The Aloha State has many cultural dishes stemming from tradition and distinguished by unique preparations. If you’re visiting on vacation or searching for authentic Hawaiian food online, you might be wondering which dishes are the real deal. The guide below introduces some of the most popular traditional foods in Hawaiian cuisine.

What Is Traditional Hawaiian Food?

1. Lau lau

This entree is made by wrapping a protein, such as pork, in layers of taro leaves. Traditionally, it is cooked in an underground oven called an Imu surrounded by hot rocks, banana stumps, and banana leaves. In modern day, burlap bags soaked in water and plastic tarps are used to capture heat and moisture in the Imu.

The leaves come out soft, salty, and smoky, while the meat is perfectly tender and juicy. Today, lau lau is typically steamed on top of a stove.

2. Lomi Salmon

Lomi lomi salmon, or simply lomi salmon, is a traditional side dish that can be a part of any meal. To prepare it, fresh salmon is cured by rubbing and/or covered with sea salt and refrigerated overnight, draining the liquid that is drawn out of the fish by the salt.  It is then diced with finely chopped tomatoes, onions, and green onions. The result is a refreshing mixture of bite-sized pieces that is best served chilled.

3. Portuguese Sausage 

authentic Hawaiian foodAlthough not originally from Hawaii, Portuguese sausage has become a breakfast staple here nonetheless. This smoky meat is seasoned with just garlic and paprika and comes in both mild and spicy varieties. You can enjoy it in everything from appetizers to soups, like with fried eggs and rice for breakfast. 

4. Kalua Pork

An authentic Hawaiian food favorite, kalua pork is traditionally cooked in an underground oven like lau lau. The underground oven or pit known as an “Imu”, where Keawe wood (similar to Mesquite) is used to heat porous Lava rocks to red-hot temperatures. 

The rocks are covered with Banana stumps and leave as a protective barrier where the foods are placed.  More banana leaves are used to cover the foods to keep the heat and steam from escaping, as well as protecting it from the soil that is used to seal the Imu. 

Cooking times range, however it usually cooks underground for 10 – 12 hours before being uncovered, resulting in the mouthwatering smoky flavor the dish is famous for. Kalua pork is often enjoyed at luaus.

5. Luau Stew

When taro plants are still young, their smaller leaves, known as luau leaves, are made into a popular dish. Luau leaves are cooked with water, coconut milk, and a protein, like squid or chicken, until soft and soupy. The flavorful stew is topped off with a dash of Hawaiian salt.


If you’re eager to get a taste of real Hawaiian food, check out items by Hawaii Food Products on Oahu. For over 65 years, this authentic Hawaiian food distributor has manufactured a broad selection of delicious, locally and traditionally made products. There is a variety of ways to enjoy their dishes, including local food trucks and restaurants, supermarkets throughout the state, and shipping to the mainland. If you’re ordering delivery from the mainland, browse their products online. Call (808) 676-9100 to place an order.