Sunday, September 26, 2010

Taste of Aloha Part Two: Manapua

Here is a popular snack you'll find in pretty much any Hawaiian
convenience store.

Manapua are a large steamed bun derived from Chinese cha siu baau.
I believe they were sucked into the local cuisine via the merging
of peoples in the plantation culture.

The traditional buns are made with lard filled with shredded
flesh and bbq sauce, etc. But there are popular vegetarian versions
that are either filled with purple sweet potatoes or red beans.

The red bean versions always reminded me of the Japanese Taiyaki
(red bean filled cakes in the shape of fish) that I used to get
in Little Tokyo or at Sumo tournaments. However those are made
with more of a waffle batter, where as Manapua have a light, sticky
steamed exterior.

These are easy to make and very very filling.
They will also puff up quite a bit when steaming, so don't be
surprised when you lift up that steamer lid.

Vegan Red Bean Manapua

2 cups of cooked azuki, red beans
2-3 tbsp agave syrup
2 1/2 cups unbleached white flour
1 tbsp baking powder
3 tbsps powdered sugar
2 tbsps earthbalance or vegetable shortening
1/2 cup water
1 tbsp vegetable oil

Mash the cooked red beans with the agave syrup until it reaches
desired sweetness and is mostly smooth.

Sift the flour and baking powder into a bowl, add the sugar and mix.
Add 2 tbsp earthbalance, cutting in until evenly distributed.

Add just enough water until it comes forms a firm mass.
Roll it into a ball. Cover and let it rest for 30 minutes.
Cut into 10-12 small pieces and flatten in to discs.
Put a spoonful of bean paste onto rolled out dough.
Pull the sides around the filling and pinch together.

You can place on a piece of parchment paper in your steamer
which will make it easier to handle, but it is not entirely necessary.

Brush the tops with vegetable oil.
Then steam the buns for about 15-20 minutes.
Immediately after removing dip tops into a scattering of sesame seeds.

These can even be frozen and reheated later for a nice snack!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Goodbye Summer, Hello 7 Days of Aloha

I am officially back from my summer break and about to start
school in a few days. Back to the world of administrative studies
and writing about policy! But also back to the lovely world of
writing about food and making for all of you.

Over the summer I spent sometime in the California mountains
with my Grandparents testing, writing, and drawing. It gave
me a chance to test out some key recipes on some very willing

The view from my Grandparents' mountain house

Then I took off to Hawaii to stay with my parents and younger
brother for three weeks. It was absolutely gorgeous, as usual
and I got quite a tan. There I got to throw somethings a my
brother who is pretty picky just to see what a picky kid would
think of some of the cookbook recipes. Thank goodness it went
over well and I got some good ideas from all of my ventures...

Our new favorite 'secret' beach

I didn’t blog most of this because of spotty internet, busy
schedules and sometimes downright laziness. Yet now I am
switching in to high gear and taking on some new projects.
I’m doing some light catering again, which is always fun. Yet,
I’m entering the larger stages of the cookbook project and
illustrating is going to be intense.

This past weekend I picked up another catering gig and did a
job for Compassion Over Killing’s Vegan Outreach at Animal
Acres. I will post pictures of that later as I am still unpacking
at my house and haven’t uncovered my camera yet from all
my luggage.

Before I left I promised to do a series on Hawaiian cuisine,
so I thought I would celebrate my return with just that.
Plus, why not start with something everyone loves...

In Hawaii everyone knows and loves this light, sweet, fluffy
bread. Sometimes it is called Hawaiian sweet bread, sometimes
Portuguese sweet bread... I’ve had it in all different flavours as
well; Taro, Mango, Guava (Passionfruit).

However, these tastings were all in my pre-vegan days as the
traditional recipe is packed with eggs and butter. They are both
yeast and egg leavened, but my adaptation was better if I do say
so myself. The only thing different was the colour from no egg

French toast from this sweet bread is very popular. I like encrusting
it with macadamia nuts and serving it with guava butter!

Hawaiian Sweet Bread


1 tbsp instant dry yeast
2 tbsp warm water
3-4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour or bread flour
1/2 tsp sea salt
2 tbsp flax meal beat with 6 tbsp water
1/2 cup coconut milk
3 tbsp earthbalance
2/3 cup vegan white sugar
1 tbsp vegetable oil
Soymilk for brushing (opt)

Make a paste with the yeast, salt and water and set aside.
Warm the earthbalance and coconut milk over very low heat,
but do not cook or get it ‘hot’. Add the sugar and flax to the
coconut mix, then pour over the yeast paste.

Add the flour a half cup at a time until it forms a ball and turn
out on to a clean, floured counter top. Knead in some flour if
it is too soft to knead. Knead for about 10 minutes.

Place in a mixing bowl with the vegetable oil and roll the dough
around to ensure it is greased. This prevents your bread dough
from cracking and becoming hard while rising. Cover the bowl
with a towel and place in a warm spot.

Let it rise for about an hour and a half or until it has doubled in
size. Remove from the bowl and using a pastry knife or something
similar cut small balls about the size of plum. Fold the piece of
dough under a couple times to make a nice smooth roll.

Place onto a greased sheet as you go. After all the rolls are shaped
allow them to rise again for about 30-40 minutes. Brush the tops
with a little soymilk if you want before baking at 350F for 25-30
minutes until the tops are golden brown. This may differ a little
as I originally baked these at a high altitude and adjusted the
recipe after the fact.