The best Hawaiian menu ideas reflect the foods that are native to the Hawaiian islands. If you're planning a Hawaiian luau menu for a special occasion, and any summer occasion including birthdays, showers, anniversaries or weddings will do, start by getting to know what the Hawaiians actually ate, and be sure to hold the pineapple.
Pineapple is not a Hawaiian food. Pineapples are native to Brazil and weren't found in Hawaii until modern times. Dole pineapple has grown their pineapple crop in Hawaii since 1851, making the pineapple a treasured fruit favorite, if not entirely authentic. Tropical foods including coconuts, bananas and palm fruits, as well as raspberries and strawberries, are all native to Hawaii.
Sweet potatoes are the only vegetable commonly found in Hawaiian cuisine. The best way to make Hawaiian sweet potatoes is to slice about five potatoes into 1½-inch pieces and then either steam or bake them. In another pot, stir together ½ cup butter, one cup brown sugar and ½ cup water. When the sugar and butter have melted, add about ½ cup of sweet shredded coconut to the pot and mix well. Pour this sweet sauce over the sweet potatoes and serve hot.
For a traditional luau, a whole roasted "kaula" pig should be served. The traditional way to make roast pig is to bake the pig in an underground oven. If this is not feasible, opt for slow-roasted by using a pork roast on a spit or in a Dutch oven. Shrimp, squid, crab and chicken are other good meat choices.
No Hawaiian menu is complete without poi, a paste made by griding taro root with water. Poi is a sacred food in Hawaiian culture, representing the spirit of the god who created the Hawaiian people. It's also an excellent starch to balance out the fruits and proteins. Poi is made by cooking taro root and then mashing it, adding water to achieve a slightly runny consistency. Fresh poi is the sweetest, although sour poi is still good to eat. Poi is traditionally scooped up by the fingers. It is often called one-finger, two-finger or three-finger poi, depending on its thickness.
When Hawaiian food is considered delicious, you will hear the word "ono" (pronounced oh-no) floating around the table. This is the best compliment you could receive for your efforts. Another Hawaiian slang term is "broke my mouth," which means the meal was wonderful.
Traditional Hawaiian Plate Lunch
A plate lunch usually has some type of salted butterfish combined with another meat, such as chicken, pork or beef wrapped in taro leaves and accompanied by some type of salad, banana bread and fresh fruit. These lunch plates are served all across Hawaii, both in restaurants and by street vendors.
For variation, try a menu that is more Polynesian, with foods such as shrimp with spicy sauces and rice dishes. Hawaiian menus that incorporate a little bit of American food into the mix might include grilled pork chops with pineapple slices, noodle salads, fruit salads, garlic toast and barbecued chicken, with pineapple upside down cake and coconut cream pie for dessert.
Easy Hawaiian Dessert
1 can pineapple rings
1 box yellow cake mix
3 3.5-ounce packages instant vanilla pudding mix
4 cups cold milk
2 tablespoons coconut extract
1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
1 20-ounce can crushed pineapple, drained
2 cups Cool Whip
2 cups toasted coconut flakes
Place the pineapple rings in the bottom of a sheet cake pan. Pour the cake batter into the pan and bake according to the box directions.
Combine the pudding, milk and coconut extract and mix until well blended. Add the cream cheese and beat slowly until all lumps have disappeared. Stir in the pineapple and then spread the mixture over the cooled cakes. Cover with a layer of Cool Whip and then sprinkle the top with toasted coconut. This cake should be served cold and leftovers should be refrigerated.
Luau activities should reflect the beachfront theme of the event, making some popular beach and party games a natural fit.
Don't have palm trees and sand in your backyard? Set the stage for a memorable luau by making some tropical-themed luau decorations.