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Ken’s Kitchen: Cajun Crawfish, Hawaiian Steak, Pork Chops & Electric Grill

Cajun Crawfish from Da Crawfish & Crab Shack in Kapolei

Those of you regular Tasty Island readers should be well aware of Ken, officially the “Most Podagee” here, racking-up the most comments on this blog to date.

A USAF Vietnam Vet and Fed retiree, after living in Rhode Island most of his life, he now calls Hawaii home, and with that, he really enjoys the culture and food here, which he often shares with me through instant messages and emails.

With that, and his blessings, I decided to create a whole new segment titled “Ken’s Kitchen”. I personally find many of his culinary adventures from his new home here in Hawaii informative and sometimes fascinating, and think you’d enjoy them too, as it’s a perfect cross-section of his former life on the Northeast coast of New England, with here in the center of the Pacific Ocean.

So in the first photo is Ken’s Cajun Crawfish from Da’ Crawfish & Crab Shack in Kapolei (there’s also a location in Waianae). He paid $13.99 for that massive 1 pound serving, boiled and served with a generous helping of Cajun-spiced butter and garlic. This, along with $1 beers to accompany it, and he was a happy camper, giving it a solid 4 SPAM Musubi.

I’ve personally never eaten Crawfish, a.k.a. Crayfish, a.k.a. “Mud Bugs”, only remembering as a kid catching them in a river behind an adjacent subdivision near my home in Kaneohe. Eventually I’ll try “biting the head and sucking the tail” of some crawfish. Wait, that didn’t sound right. lol

Sunset Pupu Steak, with Onions and Poi, along with a side of Sauteed Mushroom from Da  Crawfish & Crab Shack in Kapolei

Next up, another of Ken’s faves at Da’ Crawfish and Crab Shack  is the Sunset Pupu Steak, served with Onions and Poi, along with a side order of Sauteed Mushrooms, sauteed in garlic butter and melted cheese. Dang, that would totally hit da’ spot right about now! And yes, even as “haole” as he is, or should we say “was”, Ken loves Poi! Respect brah, respect. The Steak, Onions and Poi was $14.99, while the Sauteed Mushroms was another $7, which he also gave this entire spread a solid 4 SPAM Musubi.

Korean Chicken from Da Crawfish & Crab Shack in Kapolei

Dang Ken, you’re relentless on this place! That good, huh? Well, yup, yet again on a return visit, above is Da Crawfish & Crab Shack’s Spicy Korean Chicken, yet again garnering 4 SPAM Musubi from da” man.

Shrimp Tempura from Da Crawfish & Crab Shack in Kapolei

Again, 4 SPAM Musubi for the Shrimp Tempura from this place. In fact, heck with it, might as well check out da’ whole pupu menu…

Ken, next time you hit this place, try the Kamaboko Dip and Sardines with Tomato and Onions. I’m really curious how those are, especially from your New England palate’s perspective.

Kim Chee Bar at the Kapolei Foodland

As you can tell, he likes Kapolei eats, where we’re now at the Kapolei Foodland at their Kim Chee Bar.  Which must be noted is only available at certain Foodland locations, space permitting. For my location, I’ll stick with the Kimchi Bar at Palama Market on Makaloa St. and Kalakaua. This, after a major “binge” on homemade Kimchi Pineapple, that got him hooked, then after me making it myself, got me hooked as well on “Kimchi-fied stuffs”.

Sauteed Pork Chops with Won Bok Kimchi, Maui Onions, Pineapple Kimchi and Corn on the Cob

Next up in light of Foodland Kapolei’s Kim Chee Bar, while I went the Kimchi Pineapple Tacos route with a unique recipe from Koreatown: A Cookbook that he shared with me, Ken went “T-Rex”, serving his homemade Kimchi Pineapple with center-cut Pork Chops sauteed in Olive Oil, served also with Won Bok Kimchi and Maui Onions. In his words, this meal was “Bomb Dot Com”. Hey Ken, you’re stealing my line! lol

Escargot Baking Dish and Fork set

Ken is REALLY into cooking gadgets and other “stuffs” for the kitchen, as he recently picked up a set of 6 Escargot Baking Dishes and Fork Set. Which is kind of a bummer, as I told him, had I known he was looking for it, I would have given him my set, which was EXACTLY the same as the he got shown above, that I recently gave away to anyone who wanted it in my building (we have an area where residents leave things they’re getting rid of for others).

Michel’s at the Colony Surf Waikiki: Helix Escargot Bourgogne – Half a dozen French snails in Michel’s famous herbed-garlic butter (for reference purpose)

That said, I LOVE Escargot, and will always order it if it’s on the menu in a fine dining restaurant. I only got rid of my set, as I hardly ever make it at home.

Prague Powder #1

Next up, Ken mail ordered this container of Prague Powder, which is self-explanatory on the label, containing 6.25% Sodium Nitrite and 92% Sodium Chloride. This “salt” not only extends the shelf life of meats smoked or made into sausages, but also helps preserve its natural color so that it doesn’t turn dark brown or grey. Ken uses this particularly for making Leberkäse, a German style meatloaf. Sheesh. Talk about “Unitasker”!

Wolfgang Puck 1800 Watt Electric Grill

Speaking of “Unitasker”, next up we have Ken’s Wolfgang Puck 1800 Watt Electric Grill, which he uses primarily for indoor grilling for large parties he hosts at home. Most notably for his unique use, it has lots of surface area, particularly in his case for grilling Kalbi, noting how it makes great sear marks, and also gives it a genuine grilled flavor “As good as a gas grill”, so he says. I honestly won’t believe that until I try it myself.

Kalbi plate from Palama Market (for reference purpose)

He does have a brand new induction stove top that could do the same with a cast iron grill pan, however he noted the grill pan doesn’t have the surface area he needs for indoor grilling in volume.

Another cool feature about this electric grill top, is that the cooking grate flips over into a flattop grill for cooking say, bacon, eggs and pancakes. Top that, “Lean, Mean, Grillin’ Machine”! Speaking of which, I never did try using one of those, but I heard burgers turn out pretty good from it.

Tuli Jamonilla Luncheon Meat

Finally, while mentioning breakfast, not from Ken’s Kitchen, but from the shelf at Don Quijote, Tulip Luncheon Meat out of Denmark is back, after having been absent in the stores locally for quite some time. While I haven’t tried it yet, I got a can and will review it soon to see if this “Jamonilla” version has what it takes to take on SPAM.

Until next time, a hui hou! ;-)

The Tasty Island related links:

Samurai Sword + Kitchen = Global Knives

Ken’s Authentic Boston Baked Beans recipe

Lobster Rolls 103″ Connecticut, New England and Maine Style

Ken’s “Purist” Maine Lobster Roll

TULIP vs. TREET vs. SPAM Musubi Showdown!


8 thoughts on “Ken’s Kitchen: Cajun Crawfish, Hawaiian Steak, Pork Chops & Electric Grill

  • November 15, 2016 at 6:08 am

    Pomai, are there still crayfishes there in Kaneohe?

  • November 15, 2016 at 10:22 am


    Not sure about the current population in Kaneohe rivers, however there’s a good article about Crayfish in Hawaii here:

    Red Swamp Crayfish

    “First introduced into taro patches near Ahuimanu Stream, O`ahu in 1923, Procambarus clarkii have become established throughout most of the Hawaiian Island chain”

  • November 15, 2016 at 4:20 pm

    Crawfish look like red roaches. I think Australia has it right calling shellfish (ok, just a couple varieties) “bugs” (see: Balmain and Morton Bay bugs). When you think about it, that’s really what shellfish is: bugs of the water. I mean, I’ve seen insects that look less insect-y than horseshoe crabs.

    • November 15, 2016 at 5:28 pm


      As shellfish would be forbidden according to Kashrut Jewish dietary law.

      The toughest one I’d have with Kashrut is the mixture of meat and milk, as I love me a good cheeseburger every now and then.

      Tis true though, shellfish really are the “insects” of the sea. And I really do have a tough time thinking about eating crawfish, as I always viewed them as “bugs” in the water. In fact, Ken said in order to properly clean crawfish, they put them in a tub with cornmeal to “purge” their digestive tract before killing them for consumption. Well that’s comforting to know!

  • November 15, 2016 at 6:57 pm

    Pomai & h,
    Crayfish, also known as crawfish, crawdads, freshwater lobsters, mountain lobsters, yabbies or mudbugs, are freshwater crustaceans resembling small Maine lobsters, to which they are related; taxonomically, they are members of the superfamilies Astacoidea and Parastacoidea. They breathe through feather-like gills. Some species are found in brooks and streams where there is running fresh water, while others thrive in swamps, ditches, and rice paddies. Most crayfish cannot tolerate polluted water, although some species are hardier. Crayfish feed on living and dead animals and plants.
    In Australia (on the eastern seaboard), New Zealand and South Africa, the term crayfish or cray generally refers to a saltwater spiny lobster, of the genus Jasus that is indigenous to much of southern Oceania, while the freshwater species are usually called yabby or kōura, from the indigenous Australian and Māori names for the animal respectively, or by other names specific to each species. Exceptions include western rock lobster found on the west coast of Australia; the Tasmanian giant freshwater crayfish found only in Tasmania; and the Murray crayfish found on Australia’s Murray River.
    In Singapore, the term crayfish typically refers to a seawater crustacean from the slipper lobster family. True crayfish are not native to Singapore, but are commonly found as pets, or as an invasive species in the many water catchment areas, and are alternatively known as freshwater lobsters.
    @h, Balmain and Morton Bay bugs belong to the slipper lobster family and are both salt water crustacean which are fantastic sweet tasting and very meaty for size compared to crawfish which are smaller and a freshwater crustacean with eight legs, body, tail and two claws like really large Maine lobster cousins.
    @ Pomai, Yes depending when you inspect the crawfish and find out where they were caught, it was normal in the Southern States of America to dump them in bathtub and let them soak in cold water with cornmeal to purge their system of any impurities. Depending on where you purchased them from you could buy them pre-purged by the bushel. Don’t forget sometimes they were caught in roadside ditches.
    In the North any crustacean caught live saltwater or freshwater, clams, oysters, shrimp, crabs, lobsters; sea snails are first soaked to purge their systems of any impurities. I certainly would never call seafood crustaceans “Bugs”.

  • November 18, 2016 at 2:29 pm

    Hi Pomai!

    I grew up nearby Waikiki, actually off of Kalakaua Ave, nearby ‘Holiday Mart” or now Don Quijote. I live in Maryland now but we had a “river” in the back of our home.  We would go to the river on the weekends or after school and fish (with a fishnet and bucket) for crayfish, tilapias, guppies and tadpoles.  To this day, I REFUSE to eat a tilapia because to me, that’s a “rubbish” fish. We had them as pets, lol. Now the weird thing is that I will throw down a crawfish plate like there’s  no tomorrow if I can find a cajun or creole restaurant on the mainland because I know it’s not the crayfish from the rivers or streams in Hawaii.  Even though I know that tilapia’s are farm raised in the mainland, I cringe when someone (I know, I’m a fish snob, can’t help it!) orders a tilapia. I won’t eat a fish taco because the majority of restaurants will use tilapias.  Anyways, I had to share that because you mentioned going down the river, I thought the same thing!  Keep up the good work cuz I miss my local food!


    • November 19, 2016 at 4:28 am


      What a fun story! And I know exactly which river/stream/canal you’re talking about along Kalakaua Avenue on the Mauka side. Yup, I too wouldn’t trust eating anything from any river on Oahu, as this island is way too overpopulated, with the likelihood of our freshwater ecosystem being a complete biohazard. Perhaps if you’re totally upstream, like up in the Koolau’s, then yes, OK, but down downstream within populated areas? Nope. Not gonna’ eat it, whether it’s Tilapia, Crayfish, Opae, or whatevahz.

      You should see how many Tilapia are in the Ala Wai Canal. It’s INSANE.

      While I’ve never personally done it, I hear Crayfish are terrible neighbors as “pets” in a fresh water fish tank. They’ll kill your fish, eat it, and s#%t the water really bad, making it a totally unlivable environment for whatever remaining other fish still in there that didn’t become the crayfish’ lunch and dinner.

      If you ever try doing a salt water aquarium, try putting a Morey Eel in it with an Octopus. Now THAT’S fun to watch! It’s like MME in a fish tank. Been there, done that! LOL!

  • November 27, 2016 at 6:14 pm

    I’ve been wanting to try Da Crawfish & Crab Shack!  Looks yummy!


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