As the Hawaiian poke trend took a hold of healthy lunches this year, there is every sign that the appetite for Hawaiian fare shows no sign of abating in 2017. Early predictions, including from The Guardian, suggest the traditional Hawaiian food is in the running for taking hold of our favourite menu choices next year too.
From nutritious, if slightly off-putting looking 'poi,' to succulent kalua pork (pit-cooked whole pig) we take a closer look at the tropical island's cuisine which, spam aside, is rich and varied. Some you can easily re-create at home, others, well, you're probably best popping on a plane to Honolulu for (which, by the way is becoming a buzzy destination for cheap eats and interesting restaurants).
9 Traditional Hawaiian Foods to Try
Poke was the simple tasty dish that found an eager audience in the lunchtime crowd this year. The Hawaiian culinary staple, similar to ceviche, typically consisting of cubed raw ahi (tuna) marinated in a mixture of shoyu, sesame oil, Hawaiian salt, and green onions, is a healthy, filling and easy lunchtime choice.
If you love ramen then the noodle soup dish of Saimin should be next on your "to try" list. Soft wheat egg noodles, served in a hot dashi sauce are topped off with green onions along with other ingredients of your choosing including kamaboko, char siu, sliced Spam, linguiça, and nori amongst others.
The dish was originally developed during Hawaii's plantation era and took off to such an extent it can even be found on the menu at McDonalds these days.
A photo posted by Mycah rosario (@mycahrosario) on Nov 3, 2016 at 5:11pm PDT
3. Lomi Salmon
A traditional Hawaiian side dish of spicy raw salmon will suit those watching their waistlines come the new year. It's prepared by mixing raw, salted and diced salmon with tomatoes, sweet Maui onions, and flakes of chilli pepper. The salmon is massaged (lomi being the Hawaiian word for “massage,” ) with the other ingredients by hand to break up the fish and meld the flavours together. It's a dish best eaten cold, and crushed ice is sometimes added to further chill before serving.
A photo posted by NOH Foods (@nohfoodsofhawaii) on Oct 4, 2016 at 4:07pm PDT
4. Kalua Pork
Kalua pua'a, or roast pork, is often the centerpiece of a Hawaiian luau (feast), where a whole pig is stuffed with hot rocks, covered in banana leaves and cooked in the Hawaiian imu, an underground steam oven, for six to eight hours.
The resulting smokey, juicy and tender pork is shredded before serving, resulting in a texture similar to that of pulled pork.
A photo posted by el (Liyan) | Toronto x Guelph (@foodelventures) on May 17, 2016 at 3:52pm PDT
5. Pork Lau Lau
This authentic Hawaiian entree is made with exotic and delicious ingredients starting with either a pork (pork shoulder usually, not pork loin), chicken or vegetable filling.
Each lau lau filling is then individually wrapped in six to seven taro leaves, and firmly tied inside the many layers and pressure cooked in a steamer oven or, in the old days, in an imu (underground oven).
A photo posted by Heather Sperling (@heathersper) on Oct 9, 2016 at 4:29pm PDT
7. Squid Luau
Ok, so this dish doesn't look the best, more like creamed spinach, but don't let that put you off: it’s regarded as one of the tastiest dishes that Hawaii has to offer.
It’s made by slow-cooking luau leaves and squid in coconut milk or cream until tender, adding salt and sugar to taste. The result is a thick, creamy puree that’s simultaneously briny, savoury, and sweet – often served alongside pork lau lau and poi on a plate lunch, but delicious enough to eat on its own.
A photo posted by En Fuego Grill & Catering (@enfuegogrillhawaii) on Jan 21, 2016 at 4:51pm PST
Again, Poi is not going to win any prizes in the aesthetic stakes, but this is a traditional Hawaiian staple. It's a starch dish made by pounding boiled taro roots and mixing with water until it reaches a smooth consistency. "Taro is one of the most nutritious starches on the planet," says the Polynesian Cultural Center Ambassador.
A photo posted by Kekuamakana (@fitmamihappymami) on Apr 2, 2016 at 7:48pm PDT
9. Loco Moco
Loco-Moco (sometimes spelled locomoco or loco moco) is a famous Hawaiian high-carb, high-protein and delicious dish that was originally invented to help curb the hunger of active surfers. It’s basically white steamed rice, a fried egg, a hamburger patty, topped with brown gravy and easily found around the island. What's not to like.