Hello! I am (sadly) (so very, very sadly) back home from my two weeks in paradise. I mean, seriously, LOOKIT:
This was Kua Bay, just north of Kona on the Big Island of Hawaii, and I could -- no exaggeration -- see it every day of my life and still be blown away by how beautiful it is. We spent ten days on the Big Island and another 4-5 on Maui, and I wanted to weep like a small child when it was time to go home. This is, hands down, my happy place.
Anyway, I will put together some photos and a recap once I work my way through the MOUNTAIN of laundry, but in the meantime, let's talk Hawaiian cuisine, shall we? First things first, the mai tai is apparently the official tourist drink of Hawaii, and screw it, I adored all 9,386,582,643,592,750 calories worth of them that I consumed in my two weeks. Fruity rum drinks with little umbrellas in them are the epitome of vacation treat happiness for me, and man, did we try some good ones. Specifically? We were pretty much short term regulars at Kimo's in Lahaina, which has an amazing waterfront location, delicious drinks, and pretty good food too.
Of course I bought the souvenir glass. OF COURSE I DID.
We also discovered Coconuts Fish Cafe in Kihei. I am still devastated that we did not go there until our last day, because the fish tacos? HOLY HELL. They were insane. INSANE. Mark and I split an order, and despite being full, debated ordering another because they were so unbelievably amazing.

Obviously these were the top two entries on the "Must Recreate at Home" list. We were able to finagle a quasi-recipe for the mai tais out of our bartender, but at Coconuts? The chef kindly informed us that we could absolutely have the recipes: we just need $100k to open a franchise. HAAAA. Well, suck it, buddy -- I did pretty well on my own!

Here's what I did:

The Official Mai Tais of Casa Katy Did Not
1.) Mix up your juice blend -- 2 parts pineapple juice, 2 parts passionfruit juice, 1 part orange juice, 1 part guava juice. (This is where I was winging it -- he did not give us the juice ratios.)
2.) Fill your glass about halfway with ice. Add in 1.5 oz. of light rum, 1/4 oz. orgeat (I had to use simple syrup + almond extract, which wasn't quite ... it, so I also added 1/4 oz. of amaretto), and 1/4 oz. orange curacao.
3.) Pour your juice blend in to nearly fill the glass and give it a stir.
4.) Top with a 1 oz. dark rum floater and garnish with a wedge of pineapple and little umbrella.
5.) Fire up the "Seaside" setting on your white noise app and light a "Sun and Sand" Yankee Candle; enjoy a momentary glimpse of vacation.

(Of course I don't have a photo; I was too busy drinking.)

Poor Man's Coconuts Fish Tacos
1.) Acquire some firm Pacific fish, not Atlantic fish that makes my husband whine about how mushy it is, and marinate it. I bought Trader Joe's frozen mahi mahi fillets, and they worked beautifully to my shock. It smelled pretty fishy when I opened the package, but after washing them off? Smelled like nothing! Just as it should! I marinated them in a sesame/soy/ginger marinade that was delicious, but not quite right. Next time I'll do two things differently -- a spicy lime marinade and cut the fish into chunks before cooking.
2.) Prep the toppings. First up is coleslaw, the key to which is the coconut milk base for the dressing. I was totally winging it here, but I threw some coconut milk, a spoonful of mayo, and a dash of red wine vinegar in a big bowl, and whisked it together with salt, pepper, and a couple of shakes of Penzey's Forward! spice blend (which is probably what I would use for the fish marinade next time). I diced some green cabbage and red onion, chopped up some parsley, and mixed it all together with the dressing, and re-seasoning until it was good. Easy enough! The other topping is mango salsa, which was diced mango, minced red onion, chopped cilantro, salt, pepper, and lime juice. Super easy, really delicious.
3.) Throw the fish onto a foil covered sheet pan and dot the fillets with butter. Broil for 5-6 minutes, flip, and broil for another 5-6 minutes. I'm guessing the time will drop a little when I'm cooking chunks of fish rather than whole fillets.
4.) While the fish is cooking, prep the tortilla base. Coconuts uses two small corn tortillas, layered, and the bottom is very crunchy to support all of the toppings. I put a nonstick pan on medium heat and let the pan heat up. I sprayed one side of a tortilla with Pam and put it spray-side down onto the hot pan. I sprayed the other side just before flipping. Once done, I transferred tortilla #1 to a sheet pan and sprinkled a little bit of a Mexican cheese blend on top, then topped it with tortilla #2. When I had all 8 tortillas fried and layered, I topped the four stacks with a little more cheese and popped them in the oven to melt (conveniently it was also time for the fish to come out at this point).
5.) Time to assemble! Take your hot tortilla bases and give them a schmear of fire roasted tomato salsa. Add a few chunks of fish, a good sized scoop of slaw, and a scoop of mango salsa, and enjoy! Actually, enjoy with many, many napkins -- they're as messy as they are delicious.
I should probably go back ASAP in the name of research, right?
There you go! A little taste of Hawaii, minus the 18 hours of travel.


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