Hawaii is known for its lush beauty and incredible beaches, but when you take a deeper look into the heart of the islands you discover what truly makes Hawaii so diverse and unique – it’s the people!
Truly a complete blend of Polynesian, Asian and European cultures.
It’s the genesis and the place of origin of Asian-Fusion cuisine.
It all started around 1850 when the European missionaries needed to hire labor for their growing pineapple and sugarcane plantations. Immigrant workers arrived from China, Korea, Japan, Philippine’s, Puerto Rico and Portugal bringing their favorite traditional dishes to Hawaii with them.
The Chinese immigrants introduced Cantonese style cooking with the first Stir Fry, Chinese Char Siu Bau and Sweet & Sour flavors - and eventually replacing poi with rice for many dishes.
Korean immigrants brought with them Korean Barbecue (Kal bi & Bulgogi) and Kim Chee dishes. They would build barbecue pits to cook marinated meats.
The Portuguese immigrants came to Hawaii in the late 19th century, introducing their flavorful foods with an emphasis on pork, fish, tomatoes and chili peppers. Also, a unique style of baking breads and delectable pastries – malasadas!
We can thank the New England influence for the popular luau dish, Lomi Lomi Salmon.
The Japanese immigrants made the bento box popular, which would later become the Hawaiian staple, “plate lunch.” By the early 20th century, the Japanese were the largest ethnic group and rice became the third largest crop in the islands.
Filipinos reached Hawaii in 1909, bringing the adobo style of garlic and vinegar dishes.
While working on the plantations, each group would often huddle together under the bed of a truck to catch some shade – they would have some lunch and socialize with each other, trading food and
The blend of these diverse cuisines formed a "local food" style unique to Hawaii.
The result of this plantation food like the plate lunch (Teriyaki, Char Siu, Korean Barbecue, etc.), snacks like Spam musubi and mochi, and dishes like Loco Moco (brown gravy over hamburger, egg and rice) can all be found today in 21st century Hawaii.
The products of NOH Foods of Hawaii have reflected the diversity of these foods and have formed the origin of Asian Fusion cuisine for over 55 years.