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It is believed that the first Polynesians arrived to the Hawaiian Islands somewhere between 400-500 A.D. When the Polynesians first settled in the Hawaiian Islands, they brought along with them various plants and animals that would serve as their food. They also relied on the abundance of marine life that encompassed the ocean surrounding the Hawaiian Islands. But on January 18, 1778, English explorer, Captain James Cook, became the first European to discover the Hawaiian Islands and bring about Western influences. After the discovery of the Hawaiian Islands to the outside world, plantations started arising and laborers from all over the world were being shipped to the Hawaiian Islands to work. With such diversity in cultures along with the existing ancient Hawaiian foods, established was the creation of what Hawaiʻi calls today a traditional Hawaiian food plate. A traditional Hawaiian food plate consists of chicken long rice, haupia, kālua pig, laulau, lomi salmon, pipikaula, poi, and squid lūʻau.

Chicken long rice is made from chicken, chicken broth, ginger, green onions, and long rice noodles. When Chinese laborers arrived to the Hawaiian Islands in the mid-to-late 1800s, they incorporated their bringing of noodles and knowledge of soups to create this dish.

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Haupia is made from coconut, coconut milk, cornstarch, and sugar. Ancient Polynesians brought along coconuts when they first settled in the Hawaiian Islands.

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Kālua pig is made from pigs wrapped in ti leaves and placed in an imu, or underground oven, filled with lava rocks heated over an open flame. The imu is the traditional way Ancient Polynesians cooked their foods.

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Laulau is made from pieces of chicken, fish, and pig wrapped in taro and ti leaves and placed in an imu. Ancient Polynesians first created the technique of using ti leaves to cook, store, and wrap various types of food.

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Lomi salmon is made from green and yellow onions, raw salmon, and tomatoes. When merchants and whalers arrived to the Hawaiian Islands in the late 1700s, they incorporated their bringing of salted fish with Don Francisco de Paula Marin’s bringing of onions and tomatoes in 1791 to create this dish.

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Pipikaula is made from dried, seasoned beef. When Captain George Vancouver arrived to the Hawaiian Islands in 1792, he brought along cattle, and pipikaula emerged from the Hawaiian cowboys, or paniolo, culture.

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Poi is made from taro and water. Ancient Polynesians brought along taro when they first settled in the Hawaiian Islands, and poi became the staple food of Hawaiʻi.

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Squid lūʻau is made from coconut milk, octopus, squid, and taro leaves. Ancient Polynesians brought along coconut and taro when they first settled in the Hawaiian Islands, and octopus and squid were often speared in the ocean.

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A traditional Hawaiian food plate is a must-have on your next visit to Hawaiʻi!

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