Recipe: How to make Hawaii-style “pulehu” steak

Most pulehu-cooked steak is rubbed first with a seasoning mix that gives it a special flavor.

HAWAII Magazine reader, Lucky Thompson of Las Vegas, Nevada, e-mailed us with a question touching on a favorite Hawaii method of cooking:

Do you have a recipe for “Pulehu salt?” I can buy it here in Las Vegas, but would prefer to make my own.

You ask. We answer.

Just to be clear, pulehu is not a kind of salt. It’s the Hawaiian word for “broil over a fire.”

In ancient days, you might use the word pulehu to talk about cooking breadfruit. These days, if you see the word on a restaurant menu in Hawaii, it’s usually referring to pulehu steak or ribs.

Most pulehu-cooked steak is rubbed first with a seasoning mix. Making your own mix at home is simple, or you can find ready-mixed seasonings from Hawaii online

Here’s a basic recipe:

Hawaiian alaea (or Kosher) salt, about 1/3 cup or so
2 cloves of garlic, finely minced
Sugar, only about a tablespoon
Coarse ground black pepper, to taste

There are probably as many variations to seasoning meat before pulehu broiling as there are cooks. To the basic recipe above, you could add, sparingly:

Fresh ginger, finely minced, to taste
Dried red pepper flakes or Japanese Togarashi pepper mix.
Herbs such as thyme, cilantro or rosemary

Whatever combination you use, combine and mix the ingredients well, then rub onto the steaks or ribs. Let the meat sit about half an hour, then pulehu it. 

It’s that simple.

Categories: Culture, Food, Recipes