Chicken Luau is the traditional Hawaiian dish for which the luau celebration was named. It is a sweet and savory delicacy and always a crowd pleaser, even though its presentation might be lacking. The dish can be prepared in various ways and the recipe below has been adapted from www.maona.net, reflecting a healthier version of traditional Chicken Luau.
Serves: 8-10 as a hearty side dish
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 20 minutes (using taro leaves)
30 minutes (using spinach)
- 3 lbs. taro leaves or spinach
(Note: substituting spinach for taro leaves will alter the taste of the dish slightly but will add significant amounts of vitamins A, B, C, E and K.)
- 8 cups water
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 medium onions, coarsely chopped
- 2 lb boneless/skinless chicken breasts cubed
- 2 cups coconut milk
- 1 cup low sodium chicken broth
Remove the taro stems and any tough veins and chop into manageable pieces no bigger than your palm. Boil the water and salt, then add the chopped taro leaves and cook for one hour while stirring occasionally. Make sure to cook the taro leaves all the way through as they contain natural crystals, which can cause scratchy irritations in the mouth and throat if they are not completely cooked. Once finished, drain the taro and lightly press with a paper towel to remove excess water.
While the taro leaves are cooking, heat the olive oil in a large skillet or dutch oven over medium heat. Sauté the chopped onion until translucent and then add the chicken and cook until lightly browned on both sides (should take five minutes). Finally, add the coconut milk, chicken broth and cooked taro. Simmer gently until the chicken is fully cooked (about 20 minutes). Salt to taste and serve over rice.
Substitutions: If you use spinach instead of taro leaves, do not precook but add it raw with the coconut milk and chicken broth. You can also replace the chicken with white fish for a slightly different spin on the traditional dish.