7 Flavors of Hawaii
Hawaiian cuisine is full of unmistakable combinations of one-of-a-kind tastes. When visiting Hawaii, whether island hopping or taking a long weekend to unplug along Waikiki, you shouldn’t miss out on delighting in these notable bites.
The quintessential Hawaiian dish everyone mentions the second you say you’re going to a luau, this is created simply by steaming or baking the root of a taro plant and pounding until smooth. It is then thinned with water and made into a mildly purple paste that is slightly sweet. The fresher the poi, the more delicate the taste. Poi is served in various consistencies, “one-finger,” “two-finger,” or “three-finger,” which refers to how many fingers are required to scoop it up. Look for a subtly sweet, three-finger poi and enjoy.
Cooked in an “imu,” or underground oven, this celebratory meat absorbs the flavors of the elements used in the pit, from mesquite or koa wood, to banana leaves, to the surrounding soil, creating a uniquely Hawaiian staple. This pulled pork is truly one of a kind, and you’ll be able to find hearty portions typically served at a luau feast.
Refreshing and rich in flavor, this salad consists of fresh and raw salted salmon diced and tossed with tomatoes and Maui sweet onions, spiced with chili peppers. Though seemingly a simple dish, there is something magical about the way it’s made in Hawaii. Have it remarkably fresh and flavorful when on the islands.
Huli Huli Chicken
Hawaiians know how to grill – and they know how to grill their chicken. A sweet basting of huli huli sauce creates a completely unique dish bursting with flavors, from soy sauce, pineapple juice, brown sugar, sesame oil, ginger, garlic, and Worcestershire sauce. This teriyaki-esque chicken dish is truly like no other.
Hawaii is Spam-obsessed, and for good reason. They know just what to do with it. Spam Musubi is an incredibly popular Hawaiian treat, simply a block of rice topped with a slice of fried SPAM wrapped tight with a sheet of dried nori. Resembling sushi, it usually uses the Japanese spice furikake in the rice. SPAM is so popular, there’s even a festival dedicated to it – The Waikiki SPAM JAM® street festival. Found in convenience stores all over the state, this is a great snack and is even served at Hawaiian Burger Kings and McDonalds.
Found in cafés and food trucks, the loco moco is a delicious plate of white rice topped with a hamburger patty layered with a fried egg and brown gravy. Hawaii’s true comfort food, it satisfies the soul like any region’s favorite comfort food dish. On the Big Island, Café 100 – also known as the Home of the Loco Moco – has been serving it up since 1946.
Pronounced “poh-kay,” this bowl is a mixture of many delicious ingredients. Raw, diced ahi tuna seasoned with salty soy sauce is tossed in with finely chopped seaweed, rice, cubed avocado, spicy mayo, and sesame seeds. Though not always prepared this way, the poke bowl is something you’ll want to seek out when in Hawaii. Served up at delis, grocery stores, and handmade at food trucks, these fresh bowls are uniquely Hawaiian and uniquely delicious.
From the food trucks to the exquisite restaurants, the flavors in Hawaii will be the perfect pairing for Hawaiian island paradise.