Hawaii is a true melting pot. We have a melding of as many foods, holiday traditions and observances as there are ethnic groups who call these islands home.
Back in the mid 1800’s when the early wave of Chinese, Japanese and Filipino immigrants sort of waned, and some of them had left the cane fields to start their own little enterprises, the sugar mills started bringing in Portuguese laborers from the Azores Islands. These new immigrants were Catholic and they brought their own customs and traditions with them.
One of their traditions was to make malasadas (Portuguese donuts) using up all the meat by-products (eggs, butter, milk, shortening, etc) they had left in preparation for the Lenten Season.
Even though Fat Tuesday has been known as Malasada Day in Hawaii for many years, malasadas are now an every day treat and the most famous place on the island to find them is at Tex's Drive-In in Honoka'a.
Photo: Ada Pulin-Lamme, previous owner of Tex's Drive-In, cutting the malasadas before frying - taken during a food festival a few years ago
Here is one of the best malasadas recipes I have ever tried. It’s from a location about 25 miles up the coast from us, and the place where we all stop on our way up around the island when we go to the Kona or west side.
Photo: taken during a food festival a few years ago
1-1/2 pounds flour
2.6 ounces butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 ounces sugar (plus extra sugar to dust them with later)
2 (0.4 ounces) Fleischman’s Rapid Rise Yeast
1/3 cup evaporated milk
1 cup hot water
Mix 1 egg, butter, salt and sugar in mixer, at low speed until creamy
Add flour and yeast together, hot water and 2 eggs, until dough clings to dough hook like a ball. If dough is too thin, add more flour, a tablespoon
at a time.
Let dough rise for approximately 30 minutes. Take dough from mixer and flatten out (about 1/2 inch high) on a clean, dry surface dusted with flour.
Cover with clean cloth and let it rise again for about 15 minutes.
Cut in squares. Fry in shortening at 300 degrees F until golden brown on each side.
Roll the malasadas through sugar just as they come from the oil; serve hot.
Makes 16-18 large plump pillow-like malasadas.
They can also be filled with custard, curds and fruit jams.
The recipe above is one from Tex's Drive-In as it appeared in an article in the Hawai'i Tribune-Herald a few years ago.
Photo credit - Tex's Drive-In Malasadas - Naomi Tomkin