Making productive use of spare time has become a priority ever since starting my temp job this month. There are so many foods that I’d like to cook atleast once before leaving and these ti leaf-wrapped bundles of spinach and meat ended up being a weekend project. The goal was to make 3 – 4 dozen, or atleast enough to fill the top freezer.
Traditionally, luau leaves (taro leaf) are used here but an allergic reaction in my case means the substitute of fresh spinach. These are really easy to put together and I like to add a little of everything in mine. Equal parts (about 2 oz. each) of cubed pork, beef, chicken, and an ounce of fresh salted cod or butterfish. The meats are seasoned with red alae salt before being mounded atop the salted fish and spinach leaves. The first photo shows two examples of wrapping and forming laulau — one as a space-saving packet and the other more like a purse. It’s as simple as tucking the ends under or gathering them together at the top, inside leaf first, before tying with string or strips of ti leaf. A circular rack of about 2 inches in height (you can also use a perforated pie tin) goes into a large cooking pot along with water at the depth of about an inch or so. After snugly positioning the wrapped parcels, I set the flame on the lowest setting and allow everything to steam for 5 hours.
Ti leaf imparts a particular flavor and really does enhance the end product – laulau wrapped with foil just doesn’t cut it in my opinion. To accompany the meal, lomilomi salmon (like a hawaiian-style ceviche), boiled purple sweet potatoes, white rice and poi are definite “musts” in my book, but if you go to a local-style luau, the list of foods are never-ending.