When you think of Hawaiian food, you may conjure up images of roasted pork or even Spam sushi. Before Europeans settlers made an appearance in the Islands of Hawaii in the 1800s, however, Hawaiian food was very similar to the food available on other Polynesian islands and was extremely low in fat. Back then, the diets of Hawaiians revolved around native ingredients, including fish, taro, coconuts, bananas and seaweed.
Today, the cuisine of Hawaii is a fusion of many cultures, including:
There are various ways to sample Hawaiian cuisine. If you”ve ever had the pleasure of attending a luau, you”ve probably noticed the influences that other cultures have had on Hawaiian food. Even an average family dinner in Hawaii draws on other cultures, especially Japanese culture with dishes such as steamed or fried rice, chicken teriyaki, tofu and sushi.
The Hawaiian Luau: Mouthwatering Recipes
The luau is a traditional feast that celebrates many important milestones: birthdays, anniversaries, accomplishments, etc. Besides enjoying a variety of tasty Hawaiian food at a luau, people often sing and dance at the event. In fact, a luau celebration often lasts for days!
One very important feature of a luau is the imu, also known as the underground oven. On the day of the luau, people dig a shallow pit in the ground and line it with rocks or stones. Next, they place a whole salted pig covered in ti and banana leaves in the pit, which is then filled with hot coals. After about six to eight hours, the pig is unearthed and the party begins! Because this cooking method is known as kalua, the cooked pig is known as kalua pig.
Here are some other dishes that you”ll likely find at a luau:
- chicken long rice (boiled bean noodles served with pieces of chicken)
- laulau (steamed or baked packages of ti or banana leaves containing pork, fish, beef, taro, etc.)
- lomi lomi salmon (raw salmon mixed with onions and seasonings)
- poi (a paste typically made from pounded taro)
- poke (raw fillets of fish).
Luaus are not just about Hawaiian food, they also include all sorts of beverages, such as:
- cocktails, including Mai Tais, Blue Hawaiians, Pina Coladas and other tropical drinks
- fruit juices
- kona coffee
- soft drinks
No luau experience would be complete without a pupu platter, a tray that includes a sampling of Hawaiian food and hors d”oeuvres. The pupu is intended to whet guests” appetites and may feature such items:
- chicken wings
- egg rolls
- fresh fruit and vegetables
- spare ribs
Hosting Your Own Luau?
Hosting your own luau isn”t hard. All you need is an area to host your gathering (both outdoor and indoor spaces will work), some great Hawaiian food, tasty drinks and good friends!
For extra flair, throw a little Hawaiian-themed music on the stereo and give your guests leis to wear. You might even consider serving beverages out of hollowed out coconut shells. With a little preparation and effort, your guests are bound to have a blast!
Hawaiian Luau Recipes
Here are a couple simple luau recipes to help you start your party on a festive note:
Island Sunset Cocktail
- ice cubes
- one ounce rum
- one ounce pineapple juice
- 1/2 lemon, juiced
- 1/2 orange, juiced
- 1 tsp. sugar
- dash grenadine
- splash of soda water
- 1 maraschino cherry, for garnish.
- Fill a cocktail shaker with ice.
- Add all ingredients except for the cherry and the soda and shake well.
- Strain the cocktail into a glass, top with soda water and garnish with the cherry.
Lomi Lomi Salmon
- one bunch of green onions, chopped
- one lime, juiced
- one onion (preferably a Maui onion), chopped
- one pound salmon filet, chopped
- five roma tomatoes, chopped
- salt and pepper, to taste
- Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl.
- Mix thoroughly but gently, taking care not to tear the salmon.
- Refrigerate until serving.