By Request

By Betty Shimabukuro

Wednesday, October 14, 1998

By Craig T. Kojima, Star-Bulletin
The kulolo on the left is lumpy with coarsely grated or
shredded coconut, while the more traditional, smoother-
textured version in the middle uses coconut milk.

Kulolo calls
across the sea

Tak Inaba, in far-away California, is craving the taste of kulolo -- "genuine Hawaiian kulolo, made from taro."

"And assuming there is a recipe, can I use frozen poi?" he asks.

Apparently, in California you can't just pop into a store and buy yourself a small block of kulolo, another reason you're lucky you live Hawaii.

Kulolo is a Hawaiian dessert made of mashed taro, coconut milk and sugar. The mixture is steamed or baked in a shell of ti leaves. The end product should be mochi-like, firm enough to slice.

Katherine Bazore, in her 1940 cookbook "Hawaiian and Pacific Foods" (Stratford Press), calls for lining a 6-inch-diameter can with ti leaves, filling it with the kulolo mixture and placing it in a pressure cooker for 3-1/2 hours, or in an imu for 6 to 8 hours. Bazore's recipe uses the meat and liquid from a fresh coconut. "Pierce the eyes ..." the recipe begins.

Updated recipes (using ovens, for example) weren't as easy to find as you'd think. A couple that I tested didn't work out -- they turned to mush.

But here are two that were successful. The first yields a traditional kulolo, although not as smooth. If you want your kulolo really smooth, steam the taro first, using as little water as possible, and mash it

The second recipe is from May Watanabe, author of "Aunty May's Amazingly Healthy Cook Book," and uses grated coconut. This yields a coarse-textured kulolo -- unique in taste and appearance.

As for using frozen poi, Watanabe said that would work fine in her recipe in place of fresh taro, if you decrease the amount of water. The batter, she said, should be like a "soft mush."

One note: Despite the title of Watanabe's cookbook, her kulolo recipe is not low-fat by federal standards.

Finally, if you like the idea of taro and coconut, but don't care for kulolo, try Sam Choy's Baked Coconut Taro, a side dish. It's in his new cookbook, "The Choy of Seafood," due out later this month.



"Ethnic Foods of Hawaii,"
by Ann Kondo Corum, Bess Press, 1983, $10.95

4 cups grated taro
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup honey
1 cup coconut milk
2 ti leaves

Mix all ingredients together. Line a bread loaf with foil, then top with ti leaves, cut to fit the pan. Pour pudding into pan and cover with foil. Bake 2 hours at 400 degrees. Remove foil in the last hour to brown the top. Serves 12.

bullet Approximate nutritional analysis, per serving: 190 calories, 4 grams total fat, 4 grams sat. fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 10 mg sodium.*



"Aunty May's Amazingly Healthy Cook Book,"
by May Watanabe, SpectraEnterprises, 1996

1 3-pound taro root, grated or shredded
10 ounces coconut meat, grated or shredded
3 cups water
2 tablespoons fructose
1 tablespoon coconut extract
1/2 tablespoon sea salt
2 teaspoons oil for pan

Mix all ingredients together in a pot, adding more water if necessary to cover the mixture. Boil until the taro is soft, about 5 minutes.

Pour the mixture into a well-oiled 9-by-13-inch pan lined with ti leaves. Cover pan with foil, unless you like your kulolo with a crust. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 to 1-1/2 hours, until internal temperature in the middle of the pan reaches 180 degrees. Serves 15

bullet Approximate nutritional analysis, per serving: 165 calories, 7 g total fat, 6 g saturated fat, no cholesterol, 240 mg sodium*


Baked Coconut Taro

"The Choy of Seafood,"
by Sam Choy, Mutual Publishing, 1998, $35.

1 pound fresh taro, blanched and cut in 1/2-inch cubed
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup coconut syrup
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a covered casserole and bake in a 350-degree oven for 35 minutes. Garnish with coconut flakes and roasted, chopped macadamia nuts, if desired.

bullet Nutritional information unavailable.


Another dessert request

Lily Ponto has fond memories of Shan's Bakery in Wahiawa, but doesn't know where the bakers have moved to. "They used to make the best dobash and haupia cakes in the islands (maybe in the world!)," she says.

Does anyone know where Shan has gone, or know the secret to those cakes?


There was a misprint in last week's recipe for Monterey Bay Canners' Clam Chowder, served in a bread bowl. The correct amount of flour for the roux is 2-1/4 cups, not pounds. Thanks to the email correspondent who pointed that out.

Also, the bread comes from Hawaii Star Bakery, not Star Markets. Similar name, completely different place. Apologies to both Stars.

Send queries along with name and phone number to:
By Request, Honolulu Star-Bulletin Food Section,
P.O. Box 3080, Honolulu 96802.
Or send e-mail to

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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