Foodbuzz 24, 24, 24: Ultimate Backyard Lu’au

How many of you are thinking about going Hawaiian?

Kahala Beach, O’ahu, Hawai’i

Kahala Beach, O’ahu, Hawai’i

While most of us aren’t able to fly to Hawai’i, we can bring the tastes of Hawai’i to our homes – by throwing a lu’au! A lu’au is a Hawaiian feast featuring traditional foods such as poi, kalua pig, poke (“POH-kay”), lomi salmon and haupia. Often, there will be music as well as hula dancing.

Not many of you might know how to throw a lu’au. Being from Hawai’i, I wanted to share some of these traditional lu’au foods with you all. So if you’re looking for lu’au food recipes, this would be the place to come.

The Pitch

I actually pitched this idea for an Ultimate Backyard Lu’au for the inaugural Foodbuzz 24, 24, 24 back in September 2008, but Foodbuzz chose Michelle the Accidental Scientist (who we met at dinner in Hawai’i) to feature her excellent ‘Aha ‘Aina instead. So when I pitched the idea again for the May 2009 24, 24, 24, I wasn’t sure we’d be successful.

Fortunately, Foodbuzz selected us, and we couldn’t be more thrilled! Our previous “24, 24, 24” meals were smaller in comparison. The Cioppino Hot Pot dinner was only 6 adults plus our 2 kids. The Ultimate Rib Showdown fed 10 adults and 2 kids. This lu’au was a big party, with 16 adults and 16 kids!

The Preparation

With that many people coming, and many different dishes being served, we had to get started prepping early. The first thing we did was call one of our guests, Melissa (who is a great baker), to prepare the chocolate haupia pie for us. One less dish for us to worry about!

Ultimate Backyard Lu’au: Chocolate Haupia Pie

Ultimate Backyard Lu'au: Chocolate Haupia Pie

We have a friend who is part of a CSA – Community Supported Agriculture. Every week, they get a box of vegetables from Live Earth Farm. Since they were going on vacation, they asked us to pick up their share for a couple of weeks (thanks, J!!!). On Thursday, we picked up their share – it was a huge amount of vegetables! Right before the party started, Annie took some of the lettuce and other veggies and made a fresh green salad.

After picking up the CSA share, we went to the San Carlos Farmer’s Market to pick up some salmon and ahi from our favorite fishmonger, Pat from Mission Fresh Fish. I salted the salmon fillets that night, and Annie diced them up on Friday night. On Saturday morning we diced up the tomatoes and onions to complete the lomi salmon dish.

Ultimate Backyard Lu’au: Lomi Salmon

Ultimate Backyard Lu'au: Lomi Salmon

I marinated some chicken thighs and drumsticks on Friday night, using a “huli chicken” marinade. On Saturday afternoon, I fired up my Weber Smokey Mountain cooker and grilled / smoked them similar to our Smoked Shoyu Chicken recipe, except this time I left the water pan out so the chicken could get some direct flame action.

Ultimate Backyard Lu’au: Huli Chicken

Ultimate Backyard Lu'au: Huli Chicken

We also made the oven kalua pig late Friday night / Saturday morning. I shredded the pork after it came out of the oven, and reserved the cooking juices. In the afternoon, we combined the pork with chopped cabbage to complete the Kalua Pig with Cabbage.

Ultimate Backyard Lu’au: Kalua Pig with Cabbage

Ultimate Backyard Lu’au: Kalua Pig with Cabbage

Saturday morning I cut the ahi into cubes. In the afternoon, we went looking for the ogo (seaweed) for the ahi limu poke. Unfortunately, no store around here had fresh ogo, so we had to settle for dried ogo as part of a packaged poke mix from Marukai Market in Cupertino. After reconstituting the ogo in water, I chopped it up and mixed it together with the ahi and the other seasonings

Ultimate Backyard Lu’au: Ahi Limu Poke

Ultimate Backyard Lu’au: Ahi Limu Poke

By the way, we will blog all the recipes in future posts. So you’ll want to bookmark this page and come back to it to view the links to each dish.

The Pa’ina (Party)

We set the time for 5:00, but the only guests to actually arrive on-time were our ha’ole (Caucasian) friends Melissa and Patrick. Everyone else came on Hawaiian time 😉 I was a little concerned because the hot foods weren’t going to stay hot for long (the weather outside was sunny but cool).

While we waited, some of the kids entertained themselves by drawing on the patio floor with chalk.

Abigail and Brandon

Abigail and Brandon

Eventually, everyone did show up so I put on some Hapa in the CD player and we started dinner. Most of our guests never had Hawaiian food before, so I briefly explained each dish. At least no one had any qualms about eating raw fish.

The huli chicken was the first to run out. It was very good! I should have prepared more, but there wasn’t that much more room on the smoker anyway.

Another popular dish was the lomi salmon. People kept going back for second and third helpings. The ahi limu poke was also a winner. Even though it had some chili pepper in it, our friend Winnie (who can’t take spicy foods) couldn’t stop eating it.

The funny thing about the kalua pig dish was, we initially didn’t have enough cabbage to balance out the pork. So we had to have one of our friends bring another head of cabbage to add to it. We also used the kale that came from the Live Earth Farm CSA share. That kale brought an enjoyable, deep earthiness to the dish

Pineapples, Pudding and Pies

Even though we were quite happy with the main courses, we still had desserts to enjoy. Winnie brought a couple of pineapples filled with chunks of pineapple, strawberries and papaya.

Ultimate Backyard Lu’au: Tropical Fruit in Pineapple Bowl

Ultimate Backyard Lu’au: Tropical Fruit in Pineapple Bowl

Besides the aforementioned Chocolate Haupia Pie, our friend Melissa also made a Tropical Bread Pudding that everyone could not get enough of. I was fortunate that Annie saved the last bit of bread pudding for me (which I am enjoying as I write this post!). Unfortunately, she did not take pics of the baking process so I guess we will have to make the recipe again (oh, the hardships we endure… 😉 ).

Our friend Felicia (who made the Pavlova for us for the Ultimate Rib Showdown) made a Strawberry Cream Freeze pie with Oreo cookie crust. It was seriously good. I did not have a chance to take a picture before it was all gone. (Sounds like another assignment, Felicia! 😉 )

As the evening got cooler, everyone headed inside to continue the party in the warmth of the house.

Hawaiian Etiquette: Leave Your Shoes Outside

Hawaiian Etiquette: Leave Your Shoes Outside

We gabbed about this and that while the kids entertained themselves with Wii Sports. The night wore on and people started packing up and leaving. I was pretty fried once the last family left.

Post Mortem

In hindsight, there are a few things I would do differently:

  • start cooking the kalua pig earlier so I won’t be up so late shredding pork
  • marinate more chicken and get another charcoal grill to grill them
  • not eat so much so I would have enough room for dessert

I can’t thank our friends enough for coming and sharing this lu’au experience. Especially those who took the time to make desserts for us – you really took a load off our minds and made preparing for the lu’au much easier! I also must thank Foodbuzz for helping make it all happen!

As for you, dear Reader, I thank you for sticking with me on such a long post. I hope that it will encourage you to make your own backyard lu’au and bring a little Hawai’i to your neck of the woods.

Aloha, Nate

Links to Hawaiian Lu’au Food recipes

Kalua Pig with Cabbage Recipe

Lomi Lomi Salmon Recipe

Ahi Limu Poke Recipe

Huli Chicken Recipe

Chocolate Haupia Pie Recipe

32 thoughts on “Foodbuzz 24, 24, 24: Ultimate Backyard Lu’au”

  1. >Oh my, we loved this post! Like a little visit to our dear island. We will have a luau soon and look forward to your recipes. What a beautiful breeze you sent with this lovely idea. We can hear the music right now? Best, s

  2. >Congrats to you, too, fellow 24, 24, 24 participant! And, can I say WOW! That chicken looks SO good, and the chocolate haupia pie is seriously making me hungry! I’m so impressed with the food, and the presentation! 🙂 Love it!

  3. >Amazing lu’au! I’m not a fan of Lomi Salmon, but I think I would eat yours just based on that picture. The haupia pie looked great too.

    And it was lovely to see Kahala Beach. It was featured prominently in our wedding slideshow video. 🙂

  4. >What a great meal! Just imagine if we could really take this culinary trips to different parts of the world. That’d be awesome! It looks like these foodbuzz events get bigger and bigger. We had almost 30 people for ours, too. We had such a great time! Now I am hungry again 🙂

  5. >That huli chicken is crazy well cooked. Great job, and of course the kids are adorable. I just knew that would be the case. GREG

  6. >That looks wonderful Nate N Annie! Congrats on being chosen for May’s 24,24,24 too! Im so waiting for the cake recipe. That looks good!

    I know what u mean about preparing beforehand. I actually did prepare some stuff a few days earlier but some just had to be done the day itself and since hubby had to work full day on THAT saturday, I had to do all by myself until helps came later. lol.

  7. >That looks like one serious party. I can't wait for the recipes. Such a good idea to start the summer.

  8. >I had to LOL about the Caucasian freinds being the only ones on time. Teehee. It's in the genes. Or not. We were set for 5, but I think it was 6 or later when we ate. I must be Hawaiian too (-: Mostly we were late, because we did not know if my son was alive after he jumped in the river to save a drowning kid. Well, you can't plan for that. Both boys are fine. Life is good.

  9. >Oh my heck! I’ve got to have or go to a lu’au. The food sounds amazingly wonderful. I’m glad I stumbled across your blog! It is a lot of fun. Keep up the great work! I’ll be back for more.

  10. >Awesome 24 post!! Sounds like you had a great party~ my mouth is watering with the photos of the chocolate haupia pie, and thoughts of kahlua pork!!

  11. >@all – thanks for your comments!

    @laufamily – and we enjoyed having you over! You’re welcome!

    @s stockwell – thanks for your kind comments! I hope your luau goes well!

    @Kelly – thanks, your “24” was awesome as well.

    @Arnold – thanks! So you were married in Hawaii like us?

    @Ben – thanks! I was very impressed with your “24” event.

    @pigpigscorner – all gone, unfortunately. We’ll make it again, for sure!

    @Sippity Sup – the chicken was ono-licious! Your “24” 3-Way part was fabulous, btw.

    @Dana – aloha back atcha!

    @Salt N Turmeric – your “24” featured a lot of yummy Malaysian dishes. We wish we could have been there!

    @nick – thanks!

    @tallmisto – welcome, and thanks for coming to our blog!

    @Grill Girl – I am glad your son is okay and that your party went off well.

    @Crazy About Cakes – welcome! Glad you came!

    @Sweet Charity – wonder what those would have tasted like after eating one of your miracle berry pills 😉

  12. >Awesome 24 post! Your rib showdown is among one of my favorites…this one is up there too! Great job and looking forward to seeing the recipes!

  13. >Hello Nate and Annie,

    WOW! What an ambitious meal to prepare for 32 guests! And congrats for being selected for 24,24,24 (as a fellow participant, I’m soooo not worthy – all I had to do was loosen my belt, eat at some restaurants, and chat with a fisherman – LOL!)

    And what a fabulous post documenting your lu’au! The chocolate pie, lomi, chicken and kalua pig look DELICIOUS. Photos were making me drool! I will definitely be checking back for the recipes – Hawaiian food is still a mystery to me but I’m looking forward to making your dishes.

    Thanks for sharing this wonderful meal and experience with us and for the kind comments you left on my blog. Look forward to reading more!

  14. >I feel like I’m lazing on the beach on vacation just looking at those lu’au dishes. So did anyone attempt the hula afterwards? 😉

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