Many immigrants from different parts of the world have influenced the traditional Hawaiian foods in Honolulu, HI. However, Hawaii found a way to combine all of these influences in a unique way to make their cuisine.
Examples of traditional Hawaiian foods in Honolulu, HI can be found in a plate lunch. A plate lunch is very similar to the United States’ southern meat-and-three dishes. This idea of combining meat and side dishes was brought to Hawaii from the Japanese. In the 1880s, laborers from all over the world were coming to work on sugar and fruit plantations in Hawaii. The Japanese workers had bento, a container full of meat and vegetables.
A plate lunch in Hawaii can consist of a number of different traditional Hawaiian foods in Honolulu, HI:
- Laulau: Laulau is pork wrapped in a taro leaf: A taro is a vegetable plant that is farmed in dry land or wetland conditions. The Polynesians introduced the plant to Hawaii between 300- 500 A.D. The taro plant is sacred to the Hawaiians; they believe the plant is the original ancestor of their people.
- Kalua pork: Kalua describes the way of preparing food. In terms of kalua pork, it means cooking a pig in an imu, or a Hawaiian earth oven. This imu is a pit dug into the ground surrounded by hot rocks. Hot rocks are inserted into the pig’s abdominal cavities so it will cook over the pit thoroughly and correctly.
- Lomi-lomi salmon: This is a dish that contains tomatoes mixed with salmon. It can be best understood as a type of salad. In the 18th century, Christian missionaries and western sailors brought their cuisine over to the island. Western sailors introduced salted fish, which eventually transformed into the side dish of lomi-lomi salmon.
- Poi: Poi comes from taro, which was introduced to the Hawaiian islands by the Polynesians in 300-500 A.D. Poi is a staple food made from the stem of the taro plant cooked in an imu. In more basic terms, it is the mashed, cooked stem mixed with fluid. The consistency ranges anywhere from a liquid to as thick as dough. You can eat it with one to three fingers. Poi is a sacred part of daily life because of the taro plant. When poi is served, the spirit of Haloa, a legendary ancestor of Hawaii, is present.
- Haupia: Haupia is coconut milk mixed with ground pia. Pia is a plant in the yam family that was brought to the islands by the Polynesians. Haupia is considered a dessert and it is served in blocks like gelatin.
A place to try many different traditional Hawaiian foods in Honolulu, HI is at a lu’au. At a lu’au you would have poi, kalua pork, lomi-lomi salmon and haupia. In addition, beer, opihi (mollusks attached to sea rocks) and poke (fish salad) would be served.
Now that you know some of the history of the Hawaiian cuisine, try traditional Hawaiian foods in Honolulu, HI.