No good records exist documenting the culinary origins of laulau, but the consensus is that it pre-dates Western contact. Early laulau contained pork and local fish rubbed with salt, wrapped in young taro leaves called lu`au. When the whaling industry arrived in force, they brought salted butterfish with them and it quickly became the "traditional" fish to use in laulau. The meat, fish and lu`au bundles were carefully wrapped in ti leaves then baked in an imu. Contemporary laulau remains essentially unchanged. If you order a Hawaiian plate lunch place, the laulau still contains pork, butterfish and lu`au. Common variations on the theme use chicken in place of pork, omit the butterfish, or add onions and other vegetables. For convenience, most laulau today are steamed on the stovetop rather than in an imu.
The recipe below makes 12 laulau. You can make far fewer of course, but once you setup an assembly line, the difference between making four and twelve is negligible. Leftover laulau (ha! as if...) can be frozen in their entirety and reheated on another day. Finally, laulau is a fantastic communal cooking event. Invite a friend or two over to help assemble!
Serving Size: 12
Preparation Time: 30 minutes