Compliments of the chef


POSTED: Wednesday, March 25, 2009

“The Island Bistro Cookbook”

Chai Chaowasaree (Watermark Publishing, hardcover, $32.50)

In his first cookbook, Chai Chaowasaree combines recipes from the menus of his two restaurants: Chai's Island Bistro and Singha Thai. He meant it as a tribute to his parents in Thailand. “;This is something I wanted to do for them.”;

His father died last year, before the book was published, but it was his 80-year-old mother — “;thank goodness, she's still healthy”; — Chun Saechung, who introduced him to cooking and to the business through her own restaurant. When he moved to Hawaii, she gave him the money to open Singha Thai.

Near the front of the book is a photo of his seven siblings and parents — the only picture taken of the whole family. Chaowasaree said his mother didn't want to send it to him, for fear it would get lost, but once she saw it in the cookbook, “;she was so happy,”; he said. “;My brother said she was in tears.”;

His favorite recipe in the book: Grilled New York Steak Salad, his take on a Thai beef salad, served over baby greens with a lemongrass-flavored dressing. “;I could eat it every day, with no lettuce.”; (Although he cooks with vegetables, Chaowasaree doesn't like eating them. He tastes his own vegetable dishes just to check the flavors.)

The recipe he most hopes people will try at home: Any of the curries. He's gotten a good response on those already, from readers who know the dishes from his restaurants. “;People are so excited, they call me, they say, 'Oh, mine came out just like yours.'”;


“Family-Style Meals at the Hali'imaile General Store”

Beverly Gannon with Joan Namkoong (Ten Speed Press, hardcover, $35)

This is Beverly Gannon's second cookbook based on recipes from her Maui restaurant, Hali'imaile General Store. This time, her focus is on family meals, inspired by her mother — who, although she relied on convenience items such as soup mixes, made a point of having everyone sit down to dinner nightly.

Despite the demands of running a restaurant, Gannon has tried to maintain the practice with her own family, at dinner and Sunday brunch. “;I wanted to see a cookbook that really got people to cook at home and eat together,”; Gannon said. Failing to do so, “;you lose something as a family.”;

Recipe that best illustrates the theme: Chile-Cumin-Rubbed Pork Tenderloin. Eat the roast on the first night, then mix the leftovers with pinto beans and serve on tortillas later in the week. The recycling trick is one her mother used often.

Recipe she most hopes people will try at home: Ultimate French Toast — custardy on the inside, crisp on the outside. She created the dish for her own family brunches, then introduced it at the restaurant on Mother's Day. “;It's the best French toast you'll have in your entire life.”;

Her next cookbook?: Gannon recently lost 44 pounds and has kept it off for seven months, with the help of a trainer who has taught her to replace meats and fats with flavorful alternatives. “;If I hit Year 2 of being on this program, that's the book I want to write.”;

Calorie-packed dishes have become indulgences. “;Once in a while you can have that French toast, you just can't do it on a regular basis. And afterward, you should take a walk.”;


“D.K.’s Sushi Chronicles from Hawai'i”

By Dave “;D.K.”; Kodama with Bonnie Friedman (Ten Speed Press, paperback, $24.95)

“;Sushi Chronicles”; is the paperback release of a cookbook published six years, two children and several restaurants ago for D.K. Kodama. The book reflects the menu at Sansei Seafood Restaurant & Sushi Bar, which has four locations on Maui, the Big Island and Oahu. Kodama's company now also includes d.k steakhouse, Vino, Hiroshi Eurasion Tapas and the Counter.

“;The best thing about it for me is I could change the family picture so I got all three of my kids in there,”; he said. He's found that readers appreciate such touches. “;They like the family aspect, the history of it.”;

As for him: “;I like the food shots. ... I see those, I get hungry.”;

Recipe in the book that best reflects his cuisine: The Mango and Crab Salad Hand Roll with Thai Vinaigrette, which has been on the menu at Sansei since the beginning. “;My wife loves it; I love it.”;

Suggestion he hopes people will try at home: ”;Have a sushi party, a hand-roll party. That's always fun. It's interactive, and after you put out the ingredients, it's not much work.”; Near the front of the book are ingredient and equipment lists for throwing such a party for six.

Next up: What recession? Just after opening the Counter in Kahala Mall, Kodama expects to open two more restaurants on Maui this year: Cane and Taro, a breakfast-through-dinner eatery at Whaler's Village, and Cuatro, a small Latin-fusion place, in Kihei.