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By Request

Betty Shimabukuro

Wednesday, December 31, 2003


Solve recipe mysteries
and win a cookbook


With 2003 at an end, it's time to mentally clean house and admit our shortcomings, with an eye toward better performance in the new year.

Better performance in my case involves you coming up with recipes that I have failed to find over the last year -- or in some cases, over a few years.

As incentive I offer some very lovely cookbooks -- one for every recipe submitted for a mystery dish. The rules: You must know this recipe works, which means you must have made it yourself, or you must know the person who has made it. You (or that person) must be able to take questions on any part of the recipe that is sketchy.

Don't worry if the recipe is not written down in a formal manner, I can help with that. Just get in touch, by one of the means listed at the end of this column. Your good karma for 2004 will increase dramatically.

OK, formal matters aside, these are the mystery recipes:

Toong Mai: This is my No. 1 mission of 2004, and I would like to complete it by the Lunar New Year, Jan. 22. Toong Mai is a sweet Chinese puffed rice cake and I have had so many requests for the recipe over the years that I can't count them anymore. The only thing close to a recipe I've seen is a few paragraphs that begin "bury rice in hot sand." This does not seem practical. Somebody out there must know a way to make this treat using modern-day home-kitchen equipment.

Sugared, preserved fruit (especially melon): Again, a Chinese tea-time treat, sold alongside coconut chips and Chinese pastries. These are the Chinese version of Western-style dried fruit, but softer, sweeter and more succulent.

Golden Nuggets: A recent request from Louise Cook, who yearns for a shortbread cookie that dates to the 1950s. The cookies were called Golden Nuggets. I have found cookies by that name through Internet searches, but these involve Rice Crispies, not shortbread.

Long lost?

Finally, in the category of Hope Springs Eternal, are requests I've received for dishes made at restaurants that closed long ago. Perhaps you have one of these recipes tucked away in a shoebox. Or, lead me to someone connected to these old eateries:

Jon's Coffee Shop, Ala Moana Center: Used to be located across from the old sandboxes. What we're looking for is Jon's recipe for hamburgers (peppery and possibly made with some pork).

Liberty Restaurant, Lahaina, Maui: In the 1950s and '60s, the Yamauchi family served a Chow Fun Fry Soup made with homemade noodles, served in butcher-paper cones.

Taniguchi Store, Beretania Street: This little bento place served a magical mochi in flavors such as sweet potato, strawberry and blueberry that kept for days refrigerated, but never got hard.

Chinese take-out place across Woolworth's in Waikiki: In the late '70s, this place was located where the Waikiki Shopping Plaza now stands. We're looking for this mystery restaurant's mystery recipe for deep-fried chicken (bite-sized garlicky pieces, very crisp and salty).



See the Columnists section for some past articles.

Send queries along with name and phone number to:
"By Request," Honolulu Star-Bulletin,
500 Ala Moana, No. 7-210, Honolulu 96813.
Or send e-mail to bshimabukuro@starbulletin.com


Asterisk (*) after nutritional analyses in the
Body & Soul section indicates calculations by Joannie Dobbs of Exploring New Concepts,
a nutritional consulting firm.



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