If you haven’t been to Hawaii, these islands can offer versatile climate, beautiful nature and landscapes and deep culture. Many ethnic groups live on Hawaii and every one of them has their own unique cultures, traditions, language, arts and food. The islands require a huge appetite; it’s a true paradise for seafood lovers. The availability of fresh foods surprises even the pickiest eaters. Read on to find out about the flavors that you can’t miss on Hawaii.
How to eat like locals
Even though Hawaii cuisine is famous and attracts many tourists, you may want to avoid luxury restaurants, expensive hotels and resorts. Of course, if that’s the purpose of your trip, you’re going to have an unforgettable time. But if you want to explore, you need to search for small and unpretentious establishments serving regional cuisines. Locals love rice and fish, so eating like locals means combining these two foods. The most traditional rice dishes are served with vegetables and portions of fish cooked in flavorful spices. If you feel adventurous and want to discover new flavors, you should test salty dried plum, fish tacos, grilled miso and rice malt. Food preparation on the islands is also unique; you will enjoy a little show before eating a delicious meal.
Your mouth will water with the smell of fresh tuna and smoked lamb raised in local ranches and at the sign of corn cakes. Hawaii will surprise you with imaginative dishes with locally grown foods that can’t be found anywhere else. Homegrown veggies and fruits are a heaven for gourmets, especially when you know where to search.
Hawaii can offer many unique flavors. For example, kona coffee that got its unusual flavor by growing on the rocky, volcanic soil and cloud cover that make up on an island. Locals carefully pick and judge every Kona bean, only the best get to your coffee. If you can find this coffee in a store, you should definitely give it a try.
Kona coffee isn’t the only product that gets its unique taste from the volcanic soil of the island. Hawaii features Ohia trees that produce Lehua honey. It’s a very rare type of honey with an unbeatable volcanic and floral taste. This honey is available only during Lehua blossom times which are 3 months a year. If you don’t mind preservatives in your honey, you can purchase it all year round. This honey goes amazingly well with local ice cream!
Maui, the second largest island, is famous for its delicious sweet onions. The onions grow on the volcanic soil of the Haleakala volcano and have little sulfur and a lot of water. Locals eat them raw, they can be found with the Hawaiian salt on the luau table. Lomi salmon, a famous Hawaiian dish, requires sweet onions to give depth to salty fish and vegetables.
Another local favorite is poke, which stands for raw fish seasoned with spices and served in cubes. Hawaiians use all types of fish into poke, such as snapper, octopus and lobster, even though tuna is the most popular option, especially Yellow Fin and Big-Eyed tuna known as Ahi. Served at traditional gatherings and luaus, poke can be found in local supermarkets served with a variety of seasonings. If you’re on Hawaii, head on to Oahu Tamashiro Market, which is famous for its quality fish. The market offers different flavors of poke ranging from seaweed poke to inamona poke and sweet and sour onion poke. You can cook poke at home, the simple recipe can be found here.
Even though salmon aren’t indigenous to the island, a popular salmon-based dish lomi-lomi originates on Hawaii. It’s usually prepared by mixing cubed, salted salmon with vegetables, sweet onions and crushed ice. Usually they mix it by hand, which is called to “give a massage”. Lomi-lomi is usually eaten with poi. This dish found an important place in the culture because ancient Hawaiians offered red-fleshed fish to their gods.
Locals love Spam, which is just a word for canned pork made by the local company. You can’t say you’ve tried Hawaii cuisine if you haven’t eaten canned pork. Hawaiians are the second largest consumers of this meat in the world, behind Guam. Only in a year they consume over 5 million cans of this meat. Spam was originally brought to the islands by American serviceman and then became one of the main sources of protein for locals when they were not allowed to fish on the island during 1940s.
Spam is usually fried and served with rice. Locals eat it in the morning with fried eggs and vegetables. More modern uses of canned pork that also preserve Hawaiian tradition include wrapping the meat into leaves and roasting with vegetables. Deep frying is also popular. Spam can be added to Asian dishes such as noodles (Chinese noodles are the best because they are thinner than Japanese noodles). You can even serve it with tofu for an added protein.
Spam musubi is a sushi-like slices spam on rice wrapped in Asian nori. Even though it’s not a traditional snack, it came to the islands in 1980s and became very popular. You can make the dish more Western by adding it to your normal mac-and-cheese or sandwiches. Some even eat it with guava jelly; you can add Spam to literally everything.
And if you’re craving for something sweet, Hawaii has a lot to offer. The most famous dessert is called haupia. It tastes like the freshest coconut Jello. Preparing the dish is very easy, you just need to heat sweetened coconut meal and thicken it by cornstarch, ground arrowroot or less traditional gelatin. Chill the mixture and serve in cubes.
Hawaiian menus have been changes over the years to let tourists enjoy local dishes the most. On the islands you can find everything from sushi and salmon to poke and poi. Once you get to Hawaii, it will win your heart over with mouth-watering dishes. If you want to taste something traditional, head to small bars and coffees. If you enjoy fine dining, restaurants offer catering services all day long, so you can enjoy savory or sweet dishes. Hawaiian favorites are must-try for everyone; it’s the perfect place to enjoy new flavors.