Award Winning Shrimp & ‘Ulu Cakes at the ‘Ulu Festival

We celebrated the starch of the islands (breadfruit) this weekend at the Puna ‘Ulu Festival, an event to support Kua O Ka La Public Charter School. The event was held on the school grounds, which happen to be next to the enchanting ‘Ahalanui Hot Ponds.

The event included music, cultural crafts, cooking demonstations, ‘ulu and poi pounding, kapa making, games, and a cooking contest.

The cooking contest participants were challenged to incorporate niu (coconut) into their dishes with ‘ulu as the main ingredient. I chose to enter an appetizer recipe, although there were entries for entrees and desserts. I’m happy to report that my Shrimp & ‘Ulu Cakes won first place in the appetizer division! Recipe is below.

Unfortunately, I got a little caught up in the excitement of the festival and failed to snap a photo. The photo above is of the cakes pre-fried.

If you are an island resident, please consider incorporating more breadfruit into your diet. It is not only a nutrient-rich starch that can easily take the place of potatoes in any dish, but being locally sourced, is an environmental superstar, too. Here are some other recipe ideas using breadfruit: ‘Ulu Gnocchi with Hamakua Mushroom Ragout, Mashed Breadfruit with Roasted Garlic & Goat Cheese, or any number of recipes on Sonia Tastes Hawaii (Sonia was one of the judges for the cooking contest and a champion of culinary food sustainability).

Shrimp and ‘Ulu Cakes with Coconut Cream
serves 8-10

1 pound shrimp
1 small green ‘ulu 
2 TBL fresh Big Island lime juice
2 TBL mayo
2 chopped Big Island green onions

1/3 cup chopped Big Island cilantro
salt & pepper to taste
1/3 cup flour
1 beaten Big Island egg
1 cup panko
Vegetable oil
For topping:
1 can coconut milk
lime zest& cilantro for garnish

Peel, chop and steam ‘ulu until soft. Mash well with a little salt.

Sautee shrimp in a pan with a little oil and some salt & pepper until just pink, 3-5 minutes. Remove shells when they have cooled and chop.

In a large mixing bowl, gently combine mashed ‘ulu, shrimp, chopped green onion, lime juice, mayo, & salt and pepper to taste. Chill in fridge for about 30 minutes. 
Using your hands, make patties with the mixture, a little larger than a golf ball, pressing to flatten. 
Set up a dipping station with a separate dish for the flour, egg, and panko. Bring a skillet over medium high heat and add oil. Dip each cake first in flour, then egg, then panko and cook in hot pan until browned on both sides.


For topping you will need to place your can of coconut milk in the fridge overnight. Place a mixing bowl and beater in the freezer for a few minutes. After milk has chilled for at least several hours, flip can over and open the bottom. Drain clearish liquid and place hardened coconut milk in the cold mixing bowl. Beat in medium-high for 3-5 minutes or until stiff peaks form. Use the coconut whipped milk to top each cake. Garnish with some lime zest and cilantro if desired. Enjoy!


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