Although laulau must cook for four hours, actually hands-on prep time is minimal. You can make several dozen laulau in less than an hour. Look for the luau (taro) leaves and ti leaves in Asian markets; if you can’t find ti leaves, you can use banana leaves instead. In a pinch, you can even use dried corn husks softened in boiling water. Traditional laulau is made with pork butt (not loin) but chicken, salmon and other meats are also used. Pork, however, holds up to the long cooking the taro leaves require better than any other ingredient.

  • Serves 12


  • 50 or so luau (taro) leaves
  • 24 to 30 ti leaves
  • 3 pounds pork butt
  • Hawaiian alaea salt or kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 pounds salted butter fish, salt cod or fresh butterfish


  1. Wash the luau leaves and ti leaves. Prepare the ti leaves by removing their hard center stems. Remove the center stems and rough veins from the luau leaves, unless you are using young leaves, in which case you can leave the veins. Cut the stems into small dice.

  2. Cut the pork into 12 equal pieces and rub each piece with salt. Cut the fish into 12 equal pieces; if using fresh fish, rub it all over with salt.

  3. Prepare a large steamer and bring the water in it to a boil.

  4. Stack 4 or 5 luau leaves on a flat surface, leaf tips pointing in all different directions. Set a slice of fish in the center and top it with a piece of pork. Sprinkle a tablespoon or so of the diced stems on top. Fold the leaves over the filling, wrapping it much as you would wrap a burrito.

  5. Set the filled luau leaf in the middle of a ti leaf and bring the ends of the leaf together over the top. Set the bundle on top of a second ti leaf so that the two ti leaves cross in the middle. Gather the leaves together at the top of the bundle; gather them as tightly as possible so that there are no gaps through which the ingredients can escape.

  6. Now you must close the package. There are many ways to do this, , including the package with a couple of strips of raffia. Once you get the hang of closing laulau by wrapping one of the ti leaves around it and then securing it with a luau leaf stem, you’ll be doing it as the Hawaiians do.

  7. Prepare a large steamer and bring the water in it to a boil.

  8. Put the laulau bundles into a large steamer, leaving spaces around each one but stacking them if need be so that they all fit. Use additional steamers if you have them.

  9. Steam for four hours, being certain that the steamer never runs out of water.

  10. Remove from the heat and use tongs to transfer the laulau to a platter or individual plates.

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