Monday | November 20, 2017
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Moon Festival arises; Poke Market opening

In ancient China, there were 10 suns and it was extremely hot. Their hero, Hou Yi, shot down nine of the suns and changed the climate to a less hot, pleasant one. People from near and far heard about what he had done and Hou Yi became famous.

Hou Yi married a beautiful and kind-hearted woman named Chang E. One day, Hou Yi met up with Wangmu, the queen of heaven, on his way to meet an old friend. Wangmu presented Hou Yi with an elixir which, if taken, would cause him to immediately ascend to heaven and become a god. But instead of drinking it, Hou Yi took it home and presented it to Chang E to keep. An admirer of Hou Yi, Peng Meng, saw Hou Yi giving the elixir to his wife and went to Chang E, demanding that she give the potion to him. So instead of giving it to Peng Meng, Chang E drank the elixir. As soon as she drank it, she flew out the window and up into the sky. Her love for her husband Hou Yi drew her toward the moon, which is the closest to the Earth and heaven.

When Hou Yi realized what happened to his wife, he was sad and shouted Chang E’s name to the sky. At that moment he saw a figure which looked just like his wife appearing on the moon. He took the food that Chang E enjoyed to an altar and offered it as a sacrifice to her. The townspeople found out that Chang E became a goddess and also offered food to pray for peace and good luck.

Today, the midautumn festival, or Moon Festival, is celebrated and in honor of Chang E, moon cake is served as the dessert.

There are four types of moon cakes that reflect the region it comes from.

Beijing-style moon cakes are crispy outside, soft inside and not too sweet.

Suzhou-style has a soft crust and is the sweetest of all moon cakes.

Guangzhou-style has a thin crust with rich fillings of coconut shreds, olive seeds, orange cakes, Guangzhou-style sausages and roasted pork, salted eggs and sweetened fat meat.

Yunnan-style moon cake crust is loose and soft and the fillings are not too sweet and not too salty.

Huizhou-style moon cakes are small, delicate and white. The crust is made from wheat flour and vegetable oil, and the fillings consist of edible wild vegetables, fresh lard and sugar.

Quzhou-style moon cakes are mainly made of sesame.

Chaozhou-style moon cakes have a thin crust with a spiral-shaped pattern and is delicious and soft. Lard is the main ingredient.

Bamboo charcoal moon cakes are a new-style cake using edible bamboo charcoal during the cooking process. It is low in sugar, low fat, low in calories and non-greasy. It has healthy benefits as it helps clear out poison and fat in your body and relieves constipation.

Lucky you, as Moon Festival in Hilo is at 5 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 30, sponsored by the Chinese Civic Association of Hawaii at the Church of the Holy Cross. Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for children 6-12 years old, and free for children 5 and younger.

Call Newton Chu’s office at 961-0406 for tickets. Moon cakes also will be part of your Chinese meal.

Poke Market LLC

Poke Market LLC opened at 41 Waianuenue Ave. in Hilo, the former location of Hilo Homemade Ice Cream. Open from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, you can choose from a one-choice poke bowl with two sides for $10 or two choices with two sides for $12. Also available are the poke packet packs consisting of sashimi, crab salad, tartare sauce and rice in an aburage (fried tofu) pouch, five pieces for $10.

Daily specials vary but on the day I was there it was Spicy Ahi Cali Don for $11 which consisted of spicy ahi, avocado, masago, hijiki, with unagi sauce with white or brown rice.

Poke Market’s vegetarian poke is very popular and is made of ulu, or breadfruit, with a sesame ginger sauce.

Chef Ernie Gray originally is from Oahu, and his Japanese mother taught him to roll sushi. Gray started out as a surfboard maker, but ended up in San Diego getting a job as a sushi chef. That was what got him into the culinary world. He then moved to Pittsburgh to open a sushi restaurant there where a large majority of his customers were Pittsburgh Steelers team members.

Wanting to hone his culinary skills, Gray went to the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y., and roomed with Mark “Gooch” Noguchi. It was in New York where he met his wife, Mariah, who originally was from the Big Island.

While in New York, Gray worked for Nobu’s New York.

He and Mariah then moved back to Oahu where Gray worked at Kyotaku, Uncles at Pier 38 and Sansei Restaurant.

Hilo is fortunate to have Poke Market LLC.

Foodie Bites

Hawaii Community College’s Culinary Department Cafeteria and Café are open from 9 a.m.-12:30 p.m. today through Friday. Call 934-2559 for takeout orders for the cafeteria and 934-2591 for the café. Thursday is Chinese Day with an assortment of delectable Chinese dishes!

Email Audrey Wilson at audreywilson808@gmail.com.

 

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