Clubhouse Eats: The whole fried Hawaiian snapper at Kauai’s Hokuala resort is a feast for the senses

whole fried snapper

Carrot, cucumber and radish anchor the traditional Japanese namasu that perfectly complements the fresh snapper.

Jeffrey Westbrook

Much of the allure of travel is the opportunity to experience local foods, cultures and customs. And one of the best parts of visiting the Hawaiian Islands is the plethora and richness of all three of these things.

At the Timbers Kauai at Hokuala resort (home to the Ocean Course at Hokuala, the only Jack Nicklaus Signature Course on the Garden Isle*), Hualani’s oceanfront restaurant produces seasonal farm-to-table cuisine with an emphasis on local Hawaiian dishes and preparation. And if you visit at the right time, the locally sourced menu is anchored by a showstopper of an entrée: the whole fried Hawaiian snapper.

While it’s succulent enough to eat on its own, Hualani’s pairs the snapper with a Hawaiian-style namasu (sliced vegetables in sweet vinegar) and a housemade dipping sauce. It’s an experience not soon forgotten.

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Available for only part of the calendar year (generally the fall and winter months), the snapper is inspired by executive chef Zach Cummings’ personal family history and authentic Hawaiian roots. During its short run on the menu each season, it’s a favorite for homeowners and resort guests alike, prized for both its unique presentation and delicious flavor.

*Nicklaus Companies and are
affiliates of 8AM Golf.

How to make Hualani’s housemade dipping sauce

-1 cup hot water
-½ cup white sugar
-½ cup freshly squeezed lime juice
-⅓ cup Vietnamese fish sauce
-2 medium cloves garlic, minced
-1 Hawaiian chili, minced (can substitute bird’s eye chili)
-1 Tbsp chopped cilantro
-1 Tbsp chopped chives
-1 Tbsp chiffonade Thai basil
-1 Tbsp sweet chili sauce

Combine water and sugar in a bowl and let it come to room temperature. The hot water makes for easier dissolving. Add lime juice until it tastes like limeade. Add fish sauce in small increments until it reaches a strength you prefer. Top with garlic, chilies and herbs and serve.

Jessica Marksbury

As a four-year member of Columbia’s inaugural class of female varsity golfers, Jessica can out-birdie everyone on the masthead. She can out-hustle them in the office, too, where she’s primarily responsible for producing both print and online features, and overseeing major special projects, such as GOLF’s inaugural Style Is­sue, which debuted in February 2018. Her origi­nal interview series, “A Round With,” debuted in November of 2015, and appeared in both in the magazine and in video form on