It’s not everyday you get to go to the premiere of a new TV show.
And it’s not every show that makes you both hungry and inspired to travel.
But that’s how I felt watching “Family Ingredients,” a new one-hour pilot airing on PBS Hawaii on May 23.
The show follows the origins of a featured guest’s favorite dish and the family roots associated with it. In this case, it was renowned chef Alan Wong who shared two of his childhood favorites: tamago kake gohan (rice with egg) and miso soup (see recipe below).
These two simple dishes took him to his hometown of Wahiawa and his birthplace of Japan with the show’s host — and fellow chef — Ed Kenney (@edstown) of Town Restaurant.
The goal is this pilot show will get picked up by PBS (or any other network) and feature different people in the community, tracing their favorite dishes back to their origins around the world.
“It’s a foodie show, it’s a travel show, it’s an ancestral show,” says executive producer Heather Haunani Giugni. “I mean, how cool is that?”
I don’t want to give away too much of the show — I’d rather you see it for yourself — but here are some highlights:
• Wong and Kenney visit the 96-year-old Honda Tofu Factory in Wahiawa. It’s the oldest tofu company still in production in the United States. And it’s in our backyard!
• The pair visits Asano Poutry, an egg farm that raises special roosters and sells eggs through a vending machine.
• Wong shares a lot about his life and career, from his childhood in Wahiawa to his years in New York City, where he honed his culinary skills. I’m not sure if he’s ever shared these stories before, and they were fascinating.
• Scenes from a home-cooked dinner with the Hachisu family in Saitama Prefecture. Wong and Kenney brought some local ingredients — limu, inamono and Hawaiian salt — with them to Japan, so they could prepare a meal for their hosts. It was fun to watch these two culinary masters at work.
• Seeing how the farmers at the self-sustaining Frostpia Farms grow its shiitake mushrooms. (You gotta see it. I won’t spoil it.)
• Wong and Kenney dine at the world-famous Sukiyabashi Jiro, a Michelin Guide 3-star sushi restaurant in Ginza, owned and operated by sushi master Jiro Ono.
• Kenney made a great host. Humble, open-minded, smart, funny — he nailed the job. And the camera loves him.
The show ran an hour and I actually wanted more. I wanted to see more of Wong pounding mochi — something he’s never done before — and see more of the places they visited in Japan. The cinematography was stunning and the storyline interesting. And the message was important, too: “We should leave this place better than when we first got here,” Wong says. “It’s our responsibility.”
Here’s what the premiere on Saturday looked like — and yes, there was food!
“Family Ingredients” with Chef Alan Wong will air at 9 p.m. May 23 on PBS Hawaii. For more information visit www.familyingredients.com.
Mom’s Miso Soup
Courtesy of Alan Wong
4 tsp. hondashi
4 c. water
3 T white miso
5 small cubes Honda Tofu, firm
Garnish with green onions, cut saimin-style
In a small sauce pot, dissolve the hondashi in water. Bring to a simmer.
Place the miso in a small strainer and place the base of the strainer into the simmering soup.
Using a spoon, slowly push the miso through the strainer, so it blends into the soup smoothly, eliminating any clumps of miso.
Once the miso soup has come to a boil, add the tofu cubes and heat through. Pour into a small soup bowl and garnish with green onions. Serve immediately.