Chef gets winner on first try

Chef Keith Silva at the Bali Hai Restaurant at the Hanalei Bay Resort has a knack for thinking up new recipes and getting them right with just one try.

That’s how he came up with the special Pine Nut Crusted Mahimahi with Fig Chutney and Honey Ginger Beurre Blanc dish, which he made for the Valentine’s Day special he ran at the restaurant until yesterday.

“I was researching ingredients with aphrodisiac properties, and I put this recipe together in my head. I got it right on the first try,” he said. “I learned that if you can taste it in your mind, then it will come out right.”

Silva does his research when it comes to cooking. He says it helps him in the creation of new dishes.

“I studied herbs and edible flowers. I like to have a knowledge of botany. I feel it is important to create new types of cuisine,” he said.

He uses ingredients he can get locally as often as he can.

“The wonderful thing is that figs do grow on the island, and are readily available when they’re in season,” he said. “I try to buy locally as often as I can.”

He and the culinary staff also have a fruit, herb and edible-flowers garden at the resort, so they can use fresh ingredients.

“I plan on expanding this garden to growing more exotic, edible plants,” Silva said.

Silva has been in the culinary industry for more than 25 years, and has been a chef on Kaua‘i for 15. He has been at the Hanalei Bay Resort for two years.

He recently traveled to Honolulu to accept a Hale ‘Aina Award for restaurant excellence from Honolulu magazine. He accepted the award on the behalf of the restaurant.

To recreate his special dinner and Banana Cream Pie dessert, just follow his recipes.

“I try to keep it as simple as I can, so you can put it all together,” he said. “We make all our desserts from scratch. The crust is just nuts and butter.”

Any type of fish may be substituted for the mahimahi, he said.

Pine Nut Crusted Mahimahi with Fig Chutney and Honey Ginger Beurre Blanc

Fig Chutney

8 fresh figs (if using dried figs, reconstitute 10)

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1/2 medium red onion

1 clove garlic

1/4 ounce cup red bell pepper

1/8 cup raisins

Quarter the figs. Chop red onion, and red bell pepper into 1/2-inch square pieces.

Place sugar and vinegar in a small pot and simmer for five minutes. Add remaining ingredients and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes. Serve at room temperature.

Pine Nut Crusted Mahimahi

1/2 cup pine nuts, chopped

1 ounce butter, softened

14 ounce mahi mahi (or fish of choice)

salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine pine nuts and butter. Salt and pepper the fish.

Place fish on a lightly oiled cookie sheet and press a thin layer of crust onto fish. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes.

Honey Ginger Beurre Blanc

4 ounces butter

1 fig, pureed

1/2 cup red wine

1/2 ounce ginger, chopped

1 tablespoon honey

1/4 cup cream

In a small pot, reduce red wine and chopped ginger to half. Add fig and honey and slowly whisk in butter 1 ounce at a time until all incorporated.

Banana Cream Pie

Crust

1 cup grated coconut

2 tablespoons macadamia nuts

1 egg

6 tablespoons butter, melted

1 cup chocolate, melted

Sliced bananas

Pie filling

2 cups milk

1/2 cup sugar

6 egg yolks

21/2 tablespoons corn starch

4 tablespoons butter

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

For crust, preheat oven at 300 degrees. Mix and form all but chocolate into pie tin. Bake until golden. Melt chocolate over double-boiler and spread in baked shell.

For filling, bring milk and sugar to a boil. Mix yolks, corn starch and 1/4 cup sugar in a bowl and temper with hot milk mixture. Return all to heat, stirring constantly. When thickened, remove from heat and stir in butter and vanilla. Pour into shell and cover with plastic wrap to prevent a skin on top.

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