While visitors to Hawaii shouldn’t miss the popular dishes found at a good luau, the islands’ lesser-known traditional foods are also worth a taste. Kauai has some of the finest.
Hawaiians have harvested sea salt for centuries, and the pink-tinged Alaea sea salt found on Kauai is a favourite with island chefs who use it to season authentic dishes like Kalua pig and Hawaiian jerky. Only a few families have ancestral harvesting rights and, if you visit the salt flats on the island’s western coast, you might see them tending their red clay ponds. According to tradition, salt from the ponds should not be sold, only given freely, but Alaea sea salt is widely available online and in island souvenir shops.
Lovers of sushi will adore poke—a raw fish salad similar to ceviche, flavoured with any combination of soy sauce, sesame oil, kukui nut and seaweed. Find it at the takeout counter at Ishihara Market in Waimea, where you can choose from ahi (yellowfin tuna), salmon, raw crab and at least a dozen other options. (Ishihara Market, 9894 Kaumualii Highway, Waimea)
Hawaii’s coolest food truck features new takes on this Old Hawaiian staple food. The Hanalei Taro & Juice Co. serves up taro many ways: in hummus, tropical smoothies, veggie burgers, and even in mochi cakes. But the truck’s kulolo—a traditional chewy pudding made with taro and coconut, wrapped in ti leaves and baked in an underground oven—is said to be Hawaii’s best.
Aunty Lilikoi’s Mustard
A standout among Aunty Lilikoi’s passion fruit-infused products, the Passion Fruit Wasabi Mustard is a cult fave that’s shipped regularly to the mainland. The perfect melding of sweet and spicy, once savoured it becomes an instant must-have in your pantry, along with passion fruit jellies, syrups and juices.