A Hawaiian feast, or luau, typically features a wide variety of fish and meat dishes with wine and entertainment. Though many people feel that entertainment is necessary for a modern luau, the food is actually the most important and traditional aspect. There are a number of ways to prepare traditional luau dishes and many of them feature teriyaki sauce, a soy sauce marinade that originated in Japan.
Combining Hawaiian, Polynesian and Asian Cooking
While many of the earliest Hawaiian dishes did not feature marinades or seasonings, many luau foods are actually created from a combination of Hawaiian, Polynesian and Asian cooking influences. Over time, teriyaki marinades became the most common form of marinade in luau cooking. Many traditional Hawaiian dishes, which are commonly served at luau’s, are made with teriyaki sauce.
One of the most common dishes at a traditional luau is slow-roasted pork, sometimes referred to as Kailua Pua’a. As the name suggests, slow-roasted pork takes several hours to prepare and, unlike many other luau dishes, does not feature a wide variety of seasonings. Typically, slow roasted pork is covered in sea salt and roasted for three to four hours. While traditional Kailua Pua’a is not made with teriyaki sauce, it is always served with long rice that has been cooked in teriyaki sauce. Because the two dishes are always served together, the teriyaki sauce is often available to apply to the pork once it has been plated.
Teriyaki Chicken & Shoyu Chicken
Teriyaki chicken is probably the most common meat alternative to slow-roasted pork at traditional Hawaiian luaus. This traditional dish is placed in a teriyaki marinade prior to grilling. After the chicken has been grilled, it is traditionally served with pineapple and teriyaki-flavored long rice. Shoyu chicken is another common luau dish. Like traditional teriyaki chicken, it is marinated in teriyaki sauce prior to grilling. The main difference is that shoyu chicken is also seasoned with sugar, garlic, and ginger.
For those who aren’t fans of pork or chicken, or simply want a wide variety of dishes, another excellent teriyaki dish is PipiKaula. Pipi Kuala is a Hawaiian beef jerky that is made with strips of marinated flank steak. The strips are traditionally placed in a drying box with teriyaki sauce, ginger, chili peppers, and garlic. The strips should be left in the marinade for one to two days so that the meat soaks up a large amount of the teriyaki sauce.
For those looking for a traditional Hawaiian seafood dish, one of the most common one found at luaus is known as Ahi Poke. Traditionally, Ahi Poke is used as an appetizer. Ahi poke is made with raw ahi tuna, which is seasoned with salt and onion. After seasoning, the tuna should be placed in a marinade of teriyaki or soy sauce and sesame oil and chilled until time for serving.
Two other traditional Hawaiian dishes with teriyaki sauce that are often served at luaus include sautéed teriyaki mahimahi and broiled teriyaki beef. Mahimahi, a naturally sweet fish, can also be baked with a teriyaki glaze.