The recipe challenge has ended. Check out the winning recipes below!

Click to go back to the Hawaii Grown Page

We have 14 children and are part-Hawaiian. It’s very expensive to live here. Incorporating native foods like ulu, taro not only stretches meals and finances, but growing it as we grow our children gives us the opportunity to pass on our heritage of kula’iwi, a’ina and resilience.

This is a twist on a classic dish. It’s special because it greatly lowers the climate impact of the traditional way of making this dish. Not only is it non-dairy (which reduces the amount of water and pollution used in dairy farming) but it uses “ulu instead of potatoes, which reduces the carbon footprint from importing food. It also promotes health for the body, as dairy has cholesterol, fat, and is known to promote certain cancers and tumor growth.

I love to make poi mochi balls and really could only find them at special events, after making them at home whenever we were ono for it I started experimenting with other ingredients such as ʻuala and ulu (ripe) thus both being the favorite taste for my buds. Ulu season meant only one thing, deepfried goodness.

It’s a Sāmoan favorite and mine as well. We usually serve it with warm buttered bread. Try this recipe with ripe papayas too. Without the seeds of course.

I found this recipe (sans poi) years ago in a Hawaiian Airlines magazine. I always seem to have extra poi in the refrigerator/freezer, so thought I’d add some to this recipe to simulate the banana/poi bread that “I Love Country Cafe” makes. The result: moist/dense banana bread–just the way I like it (I’m not a fluffy banana bread kind of gal)! My husband & son don’t like nuts, so I double the recipe & add nuts to one loaf, & chocolate chips to the other loaf. Everyone ends up happy!

This dessert was a special request by the first Pacific rim cuisine Chef that I worked for. He knew that banana mochi wasn’t a typical flavor, and wondered if I could make it taste great and represent the islands bounty. I love how this dessert turned out. It’s a restaurant and family favorite now.

Congratulations to Pam Lough for winning ʻUala week with her sweet potato gnocchi recipe! Here’s what she had to say about how she created this recipe, “I first tried to make gnocchi many years ago and they didn’t turn out very nice. It put me off of trying again until I began experimenting with new recipes during the lockdowns. I had some purple sweet potatoes I wanted to find something interesting to do with and thought of sweet potato gnocchi. Success! They were fun to make and came out soft and pillowy. Delicious with gorgonzola and mushrooms!”

Nalani say, “Canoe foods have passionately taken a front stage in my culinary journey. Local favorites such as ʻuala so versatile yet amazing in its own, this hearty and healthy delectable guide me on venture beyond the pacific.”

A recommendation from cookbook author Malia Ogoshi when serving this dish, “Sweet potato mash is one of my favorite restaurant side dishes. Serve with grilled fish or poultry.”

Mahalo to Tim Parsons for sharing his recipe for Hawaiian Eggs Benedict With Paiai and Venison Portuguese Sausage recipe that can be found on on Adoboloco’s site here.

Congratulations to the papaya week winner, Chloe Hartwell, who  said she created the recipe because, “I needed a recipe that worked for whatever combination of fruit I had. It’s excellent with papaya, but my favorite is a combination of kalo, papaya, and banana. It’s hard to go wrong.”

Can’t find kalo? Here are a few suppliers to check out:

🌱  Ho‘okua‘āina

🌱  Kākoʻo ʻŌiwi

🌱  Roots Kalihi Valley

🌱  Farm Link Hawaii

🌱  Hawaii Ulu Coop

Kalo Poke recipe from Lisa Veneri Stewart. Video by Renea Veneri Stewart of Rock Salt Media.

Michael J.Y. Wong wrote about his recipe, “I was in Aunty Alice Namakelua’s last ki hoʻalu class. After the class ended, some of us helped her get around town and took her to Hawaiian music and hula events. She taught me this recipe, using fresh poi, and sometimes asked me to make it for her when I took her home or visited her.

I get my poi and kalo from the Hoʻokuaʻaina farm in Maunawili. It’s not far from where then-Princess Liliʻuokalani saw a couple embrace as she was leaving Maunawili on a visit in 1878. This became her inspiration for Aloha ʻOe as her horsemen took her back to Honolulu. Aunty Alice, who was born in 1892, danced for Queen Liliʻuʻokalani when Aunty Alice was a teenager.”

Kelly Lee Ann wrote, “I recently graduated from the UH William S. Richardson School of Law where I volunteered for the Environmental Law Clinic. The best part of clinic was working with the living legends of the Waioli Valley Taro Hui – a group of traditional kalo farmers, who’ve stewarded the same lands for six generations (and have been featured in several Civil Beat articles). Getting to know the farmers inspired me to start experimenting with kalo. Crème brulee is my favorite dessert. And that’s how paiai crème brulee was created. It’s not as perfectly smooth as your typical fancy-restaurant crème brulee. But it’s still rich, creamy, decadent – and slightly healthier with a subtle kalo taste.”

Congratulations to Isaiah Ishigo on winning Kalo Week with this recipe! 


Isaiah wrote, “I am Isaiah Ishigo and I am 13 years old. I live on the Hamakua coast on Hawai’i island. I started getting into kalo after my school sent me home with some kalo shoots to grow. Now I have lots of kalo to eat right from my yard.

I love this recipe because it’s healthy and fun to make with family and friends. Everyone can make their own variation based on the ingredients. This dish also make for a great pupu at family potlucks. People can just pop them right in their mouths. I also like to pack a couple up in foil and eat them at the beach after a great body boarding session.

Most of all it’s using ingredients from our ‘aina which makes for the freshest taste.”

Photo of Lu Pulu with Talo Loloʻi from Chef Hui by By Mele & Ikani Naulu of Foursquare Farms.

This Lu Pulu with Talo Loloʻi from Chef Hui was created by Mele & Ikani Naulu of Foursquare Farms. Check out photos of the recipe here.

Join Chef Emily Perkins and her daughter as they cook up a yummy and local meal, Kalo Hash! This recipe is super simple and can be served for breakfast, lunch or dinner, and can use any starches, veggies, or proteins. Happy eating!