Hamakua: Try Cooking a Hawaiian Meal

Big Island Guide Travel Guide

A Great Opportunity for Cooking a Hawaiian Meal While on Vacation
An agricultural hub on the Big Island’s northeastern side, Hamakua is a natural paradise. Boasting more than 50 miles of unchecked coastline terminating at the world-famous Waipi’o Valley, Hamakua is largely an in-between region of the island, representing a border between Hilo and Waimea.

Dominated by the massive Mauna Kea volcano, much of Hamakua is uninhabited and undeveloped, making it a spectacular destination for a rural retreat. That said, there are few dining options available nearby, necessitating a home-cooked meal (or several) at your vacation rental or inn. Thankfully, the abundance of fresh-caught seafood, homegrown produce, and plenty of artisan ingredients at local farmers markets provide enough supplies for a splendid cooking experience on the Big Island. Here are a few recommendations for Hawaiian-style meals during your Big Island vacation:

Baked Hawaiian Sandwiches


– 12 Hawaiian Sweet Rolls
– 12 slices deli ham
– 12 slices smoked turkey
– 12 slices swiss cheese
– ½ cup butter/margarine
– ¼ cup sugar
– ¼ cup dried/fresh onion shavings
– 1 Tbsp. honey mustard

Serves: 12

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Assemble sandwiches with toppings and place on a baking sheet. Melt butter in a saucepan and stir in sugar, onion shavings, and honey mustard until smooth and combined. Brush over the top of each sandwich. Bake for 15-20 minutes until rolls are browned and filling are hot.

Hawaiian Pork Bowls


– 1 cup boiling water
– 2 breakfast tea bags
– 1 lb. pork tenderloin
– 3 slices ½ inch slices of pineapple
– 1 red onion
– ¼ cup sugar
– Kosher salt and pepper (to taste)
– ⅓ cup olive oil
– ¼ cup lime juice
– 2 Tbsp. minced cilantro
– 2 cups steamed rice
– ½ lb. bacon
– 1 dried avocado
– 1 sliced jalapeno

Serves: 4

In a large bowl, combine water, sugar, tea bags and let stand. Remove tea bags and stir. Add the pork once cooled and let refrigerate for 1 hour. Light a grill and drain pork. Brush pork, pineapple, red onion with olive oil and season to taste. Grill pork over high heat until lightly charred and reaching an internal temperature of 135 degrees F. Move to plate or carving board and grill pineapple and red onion until charred. Whisk lime juice, cilantro, and olive oil in a small bowl, seasoning to taste. Serve pork, pineapple, and red onion over steamed rice, adding bacon, avocado, jalapeno, and lime dressing.

Sweet and Salty Korean BBQ Short Ribs


– 1 onion, chopped
– 4 scallions, chopped
– ½ cup garlic cloves, peeled
– 1 cup soy sauce
– 1 cup orange juice
– ½ cup mirin
– ½ cup sesame oil
– ¼ cup sugar
– 3 pounds sliced short ribs
– 2 Tbsp. sesame seeds
– 2 Tbsp. vegetable or olive oil
– 2 cups steamed rice or kimchi

Serves: 4-6

Puree onion, scallions, garlic, soy sauce, orange juice, mirin, sugar, sesame seeds and oil in a blender until smooth. Transfer to baking dish. Add short ribs and coat. Cover baking bowl and chill overnight. Preheat oven to 200 degrees F and light a grill. Grill the short ribs until charred or reaching an internal temperature of 135 degrees F. Transfer ribs to baking sheet in oven while you continue to grill. Serve over rice or kimchi.

Hawaii-Style Fried Rice


– 2 cups jasmine rice
– 3 cups water
– 3 Tbsp. Canola or olive oil
– 12 oz. cooked SPAM
– ½ cup Chinese sweet pork sausage
– 3 eggs, beaten
– 8 oz. pineapple chunks
– ½ cup chopped green onion
– 3 Tbsp. oyster sauce
– ½ tsp. Garlic powder

Serves: 4-6

Boil rice in saucepan, then cover and reduce to medium heat and simmer until tender. Let cool. Heat oil in skillet and brown SPAM and pork sausage. Transfer to plate or carving board and pour beaten eggs in skillet and scramble, then transfer to plate or bowl. Heat 2 Tbsp. oil and stir in rice until heated through. Add garlic powder and stir for 2 minutes. Add SPAM, sausage, eggs, pineapple, and green onions.

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