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When you think of Hawaiian food, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Is it Hawaiian pizza? Pineapples on a skewer? Or maybe a giant pig that was roasted at a luau? Though those are all classic staples of a Hawaiian diet, they certainly aren’t the only foods that come from Hawaii.
Hawaii has rich and diverse Polynesian cuisine, combining several styles of Southeast Asian dishes. Some of the countries that have influenced Hawaiian cuisine are China, Japan and Korea.
So if you think you know everything about Hawaiian food, think again. Here are 10 dishes you probably didn’t know were Hawaiian.
Poke – pronounced POH-kay – can be best summed up as a sushi salad. According to Pride of Maui, poke is typically made with raw Hawaiian ahi, octopus, shrimp or salmon. It’s a delicious food that is also prepared with sweet soy sauce, salt and ginger, to name a few ingredients.
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Hawaiian Mango Bread can best be described as the Hawaiian equivalent to banana bread, but with a lot more food. This tasty bread is comprised of coconut, macadamia nuts and, of course, fresh mango. It’s a flavorful way to transform a familiar dish. It can be eaten as a dessert or even as a side dish for breakfast.
Lau Lau is Pride of Maui’s ultimate comfort food. It is a traditional dish that consists of pork wrapped in ti leaves. It can be made with chicken, beef or fish. The great thing about lau lau is that it can be served with virtually any side dish. It is a versatile meal and a hardy one as well.
This meal puts a Hawaiian spin on a classic sandwich and it looks good too. Inside this sandwich are pecans, pineapple rings and celery. Following Hawaiian expectations, this meal is both sweet and savory, making it a shock to the senses.
Saimin is a hodgepodge of Japanese, Chinese and Hawaiian culture; it’ll have you wondering which country you’re actually in. Made with dried Japanese soba noodles, spam, fishcake, carrots, chives and some chopped up leftovers from last night’s salad, saimin is a ride for the taste buds. It is the combination of all the histories of immigrants who have migrated to Hawaii.
One of the best desserts in Hawaii, coconut haupia is made with heated coconut milk that is mixed with cornstarch. Then, it gets cut into squares to be served chilled, similar to flan. Traditionally, coconut haupia is made with ground arrowroot. However, since arrowroot is so rare, and thereby expensive, many opt for cornstarch instead. But regardless of which ingredient you use, haupia is a fabulous dessert that’s easy to make and even easier to eat.
China’s influence on Hawaiian cuisine shines in manapua. This dish is the Hawaiian version of pork buns. It’s fairly easy to make and it is also a delicious side or main dish. Manapua contains finely diced and cooked pork, which are then inserted into small, flat pieces of dough. Once you’ve seasoned and prepped the dish, you then cook the dough and the pork. A very clear semblance of Chinese heritage, manpua is now a staple of Hawaiian culture.
If there’s one thing Hawaiians love, it’s spam. And what better way to incorporate spam into their multicultural heritage than including it in sushi? Spam musubi is a pan-fried piece of spam that gets covered in steamed rice and wrapped with a single roll of seaweed on top. This dish showcases the creativity of the Hawaiians and their unmatched taste for food.
Now that you have discovered all these foods, you’re probably hungry. The good news, however, is that you can make all these dishes yourself. Comment below or tweet us at @entity_mag to let us know which dishes you try.