Maui-Inspired Seafood Pasta

Hello from Maui!  We’re nearing the end of our weeklong stay on the island.  It’s been quite an enjoyable visit–basking in the sunshine and enjoying long days swimming in the ocean.

This is an annual getaway that we look forward to since this time of the year always seems so busy for us–this year in particular.  We’re grateful for the lazy days we’ve had for soon enough, summer will be behind us and we’ll have only memories of this visit to tide us over until the next one.

I intended to update this blog much sooner than this but it was difficult to sit in front of the computer when this is what I woke up to each morning…

View of Lana’i from our balcony

…then spending the day here…

…and finally…

View of Moloka’i at Sunset from our balcony

We have been making an effort to start each day with exercise, you know, to justify all the eating that would follow.  The resort has a well-equipped fitness room; after a short workout on the machines my husband would continue with the first swim of the day while I ran on the beach.

After his morning swim. Don’t tell hubby I’ve been posting pictures of him here! Shhh….

Overall, we’ve had one fun day after another and the visits to Hawaii each year over the last several years have been even more special since we’ve timed them during our wedding anniversary–this year marking our 5th.

The only disappointments have been from two bad dining experiences during the week.  We’ve enjoyed some fine meals but even one of our favorite restaurants (Merriman’s in Kapalua) which sits literally a few yards from our doorstep has not met our expectations.  The Caesar salad (served with butter lettuce and not romaine) had polenta-crusted fried green tomato croutons.   It sounded good but was not.  My lamb was prepared well but the sauce drizzled over it was too overpowering for the already strong-flavored meat.  In this case, simpler would have definitely been better.

On this note, we decided to have some good local food the following evening.  Upon the recommendation of two locals, we set out for a new noodle establishment near Lahaina.  It has also garnered decent reviews (online) for its ramen dishes, something I was already craving anyway.  Sadly, while the food looked appetizing sitting from the bar, we never tasted it.  We were grudgingly allowed a lone stool at the bar with our wine as we waited for a table and were pointedly advised that we would have to relinquish our stool if another patron wished to dine at the bar.  What?  My husband wanted to leave at this point but I wanted to give them another chance.

To make this experience worse, there were four spaces (two tables) available when we arrived.  Soon after, three more tables for four opened up and still we were not seated.  The hostess said that they were waiting for a party of 12.  Well, how about the tables that were already free?  We lasted about forty minutes, just long enough for me to finish my wine (and to observe that still more tables became available but were never offered to us) until we gave up.  I did tell the owner how disappointed I was by the poor management of the tables (not rudely), all the while hoping that the unfortunate episode was just a function of their inexperience, but…wow! Oh, well.

But I won’t let this post end on a sour note, not at all.  The disappointment of that evening inspired me to use the kitchen I had at my disposal and you’ll never guess the other inspiration:  Hawaiian chili peppers.  And no, we didn’t pick them up at the market.

My husband and I decided to challenge each other in a putting match one afternoon (he won, of course, but I scored a lucky hole-in-one!).  Sometime into the match, my husband started using some green objects (as golf ball markers) that were scattered along the putting green.  When I picked one up, I realized that they were peppers!  Tiny ones!


After a couple minutes of sleuthing, we discovered that the peppers were coming from this bougainvillea plant.  Hubby tasted one and boy were they hot!  We were later told that a chili pepper plant started growing alongside the bougainvillea shrub and over the years it’s become difficult to separate them.

So around these tiny Hawaiian chili peppers that pack a punch, I created a pasta dish using fresh shrimp, garlic and clams.  I couldn’t find fresh clams but the fresh shrimp worked out nicely.  I used canned clams to create a stronger seafood base for the sauce along with some white wine, lemon, garlic and butter.  The shrimp lent a fresh, from-the-sea flavor to the sauce, the wine a little complexity and the chili peppers a gentle kick–altogether a very satisfying, delicious meal.


Maui-Inspired Seafood Pasta

  • 1 lb Spaghetti
  • 1 lb fresh shrimp (I used head-on for more flavor)
  • 2-3 cans minced clams (don’t discard the clam juice)
  • 5 cloves chopped fresh garlic
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • Chopped chives (no fresh parsley available)
  • 4 Hawaiian chili peppers, chopped (or use dried red chili flakes)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta to al dente.

In a separate pan, cook the garlic in the butter on medium heat.  Add the chopped peppers or chili flakes.  After a 3-4 minutes, add the canned clams with the clam juice, as well as the wine.  Allow to simmer for about 3 minutes or until the alcohol has evaporated.  Taste for seasonings and salt and pepper if you wish.  I added the juice of half a lemon to add a fresher flavor to the canned clams.

Next, add the shrimp to the pan and allow to cook just until they turn pink.  There should be enough juice from the clams (I used about 18 oz of minced clams/juice) to cook the shrimp, the latter imparting even more fresh seafood flavor to the broth/sauce.  Toss the cooked pasta in the sauce, garnish with parsley or chives and additional lemon slices.


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  1. So jealous! I was there last year and can’t wait to get back. the pasta looks lovely!

  2. Aloha!!! We love Maui… your photos remind us of where we got married on Polo Beach. Sounds like you are having a wonderful vacation, and I’m totally impressed with your pasta!

  3. I am so glad you were able to get away and take in this beautiful scenery. I don’t blame you for not updating at all! I’m sorry you had some sour dining experiences (there are always a few, huh?) but the pasta looks divine and the landscape…breathtaking.

  4. Great post, as usual! Love your commentary.

  5. Why would you ever want to come back with views like that!? I’m completely jealous.. Despite your dining mishaps that pasta you made looks delicious.. I’d take it over a restaurant dish any day!

  6. Thanks for the post from Hawaii, love the photos! It’s almost like having a guest post from yourself;-) You crack me up with the pepper foraging on the putting green, very creative use in your seafood pasta. Welcome home whenever that might be and thanks again for sharing some highlights of your vacation.

  7. Lovely photos! Wish I were in Lahaina right now!

  8. Congrats on your 5th anniversary! Sorry to hear about the poor service but your photos (and pasta) are spectacular and it must be so nice to celebrate in Maui. I love how your husband was using little peppers as markers. 🙂 I didn’t do well in the Maui heat so I ended up driving the cart while my husband golfed, but I regret not playing there. It’s definitely paradise for golf & celebration. 🙂 BTW, I’m so impressed that you posted while on vacay! I couldn’t have done the same!

    • Judy, it’s weird. I feel this sense of obligation to post regularly (in a good way). I feel like I’d be letting my handful of readers down if I don’t. We had a great time, though. The weather was perfect.

      I’m not really a golfer but I have seen some of the courses on Maui. Beautiful but yes, it can be hot. This is why I hang out at the beach. 🙂


  9. Beautiful!(the beach and the dish)

  10. Gorgeous photos of hawaii! I actually enjoy cooking on vacation with local ingredients–it gets expensive going out–so I applaud your vacation cooking.

  11. What a wonderful way to celebrate your anniversaries – Congrats on #5. Don’t blame you at all for not updating! What a gorgeous view – sigh, Hawaii is so beautiful… Your shrimp and pasta dish with those cute little peppers is probably more delicious than that of any restaurant!

  12. lovely pictures

  13. As a huge fan of seafood pasta, I need to try this version – just stunning. I love it Hawaii-style. And loving the photos – it is indeed a paradise.

  14. I am off to Hawaii myself at the end of the month! TKS for the preview. GREG

  15. How beautiful! I’ve always wanted to visit Hawaii…mostly to taste dishes I’ve never eaten before. Enjoy your time with your hubby and have a safe trip home 🙂

  16. Wow! What an awesome trip. You know, when you said ‘swimming in the ocean’, I almost felt sad. I live on the Gulf of Mexico, and I don’t feel I can safely ‘swim in the ocean’ anymore. That must be really wonderful. Wish all places were clean and lovely like Maui and your pics!
    Oh, and that pasta looks stellar. I fresh seafood pastas, and head-on is the way to go…;)

  17. While I am about to get packing for my trip, here you are all relaxed and rested from your trip to Hawaii. I am a little angry about that restaurant who did not seat you guys. I mean, that’s just lame. Believe me, it has happened to us too and boy do I get nasty if you only feed me bread and butter half an hour past my meal time. But good to hear that it was a beautiful trip after all. Hope your husband never finds out about his picture here. Hahaha!

    P.S. I’ll eat that shrimp pasta any time of the day. I have a pasta obsession. It’s true. I do not kid when I say that. Yours look so yum!

    • Kath, my husband’s shy and he didn’t really approve of my posting our pictures on this blog. This is why I post mostly pictures of just me. I snuck that one in, though. I know he checks the blog from time to time but he might miss this one, right?

      Have lots of fun on your trip!

  18. You are seriously in Maui! You are showing us actual pictures of Maui! I have Maui-jealousy! Eat a lot of seafood for me too 🙂

  19. trissalicious says:

    Congratulations on your fifth year wedding anniversary! I love the shots from your holiday – thanks for sharing… it makes me want to bug my husband to go there!

  20. In my previous post I was in Hawaii state of mind (well actually that’s the title itself) I guess subconsciously, you being in Hawaii and your tweets about it inspired me to cook up that dish haha..
    I can’t blame you if you for not posting at all.. with views like that? Haven’t been to Hawaii but waiting for the day Hubs fulfills his promise hehe.

    Great looking seafood dish, I love the challenge of cooking some place else and not in your kitchen and cooking with what is just available… in your case, this dish looks scrumptious, I bet it was a better alternative than your bad dining experience over there.

    Enjoy the remaining days of your vacay…

  21. This seafood pasta looks absolutely delicious!! I love Hawaii (I was married in Hawaii). All the pictures are so beautiful! Make me want to go back again soon!

  22. I think you more than made up for that disappointing meal with this seafood pasta. I love how big those prawns are! Those peppers resemble bird eye chili, and yes they are hot! A little goes a long way. Happy anniversary!

  23. trying your recipe tonight from washington state wont be back to maui until January:(

  24. I like pasta with chillies.

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