If you’re moving to Hawaii, no doubt you’re looking forward to it. Yes, the move will be stressful. But you’re moving to paradise. You’ll be surrounded by warm temperatures, ocean breezes, and the aloha spirit all year long.
Perhaps you’re not as familiar with Hawaiian customs and history, so you’ve started researching this island gem to learn all you can. But there’s one thing your research may not have taught you: you may not have easy access to all the foods you’re used to on the mainland.
You can still get ingredients to cook your favorite home-style meals, but Hawaii is renowned for its unique island cuisine. Since you’ll soon become a resident of this island state, you should familiarize yourself with the local fare.
Below, you’ll find a list of cuisine popular across Hawaii. Read on to learn more about each dish so you know what foods will be easy to find — and delicious to consume — after your arrival.
1. Spam Musubi
Spam musubi is one of the most common, portable foods in Hawaii. This food looks like a spin on sushi. It’s made of a mound of sticky rice with a piece of pan-seared or grilled, teriyaki-flavored Spam on top. Each piece is then wrapped in a strip of nori seaweed. You can eat it with Japanese mayonnaise or soy sauce.
2. Kalua Pig
Hawaii has become famous for this popular dish. A pig is seasoned with Hawaiian salt, covered in ti or banana leaves or seaweed, and cooked in an underground pit or oven. Additionally, woods like mesquite are placed in the underground pit to give the pork a smoky flavor. Rocks are also placed at the bottom of the pit to retain heat and slowly cook the pig for hours.
Once the pig has become fall-off-the-bone tender, it is shredded and mixed with torn seaweed or cabbage.
Since Hawaii is surrounded by miles of ocean, it goes without saying that fish is a huge staple across the islands. One incredible dish is poke (pronounced “po-kay”). Traditionally, this raw-fish salad is eaten as an appetizer or snack. However, it’s rising in popularity and many people do eat it as a main dish.
Fresh, raw tuna is sliced into large chunks. These pieces are then mixed with green onions, sesame oil, and soy sauce. Some variations of the dish add Maui onions, limu (seaweed), wasabi, and fish eggs. You can even try tako poke, which is made from octopus instead of tuna.
4. Lomi Salmon
This dish isn’t traditionally Hawaiian. It was brought to Hawaii from various Pacific Islands, but it has become a common dish for the locals.
Locals cure raw salmon with salt and then dice it up. They mix it with diced onions, tomatoes, and chili peppers to create a fresh zing you’ll crave with each bite.
5. Loco Moco
If you prefer heartier, more filling dishes, loco moco is your go-to meal. A loco moco plate is served with lots of white rice topped with a hamburger patty, brown gravy, and a fried egg. Though the combination seems a little odd, the taste is a flavor explosion you’ll quickly adjust to.
Colored food may make you a little wary, but poi definitely shouldn’t. Poi is a staple side made of boiled, mashed taro that’s been mixed with water until it resembles a pudding. You can eat both savory and sweet versions depending on what you like.
7. Mac Salad
Perhaps the most popular side dish in Hawaii, mac salad is also one of the tastiest. This cold pasta dish is usually made from macaroni noodles, mayonnaise, shredded carrots, onion, celery, apple cider vinegar, sugar, and milk. It’s slightly sweet and tangy in flavor, and it’s an easy way to refresh your palette.
When you think of Hawaii, you likely think of coconuts as a popular treat to eat — and you’d be right. Coconut is so fresh that it’s even included in Hawaiian desserts.
This sweet treat is a thick, gelatin-and-pudding-like dessert served in small blocks. It has a lightly sweet flavor but is creamy in consistency.
9. Shave Ice
No matter where you go in Hawaii, you’ll find shave ice stands scattered in various areas. What mainlanders call “snow cones,” Hawaii residents call “shave ice.” This thinly ground, flakey ice is packed into a ball and flavored with sweet syrups. You can even put a scoop of ice cream inside your shave ice for an extra refresher on a warm day.
Prepare Your Taste Buds
Now that you know a little bit about the traditional, local cuisine in Hawaii, you can better prepare to try new delicacies after your move to the islands. If you’d like, perform a Google search for mom-and-pop-style Hawaiian restaurants near you so you can try some of these foods before your move.
And don’t forget to turn to Island Movers for help coordinating and managing your upcoming move. We’ll handle all the big details so you can spend more time researching about your new home.