Poi & laulau in Honolulu, HI are mainstays of Hawaiian food tradition. Whether you are a visitor or recent transplant, these dishes are unique to Hawaii and a defining part of island cuisine. You will likely find them flavorful and filling, too, which helps during a long day of work or recreation. Whether you seek a culinary adventure or just a good meal, here is why you should enjoy poi and laulau today.
Poi: it’s better than it looks
It is true that poi looks pretty unusual. A thick purple porridge with a pasty consistency, some people cannot get past its appearance. At first glance it may look like baby food or a hospital dish prepared for the recently disabled.
However, it is well worth it to get over the look of poi and just give it a try. Its looks definitely do not define its taste. Poi is mild, slightly sweet and able to complement many entrees. It most commonly pairs with laulau.
Poi’s main ingredient is taro, the primary starch of the Hawaiian island. Taro is responsible for the purple color and paste-like consistency. Native tribes and settlers alike survived on it and people quickly acquired a taste for it—it has texture like potatoes with flavor similar to a yam. Besides complementing fish and meat dishes, it also makes a great dip.
Laulau: it’s tradition
Rhyming with “cow-cow,” this is an authentic traditional entrée that often times also serves as a great snack. It contains pork, chicken, butterfish or vegetables wrapped in seven taro leaves. The leaves most closely resemble spinach and once bundled, the mix is cooked using steam in a pressure cooker. Before such an appliance came to the island, laulau cooked in an imu, or underground oven.
Once finished cooking, the outer leaves are not edible, so be sure to remove them first before you start eating or you will be in for a bad surprise. Once you are done with the peeling, the meat or vegetable filling and inner taro leaves are ready to be enjoyed. The steam cooking brings out the flavors so strongly that you will only need a little bit of salt for additional flavoring.
Put them together for culinary magic
Nothing stops poi and laulau from being good on their own, but they are better together. Since poi doubles as a side dish and dipping sauce, it can serve both functions alongside laulau with pork. Eat the poi like any side dish or dip the laulau in it. You are unlikely to be disappointed with either choice.
Poi & laulau in Honolulu, HI is a featured dish at Haili’s Hawaiian Foods. Choose pork or chicken for your laulau and eat it traditionally with poi. Or you can go with lomi salmon, poke, haupia or rice. Laulau is also available as a side dish or you can try our poi mixed-cup. Whether you seek tradition or to discover your own combination, we are here to introduce you to the many flavors of traditional Hawaiian foods.