THE GOCHISO GOURMET: Summertime chillin’

columnist-logo_ryantatsumoto_FINALNow that the mercury is definitely on the rise in the midst of summer, when full bodied red wines and dark whiskies are a little too hot for the palate and turning on the oven or stovetop simply magnifies the unbearable heat, it’s time for some chillin’ to counteract the heat. Did someone say chilled cocktails?

The Golden Fruit
It took me quite a while to embrace the pineapple, as I was one of the thousands of high schoolers who took a summer- time job at one of Hawai‘i’s two pineapple canneries back in the ‘70s. Back then, if you needed to make money during the sum- mer, both Dole and Del Monte hired any high school student who was at least 14 years old who applied. I’m pretty sure the minimum wage wasn’t even $3 an hour, but I earned an extra 5 or 10 cents an hour since I worked the evening shift as a trimmer at Del Monte.

Newbies only got hired as trimmers or packers. If you returned for a second summer of torture, you could be assigned to a maintenance position steam cleaning the Ginaca machines or processing tables for another 25 or 50 cents an hour, but I had enough after one summer.

However, I now occasionally consume fresh pineapple, and on even rarer occasions, use the canned variety, despite those repressed Del Monte memories from more than 40 years ago. Pineapples do have a place in culinary applications, as the sweet and sour qualities balance richer and fattier foods. That’s why the sweet in pineapple balances the salty in ham, while the sour counteracts cheese on a pineapple and ham pizza (please don’t call it a Hawaiian pizza as pineapple and ham now have nothing to do with Hawai‘i).

The Golden Moon. photo by Ryan Tatsumoto

The Golden Moon
I recently created this cock- tail for a friend who gifted me a bottle of Hawaiian Shochu Company’s Haleiwa Rainbow — gin created from their base sweet potato shochu and a bottle of their plantation edition Banzai Strength shochu created from both sweet potato and local pineapple to celebrate my recent retirement. Because shochu created from sweet potatoes have the earthiest qualities compared to barley or rice-based shochu, the added tropical flavors provide a nice contrast in the cocktail. And since Keola’s Chinese middle name translates to “golden moon” and this cocktail is golden in color, I thought that the name was more than appropriate.

However, since Hawaiian Shochu Company’s products are primarily only available for purchase directly at their distillery in Haleiwa run by the husband and wife team of Ken and Yumiko Hirata, I edited your recipe to include any sweet potato-based shochu. The main pine- apple flavor is the 50th’s own Maui Blanc, which is an off-dry pineapple wine made on Maui, that can be shipped to California, but is also available through bevmo.com, liquorama.net and calistogawinestop.net. The fruit syrups can be found in most supermarkets’ liquor section.

1/4 ounce mango syrup
1/4 ounce pineapple syrup
1/4 ounce ginger liqueur
1 ounce sweet potato based
shochu
1 ounce pineapple/mango vodka
1 1/2 ounce Maui Blanc pineapple wine

Mix all six ingredients with ice for about 15 seconds then strain into an Old Fashioned glass with a single large cube of ice. Garnish with a pineapple slice or skewered pineapple chunks.

Plantation Iced Tea
I got the idea for this libation from popular local Chef Chris Kajioka while he still manned the kitchen at Senia. It was basically a riff on a plantation iced tea, as the vodka was infused with charred pineapple, whole vanilla beans and a host of other herbs and spices. And on those dog days of summer, sometimes you want your iced tea spiked with a little infused liquor.

1 bottle of vodka – I look for vodka distilled several times.
1 spear of fresh pineapple, patted dry then torched until lightly charred
1 whole vanilla bean split lengthwise
3 whole green cardamom pods, cracked
2 allspice berries, cracked
5 whole black peppercorns
1 star anise
1 piece (about 1 inch) fresh
ginger, slightly smashed

In a large mason jar, add the full bottle of vodka along with the fruit, herbs and spices. I usually scrape the vanilla seeds out of the pod but add both seeds and pod to the vodka, cover then let sit at room temperature for three to seven days. Strain the mixture back into the empty vodka bottle and refrigerate. If it’s not refrigerated, the yellow color extracted from the pineapple will start browning. Add 1 1/2 ounces of the infused vodka to 3 to 4 1/2 ounces of chilled iced tea (my preferred tea is Maui mango black tea) and serve on the rocks in an old fashioned or highball glass.

No Bake Dessert
When the house already feels like a sauna, the last thing you want to do is turn on the oven or stovetop, but just because the mercury rises doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy a nice dessert. This dessert only requires a hand-held mixer and your refrigerator and provides another use of the bottle of pineapple syrup you purchased for the Golden Moon.

No Bake Pineapple Cheesecake
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
3 tsp granulated sugar
3 tbsp melted butter
8 oz package reduced fat
cream cheese, softened
2 egg whites beaten to soft
peaks
2 tbsp pineapple syrup
1 (20-ounce) can crushed pineapple, well-drained

Mix the graham cracker crumbs with the granulated sugar and melted butter.

Press the graham cracker crumbs into the bottoms of four to six ramekins or custard dish- es. Put the crust in the refrigerator to chill while you make the filling.

In a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese with the pineapple syrup until fluffy then fold in the beaten egg whites and half can of the drained, crushed pineapple.

Place a thin layer of crushed pineapple over the graham cracker crust, spread the cream cheese mixture over the crushed pineapple then top with a light coating of more graham cracker and refrigerate at least four hours before serving. Garnish with additional crushed pineapple before serving.

The Gochiso Gourmet is a col- umn on food, wine and healthy eating. Ryan Tatsumoto is a graduate of both the University of Hawai‘i and UC San Francisco. He is a recently retired clinical pharmacist and a budding chef/ recipe developer/wine taster. He writes from Kane’ohe, HI and can be reached at gochisogourmet@gmail.com. The views ex- pressed in the preceding column are not necessarily those of the Nichi Bei Weekly.

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