10 Delicious Dishes that Make Hawaiian Food Unique

Hawaii is a unique destination with a variety of dishes that make it stand out from other cuisines. From the traditional local food Saimin to the iconic poke, Hawaiian cuisine is full of delicious flavors and textures. Coconut is one of Alan Wong's signature desserts, and you can find poke everywhere, from birthday painas to high-end restaurants. Here are 10 popular Hawaiian food and drink options you can't miss on your next Hawaii cruise. Saimin is a version of a Chinese egg noodle soup that was developed during the islands' plantation era.

It has been used by different immigrant groups in Hawaiian history, mainly fine noodles inspired by Chinese chow mein dipped in Japanese dashi broth. Coconut is one of Alan Wong's signature desserts; the King Street restaurant sells between 20 and 40 every night. Wong has even prepared it for President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle during their annual December vacation on Oahu. You too will feel presidential when you eat this delicious dish. Poke isn't just a dish in Hawaii, it's a way of life.

Thick raw fish salad appears everywhere, from birthday painas (parties) to casual picnics on the beach. Nowhere else in the world can its place of origin compare so much, with its incredible selection of fresh fish and seafood and its dizzying variety of varieties. It also transcends culinary barriers, moving from holes in the wall in residential neighborhoods to high-end restaurants in Hawaii's luxury resort cities. For the uninitiated, poke is similar to a ceviche, but instead of a sour taste, prepare your taste buds for something more daring, tasty, and unique to the islands. It is made with thick pieces of ahi tuna, the most common of which are ahi or hee (octopus), mixed with different condiments.

During your vacation, you'll enjoy delicious meals on board, from gourmet chef specialties to casual meals for snacking on the go. Lomi lomi salmon is similar to poke with the use of raw fish but prepared using different techniques. Salted salmon is gently massaged, over and over again, and then mixed with onions, tomatoes and hot peppers. The overall combination of flavors imparts a spicy but satisfying bite. Manapua is essentially a steamed bun filled with a delicious filling, it pays homage to the Chinese immigrants who came to Hawaii in the 19th century. Manapua retains its street food identity amid a reinvention of savory fillings, some of which include sweet beans, chicken, vegetables, curry or sweet potato.

Many versions still use pork, the original filling. Poi is a thick paste made from taro root (similar to yams or potatoes, but with a starchy flavor) that is steamed or baked and mashed. While they are mashed, water is added to the mixture to create a consistency similar to that of a very sticky pudding. Poi has a unique flavor; it is starchy and slightly sour due to the slight fermentation in the preparation process. Laulau is another giant of Hawaiian cuisine; it's one of my favorite dishes on this Hawaiian food list. Taro is a well-respected plant not only in Hawaii but also throughout Polynesia and the Pacific Islands.

While poi is made with the root of taro, laulau is made with leaves. Traditionally laulau is made with pork wrapped in layers of taro leaves and cooked in a hot underground rock oven for hours until it becomes soft and smoky. The flesh is tender and juicy while the leaves take on a spinach-like consistency. Kalua Pig is another famous pork dish known as Kalua Pig. Instead of thinly slicing fish like in Japanese sashimi Hawaiian poke is served in large bite-sized cubes. The most common type of fish is ahi (tuna) but other types of fresh saltwater fish are also used very frequently. There are many different types of poke you can try in Hawaii from limu poke to soy bean poke to spicy mayonnaise poke each with cubes of raw fish but with a different marinade combination.

For common shoyu poke (soy sauce) raw fish is cut into cubes and seasoned with a splash of good soy sauce Hawaiian sea salt Maui sweet onions (they're great if you can find some) and maybe a little limu (a seaweed-type plant). One of the latest and greatest inventions is the Poke Bowl; a rice bowl covered with lots of poke. Lomi salmon was brought from other Pacific islands; The dish is now part of most traditional Hawaiian foods and is an essential part of any meal. These 10 dishes are just some examples that make Hawaiian food unique; there are many more delicious dishes that you can try during your visit to Hawaii! From traditional local dishes like Saimin to iconic dishes like Poke Bowls, there's something for everyone when it comes to Hawaiian cuisine.

Darrel Arpino
Darrel Arpino

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