard. “Tanks”!

      Ken, I still have your Gaspar’s Portuguese Linguica and Chourico sausages in my freezer, awaiting a blog post, coming soon. And yes, my body can afford the indulgence now. I’m gonna’ do them Kauai Goteborg Musubi style, with Japanese Tsukemono as a contrasting complimentary topping. It will rock for sure. Trust me. Stay tuned!

      • Pomai,

        Be careful real Portuguese Linguica and Chourico sausages taste nothing like isle style Portuguese sausage which is ground up pork and fat not smoked.

        Every isle resident that has tasted the real Portuguese Linguica and Chourico has told me its da bomb!!!!

        Gaspar’s Portuguese Linguica and Chourico are made out of chunks of lean pork with some fat to hold the seasoning flavor so there is an intense pork flavor and there is plenty of Portuguese paprika to color any frying oil.

        I used to love taking my time to order hand-made Portuguese Linguica and Chourico at the Portuguese American Market, West Warwick, RI so I could watch the ladies sitting around a stainless-steel table hand cutting and hand stuffing each sausage link of Linguica and Chourico in lean, regular, fatty or hot regular or mild.

        This is a wink to your Portuguese heritage which makes great meals.

        • Ken,

          So are you implying that serving the Linguica and Chourico sausages you gave me in Musubi form isn’t a good idea? The acidic, earthy contrast of the Tsukemono, combined with the fatty, spicy pork meat in the sausage casing, added by body from starchy rice are a guaranteed winning combo. Of course, I also plan on giving a taste assessment of the sausages alone, without any additions. Simply pan-fry ’em in “tick” slices and whack da’ buggahz, straight-up.

          • Pomai,

            Not in a Kauai Goteborg Musubi style as they would be too small and I think the strong Portuguese paprika flavor would be over powering. Spam musubi style with half sausage log would work.

            Not much salt and less fat in Gaspar’s Portuguese Linguica and Chourico so what you got is more lean cubed pork loin and natural casing.

            Taste the sausage first and then be creative because real Portuguese sausage is not what you’re used to in Hawaii with the locally made version.

            Like the GM, Security Chief, Office staff and general staff of my condo tell me I ruined their taste buds for local kine Portuguese sausage.

          • Ken,

            That’s exactly what I needed to know: the entire flavor and texture profile of the sausage. Any meat used in a Musubi works best when it’s on the salty side, but you’re saying these are not so, with a focus on its natural casing, chunky texture and smokey flavor profile.

            Being you said it ruined their taste buds for local kine PS, what I’ll do is a side-by-side comparison, using Rego’s Purity (my favorite Oahu brand) as the bench test against Gaspar’s. That’s it. Keep it simple. Besides, I still have 10 more pounds to lose to hit my final goal, and anytime I stay low carb always helps. Would be even better if I can my hands on Frank’s Foods brand Portuguese Sausage from Hilo, which won this blog’s locally-made “Great Portuguese Sausage Shootout” back in ’07.

            Speaking of Portuguese Sausage comparisons, you might be interested in the blind taste test they did a while ago over at…

            WOW Grinds Homemade Challenge – Best Portuguese Sausage Final Results

          • Pomai,

            Rego’s Purity Hawaiian Portuguese Sausage is the closest I’ve tasted to only Gaspar’s Portuguese Linguica as the Chourico sausage is hotter and spicier but Rego’s Purity compared to Gaspar’s Linguica is finely ground, has a more salt like taste, more fat and less paprika where Gaspar’s Linguica has a very meaty pork flavor, less fat and a Portuguese paprika punch to it.

            I read the WOW Grinds Homemade Challenge – Best Portuguese Sausage Final Results and I still have link in my favorites so I can go back and review from time to time all WOW Grinds Homemade Food Challenges.

            WOW Grinds influenced me on Rego’s Purity Hawaiian Portuguese Sausage which I happily ate for a while but retiring to Hawaii from New England in the area where the most Portuguese and Cape Verdeans lived and worked (also near where Chef Emeril Lagasse grew up and cooked in the restaurants), my taste buds longed for the taste of the real Portuguese Linguica and Chourico sausage that I grew up eating and cooking with in recipes.

            Gaspar’s Portuguese sausage is the largest producer of Portuguese sausage in the USA at over 3 million pounds each year and can be found in most lower 48 states including offshore Crown Colony Bermuda.

    • Ken-san,

      It’s clear where this is heading: it’s time to PURGE THE FREEZER for the New Year! I shall start with smoking the Tako Diner E gave me. That post is next. After that, the Gaspar’s Linguica and Chorizo Sausages you gave me to sample in the latter half of last year, compared against the best possible locally-made Portuguese Sausage I can get my hands on (Hoping for Hilo’s Frank’s).

      After that, I’ll blog cooking and eating a DiGiorno Frozen Pizza that’s been sitting in my freezer for the past 3 years. That, followed by blogging a now-petrified Char Hung Sut Manapua, half-moon and pork hash that’s been frozen for 10 years. Finally finished by covering removing (via ice pick) and eating a half-melted, then refrozen, rock-hard Nestle Drumstick that’s been stuck between the the ice dispenser bin and shelf right below it, all sticky ‘n sloppy for the last several months. Should be fun! LOL!!!

  5. Too funny to read this post from the perspective of the lucky finder-keeper (that fish looked ‘ono too!) I seem to have heard this story from the perspective of the unlucky loser-weeper – my fisherman husband! All these years, when he came home saying, “I lost this big one on the rocks,” I thought he was just handing me a “fish story”. The poor guy was telling the truth all along!

  6. This has all the elements I like in a post! Beach picture-Ka-ching! Street cred-Kalihi represent! Yummy food pictures! An authentic voice, an authentic post!

    • L,

      Note to self: L, and probably many other expat readers here, enjoy seeing Hawaii beach photos. Will make it a point to include one in each post. Even though I live here, I never take the beauty of our aina and shoreline surrounding us for granted. :-)

      • Trying to figure out where Diner E’s secret spot stay. Kinda hard to figure out since no more any landmarks but I’m guessing Kaaawa or near Kualoa Beach Park. I used to dive out there but I no more the tako eye was more diving for exercise although the guys I dived with could see the holes.

        • Kobi,

          Oh, you’re way, WAY off course. So cold (not hot), it’s not even funny. LOL!!!

          A guy I know throws net, saying you also gotta’ have “the eye” for that too. Since you walk on the reef and shoreline doing that, he says he sees the fish better when wearing polarized sunglasses. Surely ancient Hawaiians didn’t have that, but then again, back then, had WAY more fish.

  7. awesome recipe for tako poke!! i went spear fishing for tako with my friends for the first time a while back kahala side. we caught a good one and grilled and fried it, but it was totally bubble gum! haha gotta try getting the whiskey in there. thanks!

    • Devin,

      I fixed the link to your company’s website at

      I’m concerned about my first attempt at making Smoked Tako will turn out chewy like bubble gum. Hopefully the Hawaiian salt massage with Brandy for 1 hour will do the trick. :-)

      As for recipes, I also like just a dash to a splash of Mirin and Shoyu in my Ahi Poke. Definitely gotta’ get Chopped Ogo.

      • pomai thanks so much! well appreciated. actually looking up right now if we still have those li hing fuji apples available but im not sure we do. i know your all about keeping up with the healthy theme so maybe I can find something to go along with that.

        you know, our tako was chewy when we cooked it but we didnt do the hawaiian salt massage or use the brandy which i will recommend to my friends next time. maybe this weekend. also, i saw a commenter mention “jiro dreams of sushi” on netflix. you gotta check it out. they really do have the interns massage the tako for up to an hour every day!!

        • Massage it. Boil it until almost tender. Use fork. Then prepare the dish if it requires further cooking or saucing. Hawaii has three tako I am aware of, only two of real interests (the he’e pali is too small to eat and too rare here). The night tako is red at night. hard to find legal size, but really ono when you get one. No need to tenderize. The most common is the day tako or gray octopus. That is the one you talking.

          • Pat,

            Interesting that there’s several categories of Tako in our islands, which I never heard of that breakdown how you described it. Sounds like a pigment thing based on light that affects the protein composition in their flesh from day to night. Tako really are amazingly complex and intelligent creatures, right down to how they evade and camouflage themselves from predators, to how they hunt.

          • wow, would like to try red tako. im sure we got the grey one. is it true you have to bite the head to stun it because thats what i heard, and i tried it and it worked. but im not sure its the best way.

        • Devin,

          Looks like I’ll have to add movie reviews of Jiro Dreams of Sushi and Tampopo to my must-do blog list this year. The latter of which, WAY overdue. Throw in food-based movie reviews, Why not?! Of course, I’ll tie that in with something locally-related, so will add in a sub-review of a local Japanese Ramen and Sushi joint along with each of those film reviews. ;-)

          Goodness, I’m gonna’ have to jump back on Netflix and see what else they’ve got on there for foodie movies. Just wish I had more time to watch them.

          • food based movie reviews sounds awesome. i’ve never heard of tampopo but it looks interesting. ramen-western huh. thanks for the recommendation. ill check it out and looking forward to your reviews if you decide to do them!

  8. Pomai,

    You, Diner E and Andy M. are making my mouth water with all this Tako!!! I Love all styles of Tako Poke and anything smoked!

    I’m going to have to get into my food closet and take out a can of prepped finely sliced and tenderized sea snails and make a pound of “Italian snail salad”!!!

    It’s a Rhode Island thing that you will not find outside the region but great like poke; Oh so ono!!

  9. FYI, I’m currently in the works of a Smoked Tako step-by-step method post, which I should have published by the end of this week, but I still gotta’ smoke da’ Tako! In the mean time, here’s the two Tako I’m working with…

    Pomai going smoke these Tako

    These are a little over a pound each, caught and given to me by Diner E. Just got done cleaning them with Hawaiian Salt and repeated water rinses. Most of it now marinading in Brandy. Also have “Sample X” marinading in Hawaiian Salt and Hawaiian Chili Pepper Water. Smoking session tomorrow.

    Diner E just caught two 3+ pounders this past weekend. Massive!

    This was taken yesterday (1.14.13), with yours truly weighing in at 166 lbs. (now 41 pounds total loss). Pants around the belt area and sunglasses on neck small ‘kine crooked. lol

      • Pat,

        I can’t believe you, of all people, spelled it “Poki”. lol

        As for smoking, I had to refreeze them in the marinade, as I don’t have time this week for an after-work smoking session. I’ll give them one last massage before hitting the smoker this weekend to make sure da’ buggahz stay tendah, laddat.

        Stay tuned folks. Sorry for the delay in a new posting. The upcoming “Smoked Tako 4 Ways” post will be worth the wait, I promise! :-)

          • Pat, there’s two liquor store/poke stops here on Oahu that have their storefront sign light box with Poke misspelled as “Poki”. I always chuckle when I see that.

            As for freezing tenderizing the Tako, that’s the same thing Diner E suggested. Therefore, I’m going to do a test: I cut off part of the Tako and didn’t massage it with the Brandy, but just marinaded it in Hawaiian Salt and Hawaiian Chili Pepper Water. I’m calling that one “Hawaiian Style”. Should be interesting to see if there’s a difference in texture between the two, and of course the flavor. Because I had the rest of the Tako soaking in Brandy overnight, I’m wondering how that’s also going to affect the flavor of the Smoked Tako.

    • Just remember. We have all blown the tenderness thing with he’e. Sometimes too tough, once in a while too soft, sometimes a bit soggy. What we did was check the thickest part of the largest leg, and then cut to the toughness. More soft, bigger cut. On the bias, like a flank steak. Tough?, get the sashimi knife,take your time, cut thin. Too soggy, keep calm, dry it on paper towels and put in the fridge after a pat dry,for a half hour or so, then add a tiny bit of light oil to the dish or sauce.

      • Pat,

        Word, brother. Word. Especially the last part about adding a tiny bit of oil (perhaps Sesame for that nutty element) and/or shoyu for additional seasoning to taste for the finishing touch. I also may adjust ‘n tweak with an added sprinkle of Goma (sesame seeds for added texture), splash of Hawaiian Chili Pepper Water and/or Brandy.

  10. diner E, love your story and writing style.  please share your spot w/ me.  In code is fine.  I will share some good dive spots with you.  Aloha,  Robert

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *