For most people, when you think of Hawaiian food, they will answer, "Loco Moco!" It is Hawaiian food, but not your traditional Hawaiian food. I believe Loco Moco was first introduced in Hawaii around 1949. So this dish is fairly new to Hawaii, but a local favorite. But, I will introduce a few "real" Hawaiian dishes from a long time before the loco moco:
It is a sticky paste made from crushing taro root. It is crushed using a poi pounder while adding water until it is mushy and gooey. This has been the staple for Hawaiians from about 200 AD to 500 AD. It is not as common nowadays, but many still enjoy this sour tasting goop.
Lomi means "to massage" in Hawaiian, and that is how this dish is prepared. We take diced raw cured salmon, tomatoes, onions, and some hot peppers, and mix everything as if you were massaging it. This dish probably started from around the 1700s, when whalers and merchants brought salted fish, tomatoes, and onions to Hawaii.
Lau lau means "leaf leaf" in Hawaiian and it has this name because it is wrapped in ti leaves and taro leaves. The outer most layer is ti leaves, which you do not eat. The next layer is taro leaves, which you can eat. And inside you will find pork, fish, and vegetables. It is cooked in an underground rock oven called an imu.
Kalua means "to bake in an underground oven." Therefore, this dish is also cooked in the imu and wrapped with ti leaves to keep the meat flavor in.
This is a combination of chicken and clear mung bean noodles called, "longrice." It is cooked in a gingery chicken broth. Polynesians brought chicken to Hawaii in the mid to late 1800s and Chinese laborers knew to use the chickens to make a delicious soup.
The correct pronunciation for this dish is "Pokay." Basically, (P + Okay) by adding a "p" sound before "okay" will do the trick. It is raw tuna cut into bite size chunks and flavored with Hawaiian salt, green and white onions, chili pepper, soy sauce, and sesame oil. There are many different ways to make this tasty dish.
It is a coconut pudding-like dessert. It has a sweet coconut flavor and a smooth texture. Traditionally it was made by mixing coconut cream with Polynesian arrowroot, then wrapping it with ti leaves, and baking it in the imu. Now, it is made by boiling coconut milk with a bit of sugar, then adding cornstarch to thicken it, and finally putting it in the refrigerator to let it cool down.
Now these are just a few dishes that I have shared with you. There are many more dishes, so when you go to Hawaii, give these dishes a try!