How to Make Poi
Often eaten with just your fingers, poi is described as one- two- or three-finger, depending on its thickness. Below you’ll find an easy-to-follow recipe for “two finger poi.”
Traditionally, Hawaiians cooked the starchy, potato-like taro root for several hours in an imu. It was then pounded on large flat boards called papa ku`i`ai, using heavy stones called pohaku ku`i`ai. The taro was pounded into a smooth, sticky paste known as pa`i`ai (basically poi without added water) and stored in air tight ti leaf bundles. Poi was created by slowly adding water to the pa`i`ai, then mixed and kneaded to the perfect consistency. It is sometimes left to ferment, giving it a unique and slightly sour taste.
Here is a simple recipe for one of my favorite Hawaiian dishes – poi.
Materials & Equipment:
- vegetable brush
- 2-quart pot
- food processor
- medium-sized silicone or stainless steel mixing bowl
- 1 or 2 taro roots
- Use a vegetable brush to scrub the taro root under cold, running water. Do not peel.
- In a large pot, cover taro with cold water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cook until taro can be pierced easily with a fork. Drain and rinse with cold water.
- Peel the cooked taro and cut into small pieces. Using 2 cups at a time, put the cooked taro into a food processor bowl.
- Add a tablespoon of water and process until smooth. The consistency should be sticky and thick enough to stick to one finger. (Adding more water will produce “three finger poi”.)
- Rinse a non-reactive bowl (typically made of silicone or stainless steel) with cold water and transfer the mixture to the bowl. Slowly pour a thin layer of cool water on top of the poi and cover the bowl with a clean kitchen towel.
- Allow the mixture to sit at a cool room temperature for 2-4 days. (optional, thus allows the poi to ferment and become sour)