I didn’t know much about Hawai’ian cuisine before my unexpected trip to Honolulu in 2008, except that I often noticed Mauna Loa macadamias on sale at airport duty-free shops. There was something about burying food in the sand too, though I have no idea where I first heard about it. Probably in a Don Ho song. Upon admitting this, let’s take a brief glance.
What we have above is the result of a long walk along a suburban – i.e., without a sign of food – Honolulu winding road that finally turned into what else…a strip mall. Thanks to a local supermarket, I was able to start my short eating trek through Hawaii. Thanks to my camera at the time, we know that it was composed of poke and haupia.
On second thought, it appears that I was hornswoggled. In addition to fish, poke is supposed to be a bountiful mixture of sesame oil, salt, candle nut, seaweed, soy sauce, and chili pepper, but what I ate resembles the, eh, supermarket version. It wasn’t bad, but there’s a good example of why I should’ve conducted some research beforehand. For all I knew then it was the archetypical Polynesian seafood dish. To try a more correct version, guess I’ll have to book a stopover on my way to nowhere I’m actually going.
OK, so we’re 0 for 1 so far. How about haupia? In fairness, it’s haupia-flavored yogurt, so that helps even less. I do recall it tasting of coconut, which is close enough. Right? The taste might be more loyal to the name, but the texture is on a detour. Haupia employs a thickening agent – nowadays, cornstarch – to allow coconut milk to become more of a pudding. Interesting, as many Pacific islanders use coconut as a thickening agent for themselves…oh, who am I kidding?
Are you familiar with Hawaiian cooking?