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Dec 13, 2012 03:01 PM

Hilo Farmer's Market: unusual vegetables, and how to enjoy them

Are there any vegetables on offer right now that I shouldn't miss?

I'm especially looking for suggestions on stuff that might be "only in Hawaii" (or at least, not commonly found in West Coast mainland markets).

What should I buy? How do I cook it?

I'm visiting family in Hilo for the next month or so, and have access to a fully equipped kitchen and lots of free time to experiment. Please help me expand my horizons...

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  1. Not something that you cook, but try some local 'apple bananas' No, its not a gmo product. Apple bananas are about 1/2 to 2/3 the size of your normal grocery store banana and have a more intense 'fruity' flavor.

    2 Replies
    1. re: KaimukiMan

      i've found that if you eat a regular banana while there is still some green on it, the taste and texture are like that of an apple banana - much sweeter with a strong, fresher flavor, and very firm.

      they are excellent, and sold here often times under the candy apple brand.

      1. re: KaimukiMan

        Great suggestion. I've never tried one of those, and I've heard people rave about them.

        Might try making banana chips out of them (if I can resist eating the whole bunch before I get to the kitchen).

        Thanks, Kaimuki.

      2. I've never been to the Hilo Farmers Market, but a delicacy I associate with the Big Island is warabi, which are fern shoots. Basically you clean the shoots by soaking them in water and rubbing the "hair" off each frond. After that I blanch them and cut them up for use in a green salad. Probably your neighbors can tell you how else warabi can be served

        2 Replies
        1. re: honu2

          Ooh, perfect. I'll buy a bunch; some for salad, and some to experiment with.

          I wonder how they would be in tempura?

          Warabi is added to the list -- and I'm happy to now know the proper name for it. Mahalo!

          1. re: spoonlicker

            It is also delicious curried with shrimp (best) or chicken. Dark meat will be too strong for it. Give it a try. Cook the curry in coconut milk.

        2. Buy some lychee. Peel them and eat them.

          1 Reply
          1. re: caille en sarcophage

            Unfortunately, it's not lychee season right now. Hilo Farmer's Market has lots of apple bananas, though. I think making chips out of them would almost be a waste of delicious fruit, but then I can almost never keep them around long enough to make banana bread unless I have a whole stalk of them.
            Just take a look around. I'm sure you'll find some other interesting fruits and vegetables. The vendors will be happy to talk to you about different ways to prepare stuff.