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Kona Kabobs with Shrimp, Pineapple and Portuguese Sausage

I may be in Hawaii but that doesn’t mean I’m not cooking. I cook things like Kona Kabobs to celebrate things in my life. Things as important as love and friendship, and the everyday joys as well. Things like the perfect sunset.

These Marinated Shrimp, Pineapple and Portuguese Sausage Kabobs are a way for me to celebrate both friendship and the perfect sunset while learning about another culture. I’m in Kona, Hawaii visiting friends. The kind of friends who celebrate sunsets. To me that means cooking. Yep. I am the kind of person who cooks on vacation. Some people like to plop their butts down on the beach. And that’s just fine, I love the beach. But I also love understanding a place just as much as vegetating in a place– so, as I said, I get into in the kitchen whenever I can. Does that make me odd? I don’t think so. I think food is the quickest way to understand a new culture, so why not immerse myself in it.

Take Portuguese sausage. That hardly sounds Hawaiian. But this sausage is a delicious part of Hawaiian culinary culture. It originated as a style of pork sausage with vinegar, black pepper, garlic and paprika, known in Portugal as linguiça. This style of sausage was brought to Hawaii during the late 19th century by Portuguese immigrants—more than 10,000 of which came to work the sugar plantations.


kona sunsetLike many things that come to Hawaii from other cultures, the sausage evolved. What’s now called Portuguese sausage here is a larger, slightly sweeter and softer sausage than the original linguiça. You can buy it in both mild and hot versions, the latter having a dash of red pepper.

Naturally I bought some the first time I saw them in the store, along with all the expected staples from paradise like pineapple, poke and beer. I had a few good ideas of what to do with the pineapple, poke and beer but I was wondering what to do with the sausage. Here in the Islands even McDonalds restaurants offer Portuguese sausage, eggs and rice on their breakfast menu. It’s also a critical ingredient in that favorite Hawaii comfort dish, Portuguese bean soup. But neither of those ideas seemed very “me”.

So one night late in our trip as I was laying in bed, I realized I had been awakened by an intoxicatingly sweet fragrance. Keep in mind, in Hawaii sweet aromas define the night air. I managed to drift fragrantly back to sleep, but I awoke the next morning hungry, happy and inspired to cook. This is what I came up with. Kona Kabobs.

marinated shrimpMarinated Shrimp, Pineapple and Portuguese Sausage Kabobs serves 6 as a first course CLICK here for a printable recipe

  • 1/2 c fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 c olive oil
  • 1 bn cilantro leaves, chopped
  • 1 T prepared wasabi
  • 1 T lilikoi syrup (may substitute honey
  • 1 T habanero hot sauce
  • 1 t ground cumin
  • 1/2 t coarse sea salt
  • 1/2 t paprika
  • 24 large shrimp, peeled and de-veined
  • 24 bite sized slices of fresh pineapple
  • 1 Portuguese sausage, cut into 24 slices
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, as garnish (optional)
  • 1 c mango chutney

Heat the grill to medium-high heat. Mix lemon juice, wasabi, olive oil, cilantro, lilikoi syrup, hot sauce, cumin, salt and paprika together in a small bowl. Add the shrimp, tossing to coat well. Cover and refrigerate 20 minutes. Remove the shrimp from the marinade; reserve marinade. Loosely thread shrimp, pineapple slices, and portuguese sausage slices alternately on each of 6 (15-inch) metal skewers. Place the kabobs on the heated grate and brush with reserved marinade; grill on 1 side about 3 minutes. Turn them over brushing them with more marinade, cover grill and cook an additional 1 or 2 minutes until the shrimp are pink and barely cooked through. Serve warm with tomatoes (if using) and mango chutney.

Source: Inspired by Sam Choy

sunset Kona