In 1985 Star-Bulletin reporter Lois Taylor talked Dolores and Richard Lee into sharing their recipe for preparing a turkey in the Japanese ceramic smoker called the kamado. It was a story with staying power. Many, many newspaper readers cut it out and saved it for all these decades.
I know this because they’ve been sending me copies in answer to a request from Mary Abe, who once had the recipe, loved it and lost it.
On Dec. 29, the day Abe’s request was printed here, Nancy Miller came through. She was the first of many who not only remembered they had that clipping, but were able to lay their hands on it within hours. Thanks to all of you, but Miller as the first one to respond wins a cookbook, "America’s Test Kitchen Live!"
The story doesn’t end here, though. Laurie Ishida also wrote in to say that the Lees are parents of one of her close friends — and she sent their phone number.
Dolores Lee, now 87, and Richard, 90, still have that kamado, purchased 55 years ago for $16 from a steward on a passenger liner from Japan. About 10 years ago they bought another (this one cost $400), which they used until Richard began to suffer from health problems around 2005.
Dolores prepped the foods; Richard tended the kamado. "I do my part in the kitchen, and he does his part on the patio," she said.
Richard sponsored a 4:30 Club of his employees at the Gas Co. that met every two months for several years for a kamado meal. "They would come over after work at 4:30, and he’d smoke the turkey and they’d sit on the patio and drink."
Their children have now taken up the habit — Steven, who is especially partial to kamado char siu, and Wendy Fong in San Francisco, whose three children just gave her an electric kamado.
This recipe is said to be deliciously succulent, thanks to two days of salting and marinating before the cooking begins. If you don’t have a kamado, you can try smoking in a covered grill — Miller did this and said the skin was charred, but underneath the meat was perfect.
1 10- to 12-pound turkey, thawed
1-1/2 tablespoons Hawaiian salt
1-1/4 cups soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon whiskey
6 heaping tablespoons sugar
1 large piece ginger, smashed and chopped
3 large cloves garlic
Rub 1 tablespoon of Hawaiian salt into skin and cavity of turkey; refrigerate 12 hours. Turn turkey over and sprinkle remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt over skin. Refrigerate another 12 hours.
Drain turkey, discarding juices.
Combine marinade ingredients and pour over turkey. Refrigerate 24 hours, basting frequently with pan juices.
Place several sheets of crumpled newspaper and strips of wood in fire chamber of kamado. Use 4 or 5 fist-size pieces of charcoal. Light fire and open vents at top and bottom of kamado. Let fire burn 15 minutes until charcoal is burning steadily.
Line bottom of kamado with foil, and place turkey breast-down on rack. Adjust air vents and replace cover. Smoke turkey 1 hour, then turn and smoke 1 hour more. Remove, slice and serve. Serves 8.
Approximate nutritional information, per serving (based on 12-pound turkey and assuming 50 percent of the sodium is absorbed): 900 calories, 38 g total fat, 11 g saturated fat, 315 mg cholesterol, greater than 2,000 mg sodium, 19 g carbohydrate, no fiber, 16 g sugar, 114 g protein
Note: This marinade can also be used on a 3-pound roasting chicken. Make half the amount and marinate for only 12 hours (eliminate the salting process). Smoke 30 minutes on each side.
Nutritional analysis by Joannie Dobbs, Ph.D., C.N.S. Write "By Request," 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, Honolulu 96813. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.