foods and cuisines

Laulau | The most succulent, flavorful, and satisfying dish you’ll ever eat

Laulau, otherwise known as lū in Tonga, palusami in Melanesia (Fiji) and Samoa, and rukau in the Cook Islands, is a Polynesian dish consisting of cooked taro leaves containing fillings such as pork, fish or coconut cream. In old Hawaiʻi, laulau was assembled by taking a few leaves and placing a few pieces of fish and pork in the center. In modern times, the dish uses taro leaves, salted butterfish, and either pork, beef, or chicken and is usually steamed on the stove. Laulau is a typical plate lunch dish and is usually served with a side of rice and macaroni salad.

In the classical preparation, the ends of the leaf are folded and wrapped again in the leaf. When ready, all the laulau is placed in an underground oven called an imu. Hot rocks are placed on the dish, covered in banana leaves, and buried again. A few hours later, the laulau is ready to eat.

Alternative names Lū, pulasami, rukau, luau, lau lau
Place of origin Polynesia, Fiji, Samoa ,Tonga
Region or state Cook Islands, Hawaii, Samoa, Tonga, Fiji
Main ingredients Taro leaves

Laulau Ingredients

  • ½ pound salt butterfish, rinsed several times to remove excess salt
  • ½ pound pork butt, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 4 boneless chicken thighs
  • 1 tablespoon Hawaiian sea salt
  • 8 ti leaves
  • 1 pound taro leaves


  • Season fish, pork and chicken with Hawaiian sea salt. Place 2 ti leaves in an X on a flat surface for each of the 4 servings.
  • Place 1/4 of each of the fish, pork and chicken onto the center of 3 or 4 taro leaves. Wrap securely with the taro leaves, then place each wrap on a set of ti leaves. Tie the ends of the ti leaves together with a piece of string.
  • Place the bundles in a large steamer, and steam for 3 to 4 hours.