What is Hawaiian Food?

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Posted 3 June 2012 00:58

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Being from Hawaii, I always chuckle when I see a recipe using the word "Hawaiian" or when someone tells me that they had "Hawaiian Burgers".  What that usually means is that the recipe or the food item had pineapple in it.  I was born and raised in Hawaii and I don't think we ever ate cooked pineapple.  In fact, I think we took pineapple for granted and rarely ate it.  Occassionally it would be added to sweet and sour spare ribs or something like that, but to me it was Chinese, not Hawaiian.

True Hawaiian food really consists of a handful of items and even those items are what I would consider modern-day Hawaiian.  Some of the foods that would be considered Hawaiian food today would include:

Kalua Pork (Kalua Pig) - This is a whole pig cooked underground in an imu (underground oven).  Kalua Pork is very similar to pulled pork and a lot of people have adapted the original recipe for the crockpot or slow cooker.  Kalua Pork is still served as the main entree at Luaus in Hawaii but nowadays, it has been adapted to be used in a wide range of appetizer, salad and main course dishes including wontons, tacos, sliders and salads just as you would use pulled pork.

Lau Lau - Lau Lau is a very special dish that is still enjoyed today.  I guess it would be the Hawaiian equivalent of the tamale.  Lau Lau takes pieces of salted pork, fish and wrapped in taro leaves, then an outer wrap using ti-leaves to hold it together.  It is then steamed until the leaves and meat are nice and tender.  The taro leaves taste like spinach somewhat and the juices and fat from the pork get absorbed into the taro leaves.  

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