Hawaii is the most isolated population center on earth, and as a result, food choices and culinary methods are unique from those you will find on the United States mainland. While some of these dishes have roots in other cultures, and have since made their way to the continental states, they are still uniquely Hawaiian dishes, and may warrant a few weird looks until you actually take a bite.
1) Spam + Seaweed + Rice = Spam Musubi
Hawaiians eat more Spam per capita than any other American state; there is even an annual festival dedicated to the canned meat. The most popular Spam product in Hawaii is Spam Musubi, and it is pretty delicious.
2) Delicious Meat + Steamed Bun = Manapua
Manapua translates to “delicious pork thing” in Hawaiian, and that is exactly what it is: diced pork filling inside a steamed white bun. You can substitute other meats, or even bean paste if you would like.
3) Cream Puff Pastry + Chocolate Puding + Macadamia Nut Frosting = Coco Puff
If you’ve never had a famous coco puff from Honolulu’s famous Liliha Bakery, you’re totally missing out. The exact recipe is a highly guarded secret, though you can find imitations online.
4) Hamburger Steak + Rice + Egg + Gravy = Loco Moco
I’m not sure who came up with the concept of a loco moco, but we are forever indebted to them for the wonder that is this delicious – yet fattening – concoction.
5) Coconut Rum + Blue Curacao + Pineapple = Blue Hawaii
The classic drink was invented in 1957 by a bartender at the Hilton Hawaiian Village in Waikiki, and though there are debates on what ingredients should be used in a Blue Hawaii, I’d like to think every variation is delicious.
6) Acai Berries + Fresh Fruit + Granola:Oatmeal + Honey = Acai Bowls
Ah, there is nothing quite like an acai bowl after a sunrise hike. This is such a healthy and satisfying breakfast, and I’m still trying to perfect the sweet meal at home.
7) Japanese Sticky Rice + Ice Cream Filling = Ice Cream Mochi
I was introduced to mochi shortly after moving to Hawaii, and fell in love. Yes, you can find mochi in other states, but everyone knows that the best mochi comes from Bubbies Homemade Ice Cream and Dessert.
8) Pork + Taro Leaf = Laulau
This traditional Hawaiian dish is made with pork wrapped in taro leaves, and steamed on the stove. Native Hawaiians prepared the dish in an underground oven.
9) Banana + Sugar + Rice Paper = Banana Lumpia
This treat, made its way to the Hawaiian Islands from the Philippines, is created by coating a banana in sugar, rolling it in thin rice paper, and then deep frying it… Yum.
10) Shave Ice + Ice Cream + Sweet Condensed Milk = Heaven
Shave Ice is absolutely diving, but it’s even better with a scoop of ice cream at the bottom and sweetened condensed milk drizzled over the top. The sweet treat is the perfect complement to an afternoon on the water. You can also add azuki beans.
Which one of these dishes is your favorite? What are some other intriguing food combinations unique to Hawaii?