Over the past year, Hawaiian cuisine has become synonymous with one word: Poke! Yes, poke has become an increasingly popular dish on the mainland, and to be fair it is pretty freakin' awesome, but there's so much more to the exotic foods of Hawaii than just a bowl of raw fish, sesame oil and soy sauce. The deliciously eclectic cuisine of Hawaii is a tropical mishmash of flavors and recipes that reflect the diverse history and culture of the island. So if you're looking for an authentic taste of Hawaii, here are 6 amazing Hawaiian foods to try that aren't Poke.
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Considered Hawaii's OG fast food, Loco Moco is a super decadent stick to your ribs staple food consisting of white rice, a hamburger patty and a fried egg, all smothered in creamy gravy. This contemporary Polynesian dish is the perfect example of Hawaii's mixed history and heritage, blending eastern and western flavors to create the ultimate comfort food that is the preferred plate for hardcore surfers, hungover locals and hungry tourists alike!
Lau Lau Pork
Lau Lau refers to an old native Hawaiian cooking style that involves steaming meat inside a taro or luau leaf. Today, this uber popular Polynesian dish is made with salted butter fish, taro and either chicken, fish or pork and is enjoyed all over the island in many different forms. But if you really want to eat like a local, you absolutely have to try the melt in your mouth lau lau pork, which is as sacred in Hawaii as BBQ is on the mainland.
Huli Huli Chicken
A Hawaiian derivation of Teriyaki chicken, Huli Huli is a sweet and savory Polynesian dish that consists of grilled chicken and pineapple marinated in a sugary/spicy concoction. The word “Huli” literally means turn, as the dish was originally prepared by rotating the marinated meat over a pit. Now Huli Huli chicken can be found all over the main island, from mini marts and street carts to restaurants and cafes and is cherished as a sacred Hawaiian recipe.
Derived from the Chinese egg noodle soup, Saimin is a savory eastern-inspired concoction comprised of inexpensive noodles and a smattering of vegetables in clear chicken broth. Originally created and developed by various immigrant groups on the island as a cross between Asian and Polynesian cuisine, this Ramen-esque comfort snack is considered the official state food of Hawaii and can be found just about anywhere, from snack bars and vendors to coffee shops and even on their McDonalds menu!
This island food has a history as bizarre as its name. Originally created by cowboys who were brought over to Hawaii to help manage cattle on the island, Pipi Kaula is a beef jerky style snack that is made by drying strips of beef in the sun and seasoning them with local herbs and soy sauce. Although cows aren't native to Hawaii - and how the cows got there in the first place is a whole other story - these island Cowboys managed to invent an original beef snack that locals still enjoy today!
Ok, no joke, Hawaiians seriously love their Spam! They put this salty pseudo-meat in everything from their eggs to their sandwiches to their sushi! Case in point: Spam Musubi, one of the most popular dishes on the big island, is essentially a spam sushi roll with rice, nori (seaweed paper) and Furikake - a Japanese cooking seasoning. This Asian/Hawaiian hybrid snack food is offered in school cafeterias, on most restaurant menus and even at 7/11. Sounds a little crazy but don't knock it til you try it!