I have never eaten at a Tommy Bahama Restaurant. In fact the closest I’ve come to it is the Tommy Bahama bikini I bought myself on the island of Oahu and a few shirts purchased for my husband. After perusing this cookbook, reading and trying some of the recipes, losing myself in the beautiful pictures (both scenic and food), and reading the stories of the people that supply many of the ingredients locally, I would definitely add it to my “want to eat there” list.
The book is coffee table size and definitely beautiful enough to position where it can be admired for its stunning photography. The stories of the purveyors and descriptions of the culture and different elements of Hawaii made me want to jump on a plane and revisit the magical islands that very minute!
Having established that Flavors of Hawaii is a beautiful book worthy of display, the question is how does it rate as a useable cookbook with delicious recipes? In my opinion, very nicely.
The recipes are organized by course; Appetizers (pupas), Soups and Salads, Main Courses (poultry, red meat, seafood, noodles and rice), Side Dishes and Breads and Desserts. Fun “Tiki” style cocktail recipes are interspersed throughout. Each category has a theme of “cooking with the elements (earth, wind, fire and water) or a story: “The Humble Fisherman, Alean Kiriu and Parker Ranch.
The majority of the recipes include a photograph of the finished product. There is a brief story or description relating to the recipe. All the ingredients are listed to the left of the page and the instructions to the right. Occasionally a brief history of the dish is included. The techniques are clearly defined and the directions are consistently easy to follow. When availability of ingredients may be an issue, alternatives are suggested.
Many of the appetizers and chicken dishes have the same basic seasonings. Soy sauce, Chinese rice wine, ginger and miso are frequently called for. Several of the dishes are deep fried which is no doubt a ”Hawaiian Thing.” There is a nice representation of the many food cultures that converge in Hawaii.
To date, I have tried two recipes:
Paniolo Beef and Vegetable Stew
This is a traditional beef stew with a Hawaiian twist of fresh ginger and soy sauce.
The directions were clear, accurate and easy to follow. The end result was not especially unique but tasty none the less. I would make it again.
Salmon Fillets with Ginger Glaze
Again, easy to follow although the fish required more time to cook than the recipe indicated. I felt the hoisin sauce was slightly overpowering for the salmon but my husband loved it.
Flavors of Aloha is visually and functionally a very fine cookbook. It captures the spirit of Hawaii and provides 100 recipes of which I am looking forward to trying more of, especially the Pork and Shrimp Gyoza, Vietnamese Soup with Beef and the Pina Colada Cake! This book would make a unique gift for a food loving friend or a treat to yourself!
Where to Buy:
Flavors of Aloha
Cooking With Tommy Bahama
Recipes by Rick Rogers, With Text by Jeff Morgan
Photographs by Peden and Munk
Published by Chronicle Books
This cookbook review is a guest post by Christine Bartell, a retired school teacher and food lover based in Oregon. Bottom cocktail photo courtesy of Nancy D. Brown. Chronicle Books supplied her with Flavors of Aloha for review purposes. All opinions are her own.