In a classic Hawaiian meal, poi is the main starch on the plate. It plays the same role in a dish that rice often would: It's filling, and it complements the other flavors in the meal. In this episode of Dining on a Dime, host Lucas Peterson stops by the Waiahole Poi Factory for a truly Hawaiian plate (and a music lesson on the nose flute).
Poi is made from cooked and pounded taro root, but it's not quite as simple as it sounds. Taro is a starchy root vegetable with a natural defense built in. If the root isn't cooked for long enough, its scratchy fibers can cause irritation to the mouth and throat. To soften it, it's boiled for at least three to five hours, and then peeled and pounded until it forms a thick (perhaps slightly slimy) paste. It can be eaten solo, or served alongside something salty like a roasted meat.
At the Waiahole Poi Factory, they serve classics like lomi salmon, kalua pork, and of course, handmade poi. Not even a surprise rain shower could stop Peterson from savoring this traditional lunch.