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Foods of Hawaii

Foods of Hawaii

When planning a trip to Hawaii, you’re probably thinking less about the food and more about the lush rainforests, volcanoes, sandy beaches and surfing. However, the food culture in Hawaii is astounding, and you shouldn’t miss out on sampling all of the gastronomic delights that this beautiful state offers. There are many luaus you can check out that feature all these foods and more, organized through Hoku Hawaii Tours.

The Polynesians who came to Hawaii between 200 to 500 A.D. brought with them some yummy plants, fruits, vegetables and animals to cook up and eat. Plus, they took advantage of all the abundant fish and marine life in the sea to come up with delectable local recipes that make up the flavor of Hawaii as we know it today. Try these scrumptious local foods when in Hawaii and go beyond the fruity pineapple and macadamia nuts to explore more tastes.


This paste is created by mashing the taro root. Not only is poi low in calories, it’s also thought to be a “life force” by Hawaiians. They mix it with everything, as it makes a perfect complement to just about any staple, from meat to veggies. It can be pounded by hand with special tools or in a mixer, with the best taste and texture occurring when it is a couple days old.

Lomi Salmon

Created with cured raw salmon, diced tomatoes and onions, this dish originated in the 1700s thanks to whalers arriving on Hawaii with salted fish. The secret to the delicacy of this dish is the fact that the ingredients are massaged into the salmon, served cold and even served with a side of poi.

Lau Lau

Meaning literally “leaf leaf,” this dish is created by layering ti and taro leaves with pork and fish. Slow-cooked in a special under-ground oven for several hours, the result is a smoky, flavorful, melt in your mouth texture. You can eat the taro leaves but leave the ti leaves alone – they’re only used in the making of the meal. By wrapping the pork or fish in these leaves, it becomes tenderized – much like the practice of wrapping scallops in bacon.

Kalua Pig

Yes, you heard right: pig. This smoky tasting dish is wrapped in ti leaves, just like the Lau Lau above, for the utmost flavor retention. It’s slow cooked for many hours for a juicy result that translates well whether you’re serving a few people or a whole crowd.

Squid Luau

This is basically octopus wrapped in taro leaves and covered with coconut milk for a sweet yet savory flavor. You can also make this with chicken if you don’t have octopus lying around.


This dish is comprised of raw fish, typically tuna or even octopus, that’s cut up into little pieces flavored with salt, onions, garlic, chili pepper, sesame seed oil and soy sauce.


A yellow fruit when ripe and green when not, this fruit tastes vaguely like a sweet potato. In the early days, Hawaiians brought this fruit over from Asia and the South Pacific. You can steam, bake, boil, marinate, stir dry or deep fry it: your choice.

Make it a point to sample all the wonderful Hawaiian foods on your vacation to get a local flavor of the culture.