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No. 4 (Autumn 1953)
– 51 –


We are delighted that so many of our readers are sending us recipes. Our difficulty is to find enough space to print them all. This time we have chosen two ways of cooking kahawai that should, we think, interest many Moari house-wives. They have been sent to Te Ao Hou by E. M. Tapere, of Maketu.

During the summer months many common varieties of fish are caught on our shores and at the mouths of our rivers. The kahawai, which is usually caught on a handline from the riverbank or off the beach, is perhaps the commonest of all. Keen fishermen, both pakeha and Maori, are very excited when they land several large fish, weighing from 4 to 6 pounds, in quick succession. Kahawai often come into the harbour or river mouth for fresh water on the turn of the tide—sometimes whole shoals of them. In the whitebait season they follow the herrings, which in turn prey on the whitebait as they come in from the sea. Compared with trevalli, schnapper or butterfish, kahawai have very little fat content, but with a little care they make very good eating.


Sliced onions (1 to each person).

Salt and pepper.

Butter or other cooking fat.



Without removing the backbone, cut the kahawai into ROUND FILLETS. Use a large enough pan for the fish to lie flat on the bottom.

Fry the onions gently, add the fillets and season liberally with salt and pepper. Add a small quantity of warm water and cover firmly.

Steam for 20–30 minutes on a medium heat.


To vary this recipe, place small green baby kumi-kumi on TOP of the fish. Do not peel or seed the kumi-kumi. Add curry powder to the seasoning and dab with butter.


Salt and pepper.

Butter or other cooking fat.



Remove the head and fins, and then wrap the whole fish completely in butter paper, or brown paper.

Put some of the fat into a baking dish. Add the wrapped fish and dab with the rest of the fat.

Bake for 45 minutes in a medium oven.


Use milk instead of cooking fat.


Stuff the fish with any bread and onion stuffing before wrapping it.

A medium sized kahawai baked in this way makes a meal for 4–5 people.

To serve, remove from the baking dish and unwrap the fish. As the paper comes away the outside skin will come off easily.


We have received from Mr R. T. Kohere the following recipe for what he describes as “the daintiest or the best Maori dish”:—

Boil ½ doz. chops of fat wild pork;

When pork is about cooked, put in enough potatoes;

When potatoes are nearly cooked, put in puha;

Don't overcook the puha by boiling it too long.

Also, for goodness' sake, don't throw away the soup.

The essence of the pork, potatoes and puha

Is, of course, in the soup, or wai kohua;

Of course, don't forget to put in salt,

And if you like, throw in some pepper.

‘The above is the Maori's champion dish.’


Mr Kohere also refers to another favourite Maori dish. Kinas, or sea-eggs, taken with mealy kumara, he considers, is hard to beat. White kinas in season, after being steeped in fresh water for two days, is the nicest thing there is. Certainly its looks are by no means appetising. From the days of Adam and Eve down to the present day, looks are not a reliable guide. Kinas are in season in January.