From thirst-quenching shave ice to hot saimin noodle soup, Hawaiian cuisine offers dishes to suit every taste. Here are 10 Hawaiian dishes that will make you truly feel the spirit of aloha when you cruise Hawaii. Let's dish on Hawaiian cuisine:
- Hot Saimin Noodle Soup
This local favorite, which has appeared in Hawaiian cookbooks since the 1930s, is an Asian-inspired soup filled with wheat-flour noodles, broth, strips of omelet, bright-pink fish cake, and green onions. This Hawaiian dish is finished with roast pork (or sometimes Spam, another local fave). The dish is commonly eaten with chopsticks and a spoon and is also a popular hangover cure.
Pronounced "poh-keh," this popular appetizer is made up of small pieces of raw tuna, octopus, or salmon combined with scallions, kukui nuts, seaweed, and chili pepper flakes, all marinated in shoyu with a touch of sesame oil. The Hawaiian word poke means "to slice," which is exactly how this fish salad is created. When it comes to Hawaiian cuisine, Poke is an essential dish.
This mouthwatering confection originated in Portugal's Madeira Islands and eventually made its way to Hawaii. Malasadas are egg-sized dough balls dipped and deep-fried in hot oil, then rolled in granulated sugar. They can hold a variety of fillings and flavored creams.
- A Plate Lunch — Hawaiian Style
As one of the most adored dishes in all of Hawaii, the plate lunch is not to be missed. This popular dish includes laulau — seasoned beef, fish, kalau pork, or chicken wrapped in a taro leaf. The laulau is usually plated with steamed white rice, cabbage, and, in some cases, macaroni salad.
- Shave Ice
Known as shave ice, not shaved ice, this cool treat consists of fine ice, unlike the bigger chunks typically found in traditional snow cones. The flavor you choose — such as mango, coconut, pineapple, or kiwi — is mixed throughout the ice flakes so you can taste it right up until the end.
Cruising Hawaii is even more memorable when you sink your teeth into small dough balls stuffed to the brim with curry chicken or char siu pork and then steamed. Yum! It's the Hawaiian cuisine version of Chinese bao buns.
- Loco Moco
The loco moco is an egg and hamburger steak laid out over white rice and covered with gravy. You can find this hearty meal in several variations throughout the islands, but loco moco at certain Oahu restaurants is among the best rated.
- Spam Musubi
Comprising a block of steamed white rice topped with grilled Spam and wrapped in nori (dried seaweed), this popular Hawaiian snack dish can be found in most convenience stores throughout the Hawaiian Islands.
- Kalua Pig
This Hawaiian dish is prepared by wrapping banana leaves around a pig and steaming it in a broiler. It's seasoned with various spices and salt, which develop into a mouth-watering smoky flavor and rich aroma you can smell for miles.
Often found at luaus, this gelatin-like dessert is made with thick coconut milk, sugar, cornstarch, arrowroot, and salt that's heated until smooth and thick, and then chilled in a square pan. Once it's ready, the haupia is cut up into blocks and served on a ti leaf.
Is your mouth watering yet? Embrace the Aloha Spirit and get to eating with these popular local Hawaiian dishes.