Story by Shannon Wianecki
A sumptuous polenta served with pan-seared ‘opakapaka (snapper), onion jus and pickled Maui onions handily won this year’s Maui Onion Festival recipe contest. Classic, understated and flawlessly executed, it earned all five judges’ praise —a nice welcome back for its creator, Chef David Paul Johnson, who recently returned to Maui to open his new eponymous Island Grill. The winning snapper was topped with ruby-colored pickled onions, a sophisticated garnish that’s easy to reproduce at home. Simply peel and slice two medium Maui onions into 1/8” rings. Soak for an hour in ice water with a pinch of salt. Heat 1/2 cup of port wine, four tablespoons of red wine vinegar, two tablespoons of sugar, and one tablespoon of kosher salt to a boil. Drain onions and pour the heated mixture over them, covering them completely. Let soak for an hour. Drain and serve over sautéed fish, sandwiches, or salads. For the complete winning recipe, click here and here.