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Hawaiian Food Terms

A Guide to Hawaiian Food and Cuisine

Ahi poke on a taro chip at House Without A Key in the Hotel Halekulani in Hawaii


Don't know your kulina from your kulolo? Have no fear. Whether you’re dining at an ocean-view hotel restaurant or a traditional luau, our guide to Hawaiian food terms will arm you with the necessary culinary lingo to negotiate any menu. Enjoy your poi!


‘Ahi: (Thuunnus albacares) yellow-fin tuna
‘Aila pua’a: lard
‘Aina awakea: lunch
‘Aina, pa’ina: meal
‘Aka’akai: onion
‘Akala, kala: raspberry
Aku: (Katsuwonus pelamis) bonito, skipjack fish
‘Alani: orange (the fruit or tree)
Hale ‘aina: restaurant, café
Haupia: coconut milk pudding
Hou; maka, makamaka hou (as fish): fresh
Hua, huamoa (chicken): egg
Hua, hua’ai: fruit
Hua paka, hua palai i ka‘awili ‘ia: omelet
Huawaina malo‘o: raisin.
Huli huli chicken: chicken seasoned with soy sauce and cooked on a rôtisserie
Imu: underground oven
‘I’o pipi i wili ‘ia: hamburger
‘I’o pua‘a uahi: bacon
Iwi‘ao‘ao: spareribs
Kai, kupa: soup
Kaloke: carrot
Kalua: to bake in a ground oven (Imu), often used to describe pig served at luaus
Kamano: salmon
Kapiki: cabbage
Kaukama: cucumber
Kele: jelly
Ko‘ala: barbecue
Koko: cocoa
Kokoleka: chocolate
Kope: coffee
Kuawa: guava
Kulina: corn
Kulolo: pudding made of grated taro and coconut milk
Kumu: (Parupeneus porphyreus) goatfish
La‘au ‘ai: chopsticks
Laho-pipi: eggplant
Laiki: rice
Laiki loloa: long rice
Lapaki, ‘iole lapaki: rabbit
Lau ‘ai ‘ia: salad
Laulau: steamed or broiled package of ti leaves or banana leaves containing pork, beef or fish with taro tops
Liliko‘i, lemi-wai, lemona, pohapoha: (P. edulis f. flavicarpa) passion fruit, a tart fruit used for desserts and beverages
Limu: seaweed
Lomilomi salmon: luau dish consisting of raw chunks of salmon mixed with tomatoes, onions and seasalt. Also lomi salmon
Lu‘au: hawaiian feast
Mahimahi: (Coryphaena hippurus) dolphin fish, not to be confused with the mammal—also "Mahi"
Mai‘a: banana
Mai‘a: plantain
Makale: sardine
Manako: mango
Manapua: steamed bun filled with sweet pork
Manu-kapalulu: quail
Mea‘ai momona: dessert
Mea‘ono: cake
Moa: chicken
Mo‘a loa: overcooked
Na‘aukake: sausage
Na manu ‘ai ‘ia e like me ka moa: poultry
Na palaoa me na mea ho‘ono‘ono i waena: sandwich
Nioi: chili pepper
Niu: coconut
‘Ohelo: (Vaccinium reticulatum) a small native shrub in the cranberry family with round, red or yellow berries, eaten raw or cooked for sauce
‘Ohelopapa: strawberry
‘Ohe: bamboo
‘Oma, loke, ‘ohinu: roast
Ono: (Acanthocybium solandri) a large mackerel-type fish
‘Ono ka ‘ai: appetite
‘Opae: shrimp
‘Opakapaka: (Pristipomoides sieboldii) blue snapper
‘Opihi: (Heliconiscus sp.) limpet
‘Opihi malihini: abalone
Palai: fried
Pulehu: broiled
Pia, bia: beer
Pia kulina: cornstarch
Pinika, wineka: vinegar
Pipi: beef
Pipi kaula: beef jerky, broiled before eaten—also "pipikaula"
Poha: (Physalis peruviana) gooseberry in the tomato family, often used for making jam
Poi: cooked taro thinned with water and pounded into a paste—a staple of ancient Hawaii
Poke: raw fish chunks mixed with seaweed and seasonings
Poki aku: bite-size pieces of raw tuna mixed with seasonings—also "poke"
Puhi: eel
Pupu: hors d’oeuvre
Tako: octopus or squid
‘Uala-kahiki: potato
Uhu: parrotfish
Ula: lobster
‘Ulu: (Artocarpus altilis) breadfruit tree
Ulua: a species of jack crevalle
Wai: juice
Waiu: milk
Waiu luliluli: milk shake
Wana, ‘ina, ha‘uke: sea urchins

 

Related Content:
Hawaiian Fish Guide
Top 10 Poke
Top 10 Luaus


 

 

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