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Hawaiian Luau

Hi There!

I'm helping my friends celebrate their 25th anniversary with a Hawaiian themed dinner. (I know it's cliche, but they had their honeymoon in Hawaii) I already decided that I would make Kalua Pork from the grill and probably some simple grilled salmon.

However, I'm having a difficult time deciding what other dishes (particularly accompanying carbohydrates) to make for the meal. I'm aiming to make all the guests (mostly hardcore Italians) comfortable - so things like Poi, raw fish and other acquired tastes probably wouldn't work well.

What do you think would be appropriate side dishes for this meal? Thanks for all the help!

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  1. You need to make some white rice to go with your grinds!

    Do they sell taro bread/rolls on the mainland??? That could work for some bread.

    Also sweet potatoes (especially Okinawa kind) and mac salad are popular star!ch/carb items.

    Anyways, what are you making for dessert?

    Malama pono!

    1. some other threads on a similar topic may help. i thought of rice. so not much of a contribution. coconut custard pie?


      http://www.chowhound.com/topics/43229... (emme has good suggestions, esp. that mango bread sounds great.) here is a recipe that looks good, http://food.meltingonline.com/2008/05...
      but i'm still looking for one i thought i bookmarked from an indian food blog.

      ah, here it is, with ginger: http://whatsforlunchhoney.blogspot.co...

      1. mango pudding? http://saffrontrail.blogspot.com/2006...

        maybe with shredded fresh coconut on top? mmmmmm good!

        mango coconut ice cream? yowza! http://saffrontrail.blogspot.com/2007...

        another mango coconut bread: http://coconutlime.blogspot.com/2006/...

        gotta gotta gotta have mai tai drinks! wooohooo. http://www.drinkboy.com/cocktails/rec...

        look in the index to trader vic's tiki party cookbook on amazon: http://www.amazon.com/gp/reader/15800...

        2 Replies
        1. re: alkapal


          Thanks so much for recommending the Tiki party cookbook. I browsed through the index and came up with some great ideas for a future party that I'll be hosting. The index was so good, I may just go and buy the book.

          1. re: othervoice

            othervoice. you're welcome! i love trader vic and the amazon "search inside" feature!

            an all things luau decorating site, including essential luau music cd!

        2. Mac salad is a definite. Italians love their pasta! Rice is also an obvious option, whether you choose to make plain white or gussy it up by cooking it with coconut milk and sesame. Sweet rolls like one can get at a Portuguese or Filipino bakery would also work. On the side, perhaps you can try serving seaweed salad, crab salad with jicama, tempura (varied vegetable, perhaps coconut shrimp). For beverages you can play it safe with the Polynesian classics, garnished with orchids and fresh fruit ice cubs, but take a chance on their palates with a dessert of haupia.

          1 Reply
          1. re: JungMann

            mmm, crab salad with jicama!

            king's hawaiian (sweet) bread recipe clone: http://www.cdkitchen.com/recipes/recs...

          2. The luau should have some poi even if not everyone likes it. Let people at least try it.

            1. ooooh, look at this pineapple sangria (fusion to love, love, love):

              1. How about grilled spam. OK, not a truly traditional dish, but Hawaiians are some of the top spam eaters in the world.
                Might be a hit - maybe not taste wise, but certainly a conversation starter!

                I saw rice cooked in bamboo awhile back. OK, again, not traditional Hawaii, but surely a tropical theme - and you can almost do individual portions.

                How about taro leaf - very traditional here. Can do quite a bit; make a soup, make a gratin, make a seasoned leafy side veg, wrap up just about anything in the leaves with herbs and bake.

                1. Making kalua pig on the grill sounds delicious. Do you have a recipe? I usually make mine in the oven, no imu here.

                  1. Rather than the grilled salmon, you should do lomi lomi salmon and/or ahi poke.



                    Agree that a white rice side dish will be welcome, to soak up the juices from your pork and fish dishes. Plain white rice is traditional, but coconut rice is a nice touch as well.

                    As for other side dishes, Japanese-inspired sides go very well with Hawaiian mains. You could do a cucumber side, like sunomono, or goma-ae (spinach in sesame sauce, or go for a more Hawaiian variant, like seaweed in the "ae" style). Eggplant with miso would be good as well.

                    Personally, I'm not a big fan of macaroni salad, even if it is traditional. I'd go for a sweet potato side, maybe tempura-battered sweet potato, or cold sesame noodles. Browniebaker's recipe in this thread has a good recipe for the noodles:


                    Less traditional, but a salad that compliments a Hawaiian theme nicely is this recipe for "Super Slaw," an asian-inspired coleslaw with peanut dressing:


                    1 Reply
                    1. re: DanaB

                      No poke no luau... And don't forget the spam musubi... Oh yeah - lauau...

                    2. Well, here are a few dishes using the same ingredient (cllophane noodles) that is about as Hawaiian as you can get without throwing a virgin into Mauna Loa. It is a little "exotic," but since it looks like glass angel hair pasta, your Italian friends should have no problem with it. I'm not recommending you do all three recipes, but I'm offering three that range from fairly plain and served hot/warm, to a colorful and tasty cold salad ideal for a luau menu, but none are difficult.

                      In case you're not familiar with collophane noodles, they're also called bean thread or "long rice." I have NO idea how they ever came to be known as long "rice" because first of all, there ARE noodles made with rice but thse aren't it, and second of all, it isn't shaped anything close to rice! It's most often made from mung beans, which are the same bean as bean sprouts come from. They're packaged in long "threads" that are all rolled up, and until they're soaked, they're tough as rope. Extremely nutritious and very low fat compared to most other noodles.

                      EDIT! Instead of "unwrap the bean thread", as I wrote in the following paragraph, I should have said, "take the bean thread out of the package... ..." It comes all twisted and I do not mean "unwrap" it from that condition! Sorry for any confusion.

                      ALL of these recipes seem to assume you're familar with prepping cellophane noodles, so let me cover the basics. First unwrap the bean thread and put the whole "bundle" (or two) in a bowl filled with plenty of warmish (not hot) water to cover and let them soak for twenty minutes or so. Next drain them in a colander and cut them into about two to three inch lengths. You can put them on a cutting board and slice with a chef's knife, or you can put them back in the empty soaking bowl and randomly cut through them with a pair of clean scissors. The second mothod is less precise, so I use a knife for company, scissors for family. After the soaking to soften them and help them turn transparent, they are cooked for three to five minutes. NEVER trust a recpe that tells you to cook cellophane noodles for twenty minutes or more. You'll end up with a bowl full of stringy Jell-O! Short of that, they are delicious!

                      Here's the first recipe. It's for "chicken long rice" a Hawaiian tradition:
                      I chose this recipe because of the dozens of recipes for the dish on the web, this is most accurate on prep and cooking time, but you might look at some of those other recipes for aditional ingredient ideas. For buffets, I drain it and serve with sauce seperate the same as the following recipe.

                      This recipe is for chicken hekka:
                      Again, it doesn't define "serving pieces" for the chicken very well. I don't use legs, thighs and breasts, but cut the chicken (white and/or dark meat) into small bite size pieces the way I cut it for most Chinese stir fry dishes. I also dice the skin seperately and add it a bit before the chicken so it crisps. And if you can't find baboo shoots, don't worry about it. It's still good without them!

                      And finally, here's a cold salad using cellophane noodles:
                      This one is my favorite for a luau or any kind of party where you want a great cold dish that is main course and sides all in one. Oh, and "won bok" is napa cabbage, not bok choy.

                      I also make another salad very similar to this one bit omit the cabbage, chicken, and mint and use cold diced or sliced/shredded prosciutto or Parma ham instead. It's delicious too, and you don't have to boil a chicken on a hot summer's day!

                      Whatever you cook, have a great luau!

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Caroline1

                        That last salad you make, sounds delicious what do you mean you the procuitto or ham instead..of what? Its early yet, do you mean I can sub the ham for the procuitto? oh goodness, maybe I should go back to bed,
                        We go to concerts in the park Thursday evenings, I would take this for my dinner!

                        1. re: chef chicklet

                          Instead of the boiled chicken in this reccipe: http://tinyurl.com/6ldgce

                          The same basic recipe is also good if you replace the chicken with lightly boiled squid rings and tentacles, in which case I toss the mint back in. If you can get enough tentacles to just use those, then you've got cellophane salad and tempura calimari! And one more guest.... ME!

                          Do they still have Sunday afternoon concerts in Stern Grove? God, I loved those...! Lots of great events at Stern Grove back then. You made me remember them..Thanks! ;-)

                      2. Hawaii has a few different ethnic groups, Japanese, Filipino, Chinese to name a few. Caroline's suggestions are good. Or there is a Filipino noodle dish I make, Pancit. Using the same noodles, shrimp, veggies etc. It all looks good~
                        or I made these for a party, Pork Meatballs with pineapple in sweet and sour sauce.These goooo fast. You can keep them in the crockpot or put them on picks and use the sweet sour sauce to dip it in. (actually made these in the crockpot with frozen meatballs for an office party) Started them in the am, they were done at noon. oh sorry just remembered, you wanted carb sides!!!
                        Hawaiian bread rolls- for the kahula pork to make little sandwiches with your toppings.

                        6 Replies
                        1. re: chef chicklet

                          chef, have you posted the recipe for the pork before? i did a search to no avail....

                          1. re: alkapal

                            I can't even remember what I did yesterday!!!
                            I don't think I have. But if you would like the recipe I will be happy to recreate it. It too is one that I had in files I lost.
                            But I need to do this anyway so I don't mind at all. Give a few hours to get it together and I'll post it. I have made this the both the speedy version and from scratch and love them both.

                            1. re: chef chicklet

                              cool! thanks! i know it will be good.

                              1. re: alkapal

                                Alkapal, well I didn't trust my memory, and so.... we are having this very dish tonight for dinner. My hubby is thrilled, however, last count, I think I only have 20 meatballs left. That is the downside of cooking something that smells enormously good all dang day.

                                I know he can't wait, and now I'm focusing on dessert.....

                                Have fun. I'll post the speedy version which only means speedy in the way of preparing ingredients not actual cooking time, tomorrow!

                                Chinese Sweet & Sour Pork Meatballs

                                In a Crock Pot

                                1 T of vegetable oil
                                1 Medium white onion chopped 1/8 inch small dice– Spanish is ok
                                1 Red or green bell pepper chopped small
                                1 1/2 T minced fresh garlic or grated
                                1 1/2 T grated fresh ginger root
                                2 T cornstarch mixed with 2T water – for a slurry
                                Turn the Crockpot on high, let it heat up, add the oil

                                Mix the liquids in a bowl:

                                1 can crushed pineapple-juice incl.
                                1/4 C white sugar
                                1/2 C Dark Brown sugar
                                !/2 C ketchup
                                2 T dark soy sauce; I prefer, Pearl River a rich dark soy/sauce
                                1 tsp toasted sesame seed oil
                                1 T Sriracha chili sauce - this is fairly hot- go slow for the addition to the recipe
                                1/3 C apple cider vinegar-adds a fruity note, or use what you want
                                Add this all to the Crockpot give it a good stir, and put the lid on it, temp should be on high.

                                Make the meatballs.

                                Pork Meat Balls
                                1 lb ground pork - cold
                                1 large egg beaten well
                                1 ½ T dry cornstarch
                                2 T scallions minced fine
                                2 T grated ginger root
                                2 T minced scallion
                                2 T minced water chestnut
                                1 T toasted sesame seed oil
                                1 1/2 T dry sherry
                                2 T dark soy sauce – or light
                                1 T sriacha chili sauce
                                1 egg beaten well
                                1 T salt
                                1 T white pepper

                                Keep the pork cold until you’re ready to use.
                                After the sauce is made and in the crock pot, begin the meatballs.
                                Into a large bowl add the ground pork, and the well beaten egg. Add the cornstarch, the minced green onion, minced water chestnuts. Squish the meat mix with your hands, and then add the liquids, mix well. Add the cornstarch last. Put the bowl of seasoned ground pork into the refrigerator and let it chill for a half an hour at least.

                                Use a tablespoon (best to use a measuring spoon with a large bowl to it if you can) Scoop a Tablespoon of the meat mixture, and then with wet hands, toss the meat back and forth between “cupped’ hands. This will shape your meatball nicely without pressing, keep them at walnut size, no larger for best appetizer and as a main entreee.
                                About 30 meatballs

                                Bake at 350 degrees 12-15 minutes on a cookie sheet sprayed with Pam or silpat.
                                The meatballs should just be cooked, do not overcook or they will be dry.
                                Take the sauce out of the Crockpot, put it in a sauce pan, and bring it to a boil to thicken the cornstarch. After it’s thickened, put the sauce back into the crock pot.
                                Stir well, & add the meatballs to the crock pot. Taste the sauce and let it cook; after 2 hours, adjust the vinegar or sugar to your taste. You can add sriracha at this point or wait until you serve the meatballs at the table, allowing diners to do so then.

                                Let the meatballs cook at least 6-7 hours total in the crockpot. The flavors will meld, and the meatballs will take on the pineapple sweet and sour sauce (hot).
                                You can if you want, add another can or add additional fresh pineapple to the Crockpot 10 minutes before serving. I’ve made this dish many times. Canned pineapple works well in this dish.

                                Serves 4 generous portions

                                Accompaniments: Jasmine rice,
                                Purple or white cabbage slaw with onion and rice vinegar dressing
                                Top with sliced scallions, cilantro, and sesame seeds; or unsalted slivered almonds/
                                Additional sides would be fresh sliced tomatoes and bell peppers, fresh slices of pineapples or grilled pineapple.

                                Enjoy darling!

                                1. re: chef chicklet

                                  Well I thought I took pictures, and what it appears I did was take a movie of my plated food!

                                  oh well. sorry, but to report on the dish, the sauce is very very good. I make this amount of sauce because we love it over the rice..

                                  oh wait I found them! I thought I had accidentally deleted them!



                                  1. re: chef chicklet

                                    CC, I've printed your recipe out to try this weekend....I noticed that you have "2 Tablespoons scallion" listed twice in the ingredients for the meatballs...can you please elaborate? Was it just a double-listing of the same ingredient or is something else supposed to go into the mix, such as garlic? Thanks!

                          2. If I may ask, what is your recipe for the Kalua Pork???

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: Sarah

                              Say prayer. Kill and bleed big guy pig. Ask for blessing. Skin and cut in parts. Dig big hole in sand; build big wood fire over round rocks. Wrap pig parts in taro and then ti leaves; put in other stuff. Put some hot rocks on bottom of hole, then pig and stuff; put green stake pointed down and touching meat; heap all hot rocks and sand on top. After many hours, push down on stake. Ready when stake say pig ready.

                              1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                Nice recipe, Sam!

                                We were in the Cook Islands awhile back. While on Rarotonga, I kept smelling what I thought was burning garbage. (as a kid everyone in my small town burned their household garbage in their backyard in an old 55 gallon drum - so the odor was ingrained).
                                Turned out it wasn't garbage at all; it was the odor of steaming/burning taro leaves covering neighborhood umus...

                            2. this is a great cookbook for the record: "pacific bounty; hawaii cooks with roy yamaguchi" (and other chefs there in hawaii, from kqed) isbn 0-9123333-23-5

                              5 Replies
                              1. re: alkapal

                                reallyyyyy? I'm going to check it out. Love roy.

                                1. re: chef chicklet

                                  yep, cc, got some ideas there that i love: e.g.,
                                  burnt cream with kona coffee
                                  roasted shiitake salad with ginger tomato vinaigrette
                                  roasted eggplant soup with ginger and basil
                                  roasted peking-style duck with candied pecans in a lilikoi (passionfruit) sauce
                                  flourless red banana cake
                                  fresh kona oysters with hawaiian vinaigrette
                                  opakanaka charmoula-style with grilled vegetable gratin
                                  shrimp salad with mango and grapes, sweet and sour coconut vibaigrette

                                  gosh, sweet gal, i could go on and on.... check it out...
                                  btw, you are a treasure!

                                  1. re: alkapal

                                    correction: kona oysters with hawaiian mignonette.
                                    and thanks, cc, for your recipe....looks great.

                                    1. re: alkapal

                                      oh my goodness, thank you for saying that.
                                      Thank you from the bottom of my 20yr + carbon steel wok
                                      (you know how much I treasure that piece!)

                                      Doesn't Hawaiian sound all so wonderful right now or is it just me?

                                      I'm doing baby pork ribs tonight, so I'm really watching this thread for ideas...

                                      1. re: chef chicklet

                                        i'm keying in on the mai tais and pineapple sangria! ;=P

                              2. Alkapal suggested a Roy Yamaguchi cookbook, I would also say to check out Sam Choy, another star. You've gotten some great suggestions! I don't think anyone else has mentioned it, so I will suggest haupia for dessert; Sam Choy (and many others, I'm sure) has a nice option for serving it in a mac. nut crust. Also, Kalua Pork is traditionally done in the oven, unless you happen to want to dig a big pit in your backyard and do it the traditional way as Sam so beautifully posted above. You can order Hawaiian Portugese sausage online at zippys.com and a Maui Onion salad dressing that I love (okay, maybe not traditional luau fare) here http://www.islandergifts.com/hawaiian... You may be able to find Kings Hawaiian brand bread and rolls in your local grocery.

                                1. You might search for Haupia, a coconut dessert which is often served at home luaus as well as Kanten a gelatin dessert. The latter is made with Kanten... a seaweed that you buy in "sticks"either red or green. You flavor with your choice... I liked thered flavored with cinnamon candies. The deal is you make this gelatin and it is very like jello. Cut it into squares, and it never melts or softens so the kids can eat it with their hands.
                                  The appetizer I still make for guests here is a version of lomi salmon. Cut a small slice off the stem end of a cherry tomato. Scoop out the insides. Stuff with smoked oysters (from a can), one per tomato and serve.

                                  1. I love Lilikoi Pie..passion fruit with graham cracker crust that is to die for that is traditon on the islands..
                                    Also, macaroni salad and some ahi poke..I like mine with seaweed.

                                    (I'm Italian/Swedish and it has worked for my family)

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: Beach Chick

                                      beach chick, for a quick lilikoi fix, try yoplait's passion fruit yogurt.

                                    2. Grilled thick slices of pineapple, topped with toasted coconut, served with vanilla ice cream! Drizzle the top with passion fruit....YUM

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: HannahBanana

                                        I just made this in a somewhat different format..trifle dish layered with pound cake, 1 grilled fresh pineapple soaked in creme de cacao then carmelized on the grill, cored and cubed and topped with vanilla pudding and fresh whip cream with a dash of tahitian vanilla bean...outstanding and it was such a hit.

                                        Aloha HannahBanana

                                      2. Sorry to respond using this reply key, but the individual reply keys are not working for me.

                                        Val the dble green onion, one is T minced garlic, sorry.
                                        Caroline, I don't know Stearn Grove, where is that? We sooo love the concerts, we are so lucky there are many, some in parks, or vineyards. I'm there. I love your recipe, I'll try it. I am oh so foo foo, I have the little Chinese take out boxes, chopsticks and all. Wish you could go with!
                                        Gourmanda, I have had that Maui Onion dressing before and it is delicious! Thanks for the link.. Sam Choy, wow is there anything that he makes that isn't good? All of his food looks so wonderful, I love his style. I've tried a few of his recipes a while ago, and they were perfect. I think something he made on Emeril Live. he has no problem with adding spices and flavor, now that is my kinda cook!

                                        This has been a most enjoyable thread, sometimes I forget the cuisine of the Islands and it has stirred a lot of old memories for me. On top of that, there is so much to learn about the diverse heritage and history!

                                        My parents lived there when my Dad was in the Navy, (well so did I, Hawaii and Guam when I was 3-4) and I was introduced to flavors and cooking techniques very young. Oh yea, you bet I remember the pit. My Dad and his friends did that, probably every weekend, and he could make fish and chicken (using his "marinades" like nobody's business.We got pictures! Not always was there a pig, there were many things in the pit, actually it was mostly a party if I my little brain remembers...let's just say my parents knew how to have fun.

                                        7 Replies
                                        1. re: chef chicklet

                                          Wow, this website is in serious trouble! I have responded twice before and they never show up! Let's see if the third time is a charm?

                                          My goof! It's STERN Grove, not "Stearn." Nothing maratime about it. And I checked the web, and yes! Their great free concerts are still going on! You'll find all sorts of information here:


                                          And very appropriate to this thread, the concert on 10 Aug will be Hawaiian, so pack up your luau, grab a hula skirt, and go get leid...!

                                          I shamefully cannot resist bad puns. Sorry.

                                          Stern Grove is at 19th and Sloat, and you can drive by it a gazillion times and never notice it's there... Until you drive by when a concert is going on, then you wonder if every car in northern California is parked around there.

                                          At the website, you'll see you can sign up for a drawing for picnic tables. But you can also take a picnic blanket (and basket) and sit on the grass. My favorite spot was always on the elevated slopes that "cup" the bandstand. The whole place is a natural bowl, so the accoustics are good wherever you are. And no one blocking your view whe you picnic on the slopes the way people bouncing up and down at the picnic tables do. You do have to go early to get a good spot, but with plenty of great food, drink, and friends along, who cares?

                                          Parking can be tricky unless you get there really early. It used to almost all residential, and I always pitied the folks who lived around there on concert Sundays!

                                          Wish it had come up earlier so you could have gotten in on more of the season. It's almost over! I've seen several performances by the SF Opera in Stern Grove, and if you like opera, you can't beat the price!!! Or the cast and orchestra! I see they're the last concert of the season. Can't remember if it's always been so, or if they alternate with SFSO. Anyway, these have very long been top treats for anyone who finds out about them. Enjoy!

                                          Have fun, and if you make it on the 10th, we'll expect no less than a complete rundown of your luau and their music! '-)

                                          1. re: Caroline1

                                            I had a fabulous macadamia nut pie for dessert in Hawaii last month. It was just like a pecan pie but made with chopped macadamias.

                                            1. re: lucyis

                                              Sounds delicious! I'm looking for a magic machine that cooks the calories out of any food but leaves all the texture and flavor. Then I can eat all the good stuff everyone talks about here... '-)

                                              1. re: Caroline1

                                                Oh Caroline thank you for showing me this park!!! I vaguely remember it. I used to trek to SFand Berkely almost weekly a few years ago, and now I'm lazy. But BIG BUT, I am going to get going again. The baby is a little easier now to transport, I don't have to bring the huge diaper bag, the chilled food bag, the pac&play,and all the oodles of things needed for babies.SOOOOOO, I think next year we can definitley, hop on bart and transfer to muni. Did that with the other sons all the time. How exciting, you just gave me a rush, because I'm getting memories back of when I did these day trips before! But how cool is that park? Can't wait to show it to dh, he's always bugging me to go somewhere. looks like the shows are closed out, but I will keep this in my calendar for future events. I just love SF and Berkely, and I need to get back in the groove.
                                                Thank you so much my new friend!

                                                and just another little note, there are so many cool little parks in SF, just walking around one can find so many little treasures. Our agenda has so many fine historical destinations, and I love reliving the adventure each time I go. The musums, and YES I go to the opera, and so will the baby.toooooo fun! Even smaller little towns like Walnut Creek have some interesting places and shows.Count me in!
                                                Do you have lots to do there?

                                                1. re: chef chicklet

                                                  There is, but I don't think there are many places on the planet that can measure up to the Bay Area. I've been away a long time now. Last time I lived there, you could go for afternoon tea at a museum tea shop next to (or on?) the Stanford Campus, and possibly end up with Shirley Temple Black as your server! It was a fund raising endeavor, and great fun. And, as I said, a loooooooooooong time aqo!

                                              2. re: lucyis

                                                I make pecan pie for my VA born and raised hubby. I bet he'd love this.

                                              3. re: Caroline1

                                                Wow...too funny...my 26 year old son is moving to SF on August 4th...he just visited there during 1st week of July and went to Stern Grove to see a concert and just loved the entire place! He kept talking about how nice that park is. He'll be there in time for the Hawaiian concert, too. Thanks for this post!

                                            2. oh dear passionwithfood, I forgot about my crazy coconut pie!
                                              Its sooo easy, and everyone just loves it. I can't explain the science and chemistry behind it, all I know is that you don't have to make a pie crust, and then if you want to, you can add some whip cream or even just warm sweetened cream to the pie. We love love love this dessert. Was that enuf love?
                                              Here is a the link and the recipe. I strongly suggest, you won't be disappointed...