Though many modern luaus stray from traditional luau cuisine, with menus incorporating such varied foods as macaroni salad and sushi, many large luau events still adhere to more traditional culinary choices. Many of these traditional luau foods have been eaten in Hawaii for centuries. When visiting Hawaii, be sure to attend a luau party for an exotic feast and entertaining surprises. On the mainland, throw a Luau-themed party for the perfect summer celebration.
Your own luau feast should start with Kalua Pork, a well-known mainstay of luau menus. At large luau events, an entire pig is often roasted all day in a specially-constructed pit oven. For a smaller luau party, cook a pork roast slowly in liquid smoke and Hawaiian rock salt. Once it is fully cooked, shred it. Though many people think of a whole roast pig when they think of a luau, it is entirely possible to approximate this delicious dish on a smaller scale.
Another popular and authentic meat choice for a luau party is chicken marinated in teriyaki sauce, which gives it a delicious combination of savory and sweet flavoring. Serve this dish with pineapple rings on the side. Seafood fans will enjoy Lomi Salmon, another excellent choice for your luau party. This contemporary dish that is often seen at today’s luaus is a combination of shredded salmon filet, diced tomatoes, and crushed ice. Serve your meat choice with long rice cooked in soy sauce, ginger, garlic, or teriyaki sauce. Another delicious tropical side dish is a fruit platter featuring coconut and pineapple.
Nearly every traditional luau includes poi as a unique side dish, as it was a staple of Hawaiian diet for many centuries. A nutritious dish made from the root of the taro plant, it can be purchased fresh in some locations. To make poi yourself, peel, steam, and mash the taro root. Add water to the mashed root until it forms a pudding-like consistency, and serve cold. Another traditional luau food to incorporate taro is actually known as ‘luau.’ This dish is chicken wrapped in taro leaves and baked in coconut milk.
Luau cuisine is often very creative; this creativity should continue in the way the buffet is displayed. For example, serve the tropical fruit in a bowl constructed from a hollowed out watermelon, or thread the fruit onto bamboo skewers. Many of the larger professional luaus use each dish to create a uniquely shaped display across the buffet table.
Don’t forget to create a fitting dessert for your luau. Many Hawaiian desserts incorporate coconut milk. Haupia, a traditional coconut-based Hawaiian dessert, is made by combining three cups of coconut milk and half a cup of sugar in a saucepan. Once this mixture is warm, stir in half a cup of cornstarch, which thickens the dessert. Pour into a baking dish and sprinkle with shredded coconut. Chill this dessert, and serve once it has become firm.
When planning a luau, remember that the food is the most important attribute. A modern luau party, which should be planned as a feast for the senses, often combines both traditional Hawaiian dishes and unique luau-style cuisine that is actually a fusion of several styles. When creating your own luau feast, remember to incorporate lots of teriyaki sauce and tropical fruits. Luau party food inspiration should be drawn from the island environment of Hawaii; a wide variety of tropically-inspired foods completes the luau atmosphere.