Yesterday my nephew Kaj came for a 16 day (YAY!!) visit. We are doing the whole SoCal amusement park tour in the next two weeks, but that is not the subject of my post.
The REAL subject of this post is the Laulau that my 'ohana so kindly packed in his luggage for us. For those of your uninitiated in Hawaiian food, it is a bundle of heaven, and let me tell you the one thing this particular 'brand" that I now have in my belly is not your ordinary laulau. It is the BEST in the islands! Lots of luau wrapped around the most tender and flavorful meat. So ONO! So what does luau taste like? Apparently it tastes like spinach to some people.
So who is Uncle Keoki? He is this local bruddah that sells his laulau on the side of the road only on the weekends on the Windward side in Kahalu'u. Now don't get his laulau confused with the pre-packaged Keoki's laulau in the stores, because they are worlds apart.
Here is a simple explanation of laulau from wikipedia:
In old Hawaii, laulau was assembled by taking a few luau leaves and placing a few pieces of fish and pork in the center. The ends of the luau leaf are folded and wrapped again in ti leaf. When ready, all the laulau is placed in an underground oven, called an imu. Hot rocks are placed on the dish and covered in banana leaves and buried again. A few hours later the laulau is ready to eat.
In modern times, the dish uses taro leaves, salted butterfish, and either pork, beef, or chicken and is usually steamed on the stove. Laulau is a typical plate lunch dish and is usually served with a side of rice and macaroni salad."
I agree with most of the wikipedia explanation except that is is not a typical plate lunch dish and it's not usually served with macaroni salad. It is traditionally served with poi (mashed taro root), and lomilomi salmon (a tomato, onion, and salted salmon salad of sorts), and some other sides. Many people eat laulau with rice. Do yourself a favor and try one if you get the chance. :-)
Here are some recipes for different laulau flavors(Chicken/Pumpkin, Seafood, & Vegetarian):