Lilikoi cooking contest winners shine

The inaugural Lilikoi Festival brought together some talented cooks a few weeks ago at the Hawaiian Paradise Park Community Center.

Winner of the Dessert Division and also the Best of the Show was Joni Neel of Hakalau.

“With just three ingredients and perhaps five minutes of your precious time, you can have a dessert that will be the talk of your dinner party” said Joni about her simple, yet elegant and creamy dessert.

Her husband, Lanny, said he helped her stir vigorously for 3 minutes while Joni poured in the fresh lilikoi juice. Joni told me when they lived on the mainland, she made her dessert with lemon juice, and now that she lives here, she replaced the lemon juice with lilikoi juice.

2 cups heavy cream

3/4 cup sugar

1/3 cup lilikoi juice

Bring cream and sugar to a boil in a medium heavy non-reactive saucepan, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat to a simmer and stir vigorously for 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat, whisk in lilikoi juice.

Pour into small cups or glasses, cool slightly, cover with plastic wrap, and chill until set, 4 hours.

Serve slightly chilled, garnished with raspberries and a dusting of confectioners’ sugar.

The main dish winner was Destiny O’Hara of Pahoa with her Tadpole Chicken. Although not stated in her recipe, she added the seeds of the lilikoi to give a “tadpole” look to her dish.

5 pounds boneless chicken

1 large onion

3/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup honey

1 stick butter

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground cardamom

2 cups lilikoi juice

2 tablespoons vinegar

1 can tomato paste

2 cups water

Salt and pepper to taste

Saute’ onion in butter until it becomes translucent, add brown sugar, honey, spices, and vinegar and stir. Stir in lilikoi, tomato paste and water. Cook until bubbly then reduce heat and simmer while preparing chicken.

Place chicken in baking pan, add salt and pepper. Pour sauce over chicken and bake for one hour at 350 degrees.

Second place went to Leslie Carroll of Keaau with her Tropical Chicken Soup.

1 tablespoon fresh minced ginger

1 cup chopped green pepper

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 1/2 cups finely diced cooked chicken breast

2/3 cup lilikoi juice

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 cup crushed pineapple

1 cup water

Fresh chopped cilantro

In a blender or food processor, finely mix ginger, cumin, green pepper, pineapple, and sea salt.

In a medium saucepan, add the blended mixture to the water. Bring to boil.

Add chicken and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add the lilikoi juice. Serve with cilantro garnish.

Melissa Pang flew in from Honolulu the morning of the festival with her Lilikoi Quinoa Salad.

1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained

1 cup water

½ cup lilikoi dressing (recipe below)

1 cup dried fruit (1/2 cup raisins, ½ cup apricots, quartered, or choice of dried fruit)

1 cup cucumber, seeded and shopped

1/4 cup celery, finely chopped

1/4 cup Chinese parsley, coarsely chopped, reserve a few sprigs for garnish

Baby tomatoes, halved, reserved for garnish

Combine quinoa and water in rice cooker and cook until tender. Cool. Combine cooked quinoa and lilikoi salad dressing, lightly mixing well. Add remaining ingredients and toss until combined. Add remaining ingredients and toss until combined. Adjust seasonings, garnish with tomatoes and parsley before serving.

3/4 cup lilikoi pulp, including seeds

1/3 cup olive oil

2 tablespoons sugar

1 garlic clove, coarsely chopped

1 teaspoon prepared mustard (1/2 teaspoon if powdered)

Optional: 1-2 teaspoon no-cook pectin for thickening

Place all ingredients in food blender and blend until seeds are crushed and completely mixed. Let stand at room temperature until sugar (and pectin, if using) is dissolved, about 30 minutes. Refrigerated and use.

The winner of sauces, dressings and preserves at Freddi Maguilla of Keaau with Curry Passion Dressing.

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/4 cup strained lilikoi juice

1/4 cup plain yogurt

1 teaspoon honey

2 teaspoons fresh grated ginger

1/2 teaspoon hot curry powder

1/4 teaspoon Hawaiian salt (sea salt)

¼ teaspoon ground fine black pepper

Mix and whisk ingredients in no particular order. Refrigerate for half an hour or longer for flavors to blend. Keeps for about 2 hours.

Susan Hicks, Sandi Alstrand and Cathy Hough were the hard-working committee who put the festival together. The lilikoi cookbook, “The Lilikoilicious Cookbook — 100 Ways to Add Passion to Your Life!” was compiled by members of the Center for Spiritual Living East Hawaii. There are recipes for lilikoi butter, several pies, lilikoi mochi, several cakes, cheesecake, smoothies, and even a recipe for lilikoi wine!

Please feel free to e-mail me at if you have a question. Bon appetit until next week.


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