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Four Spam-Free Dishes We'd Love to Taste at the Hukilau

While this weekend's Hukilau is a celebration of all things tiki -- music, performance, dance, and most definitely drink -- at Clean Plate Charlie, we tend to think with the stomach. With that in mind, here's a list of four Polynesian dishes we'd love to see served up at the Hukilau, or year-round, for that matter, at Mai-Kai.

1. Poke -- This Hawaiian salad of raw fish is most typically made with ahi, but other types of tuna and sashami often make their way into the mix, and we'd love to sample various iterations of this refreshing, spicy-sweet seafood dish at the festival.

Incidentally, New Times dining critic Melissa McCart recently praised the poke at Johnny V and Kapow! Noodle Bar in Boca Raton featured a special of tuna poke with sesame soy citrus marinade, cucumber habanero cream, micro greens, and crispy won tons that was a hit with customers. Perhaps the dish is on the cusp of big things in South Florida? 

2.  Pani popo -- Coconut, like cilantro, is one of those foods that can't occupy the middle ground: You either love it or you hate it. But haters and lovers alike can bond over this sweet coconut bread. It's best when made from scratch, but the lazy version, in which store-bought rolls are soaked in coconut milk, is a popular shortcut.

3. Breadfruit with brown sugar -- The breadfruit has been gaining popularity with vegans and vegetarians as a hearty substitute for meat in recipes that traditionally call for a heavy protein. This simple recipe from the Polynesian Kitchen involves nothing more than a ripe breadfruit stuffed with a half cup of butter and four tablespoons of brown sugar and baked for an hour at 350 degrees.  

4. Laulau -- A lovely little gift-wrapped portion of tender pork (or chicken, beef, etc.) is encased in a folded taro leaf. Traditionally, this dish has been cooked in an underground oven, but the modern prep at the stove would do in a pinch.

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Tricia Woolfenden

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