Getting a ‘Man-Handle’ on Seafood Boils
Have you ever seen that episode of “Seinfeld” where Jerry dates a woman with large, masculine hands who everyone on the show calls Man Hands? It’s a great one, and if you haven’t seen it, there’s one scene in which Man Hands grabs hold of a lobster tail at a restaurant, crushing the shell to obliteration with her bare hands.
Earlier this week, when I was out in search of a variety of seafood boils — those outdoorsy, summer feasts spotlighting piles of fresh shellfish cooked in a million ways — it got me thinking about that episode. When I was little, after witnessing the way I would literally pounce on food at the dinner table, one of my older brothers humorously started calling me Man Hands, and it’s been a running joke in my family ever since.
Now, my brother was only kidding around, and I don’t really have manly hands, but I do have the healthy palms and long-fingered physique to match my tall height. Rather than be self-conscious about it, I’ve just embraced my ability to get right in there with my brothers and use my utensil-free “mits” to break into seafood shells and dig those slivers of soft meat out of crab legs. To foodies like me, Man Hands had quite an impressive skill set, and we can all salute her for that!
So, I’d love it if you joined me to get hands on at these Ono, You Know keepers, where drool-worthy shellfish is just waiting to be snatched up.
Just about every coastal region of the U.S. has its own seafood boil tradition, but few are as well known — or delicious — as southern-style Cajun ones. Giving local patrons a taste of this Louisiana spice is Cajun King’s Kaneohe location, where diners may throw on gloves and an apron and dive hands-first into boundless seafood boils.
Everything from king crab legs to craw-fish are available by the pound, while lobsters and Dungeness crabs are served up whole. Diners may choose their own assortment of seafood to be boiled to soft tenderness and mixed with mouthwatering spices in a large bag, or they can select one of Cajun King’s Special Combos.
General manager Jin Chen recommends Combo No. 2 ($55), which feeds two to three people with a jaw-dropping mix of crawfish, mussels, shrimp and clams, not to mention a sizeable Dungeness crab. Supplementing each bite are two potatoes, pieces of Portuguese sausage, two ears of corn and a bowl of rice on the side.
“I like the combos because you can taste all kinds of seafood in them,” shares Chen, who notes that because the crab comes into the shop live and fresh, its flavors stand out in Combo No. 2.
Regardless of which seafood extravaganza is ordered, patrons may customize their spice level (from heat-free to volcanic) and seasonings — the wide selection includes Cajun and Garlic Butter smotherings and Chinese-inspired Black Bean Sauce. And don’t worry if your hands need a little assistance bursting open those shells — crackers, scissors and shellers are ready to help you out.
Windward City Shopping Center
45-480 Kaneohe Bay Drive
On the Atlantic coast, New England clam bakes reign supreme and are often enjoyed right on the beach by families and friends. There couldn’t be a better island take on this than the Seafood Clam Bake ($37.50) offered at Ocean House, where the dish is served on the glistening shore of Waikiki Beach.
The Outrigger Reef Waikiki Beach Resort restaurant is renowned for its casually elegant fare, and Seafood Clam Bake definitely fits the mold. This gluten-free treasure trove presents cold-water lobster, scallops, Manila clams, shrimp and Pen Cove mussels braised in a vegetable-based court bouillon broth shining with wakame (seaweed). “It’s the whole ocean,” describes the restaurant’s new manager Kevin Oleyar, “so you get to experience a lot of different combinations of flavors. Guests like to share this dish among the whole table.”
Garlic is the ingredient that makes a splash in the court bouillon — as it mixes so beautifully with all of the shellfish — while Yukon gold potatoes, Portuguese sausage and Kahuku corn are there to soak up this mélange of flavors. Last but not least, the dish is served with gorgeous clarified garlic butter, perfect for dipping each bite into.
The spot Ocean House is located in has been part of Waikiki’s story for decades, since it opened as the bar area of next-door eatery Shore Bird Restaurant & Beach Bar in 1979. It began serving a fine dining menu as Ocean House in 2002, and today, diners may enjoy Seafood Clam Bake and other delectable items from 5 to 10 p.m. nightly. This elegant beach-side setting may not be the right place to unleash the Man Hands in all of us, but enthusiastic dining still is encouraged.
Outrigger Reef Waikiki Beach Resort
2169 Kalia Road