My Five Favorite Hawaiian Foods


Today I’ll be working on the page proofs for House of the Hanging Jade which, as you may know, is set on the Big Island of Hawaii. Re-reading the manuscript has got me thinking about Hawaii all over again, as if I need an excuse to do that.

But it’s also Thanksgiving week, and on Thursday (which, coincidentally, is exactly five months before the release of House of the Hanging Jade), we here in the United States will be enjoying one of the most traditional meals of the year. So is it any wonder that I have food on my mind? (Again, not that I need a reason to think about food, but it is a good excuse.)

Specifically, I’ve got Hawaiian food on my mind. That’s why today’s post is all about Hawaiian foods and the ones I love best.

1. Poke. For those of you who don’t know what poke (pronounced “poh-kay”) is, it’s cubes of fresh raw fish, often ahi, usually with a marinade or dressing. My personal favorite is spicy ahi poke, which is made with ahi, regular or Japanese mayonnaise, soy sauce, Sriracha, sesame oil, green onion, and masago (roe of the capelin fish). Before I tried poke the first time, I never could have guessed it would end up to be one of my favorite foods, but I fell in love with it.


2. Lilikoi, or passion fruit. There are two main varieties: red and yellow. Though most people recommend the red because it’s sweeter, I prefer the yellow. It’s tangy with a zing that no other fruit can replicate. When you open a lilikoi, there is a pulpy mass of seeds inside. That’s the delicious part (don’t eat the white layer inside the skin, which is bitter). My favorite way to eat lilikoi is straight out of the fruit, stirred into yogurt, or pureed and added to any drink.

3. Pineapple. The island of Maui is home to the Hali’imaile Pineapple Plantation, the only working pineapple plantation in the United States, where visitors can take a tour and see first-hand what goes into growing and harvesting the sweetest, most delicious pineapples you’ll ever taste. Click here to see a video of how to cut a pineapple. The juice just runs out of the pineapple and it’s got an amazing sweetness that has nothing in common with the pineapple you find in the grocery store.

4. Loco moco. This is a local specialty that you have to taste to believe. It’s a conglomeration of white rice topped with one or two hamburger patties, a fried egg, and brown gravy. The first time my eldest daughter ate one I told her it looked disgusting, that I wouldn’t try it if she paid me. Long story short, it’s now our traditional New Year’s Day meal,  served with a side of macaroni salad.


5.   Shave Ice. Some people compare shave ice with snow cones, the ubiquitous treat of state fairs all over the US, but the comparison is misguided. Shave ice has nothing to do with those scoops of tiny ice balls that are thinly coated with colored sugar water. Shave ice is more like a mound of loosely-packed light and fluffy snow, completely permeated with a delicious fruity syrup. The best shave ice is mixed with vanilla ice cream and includes real coconut. See the holes in the shave ice below? Those are from a straw, which is poked repeatedly through the shave ice to ensure the flavor reaches every part of the dessert.


Are you hungry yet?

Finally, since Thanksgiving is just a few days away, I wanted to tell you all that I’m thankful for YOU! I wish all of you a happy Thanksgiving and safe travels if you’re going to be on the road this holiday weekend.


Until next week,



8 thoughts on “My Five Favorite Hawaiian Foods”

  1. PLEASE NOTE: The video doesn’t seem to be working. It’s a short clip of a tour guide proving that the best way to cut a pineapple is with a machete. He was a great guide. For the record, I don’t use a machete when I’m cutting pineapple in my kitchen– just a serrated knife.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s the weirdest thing, but I don’t like fresh papaya. I like it dried, but that’s the only way I can eat it. My husband loves it, so he gets to eat it all when we buy it. And freshly ground Kona coffee? No better coffee.


  2. Good Morning Amy,

    Yes, it is 4 A.M. and I am hungry! Sorry, your favorite would not be mine… Raw fish? No thanks. However, your daughters choice sounds really interesting. I love gravies with just about anything. Although, I would probably add fresh green beans, or peas, or even a homemade creamed corn with it. I have never experienced pineapple from Hawaii, although I do love pineapple, especially when it is naturally sweet. Okay, stop, I am really hungry now!

    p.s. I cannot wait to read House of the Hanging

    Wishing you and your family a wonderful Thanksgiving!

    As Always, “Keep Reading and Writing!”



    1. Sharon, my first thought when I saw your comment was “What on earth is she doing up?” I hope you get a nap in later. Lots of people have the same reaction as you do to the thought of eating raw fish, but in my experience you really can’t taste the fish if it’s flash frozen on the boat or if it’s super-fresh. And the loco moco is wonderful. My daughter has actually become a vegetarian since last New Year’s Day, so she won’t enjoy the hamburger patty or the gravy on the first day of 2016, but she’ll eat the rice and the macaroni salad! Maybe I’ll take your suggestion and make her a side of green beans, too. She doesn’t like eggs, so she never has the fried egg. I hope you and yours have a happy Thanksgiving!

      Liked by 1 person

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