Dreaming of an island vacation as the weather turns colder but don’t have time to get away? While you may not be able to relax on the beach under swaying palms, you can still get a taste of island life by cooking up some Hawaiian-inspired recipes. These five dishes are easy to make and will add a dose of tropical flavor to your dinner table.
1. Hawaiian Ahi Poke
Poke, a Hawaiian favorite, is a fish salad usually made with raw ahi tuna. Delicious and fresh-tasting, it’s also incredibly easy to prepare. This recipe comes from A Spicy Perspective.
- 2 large sashimi-grade ahi tuna steaks (about 1½ pounds)
- 1 shallot or Maui onion, sliced
- ½ cup chopped green onion
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon chili garlic sauce
- 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
Directions: Pat the tuna dry. Cut each steak into ½-inch cubes, and transfer to a large bowl.
Add the shallot, onion, soy sauce, sesame oil, chili garlic sauce, and sesame seeds to bowl with the cubed tuna, then toss gently to combine. Cover and refrigerate, or serve immediately.
2. Slow Cooker Kalua Pork
Slow-cooked pulled pork is an island staple. Traditionally, an entire pig is cooked in an underground oven known as an imu, a process that can take an entire day. Fortunately, you don’t have to dig a pit in your backyard to enjoy Hawaiian-style pork at home. In this recipe from Pineapple and Coconut, a slow cooker replaces the traditional cooking method but with equally delicious results.
- 4 to 6 pounds pork shoulder or Boston butt roast
- 1 tablespoon liquid smoke, hickory or mesquite flavor
- 2 to 3 teaspoons red Hawaiian sea salt, more for a larger roast
- Banana leaves (optional)
Directions: Wash the pork roast, and pat dry. If using the banana leaves, place them in a single layer at the bottom of a slow cooker (the leaves should come part way up the sides). Pierce meat all over with a fork, then place in the slow cooker. Poor the liquid smoke over the meat, and sprinkle with a generous amount of sea salt. Wrap the banana leaves tightly around the meat if using, tucking under the roast to secure.
Cover, set heat to low, and let cook for 8 to 12 hours. Check meat after 8 hours for doneness; if not fully cooked, let it continue to cook for up to 4 hours more, checking every hour.
When meat is fully cooked, shred it using two forks. Serve on Hawaiian rolls or with rice or macaroni salad.
3. Lomi Lomi Salmon
Another simple yet delicious raw seafood dish, lomi lomi salmon gets its name from the technique used to prepare the fish. “Lomi” means massage in Hawaiian, and that just what you do to the salmon in this four-ingredient recipe from Fish Maui.
- 1 pound salt salmon*
- 2 to 3 ripe tomatoes, small dice
- 2 medium Maui onions, diced (or substitute another type of sweet onion)
- 3 green onions, sliced
Directions: Soak the salt salmon in cold water for 3 to 6 hours, changing the water several times. The last time you change the water, add a tray of ice cubes to the dish. (You want the fish to be very cold before moving on to the next step.)
Drain the salmon, and remove all the bones and skin. Cut into small cubes, roughly the size of a pencil eraser. Place the salmon in a glass bowl along with the diced tomatoes and sweet onion. Gently combine with your fingers. Cover and refrigerate for several hours or overnight. Serve over ice cubes or shaved ice, and garnish with green onion.
*If you cannot find salt salmon, you can make your own by covering both sides of a ½-inch think salmon fillet with a layer of Hawaiian sea salt. Place in a 9-by-13-inch pan, cover with plastic wrap, and let cure in the refrigerator for three to four days.
4. Huli Huli Chicken
The Hawaiian spin on grilled chicken is the perfect cookout food, but that doesn’t mean you can only make it in the summer. The simple marinade takes just a few minutes to prepare, so you can do the bulk of the work the night before and just throw the meat on the grill when you get home from work. Recipe from Six Sisters’ Stuff.
- ½ cup pineapple juice
- ½ cup brown sugar
- ⅓ cup ketchup
- ⅓ cup soy sauce
- ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs
Directions: Mix the first six ingredients in a small bowl. Pour into a large, resealable plastic bag, and add the chicken. Seal, and let marinate in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours or overnight.
Remove bag from refrigerator, and discard marinade. Cook chicken on grill over medium-high heat for 6 to 8 minutes per side. Serve with a side of grilled pineapple.
5. Spam Fried Rice
Hawaiians famously eat more Spam than any other state in America, with the canned meat playing a central role in dishes like Spam musubi and even popping up on the menu at McDonald’s. It’s also a key ingredient in this version of fried rice from the Hawaii Plan.
- 3 tablespoons cooking oil
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ⅛ teaspoon pepper
- 3 cups of cooked, leftover rice (break up any clumps)
- ¾ cup of Spam (cut into chunks or strips)
- ¾ cup chopped veggies (such as peas, carrots, cucumber, bell peppers, or onions)
- 1 tablespoon oyster sauce or 1½ tablespoons soy sauce
- 4 green onions, thinly sliced
- 2 garlic pieces (skin removed and sliced or cracked open)
Directions: Add one tablespoon of oil to a large skillet, and turn heat to high. Add eggs, salt, and pepper, and scramble lightly (be careful not to overcook). Slide eggs to side of pan, or remove to a plate.
Add 2 more tablespoons of oil to pan, and adjust heat to medium-high. Add Spam and garlic, and let brown slightly, then add the cooked rice. Pour in the oyster sauce or soy sauce, and stir until everything is fully coated and rice is slightly crisp. Add cooked eggs and veggies to the pan, cook until everything is warmed through, then serve.
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