Summer, sun, good vibes, and lightness, delicious food – we can find all of that in Hawaii. Tropical beaches, warm ocean, and of course, the typical Hawaiian BBQ – how could summer get any better? But even beyond the grill, the stunning Pacific islands have a lot to offer for food enthusiasts. Join us on a culinary journey through the most popular vacation spot, not only for Americans, and discover the sometimes surprising but always delightful influences from a history spanning over a thousand years.
Hawaii – a (not only) culinary hotspot
It is believed that the Hawaiian islands were first settled around the year 800 by Polynesian seafarers. Over the centuries, local culture merged with ever-new influences from the outside world. From Captain Cook to becoming part of the USA and the arrival of Asian immigrants, Hawaiian culture has always been a melting pot for experiments and fusion. This rich history is also reflected in Hawaiian cuisine, with its numerous influences from Japan and Polynesia to the US West Coast.
While many typical Hawaiian ingredients, such as the nearly ubiquitous taro leaf on the islands, are hardly available for purchase elsewhere, with a few tips and tricks, you too can enjoy authentic Hawaiian soul food in your own kitchen:
Lūʻau – American BBQ Hawaiian style
American BBQ is a must in the summer – that holds true in Hawaii as much as on the mainland. However, beef is relatively rare here, not surprising given the limited grazing land on the many small islands. Instead, at Hawaiian BBQs, pork and chicken traditionally take the spotlight on the plates, along with fish and local fruits such as mango or pineapple.
Of course, Hawaiian lūʻau is just one of many tasty variations of the classic American BBQ. If you want to learn more about how barbecue enthusiasts in places like North Carolina, Memphis, or Kansas City prefer to bring their smoked and flavorful meats to the table, simply read our blog on the topic and let your mouth water:
Kālua puaʻa – Hawaiian-style Roast Pig
Aside from flower crowns and traditional hula dances, Hawaii is world-renowned for its local rendition of our roast pig: Kālua puaʻa. Unlike in Europe, where the pig is traditionally skewered over an open flame and roasted, a much more Spartan cooking technique is employed in Hawaii, also seen in modified form elsewhere in the USA (e.g., in Texas). Instead of balancing it over an open fire, Hawaiians traditionally wrap their roast pig in fire-resistant leaves (e.g., palm leaves) and bury it along with glowing coals in an earth pit, where it slowly and gently cooks for several hours with indirect heat and smoke, much as the Polynesians did for thousands of years.
Huli-huli Chicken – Hawaiian Half Chicken
Not only for us, but also in Hawaii, grilled chickens rotating on skewers over an open flame are not only frequently seen but also welcomed. In Hawaii, this version of grilled chicken is known as Huli-huli Chicken. A relatively recent addition to the Hawaiian barbecue menu, Huli-huli Chicken dates back to the 1950s. However, even without the long tradition of its Polynesian competitors, Huli-huli Chicken is a special culinary delight, as its recipe even earned its creator an honorary post as Deputy Consul of Portugal.
The chicken is slowly grilled over an open flame and regularly rotated for even cooking and a smoky-crispy skin. Before serving, the chicken is marinated with a concoction of pineapple juice, ketchup, soy sauce, honey, brown sugar, and garlic. If you want to try the authentic taste for yourself, we recommend reaching for the Hawaiian Grille Sauce by Stonewall Kitchen. Its recipe is directly based on the traditional Huli-huli marinade and effortlessly transforms German grilled chicken into authentic Hawaiian delights.
By the way, the name "Huli-huli Chicken" comes from the fact that waiting barbecue enthusiasts at large gatherings traditionally called out "Huli!" when they thought it was time for the grillmaster to turn the delicious chickens.
Poke & Some – Asian Flair for Hot Summer Days
If, amidst all the sun and warmth, you don't feel like standing by the grill, Hawaiian cuisine has some very special treats in store for you.
Poke is a traditional fish salad that has also gained international popularity and in Hawaii itself has risen to the status of an unofficial national dish. The versatile and customizable recipe is a typical example of Hawaiian fusion cuisine, combining Japanese, Polynesian, and US-American influences into a harmonious and unique taste experience. Particularly well-known and easily made at home is the variation served in bowls, commonly referred to as Poke Bowls.
The base is a bowl of cooked rice, which can be topped with individual ingredients according to taste. Traditionally, this includes seafood, especially raw tuna, salmon, fish eggs, or octopus (often referred to as tako, its Japanese name), as well as fruits and vegetables like pineapple, avocado, cucumber, carrot, soybean sprouts, and additional seasonings such as sesame seeds or nori sheets. The bowl is topped with a sauce, typically soy-based, and often featuring a touch of spiciness from Sriracha. To enjoy, simply mix all the ingredients together in the bowl, and you have a delicious snack from Hawaii, perfect even when the weather is warm.
Another food widely enjoyed in Hawaii on hot summer days are Some noodles, originally from Japan. These glass noodles, also available here in Germany, are traditionally eaten cold – after cooking, they are soaked in cold water (traditionally even in flowing water in specially made bamboo troughs) – and are simply dipped into a soy or teriyaki sauce dip for eating. A refreshing snack for hot summer days, and quick and easy to make yourself.
Chi Chi & Co. – Sparkling Through Summer with Fruity Cocktails
On our culinary journey to Hawaii, a refreshing cocktail is a must. The undisputed "traditional" national drink of Hawaiians is Chi Chi. The mix of pineapple juice, coconut milk, and vodka has long been a favorite drink of the islanders.
However, with the variety of local fruits, other typical tropical cocktails are also inseparable from the shores of the Hawaiian islands. Want to bring a bit of this tropical feeling home? Then give our convenient Drink Mixers from Stonewall Kitchen a try. With the ready-made mixes and your choice of spirits, you can easily whip up delicious summer cocktails from Margarita and Sangria to Piña Colada right at your home bar.
You can find these convenient mixers and everything else you need for the perfect cocktail (from ice cubes to straws) in our webshop:
Good Taste is Always Worth the Journey
Do you now have an appetite for a (at least culinary) short vacation? Then we have a very special souvenir for your travel luggage:
With the Grilling & Barbecue Collection Gift Set by Stonewall Kitchen, we have put together some of the most popular treats from our Top 10 most delicious Grill and BBQ Sauces by Stonewall Kitchen for you.
It includes the delicious Hawaiian Grille Sauce for your own traditional Hawaiian BBQ. And if you'd like to take your taste buds on a little journey, the gift set also offers you the typically American varieties of Honey BBQ and Baby Back Rib, which pair just as well with pork, chicken, and more.