16 Hawaiian pupu or appetizers that will make you want to try them all now
Food is such a big component of Hawaii dining and the start with Hawaiian pupus or appetizers sets it off so nicely with little bites that you’ll love to try.
Representing a whole array of Hawaiian, early settlers to international appetizers that have quickly become part of the food vernacular, you’ll never lack for anything salty, savory, sweet or tangy with all these delicious bite.
Check out all these fantastic Hawaiian pupu dishes for you to discover and enjoy when you are visiting the islands and looking for some yummy starts to your meals.
Try all these delicious pupu appetizers
The ever popular poke is known all over the world for raw fish chunks prepared in a variety of styles and ingredients with flavorings that cover the gamut from Asian inspired, spicy, mayo and creamy with a different condiments like seaweed, sesame seed, wasabi root, tobiko and other toppings.
Poke in Hawaii is typically ready made to go from a variety of small mom and pop shops, grocery deli counters to some delicious cafes and even fine dining establishments.
The best are made right on the spot using the best ingredients and toppings if you like all those little extras in your poke bowl
A classic Hawaiian snack with Chinese and Asian roots that has become mainstream and a popular snack food on the islands, boiled peanuts are as simple and easy to make or buy here.
Easy to make soaking the raw peanuts whole and then boiling with Hawaiian salt and serving it hot or at room temperature with your favorite beverage.
Filipino fried lumpia
A delicious fried lumpia is always popular at a potluck or family gathering and everyone craves the hot fried goodness filled typically with pork, shrimp, veggies and rice noodles.
Filipino sauces can vary from Banana ketchup, vinegar and pepper to sweeter chili oil versions that go well with this fried snack. It all depends if you like more sweet or sour in each of your bites to these delicious fried lumpia.
Just like poke, sashimi or raw fish is always popular in any gathering with delicious sashimi grade (the best fish cuts) you can find at a fish monger, store or specialty shop. Sashimi served Japanese style with simple soyu or soy sauce, wasabi and ginger slices and typically with disposable chopsticks. It’s the perfect snack to bring along on the beach, party or even a solo take out food for yourself.
Easy to eat and finish quicky soy beans stir fried or boiled and served in a simple sweet and sour sauce or soy sauce with vinegar and chili is popular and delicious.
The pan friend version with fresh garlic and sea salt is another take that everyone loves to eat and quickly demolish a plateful In just a few seconds.
With Taro and Poi as a staple starch in Hawaii traditional foods, taro chips is just a snacky version. Crispy, salty and easy to eat on its own or with a dip or scooping up some leftover poke bits, taro chips are always a go to snack on its own or used with other snacks to fill up those in between cravings.
Especially when you are looking for something salty, crunchy and so easy to eat a whole bag in a quick snack break in between the big meals of the day.
The quick go to snack for many locals on the islands, Spam Musubi is a quick pick me up snack for busy and active people that just want to fill up that quick craving. Nice and salty with rice and sometimes furikake or flavored toppings and seaweed wrap, Spam Musubi fills that savory and salty need as a nice quick snack you can eat all day.
If fact you’ll probably find Spam musubi everywhere from mom and pop stands, food trucks, convenience stores to even gas stations for people that want to have something savory to eat that’s easy and cheap.
Very popular in Hawaii and coming from Japan with Japanese farmers sharing their favorite arare snacks. This has become a popular snack item that you’ll find in grocery stores, convenience shops and even gas stations for a quick salty and savory experience that is truly unique for the islands.
The typical favorites are shoyu style with peanuts or other nuts and a variety of Japanese inspired ingredients like furikake or asian sauces baked into the chips to create a different taste on the palate.
A typical snack food on the islands and one you can always find on with street side vendors, fairs and events or farmers markets selling these hot and sweet pretzels.
Tasting more like a thin fried pancake, Chinese pretzels are so delicious right when they come out of the fryer and are nice hot and crispy. Some vendors offer it plain and others sprinkle confection sugar or other sweet ingredients to make it taste even better.
If you are craving some sweet snack and you see a street vendor selling them, try it, you’ll really like it.
Mochi sweet snacks
Coming originally from Japan with the more traditional mochi rice flavored snacks. The Hawaiian version of Mochi is more flavored with many different versions to include tropical fruit, chocolate and other mixed blends and flavorings creating interesting tastes with chewy sweet bites.
You’ll find mochi snacks sold in specialty stores, mom and pop shops to farmers market vendors that sell this hand made tasty treat to eat on the islands.
Who doesn’t love a hot manapua bun fresh from steaming or baking and into your mouth. The Manupua comes directly from Chinese style buns but typically are so much larger than the Chinese version.
But, the effect and taste is just as delicious eaten hot, with goey insides of sweet to savory meats infused into the center part of the buns. Manapua can be very filling even if you eat just one so this is a snack item that will hold you over for a long time before your next meal.
Malasadas in Hawaii
Originally of Portuguese origins with plantation farmers making their traditional fried dough and dunk into sugar and eaten hot. The Malasadas now made in Hawaii have so much variety and popular places in each island with their own cult followings.
Malasadas can be done the traditional style but many popular new versions made includes new flavor fillings inside like cream, tropical fruit flavors like guava, passionfruit and coconut to more new style Malasada sandwiches and ice cream filled malasadas just to name a few. It just keeps getting better with new malasada style treats from bakeries upping their game in the sweet snack business.
Li Hing jelly or candies
Li Hing salts are so popular on the islands and the typical favorite foods they are sprinkled outside of cocktail drinks are the yummy gelly candies. These typically are made with Asian tastes in mind locals have made it their own go to snack for that combination of sweet and savory combined goodness.
You’ll find Li Hing snacks at many convenience stores, farmers markets and even grocery stores or shops like Longs that have a snack section with all the many different brands available for sale here on the islands.
When these are freshly made, you just have to order a lot to fill up those cravings for panadilla. The Panadilla is the Portuguese version of the popular empanadas.
Typically made with pork or beef, garlic, onions, cilantro and wrapped in a tender crusty dough that is oh so good when it is freshly deep fried and ready to eat. You’ll find panadillas sold at roadside stands, farmers markets to small mom and pop deli stands that have fresh take away that you can easily heat up and snack away on your own.
Pickled Mango snacks
Sweet yet savory pickled mango is the go to for locals that love the different sensations of this snack. Made mostly with green mangoes which offers the more sour notes to this snack with the vinegar and sweetness factor.
If you have a craving for something sweet and cold then shave ice is what you get.
Made with fine shave ice with a variety of tropical fruit sauces placed on top and added ingredients to make different tastes and flavors, you can customize to what you like to eat. Even add some ice cream on the bottom to make the dessert even more rich and creamy with icy cold sensations with your choice of toppings.
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Conclusion on Locals love these tasty pupu appetizers
Thanks for checking out all these popular pupu appetizers, hope many of these favorites snacks were on your list to try some day. Did we miss any other popular snacks in Hawaii? Please share your favorites in the comment section below.
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