When I was much younger, we would eat Hawaiian food once a month at Helena's. In my opinon, Helena's serves some of the finest Hawaiian food in the Islands. Back in those days, wrapped inside the laulau, was a huge chunk of fat and a small piece of salted butterfish which were both used to flavor the laulau. These days, the fat is gone, but the small piece of salted butterfish is still there. The pork, salted butterfish and lu'au leaves make this a staple at any authentic lu'au.
Laulau (makes two)
1/2 pound lu'au leaves* (about 8-10)
2 1-ounce pieces salted butterfish*
1/3 pound pork*, cut into chunks
4 ti leaves, to wrap laulau
Hawaiian salt, to taste (if desired)
- If lu'au leaves are not available, use spinach leaves.
- More lu'au leaves can be used if desired. However, I don't recommend using more than 6 or 7 leaves for each laulau.
- If salted butterfish is unavailable, use fresh butterfish and add 1/2 teaspoon Hawaiian salt to each laulau.
- For more flavor, add a chunk of pork fat to each laulau.
- A small chicken thigh with the skin intact, or chunks of beef may be used as a substitute for pork, if desired.
Remove ribs from ti leaves (leave stem intact), then rinse well and pat dry. Set aside.
Rinse lu'au leaves well and trim, removing stem and ribs. Place lu'au leaves into piles of four-five leaves each, then place pork (or chicken/beef) in the center of each pile of lu'au leaves and top with a piece of salted butterfish. Wrap lu'au leaves tightly around the filling, keeping the "gathered" end on the bottom of the "parcel". (If using spinach, use as many leaves as necessary to wrap the filling completely.)
Arrange two ti leaves into an "+", then place a parcel in the center. Gather the ends of the ti leaves together to create a "bundle". Take one of the stem ends and wrap around the rest of the leaves securing the bundle by tying it in a knot. If your leaves are too small, use kitchen twine to tie the ti leaves together.
Place inside a steamer basket and steam for one hour and thirty minutes. Check the steamer often to make sure there is enough water. (If using spinach, the laulau should be steamed for 40 - 50 minutes.)
Unwrap laulau from ti leaves to serve. Serve with some Hawaiian salt and chili pepper water.
To be continued...