Thursday, January 2, 2014

Hawaiian Eats




Pretty Rambutan - locally grown fruit with an inside similar to a mild grape.


We're always asked about the food when we return from a trip abroad.  "What did you try, did you like it?"  Well, we're still in the USA housesitting in the state of Hawaii, but when we look at some of the items offered on local restaurant menus it almost feels like we are in a foreign country.  There are different dishes here, dishes that are influenced by the cultures (Polynesian, Asian, Hawaiian) that have made Hawaii their home and shaped by what food has traditionally been available here in the islands.  


We're talking Loco Moco (no, it's not something that is now legal in Colorado) a popular Hawaiian gut buster. Kalypso restaurant in Hanalei serves it for breakfast.  A half pound hamburger patty served atop rice, smothered in brown gravy, topped by two sunny side up eggs and covered in crispy fried onions. Now that's a whopper! Poi, a dish of pounded boiled taro root, is a healthier alternative but not nearly as tasty. Then there is Lau Lau (salted chicken, pork, and beef wrapped in Taro leaves and steamed), Pipi Kaula (jerky made from flank steak) and Huli Huli Chicken (chicken marinated in soy, pineapple juice, ginger and garlic).  But the king of Hawaiian dishes, served at every luau, has to be Kalau Pua'a - a pig steamed for hours underground until it's so tender it melts in your mouth. 

Then, of course, there is SPAM.  No menu would be complete without a SPAM dish.  Maybe we should say SPAM dishes as there are so many made with it - casseroles, salads, soups, sandwiches, sushi and burgers.  Both Burger King and McDonald's serve SPAM. Why is it so popular in the islands?  SPAM (basically a canned chopped pork) was introduced by the military during WWII when fresh meat was scarce.  Surpluses were distributed to the locals, incorporated into their daily meals, and it has been a well loved staple ever since.  

What do you wash it all down with?  POG.  A sweet concoction of pineapple, orange and guava juices that's fine on its own but really, really good mixed with some rum and topped by a little paper parasol! 

Interested in trying some loco moco?  Guy Fieri featured his version on Guy's Big Bite and provides his recipe here.  How about going all the way and hosting your own luau?  The Polynesian Cultural Center has all the recipes you'll need for the dishes mentioned above plus more.  Now you just need to find a whole pig and start digging....