Publication of “Native Use of Fish in Hawaii,” 1956.

Hawaiians Were Gourmets When It Came to Fish


The Hawaiian pitied the white man as an uncultivated person when he first saw the white man eating fish.

The white man discarded the portions of the fish which the Hawaiians considered delicacies—such as the head, the eyes, the entrails, the skin and the little dark portions next to the bone.

Then, too, the white man only ate cooked fish. He had no idea of the choice flavor of fresh fish eaten immediately after taking it from the water.

All this and much more is told in a new publication, Native Use of Fish in Hawaii by Margaret Titcomb, librarian, and Mary Kawena Pukui, associate in Hawaiian Culture at Bishop Museum.

Published in N. Z.

Native Uses of Fish in Hawaii is a supplement to the Journal of Polynesian Society and was published by the Society in New Zealand.

The books will soon be on sale at the Bishop Museum Bookshop.

Although Native Uses of Fish in Hawaii is a scientific publication, its text is easy to read for the layman and contains much fascinating material on how the Hawaiian at fish, his major source of protein.


Fish eyes were a great delicacy. They were wrapped in ti leaves, cooked and eaten with poi.

Another method of preparing the eyes was to take the stomach of the opelu fish, wash it clean, stuff it with the eyes (as we do sausage) and bake it.

A fish condiment was made by cleaning the gall bladder from the fish and then using the whole fish, chopped fine, and mixed with chili peppers, limu and roasted kukui nuts.

The mixture was allowed to season a few days before eating. It was called palu. It was excellent when eaten with luau tops and poi.

Hawaiians became gourmets in their fish-eating habits.

The legend is told of a king of Oahu who followed the seasonal appearance of the fish around the Island. He would go to Wailua for the ukoa and lokea, to Pauhala for the mullet and to other spots in season for the awa, olo, hanaloa and oio.

(Star-Bulletin, 3/13/1956, p. 4)


Honolulu Star-Bulletin, Volume 45, Number 62, Page 4. March 13, 1956.

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