DJ G. Cruz of KWXX radio, left, assisted chef Brett Villarmia of the Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel at the Aloha Festivals' Poke Contest Saturday.
First-timer Awai wins poke contest
KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii » A first-time entrant scooped the top award Saturday at the 16th annual Aloha Festivals' Poke Contest.
Wayne Awai, a cook at Big Island Steakhouse, won $1,650 for his winning dish. He created his concoction after his boss, Chef Casey Hanks, told his cooks to come up with something special for a gourmet luau.
"It took a couple of times to get it just right," Awai said. "We wanted to use a lot of local products, but we wanted to be creative and also make it colorful."
The cook said he had not considered entering a poke contest before, but was encouraged by Hanks.
"You just try everything," Awai said. "As long as you've got your basic seafood in there, it's just endless what you can do." Awai also snagged honors in the Best Poke with Limu category.
Grilled Smoked Tako & Lobster Poke
Chef Wayne Awai
8 ounces octopus
4 ounces lobster meat
1 cup fern shoots
1 Maui Onion, julienned
1 yellow bell pepper, julienned
1 red bell pepper, julienned
1 bunchwatercress, chopped
2 ounces ogo
2 tomatoes, cut in wedges
1/2 cup rice vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
Sea salt and pepper, to taste
Smoke tako by grilling on a fire with "wet" wood, then boil in beer to preferred texture.
Sauté lobster tail meat in butter just until done.
Place fern shoots in boiling water for 2 to 3 minutes, until clean of fibers and al dente in texture. Rinse and place in ice bath to stop cooking.
Combine vegetables with ogo. Combine vinegar, oil, salt and pepper.
When fern shoots are cool, mix all ingredients together.
Nutritional information unavailable.