Monday, June 7, 2004

Troy Terorotua left, and Grant Sim drink a toast with their homemade ginger ale. Terorotua's slightly pink glass has been flavored with guava syrup.

Ginger Ale

Refreshing with a post-swallow kick,
it fits well with other G-herb creations

The scent from Troy Terorotua's pot is reminiscent of Mom's chicken soup. That is, if your mother is Chinese and a firm believer in the curative power of ginger. But that's not what this is about, so pull back from that sensory image.

Garlic & Ginger Festival of Hawaii

When: 4 to 10 p.m. Wednesday

Place: Ward Warehouse parking lot, Auahi Street

Admission: $3; children free. Purchase scrip for food and drink.

Featuring: Fresh ginger ale, garlic ice cream, martini and margarita bars, Garlic & Ginger Lover's Store, garlic-oil massages, fortune-telling, silent auction, games

Participating restaurants: Alan Wong's, Big G's Catering, Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant, J.W. Marriott Ihilani Resort & Spa, Pacific Club, Parc Café, Port of Call Deli & Market, Roy's, Side Street Inn, Tropic Diner, 3660 on the Rise

Entertainment: Soulz, Even Steven, H20

Information: 545-4195 or

Terorotua's pot of simmering ginger is on its way to becoming fresh ginger ale, an uncommon treat in today's canned and bottled society. He's been working on a 5-gallon pot of syrup, which meant peeling and slicing 30 pounds of ginger.

It took hours.

The drink will be served at Wednesday's Garlic & Ginger Festival, a benefit for the Institute for Human Services and Friends of the Missing Child Center.

The festival will feature 10 restaurants that will pay tribute to those two pungent products that start with G. For example, a spread of oysters and poke served with ginger- and garlic-infused sauces from Tropics Diner; Baked Ginger Crusted Chicken with Roasted Garlic Mashed Potato from chef Russell Siu; Roasted Garlic Crab Gumbo from chef Randal Ishizu; Chocolate Loaf Ice Cream Sandwich with Ginger Coconut Dip from pastry chef Mark Okumura.

Beer, wine, margaritas and martinis will be sold, but really, wouldn't the more appropriate thing be a glass of ginger ale?

This drink -- freshly made by stirring homemade ginger syrup into soda water -- is bright-tasting and just slightly sweet. It gives a bit of a kick post-swallow, when the heat of the ginger comes through. Terorotua describes it as "refreshing but a little bit intense."

He learned to make ginger ale while growing up in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., where his father's Polynesian restaurant, Maitai, put him in touch with a number of Caribbean cooks.

"They were always making ginger ale and ginger beer, things like that."

Troy Terorotua stirs slices of candied ginger, a byproduct of making ginger ale.

Terorotua moved to Hawaii in 1997 as corporate chef for Sam Choy's restaurants. He's now in partnership with another Sam Choy alumnus, Grant Sim, in Big G's Catering, and is planning to open a gourmet deli, Port of Call, next spring.

Together, Terorotua and Sim are preparing garlic-roasted prime rib and Thai beef salad with a ginger vinaigrette for sale at the festival. They came up with the ginger ale idea as a side project.

Terorotua's version includes lemongrass and kaffir lime -- "It kicks down the ginger flavor a bit" -- and will be offered with the option of a little guava flavoring.

Making the syrup for the ginger ale is a labor-intensive process that begins with peeling and slicing fresh ginger, then simmering it with sugar and water. Still, it's a shortcut over making bottled ginger ale, which would include yeast to kick off the fermentation that creates carbonation -- the bubbles. Most homemade ginger ale these days is made with a syrup mixed into soda water.

The syrup-making has a great byproduct, the cooked ginger slices, which Terorotua is turning into candied ginger. He tosses the slices with sugar and bakes them on low heat for three hours. The sweet-hot treat will be offered as a munchie at the bar.


Ginger Ale ingredients include fresh ginger, sugar, lemongrass, limes and mint -- made into a syrup shown at right.

Here is Terorotua's recipe for ginger ale. The syrup will keep several days at room temperature (don't refrigerate, or it will crystallize). It can also be served over ice cream, stirred into tea or used as the base for a butter sauce to serve with fish or barbecued chicken.

Homemade Hawaiian Ginger Ale

4 cups peeled, sliced ginger (1/8-inch thick)
4 cups sugar
4 cups water
1/2 cup sliced lemongrass (white part only, 1/4-inch thick)
4 drops vanilla extract
3 kaffir lime leaves, optional
2 quarts soda water
2 limes, in wedges
8 mint sprigs, for garnish

Combine ginger, sugar, water and lemongrass in a pot and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes, then stir in vanilla and float lime leaves on top.

Continue to simmer until liquid is syrupy and reduced by half, about 15 more minutes.

Strain syrup into a nonreactive container and cool. It will thicken more as it cools.

Mix ginger ale by the glass: 1 part ginger syrup to 7 parts soda water, over ice. Squeeze lime wedge into drink. Garnish with mint.


Note: Ginger slices left over from syrup-making can be turned into candied ginger. Toss with sugar and bake in a 250-degree oven for 3 hours, or until completely dry. Turn slices once during cooking.

Candied ginger can be eaten as is, cut up and sprinkled over ice cream or used in baked goods.

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