Monday, February 22, 2010

Goin' to Hawaii....

Actually by the time this post is up, I will BE in Hawaii! So for my post today, I thought I'd take a look at some Hawaiian cuisine.

Let's start with poi. I first read about poi in James Michener's HAWAII (why oh why did they cast Julie Andrews as Jerusha?). Actually most of my knowledge/info pertaining to Hawaii came from HAWAII. From this book I learned how to recognize an impending tsunami and that the Hakka Chinese did not bind their feet. And I read about poi.

According to Wikipedia, Poi is a Hawaiian word for the primary Polynesian staple food made from the corm of the taro plant (known in Hawaiian as kalo). Poi is produced by mashing the cooked corm (baked or steamed) to a highly viscous fluid. Water is added during mashing and again just before eating, to achieve a desired consistency, which can range from liquid to dough-like (poi can be known as two-finger or three-finger, alluding to how many fingers you would have to use to eat it, depending on its consistency). Go here to read more

Doesn't sound that appetizing and according to some, tastes like glue. I still want to try it.

Then there's kalua pig, the traditional main dish at luaus. Once again going to Wiki:

Kālua is a traditional Hawaiian cooking method that utilizes an imu, or underground oven. The word kālua literally means "to cook in an underground oven" and also describes the flavor of food cooked in this manner - e.g. the kālua pig (Hawaiian puaʻa kālua) which is commonly served at luau feasts.

Traditionally, extremely hot volcanic(lava)rocks were placed in a hole approximately 6' by 4' by 3' and the hole was lined with vegetation such as banana leaves. A salted pig was placed inside and covered with more banana leaves to preserve the heat and flavor. Then, it was covered with burlap and soil, and left to steam all day. Once removed from the imu, the pig was ready to be served.

I have never been to a luau. It would be fun, but I'm more interested in actually just trying the pork. It sounds kind of heavenly to me.

Remember the old C&H commercials? The jingle: C&H (C&H) - Pure cane sugar (pure cane sugar) - From Hawaii (from Hawaii) - growin' in the sun (growin' in the sun).... and so on and so forth. I was always fascinated by the sight of little kids gnawing happily on sugar cane as if it was an especially yummy lollipop or other treat. I was disappointed when I actually tried it. Probably just well since gnawing on sugar cane on a regular basis is a sure way to make your dentist unhappy.

A bit more from Wiki on Hawaiian cuisine:

cuisine of Hawaii is a fusion of many cuisines brought by multiethnic immigrants to the Hawaiian Islands, particularly of American, Chinese, Filipino, Japanese, Korean, Polynesian and Portuguese origins, including plant and animal food sources imported from around the world for agricultural use in Hawaii. Many local restaurants serve the ubiquitous plate lunch featuring the Asian staple, two scoops of steamed white rice, a version of American mayonnaise-based macaroni salad or Japanese mayonnaise-based potato salad (or a combination of both) Korean kimchee or other Korean vegetable or Japanese pickled seaweed, and one to three choices of main entrees ranging from the hamburger steak and gravy, Chinese charsiu chicken, Chinese cold ginger chicken, Japanese style tonkatsu or torikatsu, Filipino pork, chicken or fish adobo, Filipino lumpia, Korean chapchae, Filipino pansit, Korean beef short ribs, Korean and Japanese-style BBQ beef and chicken, grilled Ahi, Korean meat jun, or traditional Hawaiian lu'au favorites, kalua pig, lomi salmon, laulau, and poi.

I suspect we will not go hungry during our visit.

What about you? Do you have a favorite Hawaiian dish/recipe? If so, please share!


A.Alba said...

I'm glad you are interested in trying Hawaiian food upon your visit. I cannot fathom going somewhere and not trying their local cuisine, whether it's New Orleans or New Guinea.

Anyway, poi is awesome. If you're having trouble acclimating to it, what might help is if you're eating it with lomi salmon. You can mix some of it with the poi and (IMO) it's even more awesome. But I love it plain as well. Just don't get caught mixing it with sugar! Fun fact: If you like fro-yo, just visit any Menchie's or Yogurtland and they have taro flavor. It's my fave.

Kalua pig is very delicious. I also recommend trying laulau, it's my favorite Hawaiian dish. It's usually pork and butterfish wrapped in luau leaf and then wrapped in ti leaf to cook. So ono... a place called Young's Fish Market has some of the best laulau.

If you're interested in the local food, a great book to pick up while you're there is "Kau Kau" by Arnold Hiura. Has a lot of the history and background behind our unique island cuisine.

Dana Fredsti said...

Hi, A! I had a lovely trip and did indeed try the kalua pig and laulau, along with a ton of fresh fish, fruits and veggies. I wish I'd read your comment while I was over there!