Monday, September 12, 2016


Native Dishes of Hawaii

From poi to poke, Hawaiians know how to cook up a meal. While you and your family are vacationing on the Hawaiian Islands, don’t forget to sample these traditional native dishes. You won’t regret it!

Poi
You can’t visit Hawaii and not try poi! Made by mashing steamed taro root, this slightly sour pudding of sorts is a staple of Hawaiian cuisine. Think of it as tropical mashed potatoes. Taro plantations blanketed the Maui countryside for a time. You can explore one such site on our vendor’s helicopter tour that lands on a former plantation in the heart of Hana Rainforest.

Laulau
In the Hawaiian language, “lau lau” means “leaf leaf.” This aptly named dish is typically made by wrapping pork in taro leaves and slow-cooking it to perfection in an underground rock oven called an imu. After hours in the imu, the Laulau is tender and juicy. This dish is sometimes made with fish or beef instead of pork.

Chicken Longrice
This soup was inspired by dishes Chinese immigrants brought with them to the islands in the late 19th century. Made with plenty of ginger, clear mung bean noodles and chicken thighs, the resulting soup is light and savory.

Poke
Pronounced POH-kay, this dish is growing more and more popular in the mainland. This meal, essentially fish salad, can be ordered at most restaurants with an ocean view. Saltwater fish, generally tuna, is cut into bite-sized pieces and seasoned with some combination of soy sauce, Hawaiian sea salt, sweet Maui onions, garlic and chili peppers. The best part is it’s served raw. Yum.

Kalua Pig
The Hawaiian word “kalua” is a verb meaning “to bake in the ground oven,” and the word “pig” means “pig.” The islands’ answer to BBQ, kalua pig is so tender you can eat it with a spoon. Its distinct smoky flavor will have you considering the logistics of installing an imu in your own yard.

Lomi Salmon
Another import from other Pacific Islands, lomi salmon is basically salmon salsa. Raw salmon is diced, cured with salt and served with tomatoes, onions and chili peppers. It goes great with poi and is surprisingly filling. Many restaurants on the islands will serve lomi salmon as part of a larger meal.

Huli Huli Chicken
This Hawaiian twist on rotisserie chicken is a hit at any luau. It incorporates many flavors of Hawaii with such ingredients as ginger, onions, pineapple juice and sesame oil. The instructions for preparation are built right into the name. The chicken is grilled twice on each side. “Huli” translates to “flip.”

Kulolo
It’s almost like fruitcake, but a way better fruitcake. Raw taro root is grated and combined with coconut, sugar and milk then baked. A favorite at Hawaii’s farmers’ markets, kulolo is one of the 50th state’s most beloved desserts, and it’s easy to taste why.

With so many native Hawaiian dishes to sample, you won’t have a meal to waste on something as mundane as a cheeseburger. Do you have a favorite Hawaiian dish that we egregiously left off this list? Let us know in the comments section. Follow us on Twitter for more Maui- and Vegas-centric travel advice, recommendations and discount tickets to shows, attractions and tours.

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