Poi, a smooth and sticky paste often eaten with the fingers, is a simple dish made from taro root and water. Making it the traditional Hawaiian way is labor-intensive, but if authenticity isn’t your aim, you can make it in a stand mixer. Raw taro is toxic, so be sure to cook it before you use it. If you can’t find taro at your grocery store, try an Asian market.
Kuiai, the Hawaiian word for the process of making poi from scratch, means “pound food.” Boil taro until it’s tender, then scrape the skin off with the edge of a spoon or the blade of a table knife. Place the boiled taro in a large, shallow bowl, or a traditional wooden board with a depression that holds the taro. Use a stone pounder to mash the taro. A Hawaiian pounder is shaped a little like a beaker you’d use in chemistry class. The edges of the bottom smash the taro into smaller pieces, and the smooth, curved bottom breaks the taro down to a viscous mash. Add water to reach the desired consistency.
Boil or steam taro root until it’s fork tender, then scrape off the skin. Cube the cooked taro and put it in the bowl of a stand mixer with the dough hook attached. Process the taro, beginning at a slow speed and increasing as the taro becomes poi. This may take 5 minutes or longer, depending on the size of the cubes and the amount of taro. Add water to desired consistency.