Many traditional Hawaiian dishes usually come from Pacific Polynesian Islands, although now, since there is an expanse of demographics, they all add their own twist to the taste.

But, the true tastes of Hawaii remain untouched, with all its vibrant deliciousness served up altogether. Sample all of them if you can, at least once in your lifetime.

1) Poi

Poi, also known as Popoi, is a traditional staple in the Polynesian diet. It is generally made from starchy vegetables, like breadfruit, plantain or taro root.

It is either steamed or baked and then pounded into a thick paste, by mashing cooked starch on a wooden pounding board with a carved pestle made from calcite, basalt, wood or coral.

Water is added to the mixture while it’s being pounded to make a sticky pudding- like consistency. Poi has an exquisite taste, with a starchy and subtle sour taste from the light fermentation during the process of preparation.

2) Laulau

While Poi is made with taro root, Laulau is made with the leaves. It is prepared by wrapping pork in layers of taro leaves and then, it is left to cook in an underground hot rock oven for hours till it gets a soft texture and smoky flavor.

The meat becomes tender and juicy and the leaves get spinach like consistency after being cooked.

Recently, variations of this dish have been made to include chicken and fish as well. It is served alongside steamed rice along with other Hawaiian delicacies.

3) Kalua Pig

Famous for being another major part of Hawaiian dishes, Kalua Pig is similar to south- American pulled pork. However, it has a smoky wood flavor instead of a tangy barbeque sauce.

It is cooked in an underground oven called imu and covered by tropical leaves to retain a smooth and rich smoky flavor.

The whole pig is prepared and laid in a bed of leaves and covered with more leaves- ranging from coconut or palm fronds to ti leaves, banana leaves and even grasses.

4) Poke

Did you ever taste Japanese sashimi? Poke is the Hawaiian version of sashimi in a different version. While sashimi has thinly sliced pieces of fish, Hawaiian poke has big hearty sized chunks of cubes.

There are many, many versions of poke- from limu poke to shoyu poke to spicy mayo poke and all of them use raw fish cubes but with different marinade combos.

Most common fish to be used in poke is usually Ahi/ tuna, but it can also include other fresh saltwater fishes.

For a serving of shoyu poke (soy sauce), the raw fish is cut into cubes and seasoned with good soy sauce, Hawaiian sea salt, sweet Maui onions and some limu.

Poke bowl is one of the best inventions since, as heaps of poke is served on a bowl of rice.

5) Saimin

It is a version of Chinese egg- noodle soup, developed during the Islands’ plantation era.

Saimin is basically the generous combination of thin Chinese Chow mien with a Japanese dashi broth. Later on after the migrations, more ingredients were kept being added, making it the Saimin we know now.

Ingredients like green onions, kamaboko, kimchi, Portuguese sausage, spam slowly made their way into the bowl.

6) Pasteles

This iconic dish was brought over by Puerto Rican immigrants in the 20th century. Pastele can be seen as being similar to the Mexican Tamale, but it skirts corn masa for grated green bananas mixed with plantains and yucca.

The savory fillings of Pastele usually vary from chicken, pork, currant or seafood, wrapped in banana leaves and served on a bed of gandule rice- made of sofrito and pigeon peas.

It is a labor intensive delicacy, which is generally served in potlucks, food festivals or roadside stands.

7) Manapua

Manapua is the Hawaiian take on traditional Chinese bao, usually ordered either by the dozen or single.

The fluffy white buns are filled with sweet Char- Siu pork, that was brought by the Chinese and either baked or steamed.

There are many variations of fillings along with the Char- Siu, including ginger chicken, sweet potato, lup cheong, hot dog, pizza and shoyu chicken.

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