Foodbuzz 24, 24, 24: A real Hawaiian pa’ina

Every month Foodbuzz asks its featured publishers to submit proposals for an event for 24, 24, 24.  I have been wanting to throw an authentic luau or pa’ina since moving from Hawaii to Washington, so a little over 3 years now.  But it’s expensive to do!  So this month, I decided to submit it as a proposal and was absolutely thrilled when they chose me.  Then I realized that we would be getting back from vacation three days before the required party date, which left me only two days to get everything ready.  I began making tons of lists of recipes, ingredients, stores, music and more to prepare.  Thankfully, the party was a huge success, with a great mix of family and friends, some of whom are also from Hawaii and were excited to get some ono grindz (good food!).  We even got to wear our super cute matching touristy outfits that people on the mainland don’t know are touristy!  Here’s my original proposal to Foodbuzz.

Pa’ina is the ancient word for feast in Hawaiian.  I went to many family pa’inas when I lived in Hawaii and they are some of my favorite memories.  I would love to recreate the experience for friends and family here in Washington, while we actually have nice weather !  There will be pulehu (BBQ) wings, teriyaki chicken, chicken long rice, lomi lomi salmon, mac salad, chocolate haupia pie, and my absolute favorite AHI POKE!  We’ll have it at my husbands parent’s home on their beautiful lanai (porch).  I’ll have to find out who’s available but we’ll plan on immediate family and close friends.  I’ve been taught how to prepare a lot of these dishes by “aunties” and “uncles” who have had the recipes and instructions handed down in their family generation to generation.  It will be a great challenge to recreate authentic Hawaiian cuisine with ingredients available in the Northwest.  I will include lots of photos of the food and people, along with some recipes, a little history on the food origins because Hawaii is such a melting pot of cultures, and maybe some video.


Not everyone is in the picture, we ended up with 25 people total and had the perfect amount of food.  I made so many different dishes that to list all the recipes would make it take about a year for your browser to load, so I’ll include some of the more pricey recipes on this page (with a couple cheap ones!) and will link to follow up posts with recipes of dishes that are really affordable to make yourself when not part of a giant feast!  I totally recognize that a giant luau is outside of most of your budgets, it’s outside of mine too!  That’s why I’m so thankful to Foodbuzz and Visa for partnering in sponsoring our event.  I’m also going to give you step by step photo instructions on how to build an imu (underground oven) in the Pacific Northwest to roast some pig in the ancient Hawaiian way.  Unfortunately, we got a little overwhelmed (tired) and didn’t start the imu fire early enough, so we finished the pig in the oven for an hour, but it really is possible to build your own imu!  Now here’s the menu:

Pupus: Poi, Fruit (pineapple, bananas, mango, lychee, grapes, papaya),  Mango Bread,  Lomi Lomi Salmon,  Ahi Shoyu Poke,  Kimchi
Sides: Mac Salad, Rice, Chicken Long Rice, “Nalo” Greens w/Papaya Dressing
Main Dishes: Kalua Pork, Korean Ribs, Huli Huli Chicken, Chicken Katsu
Dessert: Chocolate Haupia Pie

Thursday was shopping day, I went to 5 different grocery stores and Asian stores to get the majority of what I needed.  Over 30 lbs of meat, tons of fruit, poi, banana leaves and serving tongs.  Then it was time to start marinating all the meat except the pork.  For huli huli chicken I used a combination of wings and thighs, bone in, and marinated them in a plastic bag.  Labeling everything is very important when you’re preparing for something this big!  Because Hawaii is such a melting pot of cultures, the food really reflects that.  Although ancients Hawaiians didn’t eat lomi lomi salmon, or korean short ribs, as more and more people from around the world came to Hawaii, the food evolved.  Now pa’inas feature food from Korean, Chinese, Japanese and Filipino cultures as well as Hawaiian.

Chicken katsu is breaded and fried, so it couldn’t be made in advance, but I do marinate it before breading it so I went ahead and pounded the thighs thinner, then marinated them in a large baking dish.  The korean ribs took a little more prep work.  I had trouble finding the Korean chili paste I wanted (hard when the labels are in korean which I don’t read!) so I went with a bottled Korean BBQ sauce.  Typically, kalbi ribs are made with a special cut of ribs, because I was using regular ribs (which by the way I got for $9 for 30 ribs because they needed to be used in the next three days!) I needed to boil them before grilling time.  Oh man, the pot of boiling ribs gets pretty disgusting.  I got the water boiling, dropped in the ribs and boiled them for one hour.  Then I marinated them in a long tupperware and on party day they just needed to be grilled a few minutes on each side to cook the sauce and heat them through.

(By the way, I broke this into 4 pages for faster loading for you!)


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17 Responses to “Foodbuzz 24, 24, 24: A real Hawaiian pa’ina”

  1. Lori
    July 26, 2009 at 10:34 pm #

    Great paina! Everything looks so ono!! :)

  2. jenn
    July 26, 2009 at 11:17 pm #

    Lovely! Nice 24 post. This make me want to visit Hawaii now.

  3. Lauren
    July 27, 2009 at 5:44 am #

    wow! great job diana! it looks like A LOT of work was put into your paina!

  4. Danielle
    July 27, 2009 at 9:27 am #

    everything looks so good and it looks like you all had a great time.

  5. Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction
    July 27, 2009 at 11:51 am #

    Sounds wonderful – I’m sure everyone enjoyed your pa’ina! Great idea for the Foodbuzz 24, 24, 24! I have been wanting to submit a proposal one of these months, but we are typically busy on the last Saturday of the month with a church service that my hubby and I participate in. One of these months I am going to do it, though!

  6. rowena
    July 27, 2009 at 10:31 pm #

    Congratulations on being part of Foodbuzz 24 sistah! How I wish I could have actually been there, as the mention of all the grindz really had me yearning for the sights, sounds and smells of home. That fact that you were able to obtain poi! Arghghghgh! I so want to do a luau here but poi is the one thing that I would never be able to put on the menu :-(

    Awesome meal!

  7. Debi
    July 28, 2009 at 2:39 am #

    Pulling this party together after returning from vacation just 3 days prior earns you extra points! Thanks for sharing your Hawaiian memories with us–great job!

  8. Cajun Chef Ryan
    July 28, 2009 at 6:15 am #

    The Kalua pig roast looks like a lot of fun to do and the detailed description and photos makes it easier for me to attempt one of these sometime! Congratulations on the Foodbuzz 24 selection too!

  9. Natasha - 5 Star Foodie
    July 28, 2009 at 7:34 am #

    Wow, what a feast! Excellent 24,24,24 post!

  10. ValleyWriter
    July 28, 2009 at 6:38 am #

    Wow! You put an incredible amount of work into this – and it looks like it turned out amazing! Great job!

  11. Alta
    July 28, 2009 at 11:20 am #

    WOW – what a lot of work! Come throw a pa’ina for me too! :) This sounds amazing. Great job.

  12. cate
    July 28, 2009 at 3:50 pm #

    diana, there are so many things that i love about this post. i love the picture of you instructing the guys how to dig the hole, how you talk lovingly of the pig, how you wrap it in banana leaf. do you think that you could break this down into installments for us? it’s a lot to take in at once, and i think everyone would really love hearing about the details. awesome. really.

  13. Robyn Medlin AKA grill grrrl
    July 28, 2009 at 5:43 pm #

    I love your blog. I will definitely be trying some of your recipes! You will be getting a backward link from me if you want one!! :)

  14. The Duo Dishes
    July 29, 2009 at 8:39 am #

    Great idea for the 24 submission. Love some Hawaiian food! Funny you had this, and we just posted Hawaiian style sweet and sour meatballs today. Please some some chocolate haupia pie!

  15. Miranda
    August 3, 2009 at 10:00 am #

    This is so cool!!! Good job!!
    I absolutely love this post.

  16. Nurit - 1 family. friendly. food.
    August 9, 2009 at 4:04 pm #

    Oh, man, Diana! What a party! I wish I was there.
    Everything looks terrific. I love that imu you, ahem, Eric and his mom, built. What a project!
    And, I’m still waiting to taste your chocolate haupia pie…

  17. Nate
    October 7, 2009 at 5:38 pm #

    Fantastic 24! Some of the same dishes as our Ultimate Lu’au back in May, but some dishes that I wish I had done. I am totally in awe that you dug your own ‘imu.

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