Making Local Dishes From Hawai’i in South Korea

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Feeling Homesick in the Pandemic

As a Native Hawaiian in Korea, especially during a pandemic, it is easy to feel homesick. Like Hawai’i, Korea has beautiful beaches, humid summers, and centuries-old knowledge of fishing and farming. While I admire these commonalities, the easiest way to feel closer to home is to eat ‘ono (delicious) dishes that remind me of my ‘ohana (family).

Food, Hawai’i, and History

Food is also my favorite way to share a culture, especially when it comes to local cuisine in Hawai’i. Notice that I didn’t say “Hawaiian food” since many flavors that have long been associated with Hawai’i come from pivotal moments in history, such as the sugar plantation era and World War II. In fact, while almost every restaurant outside of Hawai’i with a Hawaiian theme or menu item includes pineapples, the pineapple itself is not indigenous to Hawai’i.

In this blog, I’ve included a few sweet and savory dishes that can be found in Hawai’i, with recommendations for places to shop for ingredients near Pyeongtaek. I’ve included links for recipes since I tend to cook by memory these days. I’ve also included possible substitutions.

Finding Groceries for Food From Hawai’i in Pyeongtaek

Korea has an exceptional source of fresh vegetables in every grocery store and street market. I tend to buy most of my vegetables from 한샘 할인 마트 (Hanssem Discount Mart) in Asan Techno Valley or Joy Mart in Pyeongtaek. Hanssem Discount Mart also has an extensive meat and seafood section but Tong Bok Market in Pyeongtaek also has fresh fish and produce. These are my top recommendations for grocery shopping near Pyeongtaek. For my Camp Humphreys community, I have found most of the ingredients for these recipes in the commissary.

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Hanssem Discount Mart ATV

Hanssem Discount Mart ATV4.8


Copy and paste phone numbers into Naver Maps to get directions

Hangul Address

충남 아산시 둔포면 중앙공원로 52

Large supermarket with solid prices.

(Listing information provided by the South of Seoul app)

Joy Mart Paengseong

Joy Mart Paengseong5


Copy and paste phone numbers into Naver Maps to get directions

Hangul Address

경기 평택시 팽성읍 안정로 112

A neighborhood grocery near Camp Humphreys in Paengseong

(Listing information provided by the South of Seoul app)

Appetizers from Hawai’i

1) Shoyu Ahi Poke

Possible Substitutions While in Korea

Poke has so many variations so if you can’t find a specific ingredient, feel free to experiment with fresh ingredients that you like. You may use this recipe for octopus, shrimp, muscles, or almost any seafood, as long as it’s boneless. My husband prefers spicy poke, so instead of shoyu, I add mayonnaise, preferably Kewpie, and Sriracha ketchup. Personally, I prefer adding avocado, tomatoes, and flying fish roe to my poke, rather than any other garnish.

The Humphreys Commissary carries all of these ingredients, except that they have frozen, rather than fresh, albacore tuna steaks, round onions, rather than Maui, and you’ll have to go with macadamia nuts, rather than kukui.

Korean marts have many raw fish alternatives. This may be a helpful reference for Translations of Korean Raw Fish.

If you’re like me and you prefer to add fish eggs as a garnish, Hanssem Discount Mart keeps them in the island freezers in their seafood section.

2) Lomi Salmon

Possible Substitutions While in Korea

You could also use salted or smoked salmon instead of fresh salmon and salt.

Entrees from Hawai’i

1) Kalua Pig,

Kalua Pig is usually cooked in an imu or underground oven, can also be made in a slow cooker or instant pot. You really only need 3 ingredients – Pork butt, liquid smoke, and Hawaiian, Himalayan, or sea salt.

Using a pointy kitchen utensil, like a small knife or ice pick, poke a couple of holes into each side of the pork butt. Massage salt and liquid smoke onto the meat.

Set the slow cooker on low for 16 hours, which is preferable, or high for 8 hours.

If you’re using an Instant pot, cut pork butt in half, and brown each side on SAUTE setting with a tablespoon of oil. Then add 1/2 cup of water, 2 tablespoons of liquid smoke, seal instant pot, and set to cook for 90 minutes. I will often add shredded cabbage, after I have released the pressure, leaving the instant pot on WARM setting, and sealing the lid for another 5 minutes.

I make this dish often, the real challenge is, where to find liquid smoke if you don’t have access to the commissary? I have found it on both Amazon and Coupang.

2) Shoyu Chicken

Care of Sean Na’auao, award-winning musician and cook. His recipe can be found here.

Here is a video of another version just in case you need some visuals.

Dessert from Hawai’i

Haupia OR Haupia Sweet Potato Pie

If you only want to make Haupia, which is like a coconut pudding, see the Haupia topping section of this recipe. Otherwise, Korea often has sweet potatoes that can replace Okinawan sweet potatoes.

Unfortunately, the Hawaiian staple, poi, is not easy to find on Korea. A friend of mine once sent me powdered poi, which was okay but I wouldn’t recommend it. Most local restaurants in Hawai’i will offer rice as a substitute for poi and since Korea has many variations of rice, this may be a great way to merge these culinary cultures.