Hawaiian Food Culture with Kimi Werner | Wild + Whole Sourced

By | November 15, 2022

With Kimi Werner as her guide, Danielle travels to Maui to explore the diversity of ingredients, both on land and in the sea. Food is deeply rooted in Hawaiian culture and traditions, and the key to its success lies in the stewardship of the land and ocean. Together they forage for fruit to cook with, showcase sustainable fishing opportunities, and plant the sacred Kalo plant on a historical, regenerative farm.


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Every meal has a story to tell that is If you're willing to look for it I'm Danielle Pruitt and I started wild and Whole with the mission to reawaken our Connection to food And to empower us to develop meaningful Relationships with the ingredients on Our plate You're not just farming sustainably You're regenerating as a cook I'm driven By curiosity and my inspiration Springs From harvesting ingredients directly From its source I've spent the past Decade of my life trying to eat Consciously and believe me it's not Always easy but it's taught me the value Of our food and resources and of course It brings me so much joy in the kitchen I want to challenge your perception of What food is where it comes from and how Those two elements are woven into our Lives Because connecting to our landscape Through food means so much more than Just the calories that sustain us Welcome to Wild and whole sourced I was once told that if you come to Hawaii hoping to take you'll receive Nothing But if you come free of expectations and With an open heart you'll get what you Desire The rich culinary history of Hawaii ties Its abundance to the Bounty of this

Magical landscape Culture here rooted in agricultural Traditions and Foods emphasizes a Connection between ourselves and the Wild places surrounding us I'm here to learn about Hawaiian food Culture from none other than Kimmy Werner got one nice Danielle Kimmy is passionate about her Homeland And I couldn't resist the opportunity to Come to Maui and explore everything it Has to offer So this plant is like this is like a Household Hawaii plant it's called Tea Leaf this is yeah and we don't actually Eat it but it's um it is just so useful The leaves like you just use them for All kinds of things you said people make Lays out of it yeah you can just really Manipulate it into beautiful beautiful Days but how pretty Oh my gosh I love it thank you it's like a Friendship bracelet with Hawaii I'll Make a matching one to me like this is What hiking's about like yeah it's cool To get to the destination with all the Fun little quirky things you do along The way Kimmy guides me through these ancient Woods showing me the landscape that Defined her childhood So this is Um strawberry guava

BC there's not there's not many but Those red ones Okay See I love them I just think they're great Oh this is normal yeah it's just totally Normal oh my gosh Whoa yum they're very good they're just It's unexpected I guess I want to pick some to cook with I think This would be really good with some like Macadamia nuts or something really fatty Right Here's some more As we hike I'm in a constant state of Awe at the surplus of wild forage Like I it's just like a dream This is beautiful not a bad backdrop all Right so Kimmy I take eating very Seriously so I brought a bunch of snacks For a little picnic All sorts of goodies in here There's a wild hog Amazing Just one of those invasive species that I believe Can be a really sustainable food source If people were to embrace it a little Bit more and I think Hawaii is so Similar to Texas and that there's a lot Of things aren't really supposed to be Here and I love the way that the Hawaiians have have embraced that to to Include that as part of their culture

And diet so speaking of invasives going Fishing tell me about this fish that We're gonna try to catch so toape or Introduced our government brought them In I think it's been a little over 60 Years now unfortunately they didn't just End up being this like introduced fish And food source ended up becoming Completely invasive you know definitely When I'm diving down and I just like Sometimes look down at the bottom of the Ocean and instead of seeing native fish You just see this like a blanket of Yellow a huge School of tilapia just Everywhere and That definitely can feel discouraging Especially because they're in such huge Numbers but um but I feel like you Absolutely just need to look at it as an Opportunity you mean um tourists don't Come to talk you're the first you are The first I've ever met the first and I Bet you're definitely the first um Tourist who ever came here and said I Want to catch topic but see right part Of them will love it The Hawaiian Islands are the most Isolated major land mass in the world Making the ecosystem here particularly Vulnerable to competition from invasive Species like taape Kimmy and I want to showcase the diverse Abundance of the ocean and the Sustainable fishing opportunities that

Are available It'll be a small nibble or a big strike Depending on the fish if it's like a Copy it'll be kind of like that But you never know it could be anything Well they're here let's Get Smart They're getting Like action all right is this a topic It's coming oh it's coming oh it's a Huggy that's okay that's a big Huggy That's a huge nice The wheat that's a little giant Yellow Lip trigger fit right there my dad and I We would catch them bottom fishing and His Mexican friends just told us like oh My God that's the best fish for like Ceviche so I think we're gonna do that Too oh yeah yeah oh she's not happy with That Well done well awesome Next Step Trolling we're lines pull through the Water to catch bigger fish like mahi Mahi which means strong fish and Hawaiian mahi mahi have been nicknamed The rabbits of the ocean they're the Fastest growing fish and can spawn two To three times a year Which makes them a resilient and very Sustainable fish to catch and eat Yes This is my first party first round Amazing With the birds as an omen our Good Fortune continued

Can you see it from there uh It's aligned pretty far out there okay I'm still going oh it's jumping Oh there it is Moving baby right in there yes it is Oh he's so pretty Wow I am so glad we caught fish today I know I really didn't have like a ton of Expectations I just wanted to come out Here and have a great time and I mean This was like a bucket list item for me We have such a huge variety and getting Not just one but two Dorados is icing on The cake seriously with every single Fish you put up I'm like okay good okay Good yeah and then I just got better and Better and better I know like I I all I want to do now is Think about cooking and food and we just Have so many options you got options Girl that's for sure man well this has Been great Cheers yes The next day Kimmy who's been processing Fish her whole life shows me how to Clean mahi mahi One thing is And also just pull the skin right off Before filling it so what I like to do Is take my knife And make this slice right along The top side of it Just along the backbone yep and you just

Really want to break the skin that's oh You don't want to go in deep Um it's not necessary to the center no You see how I did it I just like broke The skin Oh shoot okay yeah but I mean You also can just do it like a normal Fish then just make sure that your cuts All line up Okay And then you kind of can just start to Peel this meat right up here By the head it starts to come off real Easy oh my gosh this part kind of comes Off nice and loose but then once you get A good grip you know just hold down the Head of that fish And just peel it and it just comes right Off Isn't that cool that is so cool And that's how you skin a Mahi oh my so What do you do about all this is this Cook right off this Cooks right up you Don't clean it anymore you'll see once This hits Heat It is just going to be succulent yeah Okay Good perfect Well done and you And your top piece Pretty So nice right so because I did a little Research I didn't know really what a Trigger fish is but I did find that in Mexico it's very popular for ceviche and Then in Japan too uh zashimi yeah right

Yeah so I think raw preparation is Definitely the way to go and I want to Make a really beautiful Crudo I love Hopefully so We'll get this cut up All right so ever since we picked those Wild guavas and I bit into it my first Reaction was like way sour than I Thought it would be it just sort of put In my head I love balancing really uh Fatty things with sour and so Crudo like Is just the Italian word for raw fish And they usually just do like an oil and A vinegar or like a lemon and lime Something acidic so I wanted to play on That idea but using everything that is Here in Hawaii so first I made a puree With the guava And that's literally all it is And then so simple I'm literally just Gonna lay the fish On top Gorgeous And then so for the fatty component I Have macadamia nut oil which I love Macadamia nuts so I'm just gonna do like A really light Drizzle and then basil since it's summer I found Thai Basil at the market which Is just one of my favorite things ever And then from your own herb garden I Just have to have a little flower Because it's just beautiful some chive Blossoms

And then last but not least just a Little bit of finishing salts Just a sort of accentuate all the Flavors and bring it out to the Forefront don't think Triggerfish ever Looks so good ever how beautiful is this You ready to dig I'm so ready all right You go first I'm gonna take a little bit Of absolutely everything I've never had Guava puree fresh You have it um Oh my God That's delicious It's like so buttery with that macadamia Nut oil but oh my gosh Hawaii it's like Hawaii on a place it Really is Hawaii in summer on a plate So far everything that I've collected Here at Hawaii to cook with has been Amazing but there's one thing that is so Sacred to your people that I've never Tried and that's the taro root yep Yeah Carlo is what it's called here and It is the foundation of the Hawaiian Culture for sure For me there is nothing more exciting Than getting to grow forage or hunt for Food I'm unfamiliar with When I heard about Kalo and its Significance to Hawaiian culture I knew I had to come see it for myself We're here at noohana Farm where they Commonly grow Taro or Kalo a sweet Potato-like root vegetable that grows in

Low high or wetlands Kalo is probably Hawaii's most important Crop its cultivation dates back to Centuries The mission here centers around the Importance of traditional food and its Ability to manage water and food Sustainably Like this isn't a new farm So this is uh what we call cooliana or Aina coliana or kuliana It's land that has been in our Ohana or Our family for a multitude of Generations and land that was cultivated Uh you know upwards of you know 500 Years old there was more Kalo grown in This District than any other place in in Hawaii but now because you know sugar Cultivation was really birthed here in This District almost 90 percent of these Ancestral lands were destroyed so we Went from you know conservatively 8 000 Acres to now less than 100. essentially What I'm gathering is growing this Taro Isn't just a source of production of Food it's a way to tie into your Ancestral of roots and revive that History but you're also like rebuilding The habitat it's like there's a lot of Factors at play here exactly so as we You know till the land restore the walls Bring the water in everything else comes You know to life I mean everything from Native aquatic species are open who have

Come back to our streams now that we're Getting our Stream flow restored our Opie these are all of our native species That we sustained ourselves with you're Not just farming sustainably you're Regenerating regenerating a complete Native ecosystem that's incredible That's such an honorable thing to do and I I love meeting people who who are Doing that so I I'm ready to dive in let Me see yeah where they're going let's go Take a look His passion for this farm and the Hawaiian Traditions embody him he takes Us back in time through these Agricultural practices that otherwise Might be lost without his dedication he Even let us get our feet wet and plant Some Kalo for ourselves Put this on the side you're gonna find Your hole oh my gosh put it all the way Down all the way down And make sure it's nice and soft Straight yes just like that This is fun oh you're hired I feel like I feel like a child again I used to love Playing in the mud Now it's time to enjoy the fruits of our Labor by making a traditional paste Created by mashing and kneading steamed Kalo There's a technique to making this and It requires patience and a very Coordinated rhythm

His Mastery of this ancient practice Revives a ceremonial tradition and it's A reminder of the Hawaiian secret Connection to the land What do you think whoa Trying to figure out what it is when I Taste Taste it's very lightly sweet Yep this One has a it's not us not as sweet as a Sweet potato yeah It definitely has a nacho sweetness I Love it so much when you go to luau it's Not Treated as the main dish as it once was The first thing you would have had as Your Meme is this yeah your uh your fish Your eat all your Meats Um your veg those are all accompanied We've lost that relationship with this And I think through the work that you Know Kimmy myself and many others are Trying to do is bringing this back not Just back to life but bringing it back To the Forefront of our late I love the diversity of ingredients here This is exactly what I came to Hawaii For and I think getting this mahi mahi Was like just icing on the cake totally Unexpected so I've been thinking about What we we should cook or what I want to Cook and I think with this we have so Much of it and so beautiful one of my Favorite ways of cooking this kind of Flaky white fish is a really simple pan

Sear so I've got some tsuchimi togarashi The Japanese blend that's with the Orange peel and chilies to season the Fish I'll pan sear it give it a little Base with some miso butter and that's Really it and then I think some Vegetables on the side I picked up some Pineapple and then I've got your Tangerines from your garden mixed in With some ginger make a little marinade And just have like some Veggie skewers On the side oh my gosh Vibrant and delicious well for the to up It you know they aren't the biggest fish In the world so it's kind of a waste and Not a waste but it's a little much to Try and fillet them and get the meat off And so I like to just cook them whole so I'm just gonna do it local style score It dust it with some rice flour fry it And serve it with a nice Ginger and Green onion sauce that sounds really Good and then we have the Kalo from the Farm it's so foreign to me uh what are You gonna do with that I'd love to know So I'm just going to take this steam Carlo and I'm gonna Cube it up and I Mean you can kind of think of it as like A side dish potato salad but I'm Actually going to treat it like a poke Like treat it how you would treat cubed Fish oh so I'm gonna toss it with some Sesame seeds some Limu which is seaweed Green onion salt the roasted Kukui nut

The Ina Mona just a typical pretty like Classic Hawaiian poke but with Kalo with Kalo that's so cool I love that wow I I'm going to get started by chopping up Some things and making the marinade and Then seasoning the fish and we can get To it sounds good All right so what's next in this step Okay so this is very simple we're just Gonna take these little guys and I like To score each side Because it really Allows me to get the seasoning in if you Then kind of let it hang like this it Reveals a lot more meat Put your salt and pepper right in there And then we'll dust it with some more Chico some rice flour Hey oh my gosh that smells so good it's The um garlic the brown garlic I put in The oil wow that's clever I like that Do Nexus this is a soy lime chili Cilantro sauce it smells extremely Flavorful it really is Right and then this this is a great Sauce It's um Some olive oil there's Ginger and There's a lot of green onion I love Really beautiful vibrant green sauce Okay so Flavorful oh my gosh it's so pretty I Almost don't even want to eat it I do just have some fresh mango which I

Just can't help but use when it's in Season Let's try the pokem Yeah it's gonna I'm just gonna add this Right to our plate and we can just share Plate and Sample it Even that with the ginger scallion sauce It all goes together I don't know where To start just sort of scoop it down yeah Just pull it right off there that's a Good bite and make sure you really get All hit that sauce you want a little Mango in there How is it oh my gosh they're so good yes Oh my gosh That is amazing isn't the sauce Everything though the sauce is so good But I still taste the fish which is Really nice It's mild and sweet and so moist so like Adaptable too yes all right I gotta turn This now It's like It's like an American potato salad meet Some sort of Like Asian fusion like I think a lot of Thai food it is because there's a lot of Like that salty sour and I think the Tomatoes really pop it's so good I'm so Glad you like it oh my God I love it This is amazing right and I just I like The fact that we're just honoring this Little itty bitty fish but it's like Once you treat it right and put on a

Plate like this it's not itty bitty Anymore it's like pow it's like it's a It makes a really big statement Especially the way you prepared it and So I could imagine like I don't look at This as a small fish that's not worth Catching and keeping because it's small I think it has like a real treat We spent the afternoon grilling fish and Vegetables alongside Kimmy's husband and Son with a beautiful view that overlooks The ocean Searing the fish in a cast iron skillet Created delicious crust and it enhances Its buttery texture Yeah so beautiful I know I love cooking Fish this way so smell this I know Is there garlic in there there's a Little bit and I always grate it it's my Trick to get more garlic flavor when you Only have a little bit left is the more You grate it like the more those oils Come out it's more aromatic but really I Think it's the Miso giving that like Umami and then just a little bit of salt There's just really not much to it I Think the Sashimi has plenty of flavor With it and then with some of that Vinaigrette that's gonna I'm gonna baste It at the end right before it's done Grilling it's got that Tangerine Ginger Really brighten it up but the at the end There

Foreign I finished by basting the fish with miso Butter and serve it with a zesty ginger Dressing over rice accompanied by the Veggies we marinated and grilled All right that was amazing but I have One more special treat it's a little bit Experimental it's a dessert with POI and I I tried to make a little bit of a Brownie but it's basically a molten lava POI brownie there's no flour in it with A little bit of coconut sauce and it Should be really good that sounds Amazing Wow that's Epic I won't guess it was playing there That's for sure there's a lot of play in There too oh yeah My whole life but never looked at in This way really totally totally I'm so Happy to hear that thank you so much Thank you so much for coming and I Really Um believe that the experience you get Here is What you put into it and what you're Willing to share willing to You know accept and and you just you did It all so beautifully no thank you I Really appreciate that I think you have Such a unique and beautiful soul and I Love your passion for everything that The land provides and like that Connection to it is extremely inspiring

So I think you're you're a pretty Incredible person Cheers Cheers When we immerse ourselves in the story We develop a bond that enables us to Understand the value of these precious Resources Food and where it comes from is so Deeply rooted in the Hawaiian culture I'm inspired by their desire to preserve Their Traditions knowing that the key to Its success lies and the stewardship of The land and the ocean