Contrary to popular belief, pineapples are not native to Hawaii. Neither are mango, guava or papaya. However, hala (which resembles and tastes like pineapple) is an island native. This fruit is normally eaten by itself, although it can be added to other Hawaiian dishes to give entrees a local island flavor. There are various foods native to Hawaii, some of which are staples at luau feasts.
Laulau is a native Hawaiian entrée that incorporates pork, chicken, vegetables, or a combination of these. It is prepared by wrapping taro leaves (Hawaiian spinach leaves) around the meat or vegetable to form a pouch that seals in the moisture and flavor. Laulau is pressure-cooked in a steamer oven. Before eaten, the taro leaf shell is removed since the leaves are not edible. The dish is seasoned with Hawaiian salt, a natural, unprocessed sea salt.
Hala, also known as "screw pine" or "tourist pineapple," is nearly identical to the fruit from which it derives one of its names. (Pineapple is, contrary to popular belief, not native to Hawaii; it was imported from Brazil). Hala fruit grows on trees and has a cone-like outer shell or covering (like pineapple) that is removed to get to the edible interior.
Haupia is a native Hawaiian dessert that consists of coconut milk and sugar as the primary ingredients. Haupia is similar in texture and consistency to pudding, but is served in blocks. The dessert is traditionally prepared by heating coconut milk and mixing it with arrowroot until it hardens. In modern recipes, the arrowroot is replaced by cornstarch and seasoned with sugar and salt.
Poke (or "pokey" or "poki") is a salad made from raw ahi tuna. With over 100 varieties in Hawaii, poke is normally flavored with sesame oil, kukui nut and seaweed. Poke is considered the Hawaiian equivalent of sashimi, since it incorporates vegetables and raw fish.
Kalua is pig or pork that is cooked in an “imu” (an oven it the ground). Kalua is traditionally the centerpiece of a Hawaiian luau, where it is displayed on a large rod or stick. It is seasoned and flavored with Hawaiian salt.
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