Maui Food and Dining

Cooking Hawaiian: What to Have in your Arsenal

December 30, 2010, 11:56 AM HST
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If you love to cook Hawaiian, you already know that having the proper tools and cooking utensils is vital for facilitating your next Hawaiian meal masterpiece. We all know that, in order to punch out a great Hawaiian dish that will impress your guests, you must have the tools and ingredients to accomplish it.

Here is our list of the most important ingredients and cooking tools to have in your pantry and kitchen cabinets, so the next time you make a Hawaiian meal, you won’t be scrambling for those perfect ingredients! Hint: if you want to find the best ingredients and kitchen tools for making a classic Hawaiian dish, head to your local Japanese food store or farmer’s market.

White rice – If you never thought there is a difference between white rice, think again! Classic Hawaiian dishes use short grain rice, not long grain rice, so it will have the sticky consistency required for most dishes. So always check your rice before buying to ensure you are purchasing short grain rice.

Portuguese sweet bread– You will find that many Hawaiian recipes call for Portuguese sweet bread, so this is a great bread to have in your pantry at all times! We also love this sweet bread for French toast! Keep in mind that there is no real substitute for Portuguese sweet bread when it comes to classic Hawaiian recipes like Kalua pork, so always look for Portuguese sweet bread when shopping for Hawaiian food staples.

Saimen – You may have heard of Saimen by its other name: Ramen. Saimen noodles are always a great staple for your Hawaiian pantry, as they last quite a long time. They are perfect for making classic Hawaiian or Japanese soups, including Won Ton Mein and fried noodles.


Soy Sauce – Any Hawaiian pantry is not complete without soy sauce, so take the time to find the soy sauce that is right for you. Remember: not all soy sauces are created equal! You may see soy sauce called Shoyu in most Japanese food stores, so look for the more expensive, better quality soy sauces and you won’t be disappointed!


Ginger – Always head for fresh ginger root when making Hawaiian dishes, as there is no substitute! We love fresh ginger on classic Hawaiian dishes such as Shoyu Chicken and Chicken Long Rice.

Spam – Most Hawaiians use this classic canned meat to make a variety of delicious recipes. Spam Musubi, for example, is nori, white rice and spam, rolled up and served as finger foods.

Nori – Nori is dried seaweed and is most commonly used for making sushi, although you will find it in a variety of Hawaiian dishes, as well. It is crispy in texture, although it becomes pliable and workable when moisture is added.


Coconut Milk – A Hawaiian pantry is not complete if you don’t have coconut milk in it. Many Hawaiian recipes call for coconut milk, including chicken or squid luau. You will also find that coconut milk is used in many Hawaiian desserts, such as Haupia, a pudding type of dessert made creamy with coconut milk.

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