Three Choice Staples of Hawaiian Cuisine

One way to learn about another culture is by sampling the cuisine. Here in Hawaii, the cuisine consists of a medley of recipes and dishes from all around the world, as well as a few choice foods that have had their place in Hawaiian cooking for centuries. This blog addresses three specific staples that have existed in Hawaii’s kitchens for many, many years. They are the plate lunch, poi, and Spam Musubi.

Plate lunches can be found in pretty much every local restaurant. The most basic version consists of 2 scoops of rice, 1 scoop of simple macaroni salad (macaroni and mayonnaise), and a choice of protein for the main entrée. Loco Moco is the most popular type of plate lunch. A loco moco begins with 2 scoops of rice which are topped with a hamburger patty, fried egg, and brown gravy. Over the years, numerous variations of the classic loco moco have been derived with an easy switch of the main protein. You can find loco mocos that feature bacon, ham, spam, *Kalua pork, Portuguese sausage, teriyaki beef or chicken, mahi-mahi, shrimp, oysters, or other meats.

Poi is extremely popular in traditional and modern Hawaiian cuisine. Made from the stem or corm of the Taro plant, Poi is created by mashing the plant until a desired consistency is reached (consistencies range from liquid to dough like). Poi is traditionally eaten with the fingers, and oftentimes is referred to as either 2-finger or 3-finger as a description of its consistency.

Spam Musubi is a low-priced snack that can be found at eateries like 7-11, grocery stores, snack stands, and movie theatre concession stands. Served either warm or cold, a musubi is composed of a block of rice with a small piece of spam overtop and wrapped in seaweed. Though not necessary, condiments can be used to offer more flavor to a musubi. Common condiments used include teriyaki sauce, soy sauce, and *furikake. The spam in a musubi can also be cooked in jelly to add flavor to the snack.

“Do as the locals do” and make sure to try these traditional Hawaiian foods on your next trip to the islands! It will without a doubt be a great experience on your vacation…and tasty too!

* Kalua refers to the method of cooking meat with an underground oven or imu

* Furikake is a Japanese condiment made from a mixture of dried and ground fish, sesame seeds, chopped seaweed, sugar, salt, and MSG

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