Lu`au, young taro tops, is a mainstay of the traditional pa`ina, or Hawaiian feast. They are
especially `ono (delicious) boiled or baked with coconut cream and octopus or chicken.
It is also a kind of slang term for a pa`ina or `aha`aina, because of the amount of lu`au served at them.
Lau `uala, sweet potato tops, are also
delicious. Young sweet potato tops may be used in any recipe that uses
lu`au. The difference is that you do not need to worry about any calcium
oxelate in the lau `uala. They require only a little cooking to be
tender and tasty.
According to Dr. Alvan Huang, of the Dept. of Food Science and Human Nutrition, College of Tropical Agriculture, University of Hawai`i, cooked taro leaves have the following nutritional analysis -
A 5 ounce serving of lu`au (taro leaves)contains:
Calories from fat 5
% Daily Value (based on a 2,000 calorie diet):
Total fat 0.5 g not a significant source
saturated fat 0 g 0%
Cholesterol 0 mg 0%
Total Carbohydrate 5 g not a significant source
sugars 1 g
dietary fiber 4 g 16%
Protein 3 g
Vitamin A 10%
Vitamin C 30%
Most varieties of taro have a lot of calcium
oxelate. This compound forms into little spine-shaped crystals that
puncture mucus membranes, causing varying degrees of itching, burning,
and pain. To remove these crystals, all parts of most taro plants must
be thoroughly cooked.
You may boil or steam the leaves. When cooking
lu`au, after about 45 minutes, take a
TINY bit of leaf and put it on the tip of your tongue. No problems? Chew
it. Still ok? Then the lu`au is safe to serve. At this point, the lu`au
may be prepared a number of different simple and delicious ways.
Simply mix coconut milk to taste with your
cooked lu`au. Bake or simmer until the flavors meld - about 15 minutes I
use Mendonca's frozen coconut milk because it is pure - no additives.
He`e Lu`au (Octopus Lu`au) - You
may also substitute chicken or squid
Drain the cooked lu`au. Mix with an equal
amount of coconut milk. Add cooked he`e which has been cut into 1/2 inch
cubes. stir together and and place in a covered baking dish. Bake at 300
degrees F for an hour. You may simmer this on the stove instead, but be
very careful not to burn it!
This is the most simple recipe. Just take the
boiled lu`au and treat as if it were any other cooked green, such as
spinach or chard. A little butter, pepper, and salt, and it is excellent served as a
side dish. You may also cook sweet potoato tops this way.
One of Hawai`i's favorite local dishes, you can find
Leilehua's laulau recipe at
Oceanic Cable's Around Town.