Hawaiian food, local potluck style
It’s going to be a feast when you enjoy a picnic outdoors in Hawaii. You really can’t go wrong on a sunny day being close to the ocean and sharing some local food with friends in the typical potluck style that is so prevalent in Hawaii. Potlucks here are a cross culture of different cuisines from around the world when immigrants from various countries came to Hawaii to work the sugar, pineapple and various plantations around the Hawaiian Islands. What resulted is a mixture of flavors mixed in with some local favorites and combined into the ‘local’ style’ or mixed plate lunch. Enjoying the different offerings of local food and sharing delicious and familiar dishes from the many cultures is part of enjoying potlucks in Hawaii.
Following are some Hawaiian food dishes that you will always find in a potluck gathering in Hawaii. It’s always good to try find local ingredients grown on the island and using whatever products that are fresh or in season, and prepared in a simple way.
It can’t be a potluck gathering in Hawaii without someone bringing some just made Kalua pork. The traditional method used in luaus involves taking a whole pig and putting it in pit wrapped in banana leaves under some very hot lava rocks and eventually buried in the pit for a certain period. Currently, most cooks use a slow cooker or an oven to bake the pork covered in aluminum to seal the flavors and cooked the pork until it’s nice and flaky soft. Adding potatoes, roots and other vegetables tossed into the dish makes it a complete meal.
Another typical Hawaiian food brought to potlucks would include some huli-huli chicken. You can always find a someone cooking at the local farmers market or a street vendor set up with outdoor grill and rotisserized, the chicken is always done perfectly and oh-so-tender and delicious. Doesn’t it look so yummy in this presentation above?
Hawaiian ‘ulu or breadfruit was one of the original canoe plants (plants brought with the ancient Hawaiians from Polynesia) that was used as a staple crop starch for their diets. Ulu is a highly nutritious food that can be prepared in a variety to ways to suit any traditional or modern preparation of this staple food. Above, the presentation is baked with some dried tomatoes, garlic and herbs to make a simple side dish.
Hawaiian fish or Poke
Local fish is a food staple at any potluck either prepared as poke (raw fish marinated in a sauce) or presented in a variety ways. Local Hawaiian fish includes favorites like ono, mahi mahi and ahi. Usually a simple grill, stir fry or baked fish in a simple preparation is the best way to serve it here in Hawaii.
Vegetables found in the wild or can be easily grown are included in the two dishes above. The long style green beans are easy to grow on the island and have a long harvest cycle, they are best prepared in a very simple saute or stir fry. The warabi or young fiddle head fern shoots are always a local favorite dish. Found year-round in the wet forests in many areas of Hawaii, these ferns are easy to harvest in the wild. Called Ho’i’o (Hawaiian) ostrich or fiddle head (Mainland) or Warabi (Japanese), the shoots are ready to harvest after they start to uncoil from their tight heads. Served in a simple salad mixed in with onions, tomatoes and a vinagrette, it becomes a tasty dish.
In any Hawaiian food potluck, there is always as much desserts brought in as the appetizers and entrees. Everybody loves desserts here especially when fresh fruit like coconuts, pineapples and mangoes are mixed into the recipe. Sometimes people start on the wrong end of the potluck line and just go with the desserts first.
This is just a small sampling of local Hawaiian food that you will find in any potluck. Have you tried something else in Hawaii that was so Ono (delicious?), please share what you tasted in the comments section below.
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