What is usually served at a luau?

It may include meals such as poi, kālua puaʻa (kālua pig), poke, lomi salmon, ʻopihi and haupia, beer and entertainment such as traditional Hawaiian music and hula. Thank the Chinese for introducing this tasty dish to the islands in the 19th century. Composed of chicken, onion, long rice (bean thread), ginger and garlic, the “soup” tends to be served over white rice, a predominant part of the island's modern cuisine and indispensable in a Hawaiian lunch. Variations of long rice with chicken abound, and some places serve the dish with bamboo shoots and shitake mushrooms.

You may have heard of lomi lomi massage, but lomi lomi salmon? Oh yeah. Salmon is believed to have been introduced to the islands during the whaling era, when two New England ships headed to Hawaii. This particular dish, served cold, is created with salmon steaks hand mixed with Hawaiian sea salt, tomatoes and onions (which Captain Cook brought to the islands in 177). The result? Refreshing, salty (you'll notice a theme here) and delicious.

A true Hawaiian dish, laulau (also spelled lau lau) is based on ti leaves and “luau” (taro) leaves. Traditionally, these vegetables were used to wrap fish and pork for laulau; nowadays, chicken is also used. Once tied, the filled leaves are salted and steamed (usually in an imu). To eat, cut into slices and get to the filling inside the leaves are not edible.

While not as vital to ancient Hawaiians as kalo, sweet potatoes covered a large part of the diets of early Polynesians. How the tuber, called 'uala, arrived in the Pacific that originally came from South America is unclear to historians, but its importance to native Hawaiians is indisputable. It blooms in arid conditions and was planted in times of famine. Its leaves were used to cushion lauhala mats; its milky sap was used to treat everything from asthma to insomnia.

Nowadays, molokai sweet potatoes are a frequent garnish in many luaus, whether baked, roasted or used in baked goods. They also gained popularity thanks to famous chefs such as Emeril Lagasse and Sam Choy. Poi was the cornerstone of ancient Hawaiian foods, if not the food itself; as Honolulu reports, “Old images of Hawaiian foods often show poi bowls large enough to wash a baby. Created by macerating kalo, it arrives in a greyish paste and many non-Hawaiians consider it an acquired taste.

Our advice? Turn your fork in it before eating a bite of kalua pork. The combination is unique and, for some, heavenly. Whip up your appetite and get ready for a buffet banquet like no other. Enjoy traditional luau foods like lomilomi salmon, long chicken rice, kalua pork and all the poi you can eat.

Many of the dishes in a traditional Hawaiian luau offer a mix of flavors with Hawaiian, Polynesian and Asian influences. So when planning your own luau party, try to include your favorite traditional dishes to offer your guests an authentic luau dining experience. Whatever you settle for, one thing is certain: everyone's taste buds are in luck. Or you can just take all your friends and family to our award-winning “Alii Luau.

One of the most common foods served in a Hawaiian luau is laulau, which is a bunch of meat wrapped in ti leaves, almost like a Hawaiian tamale. Traditional dishes served at luaus include poi, kalua pork, lomi salmon, laulau, poke and haupia, with entertainment such as Hawaiian music, hula dancing and games. Here the pork is roasted on a bed of banana leaves and, during the luau, it is dug up, prepared and served to all guests in various ways. Add it to your pineapple bowl (or regular bowl if you don't want to serve it in the pineapple) and add the ingredients in pieces on top.


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