Asian Bits for a Polynesian Wedding

Labor Day weekend was the setting for a chic intimate wedding. One of little paper lanterns, polynesian music, Kahlua pork, and bride's maids dressed in Hawaiian gear.

The bride requested of me Asian inspired hor d'oeuvres. The exact suggestion was "Polynesian, Indonesian". Of course I freaked. Polynesian, Indonesian! The only Asian food I can cook with confidence is Korean. Well, being Korean and having had Korean food almost every single day for the last 25 years.

I was pulling my hair doing research for the menu and also from fear that I was going to completely ruin the wedding with my subpar hor d'oeuvres. Through taste tests, adaptation, editing, and lots of brain-hurty thinking I came up with this menu which also includes the bride's requested mini hamburgers.

Japanese Cucumber Salad with Soba & Crab

I cut out the base from a wonton skin with a fluted cutter then baked them off in a greased baking sheet for a few minutes. It's good to keep checking their toasting process since one side of the sheet may cook faster than the other, or worse, burn! Originally I planned to make the sweet and sour Indonesian cucumber salad but the recipe test deterred me. I think the type of cucumber (English) and the shape of the pieces (diced) put me off. But I moved on anyways and decided on the Japanese cucumber salad which uses vinegar, sugar and soy sauce.

To this I added some soba noodles with tamari dressing, for a 50-50 cucumber to noodle proportion. The crabmeat got a quick splash of seasoning from the leftover cucumber salad dressing along with cilantro and green onion. And for garnish, chives and black sesame seeds.

Ahi Poke with Mango Salsa

Marinated lightly with sesame oil, soy sauce, ginger, scallion, sweet onion, sriracha, red chili oil, and Korean red pepper powder, the super fresh ahi tasted delicious. After filling little wonton flowers with the ahi poke, I topped it off with a simple mango salsa made with mango, lime, cilantro, red onion and jalapeno.

Maui Sliders with Sweet Onion-Scallion Soy Relish

I seasoned the ground beef simply with soy sauce, sugar and black pepper. Now the onion scallion relish is where I brought in a little bit of my Korean. The scallion soy relish condiment is one that my mom and I makes a lot and it is so simple and delicious. It is sliced scallion, soy sauce, Korean red pepper powder, garlic, sesame oil, and sesame seeds. This is good on practically EVERYTHING. Until now I never even thought about it, but yes, even on these sliders.

I added chopped sweet onions to the relish which added an extra crunch to the sliders, refreshing but not sharp like regular onions. The mini patties were custom fit for the soft sweet Hawaiian rolls [which were less than perfect shaped. :P], and topped with the sweet onion scallion relish and few sprigs of watercress, it was the most popular item at the wedding.

I did try to see if custom ordering the sweet rolls from King's Hawaiian was possible. Preferably ones that weren't cooked side by side but individually which would have made the presenation so much prettier. But they never got back to me and plus it would have probably put me out of my budget considering the cost of the ahi and crab. But flavor-wise these sliders won people over, including me.

A tiring day but a successful one thanks to Dylan who came out to help me work the event. Although we did almost die from breathing smoke from the grill in a very poorly ventilated kitchen. We survived though. Then we drank.


♥dex said...

About damn time!

Grant said...

This food looks fantastic, particularly the Japanese Cucumber Salad with the Soba & Crab. I can just imagine how good that tasted on the crispy little wonton. Amazing as usual. The wedding sounds like it was beautiful. Where was it held?

yoony said...

hi dex,
yes about time i updated! i know, i know. i've been in my little rut. i may crawl out at any point. maybe when you come to LA dex. :)

hi grant,
the wedding was actually held at a house near west hollywood. it was very casual and cute. the house had a nice set up though with an indoor bar and outdoor bar and seats surrounding a koi pond. i should have taken some pictures! too busy cooking though.

♥dex said...


Those sliders are making even ME want one! And what Grant said about cucumber salad.

Looks delicious!

Kirk said...

Very nice! I'm not a fan of sweet relish with my poke, being a purist and all - but very creative, and the food looks fab!
My Mom used to make "Korean BBQ Burgers" with soy, sugar, and sesame seeds, so those sliders brought back nice memories!

Anonymous said...

i'm glad you updated the wedding menu...everything looks so good!

yoony said...

hi kirk,

i actually really liked the ahi poke over rice with some red leaf lettuce, cucumber batons & chojang (gochujang, vinegar, sesame oil). i was trying to make something like hwaedupbap (korean sashimi rice) with poke leftovers except it was even better! until the past winter i didn't even know what poke was. what's your recipe like?

hi anonymous friend!

eatdrinknbmerry said...


We nearly died that day haha. I thought I saw the light at the end of the tunnel. I had fun working with you and drinking afterwards w/ you and justin.

Tokyoastrogirl said...

Yoony- you crazy lady! This stuff looks amazing....you have such a knack for beautiful detail. I bet those sliders were amazing- who doesn't love Hawaiian bread? Question- how long can you let those soba/crab salads sit on the wontons before they get soggy? I always want to serve things in wonton cups at dinner parties but am afraid that the soggy thing will happen. If I brushed them with sesame oil, would it prevent the moisture from soaking through?

yoony said...

hi dylan,

i definitely took it upon myself to down those drinks as fast as i can as i thought i was deserving of them after the near smoke-induced death. :) it was fun cooking with you too. thanks for all your help!

hi tunatoast,

thank you for your compliment! i'm relieved the hor d'oeuvres came out delicious and pretty. the wontons should stay crisp up to an hour but i would say be safe though and fill them ahead of time 30 mins. but just make sure whatever you're putting on there isn't too wet. the soba absorbed all the dressing so it wasn't wet at all.

Yoonyang said...

Par for the course, stuff looks amazing. As Marilyn recently commented, you have amazing presentation skills. Plus, I was told that the food was damn tasty too! Much better than the main courses. Awesome job, Yoony.

justinsloe said...

I got to be the official taster as yoony tried her recipes. The sliders were my favorite but all were crazy delicious. Mmmmmmm

Anonymous said...

Justin...i know why you always get to be the official taster but SERIOUSLY..."Why do you always get to be the official taster?"

I am going to "Nancy Kerrigan" you. <~ okay...that was distasteful! You just better watch it~ :)


SiBuduhMan said...

Your client suggested "Polynesian, Indonesian"?!? *shudder*

Must be a virulent hangover from watching "Bali Hai"... Well, the truth is that Polynesians and Indonesians (the majority of them anyway) share common ancestors, but that was way back in the day - and that's beside the point...

I did enjoy your description (and awesome photos) of the ahi poke and Korean slider dishes - I would have had more than my fair share.

Gochugaru does wonders for many sauces and foods, in my opinion. I also make a 2-day marinade for my grilled tri tip using gochujang and jjajang together (!).

Chubbypanda said...


Beautiful dishes. Absolutely beautiful. You do great work.

- Chubbypanda.

yoony said...

hi subuduhman,

your gochujang/jjajang marinade is making my mouth water just thinking about it. where do you get the jjajang? is it the chinese ones that just come in a bottle. koreans markets usually have the ready-to-eat bags of jjajang that's filled with meat and veges. oh yea, i graduated from sb! class of 2004.

hi chubbypanda,
thanks for your compliment! :) i just read your recipe on the chao fan su ye and am sad that i probably won't be able to find any sweet potato leaves. the jui cai chao dan sounds delicious too but no wok! arg.

SiBuduhMan said...

Well, the jjajang I buy comes in the same size bottles as most brands of gochujang do. I either buy Haitai or Wang. I do miss the Sunchang style gochujang that Wang used to produce (do they still make this?) - I bought it several years ago in Pusan Plaza Market in Oakland.

Wah, so you're a Gaucho too? Did you take any linguistics classes? I've been here since Fall 2000.

yoony said...

no linguistics classes for me. i studied mostly accounting and philosophy. (not accounting philosophy). :)

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