When visiting Hawaii, don’t miss the chance to attend a luau, where you’ll find a delicious and exotic feast and breathtaking entertainment. Today’s luau menus are quite varied, from traditional luau cuisine to a range of foods from sushi to macaroni salad. While many large luaus still adhere to traditional luau dishes, many incorporate a wider range of tropical-style culinary choices created from a fusion of Hawaiian, mainland, Polynesian, and Asian influences. When throwing your own luau, you have your choice from a wide range of food options that would be fitting for the luau style.
A luau feast nearly always starts with pork. At large luau events, this mainstay of luau cuisine means an entire pig that is roasted all day long in a specially-made pit oven. For a smaller luau party, slowly cook a pork roast in Hawaiian rock salt and liquid smoke. Then, shred the cooked pork. Although the thought of a luau often brings to mind the image of a whole roast pig, you can recreate this delicious dish on a smaller scale using a pork roast.
There are alternatives to pork for your luau party. Another authentic meat for luaus is teriyaki sauce-marinated chicken, with a delicious combination of sweet and savory flavors. Teriyaki chicken should be served with pineapple rings for a tropical touch. The perfect seafood dish for a luau is Lomi Salmon, a contemporary dish that is very popular with modern luaus. This dish is a combination of shredded salmon, crushed ice, and diced tomatoes. No matter which meat you choose to serve at your luau, serve it with long rice cooked in teriyaki sauce, soy sauce, garlic, or ginger. A side dish frequently seen at luaus is a fruit platter including coconut, pineapple, watermelon, and other tropical fruits.
Most traditional luaus serve poi, which was once a staple of Hawaiian diet, as a unique side dish. This nutritious food is made from taro plant roots which are peeled, steamed, and mashed. Water is then added to the mashed taro root until it develops the consistency of pudding. Poi is served cold. Another luau food that is made with taro is known as ‘luau,’ this is the dish that gave this feast its name. Luau is chicken wrapped in taro leaves and cooked in coconut milk.
Luau cuisine is often very creative, not only in the flavors but also in the display of the food. For example, the fruit salad can be served on bamboo skewers or in a bowl created from a hollowed out watermelon. The larger professional luaus use each dish on the buffet table to create a uniquely shaped display.
When planning a luau menu, don’t forget about creating the perfect dessert. Lemon bread or coconut pie are easy desserts, though there are also many other unique desserts. A traditional luau dessert is Haupia, made with coconut milk. Warm three cups of coconut milk and 1/2 cup sugar in a saucepan. Then add half a cup of cornstarch, and wait for it to thicken the mixture. Chill in a baking dish and sprinkle with shredded coconut.
Food is very important to the overall ambiance of a luau. This feast for the senses often combines traditional Hawaiian dishes, many of which have been a staple of the Hawaiian diet for centuries, with luau-style cuisine that is actually a combination of several cultures. When planning your own luau feast, incorporate plenty of tropical fruits and teriyaki sauce. Draw the inspiration for your menu from the island environment; an array of tropically-inspired foods will bring the right atmosphere to your luau.