A Tourists GUide to Hawaii’s Seafood

December 21, 2010, 2:45 PM HST · Updated December 21, 2:45 PM

It’s no secret that Hawaii is known for its fantastic array of seafood dishes. After all, when you think of a tropical destination, doesn’t fresh seafood come to mind? Well, you may be in for a bit of a surprise if you visit the Islands and take a look at a traditional Hawaiian menu. Although Hawaiian menus serve many of the delicious fishes we enjoy around the contiguous United States, they often go by much different names.

Don’t despair, though, as we have devised a comprehensive list of some of the best seafood dishes found on the Islands, so the next time you view a Hawaiian menu you can order like a native! And don’t forget to sample not only restaurant-style dishes in Hawaii, but also the fresh seafood that you can get at some of the lunch trucks you will see parked along many of the popular beaches and parks. Crab a plate lunch and enjoy!

Also, keep in mind that many of the seafood dishes you will come across in Hawaii will have names steeped in the many cultures that have contributed to the cuisine found here. Just some of the cultures identified in Hawaii include: Korean, Japanese, Puerto Rico, Samoan, Thai and Vietnamese. Most of the fishes listed below can be found at local markets throughout Hawaii, so take the time to learn these names so you, too, can begin enjoying the best that Hawaii seafood has to offer.

  • Ahi – Yellowfish tuna, also known as yellowfish tuna, is often served raw. Some of the ways ahi is commonly prepared is poke (marinated), sashimi (sliced, Japanese style), or sushi. In addition to being served raw, it is quite common to see ahi seared and grilled in a number of dishes.
  • Tombo – Tombo is the Hawaiian name for albacore tuna. However, unlike in the contiguous United States, the Tombo found on the islands is often served and prepared fresh, thereby providing a unique flavor experience.
  • Hebi – Hebi is a spearfish that is revered for its mild flavor. You will often see Hebi served as an entrée at some of the nicer restaurants on the Islands.
  • Aku – Aku, which is another form of tuna, usually skipjack or bonito tuna, is not as well liked as ahi because it has a bolder taste. Aku is usually served raw as poke or sushi, although it is also often prepared in its cooked form, as well.
  • A’u – A’u is Hawaiian for Pacific blue marlin, which is a popular swordfish used in place of ahi. Many of the Japanese restaurants refer to A’u as kajiki.
  • Enenue – Enenue is a favorite fish among the local because of its strong, seaweed smell, although visitors may be turned off because of its aroma. Enenue is best eaten raw.
  • Mahimahi – Mahimahi is a more popular type of fish often served in Hawaii, and elsewhere. This flavorful fish is often the most exported to the mainland for this reason.
  • Monchong – Monchong is a bit more exotic, and you will therefore likely see it in fancier restaurants on the islands. It is often served broiled, sautéed or steamed.


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