Hawaii is a true melting pot.Â We have a melding of as many foods, traditions and observances as there are ethnic groups who call these islands home.
I recently attended an all day long agricultural festÂ up the Hamakua CoastÂ just a few miles from us, celebrating not only the richness, bounty and harvest ofÂ this area of theÂ Big Island,Â but alsoÂ our cultural diversity.Â
Back in the mid 1800's when the early wave of Chinese, Japanese and FilipinoÂ immigrants sort of waned, and some of them had left the cane fields to start their own little enterprises, the sugar mills started bringing in Portuguese laborers from the Azore Islands. These new immigrants were Catholic andÂ they brought their own customs and traditions with them.
One of their traditions was to make malasadas (Portuguese donuts) using up all the meat by-products (eggs, butter, milk, shortening, etc) they had left in preparation for the Lenten Season.Â Even though Fat Tuesday has been known as Malasada Day in Hawaii for many years, malasadas are now an every day treat.
Photo: Cutting the risen dough
Photo: Frying the plump malasada pillows
Photo: Beautiful and golden treats being fried in a big wok
Here is one of the best malasadas recipes I have ever tried. It's from a locationÂ about 25 miles up theÂ coast from us, and the place where we all stop on our way up around the islandÂ when weÂ go to the Kona orÂ westÂ side.
They were at the festival and the following photos were taken there.
1-1/2Â pounds flour
2.6 ounces butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 ounces sugar (plus extra sugar to dust them with later)
2 (0.4 ounces) Fleischman's Rapid Rise Yeast
1/3 cup evaporated milk
1 cup hot water
Mix 1 egg, butter, salt and sugar in mixer, at low speed until creamy
Add flour and yeast together, hot water and 2 eggs, until dough clings to
dough hook like a ball. If dough is too thin, add more flour, a tablespoon
at a time.
Let dough rise for approximately 30 minutes. Take dough from mixer and
flatten out (about 1/2 inch high) on a clean, dry surface dusted with flour.
Cover with clean cloth and let it rise again for about 15 minutes.
Cut in squares. Fry in shortening at 300 degrees F until golden brown on each side.
Roll the malassadas through sugar and serve hot.
Makes 16-18 large plump pillow-like malassadas.
They can also be filled with custard and fruit jams.
Photo: A dusting of sugar and they are ready to enjoy!
Sonia's note: The recipe is from the Tex Drive-In in Honoka'a, Hawai'i and was foundÂ as part ofÂ an articleÂ published in the Honolulu Advertiser newspaper several years ago.
Sonia Martinez, Gather Food Correspondent
Sonia's column, 'Tropical Taste' is a regular twice-monthly feature of Gather Essentials: Food.
Sonia is a cookbook author and freelance food writer for several publications in Hawaii, and is also a Hawaii Island Journal restaurant reviewer in partnership with her son Anthony Mathis. Â She lives in a beautiful rural rainforest area on the Big Island of Hawaii.
You can keep up with Sonia's adventures and ongoing love affair with Hawaii by joining her network, or visiting her food & garden blog at Sonia Tastes Hawaii.