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Home > Luau > Luau Food > Traditional Luau Foods

Traditional luau foods

Traditional foods at a Hawaiian luau, and more particularly the Polynesian Cultural Center's Alii Luau, include:

  • Poi , the traditional Hawaiian staple. It is 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 Ambassador of Aloha Cousin Benny. Some Hawaiians eat their poi with salt, some with sugar, even soy sauce. Some like it thicker or thinner. Others like it several days old for a little extra tang; and malahini, or newcomers, might find it more to their liking at first if they eat it with a bite of the other meat dishes.
  • For those willing to try anything once, we offer poke, or raw fish marinated in lemon or lime juice with other condiments and a little coconut cream. Normally offered in the Hawaiian-style of raw fish with sea salt, seaweed and onions, we've chosen the more pleasing Tahitan preparation (poisson cru) to introduce you to this island favorite. If you want the more Hawaiian-style version, you need to go a local food store, backyard luau or small Hawaiian restaurant to get a taste.
  • Lomilomi salmon. In Hawaiian, lomilomi means to massage, or in this case to break the salmon into small pieces, which are then mixed with tomatoes, onions, and other small condiments, giving it a delicious tangy taste that goes great with poi. This style of fish preparation was actually introduced to Hawaiians by early western sailors.
  • Pipi kaula , literally "beef rope" or seasoned beef jerky, harks back to the earliest days of western sailors who brought their salt beef aboard ship in barrels. In fact, on some of the South Pacific islands, you can still buy a barrel of salt beef.
  • Though ancient Polynesians brought moa, or chickens, with them from the South Pacific a thousand years ago or more, Asian influences have livened up the taste with teriyaki chicken.
  • Filets of tasty, flakey white meat island fish that is deep-fried.
  • Dark purple Hawaiian sweet potatoes that have been mixed into a cold salad.
  • Chinese noodles and salads.

Then for the very adventurous or those raised appreciating island food, there's a whole other list of items that might be hard to get or prepare outside of Hawaii — and in some cases are even hard to get here, such as:

  • Opihi or limpets, usually eaten raw. These are becoming increasingly more scarce in Hawaii, and they are dangerous to harvest from tidal surge zone rocks. Because of their scarcity and difficulty in gathering, these are considered a prestigious delicacy.
  • He'e — Hawaiian-style octopus or squid, which also sometimes goes by its Japanese name, tako.
  • Laulau , a steamed dish usually consisting of pork, fish or other meats wrapped with luau — the Hawaiian word for young taro leaves — which ends up somewhat like a spinach after it's cooked.
  • Luau — the young taro leaves — which are steamed, mashed and then mixed with water, or even better coconut cream, to a gravy-like consistency to the point where most people eat it with a spoon. Small bits of chicken or he'e are also added to make it more special.
  • And all kinds of sea food and creatures, which Hawaiians traditionally ate, including crabs and lobster and since modern times shrimp and scallops. Some Hawaiian food fans also like other less familiar dishes such as sea urchin (wana) and sea weed (limu).

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