Articles from August 2010

Chef Olelo pa’a Shares Thoughts on Grass-Fed Beef, Island Sustainability and Ginger Beef Soup

Chef Olelo pa'a

Chef Olelo pa‘a is giving a food demo 2-5 p.m. Friday, August 27 at the Gateway Center at the NELHA. See her prepare local, grass-fed veal and farm-raised seafood; samples are on the house! Taste of the Hawaiian Range will give away two free tickets and sell tickets at the 2-6 p.m. market.

This week we feature a guest blog by Chef Olelo pa’a Faith Ogawa. Olelo pa’a helped plan the first Mealani’s Taste of the Hawaiian Range 15 years ago because she saw the importance of producing superior, grass-fed beef to feed our island. Today, she is a sought-after private chef by Fortune 500 execs and their families and operates her business, Dining by Faith.  The girl who grew up on a Waipahu sugar plantation shares the flavors of Hawai‘i through her distinct Conscious Hawaiian Cuisine™, cooking demonstrations and Glow Hawai‘i Products.  Visit;  email:

Looking Back on the First Taste
It was 15 years ago when I was approached by Milton Yamasaki, manager of the Mealani Research Station in Waimea, to assist in getting the first Taste of the Hawaiian Range going. At first I said I was too busy, but I took time to listen to what Milton had to say. I felt his compassion for the ‘aina, the ranchers and farmers.

Milton convinced me to come to the first organizational meeting; then I went to the next meeting and learned more about the cattle industry and how we could have a sustainable and nutritious beef product made right here on the island of Hawai‘i. I asked myself, “Why aren’t we producing superior, grass-fed beef in Hawai‘i?” At that time, most of the calves were shipped to the Mainland for finishing and pricing was susceptible to several uncontrollable factors, like shipping.

Soon, I felt inspired to do whatever I could to promote the idea of producing and enjoying Hawai‘i grass-fed beef. I joined the committee and we put together the first Taste of the Hawaiian Range, in conjunction with a Forage Field Day. The Field Day was an educational program for ranchers on producing grass-fed beef and the Taste educated the public, especially chefs, on using the local product.

Chef Olelo pa’a

Chef Olelo pa’a in Waimea

Local Food Boasts Superior Quality
Through the efforts of Milton and his research team at Mealani, the quality of beef produced on our island has greatly improved and today, it is superior. In fact, the quality and variety of all locally produced food is better. As a chef in Waikiki in the 1970s, I hardly used any locally grown product—everything was imported in. Today, I’m proud to use our Hawai‘i-grown food as much as I can. It is top quality and offers my clients a true taste of Hawai‘i.

The Spirit of the ‘Aina
I feel the people of the island of Hawai‘i have a pioneering spirit. It’s seen in our farmers, who are always trying to improve their product for consumers. We have several active organizations that encourage food sustainability and awareness. And we also are home to cutting edge resources like Keahole’s Natural Energy Lab Hawai‘i Authority and Waimea’s Mealani Research Station. They help foster our ag industry and the local production of food.

I feel connected to the land and I feel the island has a purpose. When I talk to the spirit of our land it tells me that it wants to grow our food and help us be sustainable. The ‘aina wants to perpetuate living off the land. It doesn’t want to be covered in concrete.

And so, I’m passionate about using local food and promoting those who work so hard to feed us.

Be Proud of our Local Food Producers
When you go to Taste of the Hawaiian Range, feel proud of the food you are eating. It was made here by caring hands and hearts to nourish you. Many local food producers will have exhibits; tell them you appreciate what they are doing. If we had more food producers, we would be eating more fresh, nutritious food and our landscape would be rich with a tapestry of farm-raised crops. If we were to eat good food, we would lower our health cost.  We will have a healthier community and less wasteful spending.

Every time I have a memory of the cattle industry in Hawai‘i, I picture the old black and white photos of the paniolo (Hawaiian Cowboys) moving the cattle into the waters at Kawaihae Harbor to be shipped to the mainland for finishing. As a chef, I feel good about using our locally grown, grass-fed beef and knowing that Hawai‘i is moving in the direction of growing more of its own food. We’ve come a long way, and I hope we can continue moving toward food sustainability. Hawai‘i Island is on the leading edge so ‘Imua!  Let’s keep moving forward!

Recipe: Waimea Ginger Beef Soba Soup

Photo credits: courtesy Chef Olelo pa’a


Recipe: Waimea Ginger Beef Soba Soup

Ginger Beef Soup

Waimea Ginger Beef Soba Soup

Chef Olelo pa’a Faith Ogawa,
Serves 8

I was inspired by the misty, cozy days in Waimea to create this soup, which features local, grass-fed beef. It is simple to prepare and very soothing for the soul.  Enjoy!

4 lbs local grass-fed beef chuck
4 c beef stock
2 qts low sodium chicken stock
2 c water
1 – 3-inch pieces fresh ginger, crushed
6 cloves fresh garlic, peeled and crushed
1 medium onion, julienne cut
1 c gobo (burdock root), cleaned and sliced
1 medium carrot, sliced
1 ½ oz pkg dried shitake mushrooms
1 – 1 oz pkg nishime konbu (dried seaweed strips) soaked, tied in knots & cut
salt and pepper to taste

6 oz pink and white kamaboko (fish cake), thinly sliced
chopped green onions
thinly sliced cooked beef chuck
2 pkg.  soba noodles, cooked
minced fresh ginger (serve on the side)
wasabi (serve on the side)

In a large pot over medium high heat, brown the beef on all sides.  Add the liquids, then the rest of the vegetables, ginger and garlic.  Bring to a boil and simmer for 2 hours.  Skim the soup occasionally.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Remove the beef; cool then slice thinly.

Portion the soba noodles in each soup bowl then add the hot soup.  Arrange garnishes on top and serve with ginger and wasabi on the side.   Eat immediately with thoughts of love and gratitude to the ‘aina and our farmers.

Chef Olelo pa’a Shares Thoughts on Grass-Fed Beef, Island Sustainability and Ginger Beef Soup

Photo credit: courtesy Chef Olelo pa’a


Meet a Local Rancher: Sustaining The ‘Aina in Ka’u

A mission of Mealani’s Taste of the Hawaiian Range is to encourage and support local ag products. To that end, we are featuring Big Isle food producers promoted in the local Hawai‘i Dept. of Agriculture (HDOA) campaign, “Island Fresh-Buy Local, It Matters.”

Every few weeks, we will showcase one of the 12 different food producers featured in the campaign, along with a handy recipe using their product. These farmers, ranchers and aquaculturists hail from Hawi to Ka‘u and from Kona to Hilo. One of them could be your friend…

By supporting our local food producers, we get fresh and better-tasting products. We also strengthen our economy and community, while helping preserve open space. Island Fresh-Buy Local, It Matters!

Kuahiwi Ranch-Aloha ‘Aina Natural Beef
Salt of the Earth

Island Fresh Kuahiwi Ranch“What rancher Michelle Galimba knows about raising beef cattle she learned by experience and very hard work. When the Galimba started Kuahiwi Ranch in 1993, Michelle, her father, Al, and brother, Guy, rode horseback with Michelle through the rugged hills of Ka‘u to rope wild cattle to build their herd.

Today, the ranch spans 10,000 acres where cattle graze on lush, green pastures with supplemented grains. The result is beef that is rich in flavor and amazingly tender.

Galimba says it is a privilege to provide Hawai‘i with a really great product—something that nourishes people because it comes from the ‘aina (land).”

Island Fresh“Island Fresh-Buy Local, It Matters” is funded in part by the County of Hawaii Department of Research & Development. The campaign was produced by the Hawai‘i Dept. of Agriculture (HDOA) and the University of Hawai‘i College of Tropical Agriculture & Human Resources (CTAHR) to help increase demand for, and familiarity with, locally grown commodities.

Enjoy Local Flavors
An Ono Recipe to Savor the Freshness

For info on more Hawai‘i food products, visit


Enjoy Local Flavors: An Ono Recipe to Savor the Freshness

Beef is a versatile protein that can be barbecued, broiled, roasted, stewed, baked and stir-fried. Used in many different cuisines, the cut of beef determines how it is cooked. Beef dishes that include vegetables, such as stir-fries, salads, stews, kebabs and tacos can form the basis for healthy menu planning. Add hearty, grilled sirloin steak to a cool, refreshing salad for a delicious and satisfying meal.

Spicy Beef Salad
Serves 4, 1 ¾-cup servings
1 pound sirloin steak
1 tablespoon Thai fish sauce
4 cups shredded Mānoa lettuce
(approx. 8-10 leaves)
1 medium tomato, cut in wedges
(approx. 1 cup)
1/2 cup cucumber, sliced
(approx. 1/4 medium cucumber)
1/4 cup onion, sliced (approx. ⅛ onion)
1/4 cup mushrooms, sliced
(approx. 2-3 mushrooms)
8 mint leaves, chopped
1/4 cup green onions, chopped
(approx. 1 stalk)
⅓ cup Chinese parsley, chopped

3 tablespoons Thai fish sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons chili oil
3 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon sugar
2 cloves garlic, minced (approx. 2 teaspoons)
1/4 teaspoon chili pepper, minced
1 tablespoon ginger, minced (approx. 1 1/2-inch piece)

Marinate the beef in fish sauce for 10 minutes. Grill the steak until done, approximately 5 minutes on each side. Slice into thin strips and set aside. Shred the Mānoa lettuce into bite-sized pieces. Arrange the tomato, cucumber, onions, mushrooms, and mint leaves on top of the lettuce. Place the beef slices on top of the salad. In a small bowl, mix the dressing ingredients together and serve on the side. Garnish the salad with green onions and Chinese parsley.

Nutrition Facts
Amount Per Serving
Calories 270• Total Fat 12g • Carbohydrate 10g • Protein 32g

“Island Fresh-Buy Local, It Matters” is funded in part by the County of Hawaii Department of Research & Development. The campaign was produced by the Hawai‘i Dept. of Agriculture (HDOA) and the University of Hawai‘i College of Tropical Agriculture & Human Resources (CTAHR) to help increase demand for, and familiarity with, locally grown commodities.

For info on more Hawai‘i food products, visit


Things to Know About Purchasing Beef

The processing of beef factors into how it tastes. Here are some things to know about the beef we buy, whether it’s in the package at the supermarket or on the menu at your favorite restaurant.

Dry-Aged or Wet-Aged Beef?
Aging allows natural enzymes to break down the hard, connective tissues in meats. There are two aging techniques and they yield different flavors and textures: dry-aging and wet-aging. Dry-aging is the older method of aging beef.

Merrimans grass fed beef

Dry-aged, grass-fed beef filet is served at Merriman's Waimea.

Differences in Processing
Dry-aging is done by hanging the carcass in a controlled, closely watched, refrigerated environment with 85 percent humidity and plenty of cross-ventilation. During dry aging, moisture is evaporated from the muscle, shrinking the meat by up to one-third and creating a greater concentration of beef favor and taste. Beef to be dry-aged should have a substantial amount of marbling (fat evenly distributed throughout the meat) to be effective. The process involves storage space and supervision for up to four weeks.

Wet-aged beef is “ripened” in it’s own juices in a vacuum-sealed bag. It is less costly and by far the most used technique for aging beef today. It takes less time (a few days) and none of the beef quantity is lost in the process.

Comparing Product
Dry-aged beef is more pungent in flavor and more aromatic; it’s generally regarded as a superior-tasting beef. Because of these attributes, some chefs require it at finer restaurants. It is sold to consumers at gourmet markets.

Wet-aged beef dominates the commercial market. It is the beef we typically buy at the supermarket and eat every day, whether preparing it at home or enjoying it at moderately-priced restaurants.

Where to Get Dry Aged Beef on the Big Island
On the Big Isle, it’s sold at Island Gourmet Market at Queens’ MarketPlace in Waikoloa. The market sells only dry-aged, grass-fed beef and offers a dozen different cuts. If you buy beef in bulk, you can custom order a side of dry-aged, grass-fed beef from Kulana Foods in Hilo, 959-9144. For details on ordering beef in bulk, check out our recent blog, “Going Beyond the Farmers Market.”

Mauna Kea grass fed beefDry-aged, grass-fed beef is also sold at fine Big Island restaurants and resorts, such as Merriman’s Waimea and the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel. For example, the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel’s Manta restaurant serves dry-aged, grass-fed beef filet for dinner a variety of ways, including with housemade fries, Mauishire Steak Sauce and garden herb chimicchuri (pictured). To find out if your favorite restaurant serves dry-aged beef, ask when making your reservations.

Enjoy Dry-Aged Beef at Taste of the Hawaiian Range
Attendees at Mealani’s Taste of the Hawaiian Range enjoy dry aged, grass-fed beef at all the chef tasting stations. Beef served at Taste of the Hawaiian Range is dry-aged for 21 days at Kulana Foods in Hilo, the harvesting plant donates its services for the event. With each culinary station receiving 100 pounds of meat, Kulana is dry-aging about 3,200 pounds of product in 2010.

Flash-Frozen Beef
Meat is rapidly frozen during flash freezing. The process enriches all the flavors, juices, vitamins and minerals and allows the beef to keep perfectly for long periods. The beef remains frozen until it is thawed, ensuring the freshness and quality from when it was originally frozen. When buying frozen meat, ask if it was flash frozen for optimum quality.