Sunday, April 21, 2013

The mystique of saimin

The mystique of saimin

September 4, 2031

Weekly Report Posted: December 23, 2012 22:51

Saimin is a noodle soup dish unique to Hawaii. Inspired by Japanese udon, Chinese mein, and Filipino pancit, saimin was developed during Hawaii's plantation era. It is a soup dish of soft wheat egg noodles served in hot dashi garnished with green onions. Kamaboko, char siu, sliced Spam, linguiça, and nori may be added, among other additions.
Japanese pot stickers, called gyoza, as well as Chinese wonton, may be substituted for or added to the dish's noodles for special occasions. A pan-fried version, primarily inspired by Filipino pancit, is also popular, especially at carnivals, fairgrounds, and catered parties.
Saimin is a compound of two Chinese words 細麵: 細 (pinyin: xì, jyutping: sai3), meaning thin, and 麵 (miàn, min6), meaning noodle. Saimin is recognized as a traditional state dish in Hawaii, taking into consideration the various historic and cultural significances of its creation. The dish is composed of elements taken from each of the original sugarcane and pineapple plantation laborer ethnicities of the early 20th century: Chinese, Filipino, Japanese, Korean, Hawaiian, Portuguese.
As plantation laborers returned from the fields communal meals were informally prepared. It is believed that in some occasions a Filipino family may have had extra green onions growing in their yard, the Portuguese some sausage, the Hawaiian a couple extra eggs, and the Korean some cabbage left over from making kimchi. At this point they would all throw their ingredients into the pot and share. It may be through these communal meals that saimin was born.
McDonald's, an American fast-food giant based in Oak Brook, Illinois, became aware of the saimin phenomenon in the islands in the late 1960s. Maurice J. "Sully" Sullivan, legendary Hawaii entrepreneur and owner of Foodland Super Market Limited, had purchased and opened the first McDonald's restaurant in Hawaii in 1968 at his flagship grocery store. He opened several more McDonald's franchises and for 12 straight months, McDonald's Hawaii became the highest grossing group of franchises in the world. Sullivan wanted to serve his favorite meal at his McDonald's restaurants, saimin, knowing all too well that his restaurants would boom with its introduction to the menu.
Sullivan invited executives from McDonald's corporation, including owner business tycoon Ray Kroc, for dinner at two family-owned, "hole-in-the-wall" saimin stands in Honolulu. They ate at Washington Saimin and Boulevard Saimin. That night, Sullivan convinced Kroc to expand McDonald's menu for the first time in its corporate history to include a local "ethnic" food. Researchers worked extensively with Washington Saimin to develop a recipe for McDonald's Hawaii. Sullivan secured deals with a local saimin noodle factory, fishcake supplier and a Japanese company, Ajinomoto, to manufacture a special soup base.
Saimin is today one of McDonald's Hawaii restaurant's most popular menu items. Later, Sullivan introduced the breakfast platters of Portuguese sausage, eggs and steamed white rice; Spam, eggs and rice; and a Breakfast deluxe, a combination of the two, to his menu, capitalizing on more local food phenomena.

No comments:

Post a Comment