For a long time, people have been sleeping on just how great Hawaiian cuisine actually is. Gone are the days when Hawaiian food was overlooked by travelers and foodies alike. It’s time to give Hawaiian fare the respect is deserves.
Poké shops are popping up everywhere, which is a great start, but there’s so much more to know! Food is Hawaii is a synthesis of food from the Pacific Polynesian Islands as well as China, Japan, the Philippines, and more. This creates a rich and diverse fusion of foods that are absolutely incredible. Here are some must-try dishes when you take a visit to Hawaii.
In the Hawaiian language, “kālua” means to cook something in an underground oven. That means that you’ll find many meat dishes labelled with the name kālua, as it means the dishes have all been prepared with the same underground method. Kālua meat is often served with mashed taro root (poi) or sweet potatoes. They’re also served barbecue style and come with a side of slaw.
Poké has been a long-time favorite in Hawaii, and has now taken the world by storm. This dish is comprised of raw fish that’s been prepared with local sea salt called pa’akai, along with limu seaweed and roasted candlenuts. The seafood is accompanied by delicate flavors so that the fish will remain the star of the dish.
Lau Lau are delicious little green balls made of meat or fish that are wrapped in taro leaves. These little treats were typically cooked in an imu, and underground oven, and later seasoned with salt. Nowadays, they tend to be baked or steamed in a modern oven, but they are still just as tasty.
Poi is a dish made of taro root which is often served along poké, especially at luaus. The purpley-grey mush can sometimes be an acquired taste, but it is an essential part of Hawaiian cuisine.
Saimin is a Hawaiian spin on Chinese egg-noodle group that has been influenced by both chow mein and Japanese dashi broth. As time passed an generations of immigrants have continued to diversify, Portuguese sausage, Korean kimchi, and even Spam have been added to Saimin dishes.
Although it hails from Minnesota, Spam has become a quintessential part of Hawaiian cuisine. The salty pork product is included in many dishes, one of which is the famous Spam Musubi. The dish is made with fried Spam, dried seaweef, and rice. So essentially, it’s Spam sushi, and it is very delicious.