Kaua‘i artist Joanna Carolan adds spice company to creative repertoire
By Pam Woolway – The Garden Island
Joanna Carolan is known for her ceramic tile company notable for its “Mahalo for removing your shoes” wall hangings. Banana Patch Studio has been making the tiles on Kaua‘i for 15 years.
When a Chinese company started selling a similarly themed tile on Kaua‘i, Carolan’s business dipped.
“I had to come up with another creative outlet that was gratifying too,” said Carolan.
Carolan grew up in a ‘foodie’ family with a father who had a restaurant. “I’ve always been interested in food. My first love is art — and cooking is an art too.”
Aloha Spice Company was her way to diversify and still be creatively engaged.
Carolan, with the assistance of Chef Michael Simpson of Casa di Amichi, collaborated to create four organic spice blends: Aloha prime steak rub, chicken and pork, lu‘au barbecue and a seafood rub.
“We also have a guava smoked salt,” she added.
“Up in Koke‘e there’s a program to eradicate invasive species,” said Carolan. “We went up there and got guava wood to use for smoking the salt.”
“We do our own smoking,” she said. “In Indonesia they take coconut husks and smoke their salt over that, so this is a traditional way to imbue salt with flavor.”
These all-organic blends use many Hawai‘i grown herbs and spices — the salt being from Moloka‘i.
Carolan has plans to expand her exploration with seasonings into other areas.
“I’m working to develop that Hawai‘i red hot pepper,” she said.
The intensely hot pepper will be used in a spicy chili oil. “We’re in the experimental stage of that.”
“The salt I use is from Moloka‘i since that is the only commercial facility in the state,” said Carolan. “Kaua‘i’s salt is harvested on state land and is not available for commercial use.”
One of the most important reasons this entrepreneur is motivated to develop another side to her business is because she intends to keep money on the island. “I’m also trying to keep my workers employed and keep my products about Kaua‘i.”
A “green” approach is another goal of hers. “We use solarvoltaic panels to run our kilns for the tiles,” she said. “We are trying to be as green as possible. Here we are in hot, sunny Hanapepe. It’s crazy not to do that.”
Her spices come in bags, jars or stainless canisters that Carolan described as “great for reaching in and grabbing a handful while at the barbecue.”
While the blends are commonly used as a crust on prime rib or chicken, the rubs aren’t just for meat.
“I really use them on everything — eggs, in soup or stew, or on grilled veggies.”
She said what makes the seafood rub so good is the organic nori.
“We have such a cultural mix of different flavors and the seaweed makes the seafood blend unique.”
Aloha Spice Company rubs can be found at the Hanalei Dolphin Restaurant, Kilohana in Puhi, Kaua‘i Products in Lihu’e or Banana Patch Studio in Kilauea.
Grilled Chicken Salad on Baby Greens
2 6 oz. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
3 Tbls. Aloha Chicken and Pork Seasoning
2 Tbls. olive oil
Garnish with orange and lime slices
1 garlic clove, minced
1 Tbls. red pickled ginger, minced
1/8 cup lime juice
1/8 cup pineapple or guava juice
1/8 cup rice wine vinegar
1/2 Tbs. sesame oil
1/4 cup peanut oil
1 Tbls. sugar
1 Tbls. green onion, finely chopped
1/2 tsp. Aloha Chicken & Pork Seasoning & Rub
Combine all vinaigrette ingredients and whisk together thoroughly.
Coat chicken liberally with Aloha Chicken and Pork Seasoning and Rub.
Grill or broil.
Use the olive oil to lightly coat the grill. If broiling, brush some olive oil over the chicken before coating with the seasoning mix.
To test for doneness, lay the chicken on your cutting board and cut into the side of the breast to give it a peek. It should be juicy, but not pink. When done, set aside to cool.
Slice the breast cross grain – across the short side, not down the length of the breast or it will be tough to chew.
Keep the chicken together in a tight pack to make it easier to “fan” over the greens.
To serve, toss the greens with the tropical vinaigrette and arrange in center of plate. Fan the chicken breasts slices over the greens.
Garnish with tomato, avocado, orange and lime slices. Spoon a little vinaigrette over the chicken, avocado and tomato.