comscore Thanksgiving side dishes are more plantation than Pilgrim | Honolulu Star-Advertiser

Thanksgiving side dishes are more plantation than Pilgrim


    Surround the turkey with color and culture through these island-style side dishes.


    Cranberry-haupia gelatin.


    Adobo-style long beans and pork belly.


    Chinese-style stir-fried corn and pinenuts.


    Mashed Okinawan sweet potato.


    Kabocha curry.


    Korean spicy potatoes.


    Malassada bread pudding.

Thanksgiving’s big bird may monopolize the table with its sheer bulk, but it is a rather beige presence. It’s easy to dress up, though, as turkey goes with almost anything. Imagine it as a blank canvas, waiting to be colorized by a host of side dishes.

On these pages we offer suggestions that cover the traditional holiday sides, but in a way that reflects Hawaii’s melting pot of flavors.

So we’ve got your green beans, potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash, corn and cranberry sauce, plus a pumpkin-spice dessert — it’s just our presentations reflect the many flavors of the islands.



Cranberry-Haupia Gelatin

Cranberry sauce and haupia serve similar functions in very different types of meals. Both help reset the palate — the cranberry’s tartness cuts through the heaviness of turkey and stuffing; haupia caps a salty luau spread with something light and sweet. Together you’ve got a tart-sweet accompaniment that can be served along with the turkey or as dessert.

  • >> Haupia layer:
  • 1 (13.5-ounce) can coconut milk 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 envelopes unflavored gelatin 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup milk
  • >> Cranberry layer:
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries, thawed if frozen
  • 1/4 cup sugar, or more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1/2 cup canned crushed pineapple
  • 1 packet unflavored gelatin powder
  • 1/4 cup water

To make haupia layer: Combine coconut milk and sugar in a pan and stir over low heat to dissolve sugar.

Sprinkle gelatin over water and let stand 1 minute.

Add gelatin mixture and milk to the coconut milk. Cook, stirring, until gelatin dissolves. Pour into an ungreased 8- or 9-inch square pan. Refrigerate until very firm, 6-8 hours.

To make cranberry layer: Combine berries, sugar, cinnamon and wine in saucepan. Simmer and let cook until berries burst, 15 to 20 minutes. Stir in pineapple.

Sprinkle gelatin over water and let sit 1 minute. Stir into cranberry mixture and stir to dissolve. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.

Spread over the firm haupia layer. Chill 4-6 hours, until cranberry layer is firm. Cut in cubes. Serves 8.

Nutritional information unavailable.


Betty Shimabukuro, Star-Advertiser



Adobo-Style Long Beans with Pork Belly

My mom and her sisters enjoyed vinegar with almost anything — green mango, ika, lumpia — and all my cousins folllowed suit. Growing up, I was the black sheep, preferring my mango ripe and my ika and lumpia plain. I’ve finally joined my relatives in enjoying strong vinegary tastes, especially in adobo. This dish uses Mama Sita’s Adobo Savory Sauce Mix to make it quick and easy. Those who prefer a lighter tang can use less vinegar and add water to make a 1/2 cup of liquid to combine with the mix.

  • 1 (1.76-ounce) packet Mama Sita’s Adobo Savory Sauce Mix
  • 1/2 cup vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon green or black peppercorns
  • 5 crushed garlic cloves
  • 1 pound pork belly
  • 1 pound long beans
  • 1/4 cup water, or to taste
  • Optional: oil and salt to deep fry pork skin

Combine adobo mix with vinegar; stir until dissolved. Add peppercorns and garlic. Set aside.

Remove hard skin from pork belly; set aside. Cut belly meat into 1-inch pieces. Marinate in adobo mixture 15 minutes.

Clean beans and cut into 2-inch pieces.

In a nonstick pan over medium-high heat, place pieces of pork belly, fat side down. Reserve marinade. Cook pork until all sides are brown.

Add water to marinade; stir. Pour about half into pan and continue cooking until meat is almost done. (For a more saucy adobo use all the marinade.) Add beans and cover until beans are cooked, about 2 minutes. Serves 8.

Optional: Cut pork belly skin into strips and sprinkle with salt. Deep fry in hot oil. Serve atop beans.

Approximate nutritional information, per serving (not including optional deep fried pork belly): 340 calories, 11 g fat, 40 g saturated fat, 40 mg cholesterol, 550 mg sodium, 9 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber, 5 g sugar, 7 g protein


Michelle Ramos, Star-Advertiser


Stir-Fried Corn and Pine Nuts

This classic Northern Chinese dish is uncommon in Hawaii, but its simplicity makes it worth getting to know. The pine nuts — key to the roasty-toasty flavor — may be an extravagance, but the other ingredients are mostly from the freezer aisle and quite affordable. Think of it as Chinese succotash.

  • 1/2 cup pine nuts
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 small carrot, peeled and diced (about 1/2 cup)
  • 2 cups frozen corn
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons chicken or vegetable stock or Chinese cooking wine
  • 2 stalks green onion, chopped

Toast pine nuts in dry skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently, just until light brown (be attentive; they’ll burn quickly). Set aside to cool.

Add oil to the skillet over medium-high heat. Add carrots and stir until slightly softened. Add corn, stirring until kernels start to thaw. Add peas. Stir mixture well, then let cook until carrots are tender and other vegetables are heated through. Reduce heat if necessary.

Sprinkle with soy sauce, sugar and stock or wine. Stir in green onions and toasted pine nuts. Taste and adjust seasonings. Serves 8.

Approximate nutritional information, per serving: 140 calories, 8 g fat, 0.5 g saturated fat, no cholesterol, 300 mg sodium, 17 g carbohydrate, 4 g fiber, 5 g sugar, 5 g protein


Betty Shimabukuro, Star-Advertiser



Crazy Purple Lady Mashed Sweet Potatoes

People who love purple are deeply passionate about their favorite color, so why not add that tone (and lots of nutrients) to the holiday table? In Okinawa and Japan, purple-fleshed sweet potatoes often are used in sweets, such as mochi or manju filling. This preparation is more savory than sweet, and in order to keep its deep purple hue, has no milk.

  • 5 teaspoons flavored Hawaiian salt (see note), divided
  • 5 pounds Okinawan or Molokai sweet potatoes
  • 1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 tablespoon ume plum vinegar (see note, optional)
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • Green onion, sliced, or fresh herbs, torn, for garnish

Fill large stock pot about 3/4 full of cold water, add up to 1 tablespoon Hawaiian salt, stir to dissolve.

Working quickly so potatoes don’t turn brown, peel and quarter sweet potatoes, then cut into 1-inch chunks. Add to cold water as you chop. Bring to boil and cook until tender, about 10 minutes. The water will be purple. So will your fingers.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, heat stock and add butter; let melt. Add remaining 2 teaspoons salt; stir to dissolve. If using, add vinegar. Keep warm.

Drain potatoes and return to pot to keep warm.

Mash potatoes, adding warm stock and pepper until well combined. Taste and adjust seasoning. Serve garnished, if desired. Serves 8-10.

Notes: Plain Hawaiian salt, alaea salt, or flavored options are widely available in supermarkets. Ume vinegar is sold at Whole Foods Market.

Approximate nutritional information, per 1/2 cup serving (not including salt to taste): 170 calories, 5 g fat, 3 g saturated fat, 15 mg cholesterol, greater than 750 mg sodium, 29 g carbohydrate, 5 g fiber, 9 g sugar, 3 g protein


Erika Engle, Star-Advertiser



Spicy Gamja Jorim

Sweet braised potatoes are a familiar side dish in local Korean takeout restaurants. They’re usually presented in large chunks, but Korean versions I’ve researched call for a large dice. Here, maple syrup is subbed in for the standard corn syrup, offering a bit of an earthier flavor, and go-chugaru (chili pepper flakes) contributes wonderful heat and dimension. If you like the flavor of kochujang, feel free to add that, too.

  • 2-1/2 cups waxy potatoes (such as red or white), sliced into 1-1/2-inch cubes
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons gochugaru (chili pepper flakes), or to
  • taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 to 2 cups water
  • 1/4 cup green onion, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil, or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon white toasted sesame seeds

Soak potatoes in water for 10 minutes or rinse thoroughly to remove starch; drain well.

In pan, heat oil on medium-high, add garlic and saute until fragrant. Add potatoes, lower heat to medium and saute 5 minutes, stirring frequently.

In small bowl, combine soy sauce, maple syrup, go- chugaru and salt. Add mixture to pan with 1 cup water (use some to rinse out remaining mixture from bowl and add to pan); stir to combine. Cook, uncovered, 10 to 20 minutes, stirring frequently, until potatoes are cooked and liquid is absorbed. Add more water as necessary. Add green onions to pan a couple minutes before potatoes are done.

Turn off heat and stir in sesame oil. Transfer to bowl and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Serves 4.

Approximate nutritional information, per 1/2 cup serving: 160 calories, 7 g fat, 0.5 g saturated fat, no cholesterol, 600 mg sodium, 23 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber, 8 g sugar, 3 g protein


Joleen Oshiro, Star-Advertiser


Red Curry with Kabocha

I came up with this recipe based on a list of ingredi- ents my friend Craig provided, so the proportions reflect my family’s love of assertive flavors. If you prefer a less intense version, replace some of the coconut milk with chicken broth, adjust the amount of curry paste and chili pepper. Swap in whatever protein and veggies you like. I always have olena, ginger, kaffir leaves and lemon grass on hand in the freezer, making this an easy dish.

  • 2-1/2 to 3 cups kabocha, peeled and cut into 1-1/2 inch cubes
  • 2 (13.5-ounce) cans coconut milk
  • 2 to 2-1/2 tablespoons red Thai curry paste, or to
  • taste
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons Thai fish sauce, or to taste 2-inch thin finger of olena (turmeric), peeled and
  • crushed
  • 2-inch piece galangal (Thai ginger), peeled and sliced
  • into thin pieces, smashed
  • 2 to 3 kaffir lime leaves, torn
  • 1 to 3 Thai chili peppers, sliced into thin rings (op-
  • tional and to taste)
  • 2-inch piece lemon grass, halved and smashed
  • 1/3 medium red bell pepper, sliced into strips
  • 1/4 cup fresh Thai basil leaves, sliced into thin strips 5 dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked in 1 cup water
  • and sliced into strips, water reserved 1/4 cup shiitake water, or to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste

Steam or microwave kabocha cubes to par cook.

In pot, mix coconut milk, curry paste and fish sauce, then add olena, galangal, kaffir leaves, Thai chilies and lemon grass. Heat on high until curry comes to a boil, then lower heat to medium and add kabocha and bell pepper.

Cook several minutes, then add basil and shiitake. Cook a couple more minutes or until veggies are tender.

If curry is too thick, add shiitake water to desired consistency. Add salt to taste. Serves 4.

Approximate nutritional information, per serving: 430 calories, 41 g fat, 36 g saturated fat, no cholesterol, greater than 900 mg sodium, 19 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber, 3 g sugar, 6 g protein


Joleen Oshiro, Star-Advertiser



Malassada Bread Pudding

This multicultural meal saves a favored Portuguese treat for dessert: malassadas, made into a bread pudding. In a nod to the season, it’s spiked with pumpkin pie spice. The recipe is adapted from “Hawaii Cooks: A Portuguese Kitchen,” by Wanda A. Adams (Mutual Publishing Co., 2014).

  • Softened butter for baking dish
  • 6 cups stale, dry malassadas, torn or cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup raisins, optional
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 cups nonfat half-and-half or whole milk
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted and slightly cooled
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice (or Portuguese 5-spice)
  • Pinch salt

Butter a large casserole dish (a 9-by-13-inch baking dish will create a thin bread pudding; for a thicker pudding use a smaller, deeper dish).

Spread malassada pieces in dish and, if using, sprinkle with raisins.

In a large bowl, beat eggs and whisk in half-and-half. Add butter in slow stream, then brown sugar, vanilla, spice and salt. Pour custard mixture evenly over malassada bits and press down gently to submerge. (If dry, add 1/2 cup more milk or half-and-half.) Let stand at least 30 minutes, or cover and refrigerate overnight.

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Place casserole in another pan, such as a deep roasting pan, and fill the larger pan with hot water to about halfway up the sides of the casserole. Bake, uncovered, 60 to 65 minutes, until set. Serve warm or at room temperature. Serves 10-12.

Nutritional information unavailable.


Erika Engle, Star-Advertiser

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