Simple Hawaiian Food Dishes

There is no facet of modern Hawaii where the multi-cultural influences are more evident than in the area of food. Everyday food choices that folks in Hawaii enjoy run a spectrum as glorious as Hawaii’s rainbows.

Office party pot-lucks, picnics and other special, but informal gatherings offer a unique insight into the day to day lives of Hawaii’s people.

On a menu at such an affair, you will find dishes that showcase Hawaii’s multi-cultural heritage. Teriyaki Chicken is always present. This dish is so traditional one can no longer define it simply as a Japanese dish.

Chicken thighs are marinated in a soy, sugar, freshly grated ginger and rice wine sauce, then grilled over kiawe charcoal or braised. Everyone has their own recipe and opinions on which is best is fodder for many long animated discussions.

Another long time Hawaii favorite is referred to as “Manapua.” Also known as Dim Sum in most large metropolitan Chinese communities, Manapua is found at stalls in Oahu’s Chinatown early in the morning. Bought by the piece, the sight of these familiar boxes make the plain get-together very special.

Sashimi is also a welcome addition to any gathering. This typical Japanese dish is eaten as a part of the New year celebration. Sliced fresh, raw yellow fin tuna is served with a dipping sauce of hot Japanese horseradish and soy sauce, this dish is one on the menu that is most likely to disappear first.

Then there is Poke (pronounced POH kay) which is the Hawaiian inspired version of Sashimi, it mixed with different ingredients that include onions, seaweed, salt, shallots, ginger, kukui nut, and sesame seed oil to make a salad of flavors that you’ll find nowhere else but in Hawaii. Once again, everyone has their own method and blends to make this dish a truly unique expression of Hawaii.

Here are recipes to a few of the most simple and traditional Hawaii dishes for your enjoyment:

Ox Tail Soup

1 ox tail, cut in sections 1/2 cup raw peanuts, blanched 1 small piece dried orange peel, optional 1 slice ginger, crushed 1/4 cup liquor (wine or whiskey), salt to taste 1 stalk green onion, and cilantro chopped.

Parboil ox tail for 5 minutes. Drain. Add all ingredients except garnish and simmer with ox tail until ox tail is tender in as much water as desired. Garnish with chopped green onions and cilantro.

Sweet Sour Chicken

4-8 skinned and boned chicken thighs 1 egg beaten cornstarch vegetable oil for frying

Sauce: 3/4 cups sugar 4 tbsp ketchup 1/2 cup vinegar 1 tbsp soy sauce 2 cloves garlic minced

Mix sauce ingredients together. Dip chicken in egg and cornstarch, fry until golden. Place chicken in shallow baking pan, pour sauce over. Bake in 325 degree oven for 60 minutes. Serve with white rice.

Huli Huli Chicken

3 broken fryers, split or quarters 1/4 cup catsup 1/4 cup soy sauce 1/2 cup chicken broth 1/3 cup Mirin or sweet rice wine 1/4 cup frozen pineapple juice 2 tsp grated fresh ginger 1/4 tsp worcestershire sauce

Mix ingredients and marinate chicken overnight in refrigerator. Place chicken on grill and baste with sauce.