“It (his extended family) is like a little mini-United Nations“, said President Obama in an interview several years ago. I wonder what happens when East, West, North & South meet in his kitchen? His family may be lucky enough to easily access interesting “fusion” foods with unique, blended personalities. When I visited President Obama’s birthplace, Hawaii, I found a wide range of tasty Asian-style foods made with some interesting European “twists”. Hawaiian cuisine is “Euro-Pacific” cooking. It is heavily influenced by immigrants from Portugal, Polynesia, Japan, Korea, Philippines & China. Today I’m making Hawaiian lychee chicken, using one of my favorite Hawaiian fruits (lychees) and some Hawaiian “mellow” red sea salt, in order to celebrate the great cultural diversity of our country and our interesting and colorful foods.
First, I mix 1/3 cup soy sauce, 2 Tablespoons oloroso dry sherry, 1 teaspoon Hawaiian red sea salt, 2 Tablespoons corn starch & 4 egg whites in a bowl and whisk it for a couple of minutes. Then I marinade 3 lbs boneless, skinless, chicken breasts (cut into bite size pieces) in the mixture for 30 minutes at room temperature. Separately, I heat some extra virgin olive oil in a pot and sauté 2 onions (chopped) and one 8 oz can sliced water chestnuts. Then, I add the chicken mixture to the pot. Next, I open a can of 15 oz lychees and pour a ½ cup of lychee juice to the pot. Then, I stir in the pot and let it cook for 15 minutes at medium heat. Lastly, I place the chicken in the middle of the serving plate & lychees around the edges and sprinkle some chopped scallions before serving.
I am pairing this delicious Hawaiian lychee chicken with a 2010 Headstand Gewurztraminer from Mendocino County, North Coast of California. Like our President Obama, this wine is dynamic, straightforward and accessible. Delicious aromas and flavors of bosc pears & lychee in the wine beautifully pair with the slightly sweet and fruity Hawaiian lychee chicken. The oily texture of the wine also nicely accompanies the tender chicken meats and the crunchy water chestnuts coated with the creamy egg white-soy sauce mixture. My favorite part of this pairing is the refreshing finish lingering in my mouth for a long time afterwards. After every bite and sip, the flavor of lychee, which gets drawn out by this pairing, gently coats my mouth with its balanced acidity. How pleasantly this pairing brings a cool Hawaiian breeze to my doorsteps. I love it.
Hope you enjoy this “Euro-Pacific” taste of Hawaii with a wonderful Gewurtzraminer to pair it with. Wishing you a cool Hawaiian breeze during these Summer days. Happy cooking!