Today, Chef Sam Choy and John Veneri are in the kitchen with Kathy Raethel, president and CEO of Castle Medical Center. She’s a proud registered nurse from Australia and has lived in Hawaii for the past 16 years.
Kathy is a vegetarian, and her fridge is stuffed with fresh produce, many of which are organic and/or local: Hamakua mushrooms, cucumber, green onion, carrots, baby potatoes, green beans, asparagus, and vibrant heirloom tomatoes.
The vegetables inspire Chef Sam to whip up a stir-fry and wilted kale salad.
Chef’s Tip: When preparing vegetables, slice your Hamakua mushrooms lengthwise into “strings.” Use a peeler to shave off the tough outer skin on the base of the asparagus. Pluck the ends off your green beans as they’re also the hardest part of the plant.
Is it hard to be a vegetarian? “I think it’s easy,” Kathy replied. “You maybe don’t have as many choices, you know, when you go out to eat, but there are good choices.”
Boil the baby potatoes and Okinawan sweet potates, and add them to the stir-fry, along with bouillon cubes and shoyu. Chef’s Tip: The water from the boiled potatoes makes a great, starchy vegetable broth.
Finish the stir-fry with sliced tofu, shaved carrots, and green onion.
For the wilted kale salad, Sam has Kathy tear the kale by hand.
Chef’s Tip: Rakes the skin of a cucumber with a fork. Then, when you slice the cucumber at an angle, you’re left with a feathered look on the edges of your slices.
Sam caramelizes red onions on the stove, then adds in the kale to wilt before plating.
The salad is garnished with the sliced cucumber, baby romaine, shaved carrots, sliced bell peppers, and sliced tomatoes.
“It starts with the vision. You know when the vision is nice, it starts to trigger the taste buds. You know that first bite your mind is set to taste something good. That’s what’s nice about making eye appeal,” explained Chef Sam.
The key is to not overdo it and add too many ingredients. “You’ve got to kind of know when is enough,” he said. “Sometimes, you can really get too carried away.”
Now, for the vinaigrette. In a pan over heat, Chef Sam stirs together balsamic vinegar, olive oil, a tablespoon of sugar, salt, black pepper, and a teaspoon of Dijon mustard.
Drizzle on top of the salad.
As they eat, Kathy talks about a cookbook available at Castle Medical Center: “Kailua Foods: Recipes for Your Ohana.” It was published in honor of the hospital’s 50th anniversary and features healthy, vegetarian recipes, as well as photographs of Kailua.
Kathy provided two of her own recipes for the book: pavlova and soft pumpkin cookies.
Each family that participates in “Sam Choy’s in the Kitchen” will receive a copy. If you’d like to purchase one for yourself, visit Castle Medical Center’s gift shop or call (808) 263-5116.