The whole idea of Polynesian cuisine is a tricky one. Depending on the island and what fruits and vegetables were available, that is the food you would have to make due with. You can always count on coconuts, fish, and citrus fruits, as well as sugar, or honey or other sweeteners and of course regional spices.
Hawaiian cuisine or food is purely and entirely a result of whoever came to these islands brought something they knew could be cultivated there. This would include pineapples, bananas, rice, sweet potatoes, etc etc. Not a lot was here, and once the islands were discovered by sailors and immigrants, its only then their very basic food supply flourished and thats when it became interesting with many Asian flavors. Just as Columbus bringing the tomato back from Mexico to Italy has changed the cuisine forever, so did the Asians and other Pacific Islanders create and change Polynesian cultures and cuisine forever. So, there is no such thing as “authentic” here, unless you are using the word “authentic” from post World War II in perhaps the 1950s, then yes, that is the original set of ingredients they used, but if you see sushi in polynesian restaurants today, its fine, but its not something you would find in the 1950s. So, keep an open mind. And, SPAM, the American canned meat is not uncommon in Hawaii and does qualify as Polynesian food, although you could never get me to eat it. But staying on track, let’s stick with natural, traditional foods, fruits and items that are more logical and more romantically capture the spirit of the Luau and exotic dining experience.
Personal Signature Polynesian Dishes:
- Secret Recipe Ribs – simple, delicious, its great if you can wait the 2.5 hours for cooking, you can serve with coconut rice, steamed rice, or even brown or fried rice.
- Polynesian Beef Skewers – simple, quickly cooked on the grill.
- Grilled Yellowfin Tuna Tail with Coconut Rice – this incorporates Japanese Yellowfin Tuna, Asian Soy Sauce, and even some Brazilian influences.
The best place to look for the Polynesian experience is at CriTiki.com – the details are often missing and vague, but you can target some places in your area. Here are some other favorites I personally would try and/or recommend:
- Florida: maikai.com
- Florida (Orlando): Waitiki Retro Tiki Lounge www.wallstplaza.net/venues/waitiki
- New Jersey: www.chinaparadiserestaurant.com
- New York:
This is a running list, so be patient!