I may not be a local, but I am most certainly not a tourist. Try the most popular and basic elements of Hawaiian cuisine!
Poke, typically made fromraw tuna, soy sauce, sea salt, green onions (and can be made with extra ingredients: chili powder, limu seaweed, Maui onions, sesame oil, or sesame seeds) is my favorite Hawaiian delicacy. Poke is Hawaiian for “to slice or cut” and was originally created from fisherman seasoning the cut offs from their catch to serve as a snack. It can also be made with octopus which in Hawaii is called “tako” poke. Although it has become increasingly popular in the United States starting in 2012, there is nothing like the true Hawaiian recipe. The build-your-own poke bowls and sushi burritos will never top the poke being presented through the clear glass at a Hawaiian grocery store.
Try making it home-made here!
This deep-fried yeast dough covered in granulated sugar is like a warm doughnut sent straight from heaven. More soft and egg like, This Portuguese dish was originally made to use up all of the lard and sugar in the house in preparation for lent (on fat Tuesday before Mardi Gras). When the Portuguese migrated to Hawaii to work on the sugar plantations, they brought the malasadas with them and they can be found in Portuguese-American homes (especially on in Rhode Island and Southern Massachusetts) in the U.S. today.
If you’re in Oahu, the best place to get Malasadas is Leonard’s Bakery in Honolulu!
Stocking up on Musubis at a gas station before a trip to Hana is probably the best way to do it. Portable and inexpensive, they are the perfect snack composed of spam on top of a block of rice wrapped in nori (seaweed). Served along sushi and other items at a 7-11, musubis are warm and delicious under a heated lamp. Spam might sound gross to you, but it’s one of things I’ve loved growing up with. It became popular after World War 2 due to the fact that it was a main course for troops during the war. Spam can be served in ramen (saimen in Hawaiian), alongside eggs, or in many other different ways in Hawaiian culture. A musubi is made by grilling slices of spam, sometimes with a light teriyaki. Then you use a spam mold over a piece of nori and press the rice in, putting the spam on top, then taking the mold off and wrapping the nori around.
Another foreign meat that can be served with breakfast, even at Mcdonalds in Hawaii, is Portuguese sausage. From Portugal, it has become an essential part of Hawaiian cuisine since the Portuguese migrated to Hawaii. They make it from smoked and cured pork seasoned with garlic and paprika, but it’s bought in packages. Redondo is the most popular, and it only needs to be sliced and cooked.
Lomi is a Hawaiian word that means “to massage” because the dicing and mixing of the salmon is done after massaging the salted fish with other ingredients by hand. It’s a traditional side dish served along poke, kalua pig, lau lau, and poi at lu’ aus. It’s made by mixing raw, salted, and diced salmon with tomato, gentle Maui onions, and green onion. It’s one of my favorites.
Made from the taro plant, this Polynesian staple food is an acquired taste to most who have never tasted it, but is one of the most important things to try. Taro is extremely highly regarded to Hawaiians who believe the taro plant (kalo) is the original ancestor of the Hawaiian people. Poi was considered such an important and sacred aspect of daily Hawaiian life that it was believed that the spirit of Hāloa, the legendary ancestor of the Hawaiian people, was present when a bowl of poi was uncovered for consumption at the family dinner table.
All conflict among family members was required to come to an immediate halt.Although many of the world's people consume taro, only Hawaiians make poi. After steaming or baking the stem (corm) of the taro plant, poi is made by slowly adding water and mashing the product into a particularly smooth consistency. Just eat it plain! Or on the side of your plate with some fish.
You can also try the lau laus, manapua, and kalua pig which are other basic favorites!
You have no idea how hungry this article makes me!