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“Chop Chop” Round One

One of my favorite Food Network shows currently running is the hit series “Chopped”. They’ve totally taken the “Iron Chef” concept and ran with it.

The “Chopped” format really pushes the chefs to take their creativity to the next level, where instead of having to base every dish on just one “secret ingredient”, they have anywhere from 3 to 5 different main ingredients in their “mystery basket”, with each course (app’, main and dessert) having a fresh new set of key ingredients the chefs must incorporate in their dish. And typically those main ingredients inherently do not instinctively compliment each other.

Aside of the main ingredients in the mystery basket, the chefs also have access to a main pantry filled with kitchen basics, including spices and seasonings, baking essentials, fruits and veggies, dairy, eggs, and so on.

Host Ted Allen did note in one interview that the Food Network staff stocks the kitchen pantry with “basics” that are counter to whatever is in the mystery basket at the time. So say there’s asian-inspired ingredients in the basket? Then they won’t fill the pantry with items such as shoyu and oyster sauce, but instead put stuff like ketchup and dijon mustard in the pantry, so that each round is as challenging as possible.


That said, let’s have fun and play our own island style version of “Chopped” called “Chop Chop”, using foods popular in Hawaii as the featured ingredients.

FYI, “Chop chop” is actually a slang term rooted from Cantonese that means “Hurry! Hurry!”


For this first round of “Chop Chop” for the appetizer course, we’ll start easy with just 3 ingredients in the mystery basket. That would be Lup Cheong

Lup Cheong (Chinese style pork sausage)

“Hurricane” Popcorn

“Hurricane” Popcorn – a Hawaii local treat made of Popcorn, “Mochi Crunch (Japanese Rice Cracker called Arare), Furikake and Butter

And Lychee

Hilo Lychee

Remember, you also have access to a pantry of basic kitchen ingredients to put your dish together.


Because this is the island style version of “Chopped”, the kitchen pantry for “Chop Chop” includes the following that you can use:

Dry Seasonings, Spices & Herbs

  • Salt (Hawaiian, kosher & iodized)
  • Black Pepper (from grinder)
  • Coleman’s Mustard Powder
  • Togarashi Shichimi
  • Ceyenne Pepper
  • Five-Spice
  • Star Anise
  • Cloves
  • Bay Leaves
  • Paprika
  • Oregano
  • Thyme
  • Sage
  • Goma (sesame seeds)
  • Curry powder
  • Chili powder
  • Garlic powder
  • Onion powder
  • Dashinomoto
  • Sazon Goya
  • Chicken & Beef Bouillon

Bottled Condiments, Sauces & Seasonings

  • Shoyu (Aloha, Kikkoman, Silver Swan & Yamasa)
  • Mirin
  • Oyster Sauce
  • Hoisin Sauce
  • Worcestershire Sauce
  • Tobasco Sauce
  • BBQ Sauce (hickory smoked, American style)
  • Liquid Smoke
  • Kojujang Sauce
  • Miso Paste
  • Hawaiian Chili Pepper Water
  • Fish sauce (Filipino Patis and Thai Nam Plas)
  • Shrimp paste (Harm Ha Chinese style and Bagoong Filipino style)
  • Ketchup
  • Mustard (yellow, course deli style and Dijon)
  • Horseradish
  • Wasabi
  • Relish
  • Pickles
  • Hot (yellow) Chili Peppers
  • Mayonnaise
  • Vinegar (white, apple cider, red wine, balsamic and rice)
  • Jelly (Guava, Pineapple, Hawaiian Chili Pepper & Strawberry)
  • Honey

Canned Goods

  • Tomatoes (whole, stewed, sauce and paste)
  • Kidney Beans
  • Corn (kernel)
  • Mixed vegetables
  • Olives
  • Stock (chicken, beef and vegetable)

Baking Goods

  • All-Purpose Flour
  • Corn Starch
  • Baking Powder & Soda
  • Yeast
  • Corn Meal
  • Gelatin
  • Vanilla Extract
  • Sugar (granulated white, confectioners, Hawaiian cane and brown)
  • Molasses
  • Chocolate Chips
  • Grated Coconut


  • Rice (white short grain premium grade, white medium grain calrose, brown calrose, long grain and Jasmine)
  • Noodles & Pasta (saimin, ramen, somen, chow mein, chow funn, wonton wrappers, pancit, long rice, spaghetti, penne, angel hair and lasagna sheets)
  • Bread (white sandwich, dark rye, Sourdough, French & Portuguese Sweet)
  • Tortillas, fresh local-made (flour & corn)

Fresh Produce & Aromatics

  • Lettuce (Iceberg & Manoa)
  • Tomatoes (regular and cherry size)
  • Cabbage (green, purple and Napa)
  • Onions & Shallots
  • Celery
  • Carrots
  • Potatoes (Idaho & russet)
  • Broccoli
  • Cucumber & Zucchini
  • Green & Red Bell Peppers
  • Eggplant
  • Jalapeno Peppers
  • Green Beans
  • Bean Sprouts
  • Mushrooms (white)
  • Green onion
  • Chinese Parsley (Cilantro)
  • Basil
  • Mint
  • Dill
  • Lemon Grass
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Apples
  • Oranges
  • Bananas
  • Lemon & Lime


  • Milk
  • Heavy Cream
  • Whipping Cream
  • Sour Cream
  • Yogurt
  • Butter
  • Cheese (Cottage, Philidelphia Cream, American, Swiss, Mozarella, Cheddar & Monterey Jack)


  • Eggs
  • Oil (Canola, Peanut, Sesame & EVOO)
  • Spirits: Lager Beer, White & Red Wine, Brandy :-), Vodka, Tequila, Whiskey and Sake


As for the panel of judges, that would be, um, um, um…. Me, Myself and I! ;-)


Since this is the first time trying this, let’s play it by ear. As soon as submissions begin to slow down (if there’s any at all for that matter), we’ll end round 1 of this “cook off”.


Since we can’t taste the dishes over the internet, judging will be based purely on how it sounds in your words creatively, as well as feasibility from a culinary aspect.

To make it even more exciting, Yours Truly will actually prepare the winning dish of each round and present it when the winner is announced. Can’t wait to try your dish!


There will be a special Hawaii “foodie” prize for the winner of all three courses (three rounds), to be determined. Yay!


In the comments box below, submit your “Chop Chop” appetizer dish that you’d create using Lup Cheong, Hurricane Popcorn and Lychee. For example, “My appetizer dish is Lup Cheong Hurricane Pops. Skewered Lup Cheong sliced on the bias, crusted with crushed Hurricane Popcorn, deep-fried in Peanut Oil and served with a Lychee Butter Aioli dipping sauce.

If you actually make the dish and submit a photo, that’s MAJOR bonus points!

So let’s see how creative you “keyboaord chefs” out there are and submit your idea in comments here for “Chop Chop Round 1”! Have fun!

To help get your creative “think outside the box” juices flowing, here’s a few dishes to inspire you…

Alan Wong’s “Poke Pines” – raw Ahi cubes tossed with Shoyu, Ogo and Onion, encased in an ornately-cut wonton wrapper, and platted with very thin slivers of fresh avocado and an ever-so-slight drizzle of wasabi sauce

Alan Wong’s Kalua Pig & Guacamole Wontons

Michel’s at the Colony Surf – Vitello Tonnato: Thin-sliced roasted veal, Yellowfin Ahi sashimi & tuna sauce served with arugula salad, tomatoes and lemon caper vinaigrette.

P.S. I finally got my hands on the new iPhone 6 Plus last night while at the Waikiki Ho’olaulea (the tail end of it, anyway), over at Apple’s Waikiki store in the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center.

Speaking of which, an interesting fact the girl at Apple shared with me is that the Apple Store in Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center is the CLOSEST TO THE BEACH than any other Apple Store in the world. Pretty cool.

Anyhow, upon holding the new iPhone 6 Plus side-by-side with my Galaxy Note 3 – the 6 Plus’ current most direct competitor – I found the differences in quality “feel”, physical size and overall display quality pretty much negligible.

While the Note 3 has a slightly larger display screen at 5.7″ diagonal (vs. 5.5″ for), the 6 Plus overall body is slightly longer (taller) due to having wider bezel areas on the top and bottom of the screen.

Apple iPhone 6 Plus and Samsung Galaxy Note 3, side-by-side at the Apple Store in Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center, Waikiki. 9.20.14.

Looking at the screens side-by-side in person, the 401ppi LCD screen on the 6 Plus appeared just a tad brighter and vibrant than the 386ppi Super AMOLED screen on my Note 3. While color contrast, balance, saturation and blacks looked pretty much the same between the two. Pixel density is so high on both phones already that I personally couldn’t see any visible difference in details looking at photos, icons and the OS GUI interface between the two. I think screen pixel density has already reached its full maturity in small devices, unless humans somehow develop better eyes.

Supposedly Apple added a feature to the 6 Plus’ glass that makes the display easier to see in bright sunlight, which obviously is impossible to test in the store. If that is the case, that would certainly a be plus for me, being I’m at the beach a lot, and my Note 3’s screen isn’t that great in bright, bright sunlight.

Regarding adding new features, I’m actually disappointed most that both Apple and Samsung didn’t bring better built-in loudspeakers to the table, as HTC did with their stereophonic dual front-firing speakers on the One M8. Particularly in Apple’s case, where they just acquired BEATS audio, it would have been nice if the iPhone 6 series had an innovative new audio system, which hasn’t panned out.

I am looking forward to seeing how the new Galaxy Note 4’s screen will look side-by-side in person with the 6 Plus, being the Note 4 will be packing an industry first ‘Quad HD’ display, with a resolution of 2560×1440, with a spec-topping 515ppi, all covered in ‘2.5D glass’.

Apple iPhone 6 Plus and Samsung Galaxy Note 3, side-by-side at the Apple Store in Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center, Waikiki. 9.20.14.

The 6 Plus’ all-aluminum build didn’t feel as “premium” as I expected it, and in some ways I thought the Note 3 actually felt “richer”, even with its faux “pleather” plastic back. I think part of what took that “premium” feel away from the 6 Plus was the fact that it’s so LIGHT in WEIGHT. Some say that’s a good thing, however I feel to the contrary. I like a gadget that has some heft to it, not only because it feels more “expensive” and substantial, but also because I know it’s THERE IN MY POCKET. I think all you folks who tote your phone in your pocket and have LOST YOUR PHONE know exactly what I’m talkin’ about! Been there, done that!

Speaking of losing or breaking your phone, upon holding it myself, I can definitely say without a doubt, you’d be a FOOL to own the 6 Plus without a “grippy” and protective case. Its “this isn’t an important device” light weight, combined with the smooth finish of its unibody aluminum back and rounded edges has “BUTTER FINGERS” written all over it. While I keep a Spigen case (highly recommended brand!) protecting my Note 3, I took it off to compare it “naked” with the 6 Plus, and side-by-side, and in comparison, the Note 3 is a champ as far “grip factor”, with its sharper knurled faux chrome outer edge and its textured “pleather” back.

One thing funny was, the batteries in both the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus that were on display at the Apple Store in Waikiki were all pretty much DEAD when I got there just before closing on that busier-than-usual Ho’olaulea night. The iPhone 6 and Plus display models just never got enough time sitting on the charger port, spending most of its time in people’s hands, eager like me to get their hands on it.

That said, until the Note 4 is released in October, based on first impressions, I’m way more than happy with my Note 3 (particularly its S-Pen, expandable memory and replaceable BIG battery), not inspired enough by what the new iPhone 6 Plus has to offer to want to trade in for it. And just for the record, I’m not a “fan boy” of either Android or iOS.

22 thoughts on ““Chop Chop” Round One

  • September 21, 2014 at 12:01 pm

    This post was inadvertently published a few days ago when it wasn’t supposed to, then taken back down. While it was up, Kelike was the first to submit an entry to the contest.

    Kelike said:

    “Pomai, I came up with a salad started with lup cheongs chopped up and pan fry till crisp and favor from pan I crushed popcorn and stir fry it also. Added to mixed green and chopped up lychees and oil from mix with olive oil and salt. pepper and some lemon juice.”

  • September 21, 2014 at 2:11 pm

    I like lup cheong and would mince it up and mixed jicama minced up to make small potstickers. Lychees I would make in gelato and popcorn season bit more with sugar for sweet and savory taste top on gelato.

  • September 21, 2014 at 2:22 pm

    Buying a useful case is definitely a good idea. Such has saved my iPad twice. Make sure the corners extend so they can take the brunt of the fall. Plus many cases have useful features that come in handy away from home or office.

  • September 21, 2014 at 2:34 pm

    @ Pat – http://www.spigen.com/brands/apple/iphone/iphone-6.html

    @ Amy – I’m not sure if Jicama would be an ingredient you can find in a “basic” kitchen pantry as they would on “Chopped”, but more like a main/featured ingredient. You’d have to make due with regular potatoes and perhaps carrots and onions to jazz it up. Otherwise, great sounding entry! We’re on a roll here!

    An insider’s tour of the Chopped set…


    • September 21, 2014 at 2:53 pm

      OK I could use potato cooked and chopped up with lup cheong for potstickers.

  • September 21, 2014 at 2:57 pm

    When I was little my mom make slice like french fries potato and slice lup cheong and steamed cooked and seved.

  • September 21, 2014 at 10:08 pm

    Stained glass roll sushi with green onion, lup cheong, celery, juliened egg sheet and carrot. Dipped in beaten egg and rolled in crushed hurricane popcorn. Deep fry till golden brown. Slice and serve with a Lychee, mirin, soy sauce with a touch of wasabi on the side. I’ll make this week sometime and send photos.

    Wanted to use ume and cucumber but… Lol.

    • September 21, 2014 at 10:11 pm

      Oops.. The lychee, mirin, soy and wasabi will be a sauce.

  • September 22, 2014 at 12:44 am

    @ Ed Souza – Where have you been my Big Island braddah from a noddah moddah? lol

    I understand “Stained Glass Rolled Sushi” is an Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto thing. Then rolled in crushed Hurricane Popcorn and deep-fried? NICE!!!

    And dang, that Lychee, Mirin, Soy and Wasabi sauce sounds AWESOME! How would you put that together? In a food processor, and does it need heating up? Also, any chance Miso and/or butter can be added to that?

    @ Richard – Both my mom and grandmother always prepared Lup Cheong by cutting it on the bias very thick, then steamed in a heat-proof bowl resting in a pot with some water until piping hot and plump, then simply serve over hot rice.

    They never did put the Lup Cheong in the rice cooker with the rice while it’s cooking for some reason, which is how some folks do it.

    @ Amy – I retrofitted a complete list of pantry items in the contest guidelines so that everyone knows exactly what they have to cook with. I’m still appending it, as I know I’m either leaving out or being too liberal with some items. Essentially I want the “Chop Chop” kitchen pantry to look like what you’d find in a typical Hawaii home.

  • September 22, 2014 at 1:13 am

    I would just eat all the Lychees and (figuratively) drop the mic kanye style. Lychees = prize to me :-D

    • September 22, 2014 at 1:42 am

      Hilarious! Especially the Kanye part. h for the WIN!

      Common though, h, at least present some kind of vegetarian appetizer dish that involves Lychee, popcorn and an ingredient from your Floridian and/or Jewish roots. :-)

      • September 22, 2014 at 3:05 pm

        Ok, I’ll play for real. No special vegetarian rules! Keep in mind I have never had (nor seen in real life!) lup cheong, so I don’t know the flavor profile. They look like these long, dried, fatty beef stick things that my father used to sell when he owned some hickory farms, so I’m going to imagine they taste like that.

        I’d make black-pepper-and-lychee-candied lup cheong with crushed hurricane popcorn topping (like a candy apple with nuts)

        slice and fry sausage, stick skewer through each one, lengthwise

        crush hurricane popcorn

        Make lychee candy syrup – mash lychee, add sugar till it dissolves in lychee juice, blend to completely pulverize lychee, add water, black pepper, and a squeeze of lemon juice, boil till it reaches hard ball state.

        Dip whole slices of lup cheong, quickly coat each slice halfway up with crushed hurricane popcorn

        Quickly rest bottom of each candied lup cheong on baking tray so the candy gets a flat bottom as it hardens and looks like a candied apple (though smaller, thinner and not round) with nuts on a skewer like you’d get at a fair.

        I think lychee and black pepper would go well together, and the hurricane popcorn would be a nice flavor with it. Don’t know what the sausage tastes like, so I might have the flavor balance all wrong.

  • September 22, 2014 at 2:07 am

    My mother made for family potato pancake with green onion and chopped up lup cheong. Sister made a lychee smoothie. I try to make popcorn ball with the hurricane popcorn and some seasoned wonton chips fried extras dark for more flavor. Sweet and savory.

  • September 22, 2014 at 1:46 pm

    Arugula salad with radish and lychee vinaigrette, with twice-fried hurricane popcorn breaded lap chueng “croutons”

    The lap chueng is cut into small pieces, coated in a tempura batter and deep fried. Then coated in a whipped egg white wash, and coated in pulverized Hurricane popcorn and briefly fried. The vinaigrette is made from finely chopped lychee, lychee juice, and strawberry balsamic. The peppery notes of the arugula contrast with the sweetness of the lychee, and the twice fried croutons add a textural component and a hint of saltiness.

  • September 22, 2014 at 6:41 pm

    For an Appetizer Mini Lup Cheong Lychee Sake Hurricane Popcorn balls:
    Steam lup cheong till cooked and then finely dice add to hurricane popcorn in a bowl; while steaming lup cheong cook lychee down to a syrup and thin with sake; adding unsalted butter to taste and combine into a sauce; cook sugar and water till starting to turn into a syrup and add lychee/sake/butter sauce; combine and continue to cook till it turn to caramel and pour over lup cheong and hurricane popcorn mixture; mix well and form into 2 inch balls letting balls solidify on buttered or oiled waxed paper. Serve when cool.

  • September 23, 2014 at 3:52 am

    My appetizers would be lup cheong fried rice tamagoyaki. Process the hurricane popcorn into a breadcrumb like consistency then brown in butter and set aside, Make egg sheets for the sushi (eggs, mirin, shoyu), and while frying, sprinkle the browned hurricane crumbles in the wet egg mixture. Finely mince some lup cheong, green onion and carrots, fry and make fried rice (make sure the fried rice is sticky when done, set aside to cool. (optional: add some popcorn crumble to the fried rice) slice some lup cheong lengthwise into 1/4 inch thick sticks and steam until plump. peel and core lychee (use smallest possible lychee). Assemble like a futomaki on a sushi mat using egg sheets as outer wrapper, cover with a layer of the fried rice. Take the cored lychee and “skewer” then with the lup cheong “sticks” and align down the center. Roll up carefully. With extra ingredients, make “chirashi” sushi by rolling the sushi without the egg wrap then coating it with the crumbled popcorn.

  • September 23, 2014 at 4:21 am

    A okomomiyaki with minced up lup cheong and lychee and crushed pineapple with vanilla yogurt. Popcorn in mashmallow treat typed snack.

  • September 23, 2014 at 10:18 am

    WOW! Man, do we have ourselves a virtual cook-off CHALLENGE!

    As of now the “Chop Chop” Round One (appetizer) contestants are:

    Kelike – Lup Cheong, Hurricane Popcorn & Lychee Salad

    Amy – Lup Cheong Pot Stickers with Hurricane Lychee Gelato

    Ed Souza – Hurricane Popcorn-crusted “Stained Glass” Lup Cheong Maki Sushi with Lychee-Mirin-Soy-Wasabi Sauce

    h – Black Pepper and Lychee-candied Lup Cheong, topped with Crushed Hurricane Popcorn

    wwwdrich – Arugula Salad with Radish and Lychee Vinaigrette, with twice-fried Hurricane Popcorn breaded Lap Chueng “Croutons”

    Ken – Mini Lup Cheong Lychee Sake Hurricane Popcorn Balls

    KeithF – Lup Cheong Fried Rice Tamagoyaki

    To be honest, half of your entries are almost beyond my cooking skills, so that in itself will be a challenge for ME when it’s time to announce the winner of round one!

    One thing’s for certain, with many of the submitted dishes sounding rather complex, whoever the winner is, I’ll definitely need to consult with you privately via eMail on how to make your dish exactly the way you intended it to be made.

    I’m now contemplating whether I should provide a POLL and let YOU FOLKS decide who has the winning sounding dish. What do you folks think? Should I be the judge, or do YOU want to be the judge of who wins each round of “Chop Chop”?

    • September 23, 2014 at 4:39 pm

      It’s your contest, I think you should really be the judge. After all, we’re all a bit biased since we’re the “chefs”. :-)

      • September 23, 2014 at 5:10 pm


        Nawww, you wouldn’t vote for yourself, would you? Come on! Chivalry is still alive! lol

        What I like about polls, is they get a lot of response (very high vote returns!) from the many “lurkers” who read this blog, and those “unspoken” folks may have some interesting tastes in your submissions that I don’t see. Also, I myself am biased towards dishes that have Japanese influence, being that’s my favorite cuisine (and for the record, I’m not Japanese).

        There is a way to “cheat” the poll, which I won’t say how, yet web-savvy people surely know. Still, it’s not like I’m giving away a $10,000 cash prize like they do on Chopped, so I’m not really concerned about that.

        Let’s see if anyone else gives feedback on the judging system.

        To note, there’s still time for anyone else who wants to enter a dish in this round one challenge!

  • September 23, 2014 at 10:39 pm

    As of this comment, submissions for this contest has ended. Mahalo.


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