Chicken Hekka. It’s like a sukiyaki with Hawai’i plantation roots. I like to think that it’s backstory is similar to the tale of Stone Soup, in which hungry villagers got together to make a meal that fed everyone using whatever ingredients was on hand. I don’t really know what the backstory is.
I never cared for the dish. Even when my grandma used to make it, and her Chicken Hekka recipe was one of legend. I was a finicky kid, what can I say? But three or four years ago I reluctantly ordered a hekka plate at the annual mochi-pounding event hosted by Akiko’s Buddhist Bed and Breakfast. With one taste I became an instant fan of chicken hekka. Took me 30 some-odd years. I got some catching up to do.
Luckily for me, my kids love chicken hekka. It’s an easy one-pot meal that I can “hide” veggies in. Tasty Island has a recipe for Sam Choy’s Chicken Hekka as well as Hilo Style Chicken Hekka.
I recently made the Hilo Style dish. I very loosely followed the recipe, as the kids were bouncing off the walls and I rushed to throw it all together. Here’s what I did:
- Browned the chicken (haphazardly cut into bite-size pieces) in a hot pan sprayed with coconut oil (spray for pshhhhhhhhhhhhhh….5 seconds)
- Added half of an almost-forgotten onion, chopped, along with a mini handful of pre-soaked shiitake (saved the water) and a few slices of fresh ginger
- Added about 1/4 cup mirin and 1/2 cup brown sugar, about 1 cup of shiitake water
- Added 1/2 cup shoyu and some fresh veggies (I had carrot, bean sprout, watercress, pea shoots and some white mushrooms)
- Added one can drained (I was supposed to keep the water) straw mushrooms, one can drained bamboo shoots
- Added some pre-soaked rice stick noodles (didn’t have bean thread)
- Added one block cubed tofu and a handful of (homegrown!) green onions, chopped
If you’re actually following these instructions, you can add more shoyu or sugar or mirin or water or maybe even oyster sauce to taste and let simmer for a little longer, perhaps 5 minutes or so.
I forgot the beer. It never made it in the dish.
Can I still call it Hilo Style Chicken Hekka?
Serve over rice.