A Dozen Letters Spell Delicious

Though there are only 12 letters in the Hawaiian alphabet, that's all that are needed to spell the words for some pretty delicious foods. Only 5 vowels (a, e, i, o and u) 7 consonants (h, k, l, m, n, p and w) make up the entire Hawaiian alphabet. In the Hawaiian language a consonant is always followed by a vowel; therefore all Hawaiian words end in a vowel. These are popular foods and food-related terms in the language of the islands:

ahi – yellowfin tuna

hala kahiki - pineapple

huli huli – Huli means turn in Hawaiian, referring to the traditional way of preparing this grilled chicken over a fire, similar to a rotisserie. Modern recipes for chicken flavored with soy, ginger and sugar, among other traditional flavors, are casually referred to as huli huli, despite a variety of preparation methods.

imu – underground earthen ovens that combine principles of roasting and steaming

kalua – The cooking method that utilizes an imu; it is a popular method for preparing roast pork. It may also be used to describe food cooked in this manner, such as kalua pork or kalua turkey.

lau lau – steamed fish and pork wrapped in taro leaves

loco moco – A popular lunch dish consisting of white rice topped with a hamburger patty, fried egg and brown gravy. Variations may include Spam® or kalua pork in addition to or in place of the hamburger patty. Macaroni salad is a popular side for this dish.

mai tai – While not actually a Hawaiian word, this Polynesian cocktail made with rum, curacao and lime is popular in Hawaii. In Tahitian, the name loosely translates to "good."

malasada – Also not a Hawaiian term, these Portuguese pastries are especially popular in the Hawaiian islands on the day before Ash Wednesday (also known as Fat Tuesday); the small, deep-fried doughnuts are often coated in sugar.

nui – coconut

poi – a popular dish made with pounded taro root

poke – Poke is the Hawaiian word for "to section" or "to cut" and refers in this case to small cuts of raw fish. This raw salad may also include raw vegetables in addition to the fish; yellowfin tuna is popular. It is often dressed with sesame oil and soy sauce and may include onions, peppers and garlic.

pu pu – Loosly translated to appetizerpu pu refers to any foods served as an appetizer, such as raw or tempura vegetables, skewers of teriyaki meats or poultry, sushi, poke shrimp and other finger foods.

pua'a – pig or pork

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