A guide to Island food words that newcomers or visitors might not recognize, with pronunciation guide, ethnic origin and definition.
'Ahi (AH-hee; Hawaiian) Tuna (usually bigeye or yellowfin); a rich-flavored, silky-textured fish.
Adobo (a-dough-bo; Filipino) The name for both a dish and a technique involving marinating and stewing meat or other ingredients in a salty-sour mixture of garlic and vinegar.
'Alaea (a-LAH-eh-ah; Hawaiian) A type of rock salt colored by clay soil.
Bento (ben-toh; Japanese) Originally a picnic meal served in a sectioned lacquer box; it's come to mean quick takeout items.
Char siu (char-shyoo; Chinese) Barbecued pork, usually colored red on the outside. Often served with noodle dishes.
Edamame (eh-duh-mah-meh; Japanese) Whole soybeans in the pod, boiled in salted water, cooled and eaten as a snack.
Furikake (foo-ree-kah-keh; Japanese) A flavoring agent of roasted seaweed, salt, sesame seeds and other ingredients, often sprinkled on rice.
Haupia (how-pee-ah; Hawaiian) A pudding of coconut cream with arrowroot or cornstarch.
Izakaya (ee-zah-kah-yah; Japanese) Tavern or pub food; side dishes for beer drinkers.
Kaiseki (kah-e-seh-kee; Japanese) A very formal meal of small tastes of a variety of dishes in many courses; in some casual Japanese restaurants, the term has come to mean any complete dinner with soup, salad, entr?e, rice.
Kal bi (kahl-bee; Korean) Korean barbecued short ribs, made with soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic and other flavorings.
Kalua (kah-loo-ah; Hawaiian) A cooking technique in which foods are wrapped in leaves and steamed over hot rocks in an earthen pit.
Kalo (KAH-low; Hawaiian) Taro; for poi steamed, mashed with a little water; for a side dish, the purple tuber is steamed or sliced and fried. Leaves also are boiled and eaten (as "lu'au").
Kamaboko (kah-mah-bo-ko; Japanese) Fishcake; surimi. A sliceable gelatinous paste made of white-fleshed fish, often colored bright pink.
Katsu (kah-tsoo; Japanese) Pork, chicken or other ingredients dipped in Japanese panko (bread crumbs) and deep-fried.
Kau kau (kow-kow; Hawaiian pidgin) A Hawaiianized Chinese word meaning food.
Kiawe (ke-ah-veh; Hawaiian) Wood of the algaroba tree, a relative of the mesquite of the Southwest. Often used in open-pit cooking and grilling.
Kim chee (kim chee; Korean) Highly spiced relish made of fermented cabbage or other ingredients; the sauerkraut of the Koreas.
Ko cho jang (koh choh jahng; Korean) Red chili paste.
Lau lau (lauw-lauw; Hawaiian) Foods wrapped in ti leaves and steamed or baked; usually pork and fish with taro leaves, but also other combinations.
Lechon (leh-shohn; Filipino) Roast pig prepared in the Filipino style.
Li hing mui (lee hing moo-ee; Chinese) A mixture of Chinese five-spice, sugar and salt originally used to flavor and preserve fruit for snacks; now in sauces, marinades and other preparations.
Liliko'i (LEE-LEE-koh-ee; Hawaiian) Passionfruit (Passiflora edulis); intensely flavored globular fruit that grows on a vine.
Loco moco (loh-koh moh-koh); Hawaiian pidgin) Originally a bowl of steamed rice topped with a hamburger patty, a fried egg and brown gravy, said to have been invented by a Hilo eatery (although there's debate about which one). Today, loco moco takes many forms, but the basic rice, protein and gravy format remains.
Lomi salmon (loh-me salmon; Hawaiian) Salt salmon that is "massaged" (lomi'd) to tenderize and remove bones, in a salad or relish with onions, tomatoes, green onions and Hawaiian salt. An indigenous creation using a preserved foreign fish once brought here on sailing ships.
Lu'au (loo-ow; Hawaiian) A feast; also, taro leaves.
Mahimahi (mah-hee-mah-hee; Hawaiian) Dolphin fish (NOT the mammalian dolphin or porpoise); light, a mellow, moist fish.
Malasada (mah-lah-sah-dah; Portuguese) A hole-less doughnut of egg-rich dough, deep-fried and rolled in sugar. The term literally means "badly cooked" or "half-cooked" because these pastries are often doughy inside. Traditionally made on Shrove Tuesday as a way of using up eggs, butter and oil before the austerities of Lent.
Man doo (mahn doo; Korean) Pasta dumplings, generally filled with cabbage and meat, may be fried or in soup. Cousins of the Chinese kuo-teh and the Japanese gyoza.
Manapua (mah-nah-poo-ah; Hawaiian) Chinese-style steamed buns filled with a variety of ingredients, often barbecued pork. The word is believed to be a contraction of the Hawaiian words mea 'ono pua'a ("delicious pork thing").
Mochi (moh-chee; Japanese) A steamed cake made with glutinous rice flour (mochiko), often filled with sweet beans or other confections; used in Japanese celebrations such as New Year's Eve.
Moi (moy; Hawaiian) Pacific threadfin, a delicately flavored, light-fleshed fish. Once the focus of sophisticated Hawaiian aquaculture in shoreline fishponds; originally reserved for royalty. Now being grown in aquaculture operations again.
Musubi (moo-sue-bee; Japanese) A rice ball, sort of a rural sushi. An ubiquitous Island version is made with a slice of fried Spam atop vinegared rice wrapped with a strip of nori (toasted seaweed).
Na'au (nah-ow; Hawaiian) Stewed beef intestines.
Namul (nah-mool; Korean) Seasoned vegetable dishes.
Nigiri (nee-gi-ree; Japanese) A type of sushi in which the rice is rolled into a short, thick finger and topped or wrapped with ingredients.
Nishime (nee-shee-meh; Japanese) A homey vegetable stew seasoned with soy sauce.
Okazuya (o-kah-zoo-yah; Japanese) Traditional take-out food shops; the particular form these businesses take in Hawai'i appears to be an Island development.
Onaga (oh-nah-gah; Japanese) Ruby snapper; tender, moist, mild-flavored.
'Ono (oh-no; Hawaiian) Delicious!
Ono (oh-no; Hawaiian) Wahoo fish; firm-fleshed, with a distinctive flavor and aroma.
'Opakapaka (oh-pah-kah-pah-kah; Hawaiian) Pink or crimson snapper; popular moist fish, versatile in preparation.
Pâo doce (pown dosh; Portuguese) Literally, sweet bread; a festive bread rich in eggs and butter.
Pasteles (pah-TELL-ay; Puerto Rican) A labor-intensive tamale-like dish of mashed green banana and spiced pork. Often sold frozen or at roadside stands.
Phô (fuh; Vietnamese) Noodle soup of clear, rich, anise-flavored beef broth with paper-thin slices of raw meat or meatballs, accompanied by fresh bean sprouts, basil and sauces.
Pipikaula (pee-pee-kow-lah; Hawaiian) Sun-dried salted beef, broiled; often served sliced thin as a snack.
Portuguese sausage (Portuguese) Lingui'a, a garlicky pork sausage akin to pepperoni or many Spanish sausages.
Pua'a (poo-ah-ah; Hawaiian) Pig or pork.
Pupu (poo-poo; Hawaiian) Appetizers, snacks.
Pul goki (pull go-kee; Korean) (Also spelled bul go gi) Korean-style barbecued beef, marinated in soy sauce and sesame oil.
Sashimi (sah-she-me; Japanese) Raw fish, usually served with wasabi (Japanese horseradish) and soy sauce for dipping.
Saimin (sigh-min; Japanese) The particularly Island version of Japanese ramen or Chinese mein, a noodle soup made with dashi (Japanese fish stock) and thin, round wheat noodles. Garnish can include scrambled eggs or omelet, meats, green onions, kamaboko, char siu, Spam.
Shoyu (show-you; Japanese) soy sauce made in the Japanese way.
Squid (skwid; Hawaiian pidgin) The word is English, but in pidgin, it is more likely to mean octopus than squid.
Suimono (sue-e-moh-noh; Japanese) Clear soup made with dashi (bonito fish stock).
Sushi (sue-she; Japanese) A wide-ranging family of rice-based delicacies, usually, but not always, garnished with raw or grilled seafood and/or dried seaweed. Popular "cone" sushi in Hawai'i is made by placing vinegared rice in pockets of fried tofu (aburage).
Tako (tah-ko; Japanese) Octopus.
Teppan (tehp-pun; Japanese) Cooking on a stovetop griddle.
Tsukemono (tsoo-keh-moh-no; Japanese) Relish-like salad of salted vegetables, usually shredded cabbage and other ingredients.
Udon (oo-doan; Japanese) Thick wheat noodles, served in soup or stir-fried.
Unagi (oo-nuh-gee; Japanese) Freshwater eel, often served grilled. Saltwater eel, less common in Island restaurants, is anagi.