The simplest dishes are sometimes the most meaningful. To me, nothing tops a good grilled cheese. For Hawaiian celebrity chef Alan Wong, that favorite childhood comfort food was tamago kake gohan, an austere combination of raw egg and hot rice.
Yet these simple dishes are sometimes deceiving in their appearance, which masks the nuances and history underneath. In PBS Hawaii’s new program, Family Ingredients, Wong will uncover these tasty gems by traveling first to his hometown of Wahiawa and then across the pacific to his birthplace in Japan to trace the origin of tamago kake gohan and another simple ethnic staple, miso soup.
The program, hosted by Chef Ed Kenney, “connects family, food and culture by exploring the origins of ethnic foods, local farmers and cultural traditions.” Viewers will follow as Family Ingredients visits Honda Tofu and Petersons’ Upland Farm, where Wong’s mom shopped in his youth and where Chef Wong continues to source tofu and eggs for his restaurants.
Kenney and Wong then travel nearly 4,000 miles to visit Japanese farmers, businesses and chefs who share their expertise. When Wong returns home, he prepares the comforting tamago kake gohan for his own mother using all he has been influenced by in the trip to his birthplace. Viewers will see whether his version of the dish receives the prestigious seal of mother’s approval.
The show is a production of independent filmmaker Heather Giugni, with co-producer Dan Nakasone and director Ty Sanga. It will premiere Thursday, May 23 at 9pm. PBS Hawaii Presents will encore Family Ingredients on Thursday, May 30 at 10pm.