Unique Polynesian Dish
Special for Luau

Laulau is the Hawaiian word for a special food preparation essential for any proper Luau. Laulau involves a mixtue of Pork and Fish wrapped in leaves and then steamed or baked until tender.

Typical meats include Pork and a typical Fish would be Butterfish or Salmon.  The leaves might be Ti Leaves or Taro Leaves.

The preparation is pretty simple.  If you cannot get Ti Leaves (say, from a florist), Bamboo Leaves from a Latin or Asian grocery work well, and Chard leaves may be used for the inner wrapping.

Aluminum foil may then be used for part of the outer wrapping.

The Fish is normally salted, which can be done by soaking it overnight in very salty water, or by putting the Fish on a bed of coarse Rock Salt, covering it with more Salt, and letting it stand in the refrigerator for at least four hours.  Then you rinse off the excess Salt.




1 pound boneless Salmon or Butterish
2 pounds Pork Butt
3 bunches Chard Leaves or
6 – 8 Banana Leaves
20 Ti Leaves, if available, or aluminum foil as a substitute


When all the ingredients and supplies have been organized, begin by cutting the Pork and Fish into cubes an inch square.  Divide these into 8 to 10 equal portions.

Wash the Chard or Taro leaves and remove the stems and the ribs, if using Chard.   Dry the leaves on paper.

Next, wrap the pieces of Pork and Fish — divided into 8 or 10 servings — in the Taro or Chard Leaves, putting one package of Meat and Vegetables on each leaf wrapper and tying securely with string or some of the Chard ribs.

Then, arrange the smaller packages on one large Ti leaf or Bamboo leaf and make a pcakge with another large leaf, wrapped across the packages and tied securely with string.

Steam the Laulaus for 4 hours — a large wok is good for this. You an also do it in a pressure cooker at 15 pounds pressure, steaming for 1 and a half hours. After the cooking is finished, cut open the package to serve.

If Ti leaves are not available for the final wrap, the smaller packages can be wrapped in strong aluminum foil and sealed well for the steaming.

This old Kamai’ina recipe produces a succulent result in a Western kitchen when an Imu oven is not available.

For Further Information:

Rachel Laudan, The Food of Paradise: Exploring Hawaii’s Culinary Heritage (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 196)
“Laulau,” article, Wikipedia —

Hawaii - Captain James Cook

Captain Cook, Discoverer of Hawaii





2 thoughts on “Laulaus

  1. Pingback: How to make Kalua Pig for Hawaiian luaus without an imu oven | Pacific Rim Gourmet

  2. Pingback: Hawaiian cuisine | Pacific Rim Gourmet

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *