I've recently returned from a week-long family adventure in Hawaii, and alongside a gnarly sunburn and a few bags of li hing mui (also known as "crack seed"), I came back with this refreshing cooler recipe. It all started with a trip to the Honolulu farmer's market, and a local's warning to arrive before 10 am and beat the hoards of tourists.
We fought our way through the throngs of fanny packs, stopping for taro buns filled with pulled pork, tempura vegetables, sea asparagus, and other treats. After an hour, we discovered the ginger cooler stand.
The stand employees were squeezing halved calamansi, a small, super-sour citrus fruit, and tossing them in cups with handfuls of mint before topping up with mango and sparkling water. Since fresh calamansi isn't readily available in most of the country, I've used regular Persian limes in its place, and found that muddling the limes and mint together really releases the natural oils, making for more flavorful drink.
- For the ginger syrup
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- 2-inch long piece fresh ginger, peeled and cut into 1/8-inch slices
- For the Hawaiian Ginger Cooler
- 1 1/2 cups ripe fresh mango, cut in 1-inch cubes (about 2 small mangoes)
- 1/3 cup ginger syrup
- 1/8 cup fresh mint, tightly packed
- 1 lime, cut in eight wedges
- 1 cup sparkling water, plain or lime-flavored
- ice to serve
For the ginger syrup: Add water, sugar and ginger slices to the pot. Heat over medium-high until sugar has dissolved. Cover, remove from heat, and let steep for 10 minutes.
After 10 minutes, remove ginger slices from syrup and transfer syrup to another container. Chill.
For the Hawaiian Ginger Cooler: Place mango and ginger syrup in blender and puree until smooth.
In your serving glasses, gently muddle limes and mint together with either a muddler or the handle of a wooden spoon. Add ice and 1/2 cup mango mixture to each glass. Top up with sparkling water (about 1/2 cup per glass), stir gently, and serve immediately.