The Ultimate Match
Delicate squash blossoms meet beefy tomahawk steaks in this winning recipe.
For our annual luxury issue, we asked Riko Bartolome, a private chef in Kapalua, to share the recipe for a wonderful dish we had the pleasure of enjoying at a friend’s home.
Chef recommends ordering the tomahawk steaks in advance from Maui Prime Fine Foods in Lahaina. Part of the wow factor of the dish is seeing the Fred Flintstone-sized portion of well-marbled meat attached to a long hatchet handle of a bone. (You can almost imagine a cave dweller tackling the meat with one hand, a stein of grog in the other; just like that cave dweller in my family room.)
Nevertheless, this is an elegant cut of beef, the same as a rib eye steak or prime rib roast. In this case, the portion that is typically sold as beef ribs has been frenched, meaning all the meat has been removed from the bone so you get a clean handle to hold on to or admire. (You’ll see the same treatment given to crown roasts of veal or rack of lamb.)
Chef Riko prefers to pan-fry the tomahawk steak because he can better control the heat and avoid charring, which is likely to occur over the open flame of a grill when the meat has such a high fat content, as all well-marbled meats do.
Well-dressed meats are often decked out with demi-glace, Bearnaise, or au jus, but in Argentina the classic accompaniment for cowboy steaks (rib eye with the bone in) is chimichurri sauce. The herbs used in the sauce impart a refreshing, light note to the hearty beef. The sauce even seems to aid digestion.
The stuffed and tempura-fried squash blossoms provide texture and flavor — think of them as an haute version of fried onion rings. Squash blossoms are available from various farmers’ markets any time of year on Maui. To supplement his supply, Chef Riko visits the Filipino grocery store near the Ace Hardware in Lahaina.
Chef stuffs the squash flowers with a mixture of make-ahead pureed squash, to which he’s added eggs and a hint of Chinese five-spice, before dipping the tender flowers into tempura batter. Then into the fryer they go and out they come minutes later, ready to grace the plate as an unexpected delight.
Just as unexpected is Chef Riko’s use of whole oats as the starch in this meal. He prepares it much as one cooks a risotto, with Hamakua mushrooms, stock and butter. The result is a healthful, creamy side dish, an ideal accompaniment to the mouthwatering steak.