Ed: The Hawaiian cowboys were considered some of the best cowboys in the world who made a tender air-dried beef jerky called pipi kaula.
Come with me, Ed Kenney; and musician Kuana Torres Kahele to a California adobe and discover how these traditions of music and food are still enjoyed today.
There are so many reasons why I became a chef.
Every dish has a story.
Food brings people together and has the power to conjure up cherished memories.
I was born and raised in the Hawaiian Islands, one of the most diverse communities in the world.
In this show, we'’’ll meet a guest from Hawaii, learn about their favorite dish, trace it back to its origins, and have some fun along the way.
Announcer: Major funding for "Family Ingredients" Ed: Waimea, to me, is probably one of the most beautiful places in all of the Hawaiian Islands.
The produce that'’’s grown up here, something about the temperature at the elevation is unparalleled.
Never have I really delved deeply into the culture and met the people of this place.
Kuana Torres Kahele is the most dynamic songwriter to come out of the islands in the past decade.
For two years, his album "Kaunaloa" claimed the number two position on the "Billboard" top world album charts.
From performing on the road to teaching cultural workshops, Kuana is always sharing his love for Hawaii.
He'’’s even given his voice for Pixar'’’s short film "Lava."
One example of Kuana'’’s amazing talent is his song "Na Vaqueros," which won Best Song of the Year in Hawaii'’’s Na Hoku Hanohano Awards.
It celebrates the Mexican cowboys, or vaqueros, that came to Hawaii during the 1800s from Alta California.
These vaqueros taught the Hawaiians how to handle cattle and brought ranching lifestyle to Hawaii.
Thank you for having me up here.
Mahalo nui for coming.
I only come up here once a year for the-- for the cattle fundraiser Taste of the Hawaiian Range, and this is one of my favorite places in all the Hawaiian Islands.
I can see how you get so much inspiration.
Yeah, beautiful, beautiful, beautiful place.
When I come up here, you know, I'’’m dressing all warm because it'’’s cool, you got the rolling pastures.
This place is very famous.
The famous wind is called "makani pahili," "strong winds," so when you guys drive in Waimea, you see all the trees all lean one way...
And they'’’re pa'’’a.
They'’’re stuck that way.
That'’’s from the makani pahili.
He push them that way.
Kuana, voice-over: When I met Ed, I knew of him, never met him, but I always said to myself, "Ed Kenney.
That--Why does that name sound so familiar?"
And so after meeting him and talking to him, I was like, "Ed Kenney, the musician," and he was like, "Oh, yeah, that'’’s my dad."
I was like, "Oh!
I know your dad.
I got your dad on my iPod."
I was born and raised in Hilo [indistinct] I was also raised on a ranch, and back in time is when I eat all the kind-- I used to call "mountain food," because only meat, meat, meat, meat, meat, meat, meat.
So we eat meat every which way you can think of.
Actually, it'’’s when I was with my ohana in Waikiki that we ate pipi kaula.
Ed, voice-over: Pipi kaula is salted dried beef.
It'’’s the most delicious beef jerky you will ever eat.
Every family has their own recipe that usually includes a rub or marinade or Hawaiian rock salt, soy sauce, garlic powder, and chili pepper.
It is then left to air-dry in the sun, in a low oven, or hung over a warm stove top of simmering stew.
The beef is then quickly grilled before serving.
"Pipi kaula" is literally Hawaiian for "beef rope," named for the long strips of flank steak that are ideal for the preparation.
It was traditionally snacked on by Hawaiian cowboys during the long days on horseback as they tended to the herd.
In this episode, Kuana'’’s favorite food memory allows us to trace the paniolo heritage to the Mexican vaqueros who came to Hawaii from Alta California.
It will be interesting to see how this rich history is preserved today.
How many times have you heard people say, "Oh, it'’’s my grandma'’’s secret recipe," and then when Grandma leaves us, the recipe is lost.
It was such a privilege to be able to spend some time with Kuana, who shared his family recipe for pipi kaula.
This recipe is always flank.
It'’’s usually flank, and then the reason why we use flank, it ties into the name "pipi kaula."
If you look at the grain, when we cut them, we cut them with the grain.
When [indistinct] dry, it becomes kind of like string cheese.
You can pull them apart along with the grain, and then when you do that, it looks like rope.
So that'’’s why we call them "pipi kaula."
It'’’s really simple, the seasoning for this one.
So we got the pa'’’akai, which is a salt, then I put ni'’’oi, a little bit fire, put smoke, and then just a little bit of garlic powder, and if you want, you know, some people, they like that.
Yeah, beef with pepper.
That'’’s about it.
Let that marinate a little while, and then on a nice sunny day like this, we take them, and we put them inside the dry box.
You know, it'’’s always salty.
It doesn'’’t look like you put that much salt.
Just when it dries, the salt concentrates.
[Indistinct] the meat shrink down, but the salt not disappear.
The salt stay in there.
Right, that'’’s what happens.
The thing you always hear about is pipi kaula, again, which is like-- like, shaped like a rope.
Any other meat besides the flank cut, the name changes, and so this is considered pipi kaula'’’i, dry beef.
"Kaula" is the act of drying beef.
If I had had pipi kaula'’’i, which is just dried beef, it was always referred to as "pipi kaula."
Pipi kaula'’’i, Kuana used rib eye.
It was sliced paper thin, seasoned it with salt and pepper.
1, 2, 3.
1, 2, 3.
Ha ha ha!
A little bit of chili pepper, water, lomied it a little bit, which is mixing it, and then we laid it out in a dry box.
Wait, wait, wait.
We got to check this out first.
Oh, sorry, sorry.
You built this?
I built this and put it together.
I'’’ll shame show you my old one.
[Both laugh] So this is an old design.
It'’’s a two-sided box.
Then I put this sponge thing over.
It acts as a sealant, so that when you close them, nothing can get in through the side.
You got to press it down.
You got to press it down for hook them over here.
Nothing getting in.
I think you missed your calling.
Ha ha ha!
When I retire from music, this is what I'’’m going to do.
I'’’ll build dry boxes for everybody.
Ed, voice-over: I was expecting for him to say 2, 3, 4 days, we'’’ll come back and try it, but he said 6 hours.
This is it, the moment of truth.
This is it.
Looks about ready.
Can I go?
It'’’s amazing how fast this happened, just from the sun.
Little bit sweet, even.
Just must be from the meat.
The story was a paniolo would just pack it for the day and then go out and herd cattle.
What they would do is get their meat all ready, and they would strap them to the side of their saddle, and when they herd the pipi up the hill, the pipi kaula used to hang on their saddle.
Just hanging there.
By the time they reached there, the food ready to eat.
That'’’s how they used to do it back then.
They never had a dry box at that--that time.
There was no health department regulations, either.
Nobody got sick.
Kuana, voice-over: It'’’s special to me because I get to cook this recipe or this thing that my great-great- great-grandfather used to make.
It'’’s the same thing he used to make.
The act of preparing it is what'’’s special, because the mana.
To me, again, mana, mana [indistinct] power in the food.
The act of making them is what, um, brings out that mana of your kupuna, because it'’’s something that not your father was doing, but your kupuna was doing.
Ed, voice-over: I think the paniolo, or the Hawaiian cowboy, is a culture or subculture that many people that are even born and raised here aren'’’t familiar with.
In 1793, Captain George Vancouver picked up cattle in California and gifted them to King Kamehameha I.
A kapu, or restriction, was placed on the cattle that protected them from slaughter and allowed them to roam freely for nearly 40 years.
This feral cattle population grew to the point of threatening our native forests and watersheds.
To control the issue, Mexican cowboys were brought in from California to teach the Hawaiians how to herd cattle.
These cowboys brought new lifestyles and traditions that were quickly adapted to the islands.
So we headed up to Kahua Ranch to meet with ranch manager Godfrey Kainoa, who is a third-generation rancher with Kahua Ranch.
That'’’s where his grandfather and his father both hana pipi, or worked the cattle.
My grandfather'’’s grandfather that-- one of the first vaqueros.
This is all my saddles.
Kuana: These are your saddles?
Ed: So you still use these.
That I use for work, yeah.
I grew up with this little saddle.
My kids grew up with this, I grew up with it, and my grandkids use it now.
So this saddle has seen how many generations?
1, 2, 3, 4, 5 generations.
And your grandkids are-- want to be paniolo, too.
Ha ha ha!
Yeah, they want to be, yeah.
This is the kaula'’’ili that they used before.
This one here, this is my grandfather'’’s one.
This rope is probably about maybe 100 years old.
I'’’m not sure.
And they don'’’t use this kind anymore.
This would be expensive, huh?
It'’’s just an heirloom that I--I keep in my house.
And this one here is my dad'’’s.
My dad made this in probably 1960.
That'’’s the last rope that my dad made.
Intricately wound 8 strands of rawhide braided into this rope that they used to use to work the cattle with.
You ever seen how kaula'’’ili is made?
A lot of chewing.
When they make the '’’ili, because it'’’s the hide... Yeah.
They--They braid, braid a little bit, chew, chew, chew, bite, bite, bite, make a little...
Soften it up.
To each his own, but I think every paniolo different Yeah.
as--as far as how they make, but every time I used to see when they make the kaula'’’ili, they bite them, but I don'’’t know if they'’’ll eat beef jerky or... [All laugh] It tastes good.
If they'’’re hungry, or if there'’’s actually... Kuana, voice-over: Today up at Kahua, it was making so much connections, it was dropping names, times of what would happen, and that was, to me, gold, because I'’’m going to remember that.
To me, it'’’s valuable kind of stuff, and just being able, for me, personally, to sit with Godfrey, talk to him about his ohana, his direct connection with the vaqueros, that'’’s amazing.
It'’’s more amazing for me because I wrote the song.
Ed, voice-over: San Francisco, for me, is like coming home.
Um, the food, the people, the architecture... the food.
Really, for me, it'’’s like Disneyland.
Why are we here?
Aside from food, because that'’’s the only reason why I go anywhere, we are here to trace the lineage of the paniolo back to where it first came from.
Throughout history, many countries have fought over California'’’s resources.
It was once ruled by Spain, then Mexico, and finally ceded over to the United States.
Spain established 21 missions throughout Alta California.
In time, many of those missions were converted to cattle ranches where Mexican vaqueros and cowboys worked.
Let'’’s visit a ranch and find out where these vaqueros came from and meet someone who is using pipi kaula, or dried beef, in modern cuisine, but first, we eat.
On our way to dinner that night, Kuana was asked what does he want to eat, and he said, "I want to eat big fat steak."
A good friend and a chef Chris Cosentino just opened his first restaurant called Cockscomb.
I dragged along the crew, didn'’’t know what to expect.
Kuana, voice-over: Normally I don'’’t go out and just eat any kind of stuff.
I'’’m pretty boring.
If I'’’m going to go out, I eat one thing, not--not 12 things.
They served us just an array of seafood from clams to oysters.
Ed, voice-over: The food just kept coming.
There was a celery dish called "Celery Victor."
He explained to me it was a dish that was made in the early 1900s in a hotel in San Francisco that was celery braised in chicken stock served cold, and what he did, he took celery root, he roasts it till it'’’s black in his wood burning oven, peels the outside off, shaves it real thin.
He has really, really tender celery hearts, celery leaf, and then he tops it with fried chicken skin.
It was just a modern take on a San Francisco classic.
To me, probably one of my favorite things I had that night.
Kuana: I'’’m a pretty straightforward, simple kind of guy when it comes to food.
Being here in San Francisco, especially with Ed, that was really awesome.
We found ourselves in Sonoma, which is a little bit north of San Francisco.
Sonoma'’’s really known for its wine in these days.
It'’’s right next to Napa Valley.
It was an area back in the 1800s that was colonized by Russians, Spanish, the Native Indian population.
It was rich in natural resources, and everybody wanted to stake claim on it.
So we visited an adobe, which is actually like a cattle ranch or a rancho that was put together by General Vallejo.
Breck: What we'’’re looking at was the largest privately-owned adobe in northern California.
Ed, voice-over: Breck was our archeologist/historian that really shared his knowledge and love for the history of this part of the United States.
This structure has been here for 200 years.
These adobes popped up during a time when the missions were getting shut down, when they were trying to get people back to a--a secular sense of place.
Breck: Vallejo, he was a brilliant man, a very sophisticated man, and like a lot of important people in history, uh, an opportunist.
The cattle, there were 6,000 cows in the mission.
Ed, voice-over: Many of the people that were employed at the missions or lived at the missions were left homeless, and they found refuge in these adobes where they would find shelter, food, and employment.
Are we allowed to touch this?
Breck: You can, yeah.
[Laughter] Now that I'’’m already holding it.
Ed, voice-over: The adobe we were at was more symbolic than anything.
This was the sort of place the vaqueros may have embarked to Hawaii from.
We got to look at the saddles, which was an interesting contrast to the saddles that we saw in Waimea on the big island.
They were that heavy type of saddle.
We got to see the reata, or the kaula'’’ili, which is the woven lasso or rope that they used for roping cattle.
It was pretty much a splitting image of what we had seen on the big island.
Um, this was a museum, so they were kind of left there, and you could tell they weren'’’t handled, they were dried out.
Ed: You had mentioned there is a tribe of Native Americans or California Indians that actually have roots traced back to Hawaii.
The Kashaya Pomo, or the native people that live at where we know as Fort Ross, the Kashaya call that "metini."
The Kashaya intermarried with some Hawaiians who'’’ve come over here.
Ed, voice-over: So I walk into the dorm room on the second floor, and there are quotes from Vallejo'’’s diary.
There'’’s one quote that said, "The 4 Canacas from the Sandwich Islands were brought here by my brother-in-law.
"Canacas" is spelt C-A-N-A-C-A-S, and then I think back to my Hawaiian history classes and realize that Hawaii was once referred to as the Sandwich Islands.
So I read this, and I'’’m going, there were actually Hawaiians in this adobe working.
We know these main figures like Vallejo and King Kamehameha, but we often forget about the thousands of people that lifted these people up.
We tend to think of them in a big group.
A group of Hawaiians or a group of Spaniards came to Hawaii, but we don'’’t really know who these people were.
I'’’d like to know their names.
I'’’d like to know why they were there, how they were there.
We can only speculate that maybe they got a little bit of island fever, like we all do, and wanted to go and see the rest of the world.
Today we spent the morning and afternoon with chef Traci Des Jardins, and to tell you the truth, I was a little bit nervous.
She is highly accomplished, highly respected, two James Beard awards.
She'’’s half-Mexican, half-French, and her Mexican side were from Sonora, which is the northernmost state or province in Mexico that'’’s known for its cattle.
Kuana: It'’’s nice to see her do the art of how her family would dry the meat, which is similar to how we make our pipi kaula, which is one of the big reasons why I'’’m even here.
Traci: So I got, you know, a bunch of different of the Mexican ingredients that we use, um, and today we'’’re talking about salt-cured dried beef.
Ed: So carne seca, dry beef.
OK. Yeah, I mean, it'’’s as simple as that.
That'’’s what they call it.
The dish that I'’’m going to show you is machaca, which is the dried beef with the scrambled eggs, which you see everywhere.
It'’’s sort of a ubiquitous breakfast dish that you see.
Surf trips to Mexico... Daily.
Yeah, exactly, yeah.
So I recently cured this myself.
So this is just kind of slightly dry, um, and then I'’’m going to show you just how I sliced that and salted it for curing.
Ed, voice-over: So she took a--a flank steak, cut it paper thin with this razor-sharp slicer.
Kuana: You make it look so easy to cut.
You want to try it?
[Laughter] Yeah, so that'’’s it, and then, you know, you just kind of heavily salt it, and--and then let it--let it dry.
Ed: And it'’’s just salt?
No flavoring or anything?
No, just the salt.
I mean, traditionally, it doesn'’’t have any chilies or anything like that on it.
Um, we do that later.
Ed, voice-over: She said she dries it in her walk-in refrigerator on a rack.
So we saw the semi-dry carne seca that had been drying in her refrigerator for 5 days.
This is semi-dry.
Traci: It'’’s semi--semi... Semi-seca.
Ed, voice-over: Then she had the actually finished product, and it was really, really dry.
To give you an idea of how dry it is, she was able to actually bash it up into a fine, almost kind of stringy powder in a molcajete, or a--a mortar and pestle, and right in that form, it went straight into the eggs.
Kuana: So we got onions, tomatoes.
Is that green onions?
That'’’s, uh, chili.
Are you eating her ingredients?
Yeah, he is.
Ha ha ha!
Ed: Machaca is the only way I'’’ve ever seen this dried beef prepared.
I mean, you see carne asada, you see kind of a braised, shredded beef like in taquitos or things, but this is the only way I'’’ve ever seen it done.
The really dried beef.
Yeah, the really dried beef.
Right, yeah, exactly.
I mean, they do, like, a tinga, which is like a pulled beef, but I'’’ve--I'’’ve only seen that done with, like, a braised meet.
So, I mean, I would think that you could make, like, a delicious sort of tostada out of this, as well, but, um, and other things.
Really, it'’’s just always with the eggs for some reason, right?
That'’’s exactly right.
So my understanding is that your family were agriculturalists or ranchers...
So my grand-- my maternal grandfather, um, was born in Mexico in--in Sonora and his family, and they had a cattle ranch there.
Had you been there?
Yeah, almost every year when I was growing up to--to visit family there.
Um, one of my ancestors were in direct contact with the--one of the vaqueros that came over that initially came to Hawaii to teach the Hawaiian people how to ranch, how to herd cattle and stuff like that, so, um, the whole connection with the-- the dried beef, seeing how you do it, it'’’s--it'’’s awesome to see that not just the Hawaiians were doing that.
Just no refrigeration, so it was a way to keep it...
Right, so, I mean, that was, you know, the preservation.
The history of-- of meat and fish is--is based on that and not having any refrigeration.
You'’’re not going to eat it in one sitting.
This is a flour tortilla that'’’s made with lard.
You don'’’t usually see that anymore.
I--I actually bought these in the mission today, but my grandmother always used to keep a thing of lard underneath her sink, and she made flour tortillas every day, and, uh, we made it with the lard, and the flavor of those, it just takes me back.
I mean, it'’’s one of the really interesting things about Mexican food, because I think that people who traditionally have traveled to Mexico have gone to resort areas.
Um, they'’’ve been afraid to eat street food because they'’’re afraid they'’’re going to get sick.
A lot of the really great cuisine in Mexico is hidden in people'’’s homes, uh, not necessarily happening in restaurants, so it'’’s been a very inaccessible cuisine, um, and I think people are just starting to get to know it.
Yeah, it'’’s really just about diving in and--and seeing something and saying, "Oh, OK, I'’’ll try that."
It'’’s sort of like a microcosm of American food, if you will.
I mean, it'’’s-- You know, obviously here we have so many different cultures that influence, you know, what is American food.
I mean, it'’’s--You know, Americans are very diverse in their bloodlines, and so you get all of these really different flavors and... Yeah, I know.
The only difference is Hawaiians, we throw it all on one plate.
[All laugh] Kuana, voice-over: We walked in the museum, and we got to look at paintings and artwork, and we looked at some of the paintings, and the paintings, if we didn'’’t know better, you would think that'’’s a Hawaiian sketch, but it'’’s the original Americans from this land, so life was almost the same.
For me, as a Hawaiian musician, when I'’’m composing music, I'’’m documenting the time that we live in, so every--I account for everything.
Whatever I see, whatever inspires me is documented into this music, which will be for generations and generations to come.
Ed, voice-over: The story of Kuana runs much deeper than cowboys and dried beef.
It'’’s about the power that music and food have to make memories and to bring people together.
[Kuana singing "Na Vaqueros"] Lyrics in a song preserve stories of a time that is long past.
Ingredients in a dish carry the stories of process, history, and family.
These two things bring happiness into our often complicated lives.
At its core, they allow the past to speak with the present.
The simple act of sharing a song or dish allows our memories to live on forever.
[Kuana singing "Na Vaqueros"]