Star-Bulletin Features

Wednesday, August 26, 1998

By Cindy Ellen Russell, Star-Bulletin
Kahua Ranch cattle -- a mix of fabled Wagyu
and Angus cattle -- dine on grass, not processed
grain, and are allowed to roam free.


A made-in-Hawaii beef hybrid
carries the cachet of
Japan's fabled steaks

By Kekoa Catherine Enomoto


KAHUA RANCH, BIG ISLAND -- Horses and sheep graze on misty, green hills rolling toward the Kohala coastline. A stand of pines and koa protects a sprawling homestead of well-maintained ranch buildings and shrubs.

Lambs and calves repose in a fenced paddock. An old Aloha Airlines ramp acts as a chute for the sheep-shearing shed.

In a nearby paddock, two-dozen steers in all shades of brown, auburn and black -- some with white masks, all with clouds of flies -- mosey toward visitors with cameras.

This is Kahua Ranch in an isolated corner of Big Isle heaven that's caressed by sun and breeze and the benign spirits of ancient Hawaiians who trained here as Kamehameha the Great's bodyguards.

And, it's the pastoral home -- halfway between Waimea and Hawi -- of those special steers. They're hapa Wagyu and hapa Angus cattle. Japan's fabled Kobe beef is of the Wagyu stock.

By Cindy Ellen Russell, Star-Bulletin
Ranch owner Monty Richards is working on the
third generation of his Kobe hybrid steer. Behind
him is the house he was born in 70-plus years ago.

Kahua Ranch has been crossbreeding the Wagyu for three or four years. The first generation is 50-50 Wagyu/Angus, the second generation is 75/25 Wagyu/Angus. "The third generation is expected any time now," according to Monty Richards, septuagenarian patriarch of the 8,500-acre Kahua Ranch and its horses, donkeys, 2,000 sheep and 4,000 head of cattle, including 100 Wagyu crossbreeds.

Hawaii's Kobe steer has a feminine face and is tight in the hips -- traits bred out of American beef cattle many years ago.

"To be very honest, the Wagyu animal looks very much like a dairy animal, not like an Angus or Hereford," said Richards, as if apologizing for the looks of the Kahua-raised Wagyu.

"The highest price I've ever heard for a Kobe carcass was $16,000. But you can only get a finite amount of steaks (from a carcass) because there are all the other cuts of the animal," said Richards who, like Kahua-raised Wagyu, is a hapa mix of ranching acumen and homespun humor. "The Wagyu steaks are better than the normal, run-of-mill (beef). They're more tender and have a little better flavor -- that's personal," he said.

By Kathryn Bender, Star-Bulletin
SIDE-BY-SIDE: A comparison of two New York
strip steaks shows off the finer points of Kahua Ranch
beef, which is on the left. It is darker and more finely
marbled than its counterpart, a prime cut of mainland beef.

His Kahua Ranch and the Kahala Mandarin Oriental Hotel are collaborating to introduce Hawaii-style Kobe beef. The storied beef makes its isle debut today through Sunday in a unique and exclusive offering at the hotel. Then, it will become a regular menu feature at $38.95 for a 10-ounce sirloin, according to the Kahala Mandarin Oriental's new general manager, Bernard Agache.

Hawaii herds in Kobe beef in the wake of a culinary tradition: Residents of Kobe, Japan, cultivate rare Wagyu steers in standing-room-only stalls, massage their flanks and feed them beer and corn or grain.

In contrast, Hawaii's Wagyu is grass fed and free ranged on the Big Island. The new executive chef at the Kahala Mandarin Oriental welcomes the uniquely Hawaiian beef.

"This is a big advantage, because the hybrid Monty's doing is perfect for this island," said Markus Greiner, who sought out and found Kahua-raised Kobe beef a month ago. "I strongly believe that if it's vegetable, if it's meat: where it grows, what climate it has, what food it has, what kind of environment it has -- this is very important.

"What is good in Japan doesn't necessarily have to be good on the Big Island. This is actually a Hawaiian version of Kobe beef and it just brings a different twist to it. That's what is good about it, that it's a different kind of Kobe beef. It makes it interesting," said Greiner, 30, a native of Munich, Germany, with a master's degree in butchery.

He's teaching his staff to prepare smoked hams, pastrami and Hawaiian-spiced and dry-cured beef from other parts of the Kobe carcass.

"It's not that marbled, it's not as fat as the Kobe beef from Japan," added Greiner, who feels the lean flesh will appeal to health buffs. Customers can buy the hotel's hand-stuffed Kobe sausages and the ground Kobe beef patties, starting today.

The cachet of such beef is that it's rare, exorbitant and tasty. Agache thinks it will be a draw, with its Kobe allure.

By Cindy Ellen Russell, Star-Bulletin
Pamela Richards-Ketchum, daughter of ranch owner
Monty Richards, grills up some Kahua Ranch beef.

"It is also very, very expensive in Japan," said Agache, who said an 8-ounce Kobe sirloin costs $200 at the Singapore hotels he managed the past five years. "It is truly a delicacy and I think this is what is so interesting about having this on our menu. People are going to say, 'Oh, look at this Kobe beef,' so they're excited about it and it will make them ask questions. Intriguing, you know."

Monty Richards' wife, Phyllis Richards, said Kahua-raised Kobe beef cooks much more quickly than regular beef."

She slow-roasts Kobe rib roasts at 300 degrees for 15 minutes a pound, then serves it ranch-style with homemade barbecue or bearnaise sauce and her own papaya pickles. "The fat, instead of being long and striated like our American breeds, is in little, round fat globules. That's very nice."

How does Hawaii's version of Kobe beef taste?

A taste test revealed that, in contrast to the melt-in-the-mouth tenderness of corn- or grain-fed beef, Hawaii's version of Kobe beef is chewy. But more importantly, every chew released a burst of flavor -- delicious nuances and mana nurtured on the rolling, green hills of Kohala; redolent of its sunshine, breezes and mists.


Bullet On the table: Lunch and dinner menus featuring Kahua Ranch beef

Bullet Place: Hoku's, Kahala Mandarin Oriental

Bullet Dates: Today-Sunday

Bullet Menu: Mediterranean summer stew, Barolo braised Kobe, kiawe wood-grilled Kobe New York and ribeye, braised beef rolls, Kobe beef burgers, hot dogs, more

Bullet Also for sale: Patties, hand-stuffed sausages

Bullet Reservations: 739-8780


By Kathryn Bender, Star-Bulletin
Marcus Greiner, executive chef at the Kahala
Mandarin Oriental, uses all the Kobe-style meat,
not just the steaks. Starting today, the hotel's
Plumeria Beach Cafe deli sells 7-ounce Kobe beef
patties for $3.80 each, and 5-ounce Kobe sausages
for $2.85 each. Preorder at 739-8759.

Kobe meats offer
a variety of options

By Kekoa Catherine Enomoto


Home cooks can serve hand-stuffed Kobe beef sausages and Kobe beef patties, available exclusively at the Plumeria Cafe of the Kahala Mandarin Oriental Hotel.

From his German sausage-making experience and his Southwest culinary experience, Kahala Mandarin Oriental executive chef Markus Greiner offers fresh sausages, made that day or the day before with a Mexican flair of cilantro and chiles.

He says, "Make a Mexican feast out of your Kobe beef sausages and serve them with corn maza cakes and a fiery Tijuana salsa."

Also, Phyllis Richards, 68-year-old matriarch of Kahua Ranch, shares recipes for favorite accompaniments to Kahua-raised Kobe beef.


Kobe beef sausage with
corn maza cakes
and Tijuana salsa

3 or 4 Kobe beef sausages
Bullet Corn maza cakes:
2-1/2 cups maza corn meal mix
1-1/2 cups water
1/4 cup warm bacon fat or butter
1/4 teaspoon salt or to taste
Bullet Tijuana salsa:
Diced tomatoes
Red and yellow bell peppers, broiled, peeled and diced
Maui onions and eggplant, diced
Minced garlic (and following ingredients to taste)
Little fresh ginger, minced
Chopped cilantro
Sliced green onions
Little tomato juice
Lime juice
Tabasco to taste
Chile pepper water to taste
Little beer
Powdered cumin
Little sugar
Powdered cayenne pepper

To make corn maza cakes: Combine ingredients to achieve a dough-like consistency. Form small balls and press them flat in a hot, lightly oiled baking pan to make little pancakes. Bake both sides until nicely brown.

To make the salsa: Combine all ingredients to taste.

Grill sausages and serve with corn maza cakes and spicy salsa. Makes 4 servings.

Bullet Approximate nutritional analysis per serving with 3.5 ounces sausage and 2 tablespoons salsa, and using butter: 670 calories, 36 g total fat, 15 g saturated fat, 70 mg cholesterol, 840 mg sodium. Per serving, using bacon fat: 700 calories, 39 g total fat, 14 g saturated fat, 55 mg cholesterol, 800 mg sodium.*


Kobe beef sausage
with Asian coleslaw

3 or 4 Kobe beef sausages
Bullet Coleslaw:
3 cups shredded head cabbage
1-1/2 cups shredded red cabbage
1 cup finely sliced, loosely packed won bok, or Napa cabbage
1/3 cup julienned sugar peas
1/4 cups julienned carrot
1/4 cup chopped, roasted macadamia nuts
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon sliced green onions
Bullet Asian dressing:
1 cup salad oil
3/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1/2 cup mirin, boiled to burn off alcohol
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
2 tablespoons chile pepper water
1/3 cup sugar
4 teaspoons salt
Little black pepper
Bullet Wasabi dip:
1 cup sour cream
2 to 3 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon wasabi paste
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Little chile pepper water
Little grated ginger and onion
Little salt and pepper

In a small bowl, combine wasabi-dip ingredients and stir.

To make coleslaw: Machine blend Asian-dressing ingredients for a few seconds. In a large bowl, combine coleslaw ingredients and toss with Asian dressing.

To serve: Grill or pan-fry Kobe beef sausages on both sides for 6 to 7 minutes each. Slice and serve on top of coleslaw. Drizzle wasabi dip on plate as a spicy dip for sausage. Makes 4 servings.

Bullet Approximate nutritional analysis per serving, with 3.5 ounces sausage and 1 tablespoon wasabi dip: 970 calories, 85 g total fat, 14 g saturated fat, 45 mg cholesterol, at least 2,000 mg sodium.*


Clara's short ribs

Phyllis Richards, Kahua Ranch

5 pounds beef short ribs
3/4 cup ketchup
3/4 cup water
2 teaspoons vinegar
4 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon Worcestershire
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon chili powder
Potatoes, peeled and quartered
Carrots, peeled, in chunks

Combine sauce ingredients and heat while browning the ribs. Pour sauce over browned ribs and bake at 300 degrees for 2-1/2 to 3 hours (cover the first 2 hours). Or heat on top of stove over low heat 2-1/2 to 3 hours, stirring often.

Add carrots and potatoes during last 30 to 40 minutes of baking or cooking. Freezes well.

Can use leftover sauce to accompany a roasted Kobe beef rib roast.


'PAR' pickled papaya

Phyllis Anderson Richards, Kahua Ranch

6 to 8 firm green and yellow papayas
Bullet Syrup:
2 cups vinegar or pickle juice
4 cups sugar
1 chile pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons chopped ginger

Peel, seed and slice papayas into 16ths. In a pot, combine syrup ingredients and cook a little. Add papaya and cook until glossy, 30 to 45 minutes; watch closely. Put in sterilized mason jars and seal. Makes 8 half-pints.

Serve 2 or 3 spears per serving of a roasted Kobe beef rib roast or other meats.

Bullet No nutritional analysis available.

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