Hawaiian cuisine is packed with amazing vegetarian dishes, and outside influences from Polynesia, China, Portugal, and the Philippines have left their mark with imported taro, sugar, spices, sugar cane, and more.
The result is meaty cuisine with tons of flavor and nutrition that can be easily adapted to be vegetarian. We have ten delectable vegetarian recipes made with locally sourced ingredients from the island that you will love.
1. Moco Loco
If you speak Spanish, the name of this dish might make you laugh. That’s because “Moco” means booger and “Loco” means crazy. A crazy booger doesn’t sound particularly yummy.
Don’t worry, the iconic Hawaiian Moco Loco is far from disgusting and is a slice of perfect happiness.
It’s one of those simple dishes with few ingredients that will satisfy your hunger and make your heart happy. Moco Loco is a dish with a rich flavor and is simple to make. After trying it, it will quickly become one of your favorites.
Traditionally, it is made with a hamburger and beef broth for the sauce, but we will use bean burgers, which are very easy to find in most supermarkets. The meat broth will be replaced with soy sauce. Prepare to be blown away by a flavor steeped in Hawaiian heritage.
- 1 onion
- 2 minced garlic cloves
- 1/2 package of mushrooms
- 100g butter
- 1 tablespoon of flour
- 1 bean burger
- 1 egg
- 1 cup of white boiled rice
- 1 tbsp of Salt
- 2 tbsp of vegetable oil
- Crispy fried onion flakes
- Fill a pot with a little oil. Add a cup of rice and half of the minced garlic. Cook the rice in two cups of water over low heat.
- Slice the onion and mushrooms. Fry them in a pan with a little bit of oil and salt. Allow them to cook until the onions are soft.
- Stir in the following ingredients in this order: butter, soy sauce, and finally flour. Warm until the sauce reaches your desired thickness.
- Fry the bean burger in the same pan after removing most of the sauce. Make use of the remaining sauce in the pan to infuse the flavors into the burger.
- Finish by frying the egg and preparing the dish for assembly. Place a generous spoonful of white rice on the plate, then top with the onion and mushroom sauce and a fried egg. The beanburger is served on the side of the rice. Before serving, sprinkle with fried onion flakes, and that’s all.
Poke is derived from the Hawaiian word “poʊˈkeɪ,” which means “cut into pieces.” The dish is made up of boneless, cubed fish, rimu, seaweed, candlenut, and Hawaiian salt.
A few years ago, the dish gained popularity outside of Hawaii. It can be served with white rice and a variety of diced ingredients.
The main difference between this modernized dish and the traditional Hawaiian poke bowl is that Hawaiians add each ingredient separately rather than mixing them all together.
Because the meat can be replaced with a variety of ingredients, it is an ideal dish to consider as a vegetarian Hawaiian food option. Mushrooms, diced avocado, mango, pineapple, tofu, and other ingredients can be used in place of the fish.
It’s ideal for stimulating your creativity and experimenting with new flavor combinations in the kitchen.
3. Tofu “Spam” Musubi
Spam Musubi is another one of those easy-to-make but delicious dishes. It’s available in any supermarket in Hawaii. It consists of a slice of spam on top of a block of rice wrapped in nori seaweed in the style of Japanese onigiri.
The dish gained popularity after World War II when canned food was brought to the island to alleviate food shortages. You can swap out the spam for a nice piece of tofu seasoned with salt and soy sauce in this vegetarian version.
It is ideal for quickly tempering hunger or serving as a tasty snack.
4. Portuguese Sweet Bread
Recipes like these demonstrate how diverse and influenced by history Hawaiian cuisine is. Portuguese sweet bread was brought to the island by the Portuguese, as the name implies, and is considered one of the star recipes in Hawaiian cuisine.
It is a sweet bread that includes milk, eggs, and lemon peel in addition to traditional bread ingredients. It’s often made at Christmas and Easter, but it’s also available all year round in Hawaii.
5. Chichi Dango
A Japanese sweet made from rice flour, glutinous rice flour, and uruchi rice flour. Great as a snack for parties or picnics. It’s very popular in Hawaii, where it’s served on Girl’s Day.
6. Tasaka Guri-Guri
Guri-Guri is an ice cream made with guava juice, condensed milk, and carbonated lemon-lime beverage. Tasaka Guri-Guri belongs to a well-known store on the Hawaiian island of Maui.
They know how to keep their recipe under wraps, so we can only try to imitate it and hope that one day they will reveal their secret.
Andagis are sweet fried buns that resemble donuts. They originated in southern China and spread throughout Japan, particularly the province of Okinawa.
They are now one of the most popular cakes in Hawaiian cuisine. They have a crispy crust on the outside and a soft, cake-like interior.
8. Crack Seeds
Crack seeds are dried fruits with the seed partially cracked. This is done to improve the flavor.
They were originally from China and arrived in Hawaii in the nineteenth century when large Chinese communities came to work on the island. They are sold as a snack throughout the island and are extremely popular.
9. Saimin Soup
The classic ramen soup inspired Saimin soup. It is one of the dishes that exemplify the island’s complex history and cultural mix. It is comfort food in Hawaii and is eaten at any time of day.
The traditional version always includes some type of meat, but vegetables, mushrooms, seaweed, or tofu can easily replace it.
Poi is a popular Polynesian dish. It’s made with plantain, taro, or breadfruit in Hawaiian cuisine. Poi is made by combining cooked starch with water and any of the previously mentioned ingredients.
Traditionally, a mortar and pestle is used, which requires a lot of effort, but nowadays a food processor helps. You can eat it right away or wait for it to ferment and become sour.
We hope that by sharing these recipes, we have expanded your horizons and that when you think of Hawaiian food, you will think of more than just a pineapple-topped pizza.