A Short Guide to Hawaii’s Modern Cuisine

Hawaii is famous for a number of things like volcanoes, surfing and anthurium flowers. One thing that it should be even more famous for is its food. It is fusion cuisine at its finest. You can taste the Hawaiian, Asian, European and American influences in many local dishes. Here are some of my favorite dishes.

Sashimi is just about the simplest local dish. It is thinly sliced raw fish that is usually flavored with soy sauce and wasabi. This dish has a very subtle flavor and if properly prepared doesn’t taste fishy at all. Sashimi is incredibly tender and when made from tuna with a high fat content can be as smooth as butter. This dish was introduced to Hawaii by Japanese immigrants.

A Lau Lau is a Hawaiian dish that consists of salted pork, fish and taro all wrapped in a taro leaf and then in a ti leaf and cooked in a traditional earth oven called an imu. The imu is used to slow cook and steam the Lau Lau all day, so the meat comes out incredibly tender and it has an appealing smoky flavor.

Malasadas are a donut like creation introduced by Portuguese immigrants. They look almost like donuts, except they usually do not have holes. The immigrants would make them before Lent to use up all the leaven in their house and they would often share them with their neighbors. This is how the malasada spread beyond the Portuguese community to become a favorite of all of Hawaii’s people.

Poke is a Hawaiian dish that resembles sashimi, but it was in fact a native dish. It consists of raw fish mixed with sea salt, kukui nuts and a special type of seaweed. Even though it and sashimi are both made from raw fish, they taste quite different due to the different ingredients. And if you are at all adventurous enough to try raw fish, I recommend that you try both and you will definitely taste the difference.