Good cooks leave a legacy of good food
TODAY I'd like to pay a small tribute to two fine cooks. The first, Helen Chock, I knew quite well and admired for her spirit, her smile and her pipikaula short ribs. The other, Paul Chun, I never met, but through his daughter, Pamela Chun-Ganske, I've come to appreciate his contribution to the eaters of Hawaii: a truly fine pancake.
Chock, the founder of Helena's Hawaiian Foods, died on June 29 at age 89. Her services on Saturday paid tribute to the steadfast work ethic that built her business and kept customers well fed and happy for decades.
"There really aren't any recipes," granddaughter Charlaine Katsuyoshi said. "Just good taste buds."
She was one of my favorite people in all the world of food. Aloha, Helen.
CHUN, president and chief executive officer of Chun Kim Chow Ltd., died June 21 at age 84. His company had extensive real estate and retail holdings, including the Robins shoe stores and the Waikiki Circle Hotel. But his hobby was cooking. "Every Sunday was an extravagant nine-course meal," Chun-Ganske says.
During the West Coast dock strike in 1971, the hotel ran out of pancake mix, so Chun put his skills to work and developed a scratch pancake recipe by studying cookbooks in bookstores (he didn't actually buy one, his daughter says).
The recipe became the hotel restaurant's signature; people would line up for the 99-cent plate of two pancakes, eggs and breakfast meat. At his funeral, the family passed out the recipe. A nice way to remember someone, isn't it?
His daughter says she still makes them every Sunday. "I tear up every time."
I gave the recipe a test run on Sunday, and at first thought something was wrong -- there was so much baking powder that the batter got all frothy. But this turns out to be the secret to a light, fluffy pancake. I've modified the formula slightly to expand on the instructions:
Paul Chun's Pancakes
2 cups flour
3 tablespoons baking powder
Dash of salt
3 or 4 tablespoons sugar
3 eggs, separated
1-1/4 cup milk
1/3 block melted butter, cooled
Combine dry ingredients. Beat yolks slightly and add, along with a little milk. Stir. Beat egg whites and add, along with a little more milk. Add melted butter. Stir and gradually add enough of the remaining milk so batter is of the right consistency (this is a judgment call -- it shouldn't be too thin and should still have lumps, but needs to be loose enough to scoop easily). Batter will get very fluffy as baking soda activates; do not be alarmed. Do not overmix. Let sit 10 to 15 minutes to settle.
Preheat griddle or skillet over medium heat. Pour about 1/4 cup batter for each pancake. Turn when edge are dry and bottom is golden. Makes about 12 pancakes.
Nutritional information unavailable.
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