When Savas Mojarrad takes a vacation, it tends to last several years, so if you're interested in his light brand of Greek cooking, you'd best get to the Olive Tree Cafe before he decides he needs another break.
Greek cuisine done
light at Olive Tree
The Olive Tree, just outside of Kahala Mall, is Mojarrad's third Hawaii restaurant experience. He started about 30 years ago with the Mad Greek, a nightclub-restaurant on Cooke Street. Many years -- and one long vacation later -- came the first Olive Tree, on Ala Moana Boulevard across from the old Kaiser Permanente clinic.
He ran each for a number of years, then took six or eight years off.
"I take kind of big vacations and I say, 'I'll never do it again,'" Mojarrad explains. "Then it takes four or five years and I forget and then I do it again."
The business simply wears a person out, he says. "You give your life away. If you want to stay out of freezers and cans, you're looking at intense work."
By that he means he avoids frozen and canned foods, as well as preservatives, additives, meat grown with hormones or antibiotics, high-cholesterol products, skin and fat. His major avoidance: "No iceberg lettuce."
He says people will actually call and ask if he serves iceberg, as a test.
Such "intellectual eaters," are his prime targets -- people who appreciate all that doesn't go into his food.
For example, Barbara DeBaryshe, who asked for the Olive Tree recipe for Fish Souvlaki -- "excellent," she declares.
Mojarrad serves up souvlaki, or kebabs, with fish, chicken or lamb, all skewered with onions and served with tzatziki, a yogurt sauce. For the fish version he uses fresh ahi, ono, mahimahi, nairagi or other white fish.
Fresh Fish Souvlaki2 pounds fresh white fish fillet
1 onion, cut in pieces 1/2 inch wide by 1-1/2 inches long
1/4 cup vegetable oil or light olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon oregano, crushed
1 teaspoon fresh dill or 1/2 teaspoon dry
1/2 teaspoon salt
Pinch black pepper
Remove bloodline from the fish and cut into pieces 1/2 inch thick and 1-inch square.
Combine marinade ingredients and pour over fish and onions. Refrigerate at least 2 hours. Place on bamboo skewers, alternating onion and fish pieces. Broil or grill to desired doneness. Serves 6.
Approximate nutritional information, per serving: 300 calories, 18 g total fat, 2 g saturated, 90 mg cholesterol, 260 mg sodium, 29 g protein, 3 g carbohydrate.*
Tzatziki (Yogurt Sauce)4 cups plain yogurt (see note)
1 Japanese cucumber, chopped, skin on
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1/4 cup fresh mint, chopped, or 1 teaspoon dry
1 tablespoon fresh dill, chopped, or 1 teaspoon dry
1 tablespoon vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
Line a strainer with a piece of cheesecloth and suspend over a bowl. Pour yogurt over cheesecloth. Excess liquid in the yogurt will drain into the bowl. Refrigerate overnight or until yogurt is reduced by one-third.
Combine strained yogurt with remaining ingredients and refrigerate at least 6 hours.
Note: Mojarrad suggests making your own yogurt for this dish. Bring 1 gallon milk to a boil; turn off heat and cool to 110 to 115 degrees. Mix 1/2 cup plain yogurt into a small amount of warm milk, then add the mixture to the pot of milk. Pour into a noncorrosive covered container. Place in a foam ice chest and let sit overnight. Refrigerate two days before using. Makes about 4 cups.
Approximate nutritional information, per 1/4 cup per serving (not including salt to taste): 40 calories, 2 g total fat, 1 g saturated, 10 mg cholesterol, 30 mg sodium, 1.5 g protein, 4 g carbohydrate.*
Food Stuffs: Morsels
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Asterisk (*) after nutritional analyses in the
Body & Soul section indicates calculations by
Joannie Dobbs of Exploring New Concepts,
a nutritional consulting firm.