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Mo's Authentic and Easy Squid Luau Recipe

Growing up in a multiracial Hawaiian family, I was blessed to have been able to watch my elder family members cook traditional dishes.

What Is Squid Luau?

Squid Luau is a traditional Hawaiian dish, typically served at luaus (feasts) alongside other traditional dishes such as laulau, kalua pig, lomi-lomi salmon, chicken long rice, poi, and a host of raw marinated seafood and steamed starches.

This dish bursts with a complexity of flavors that comes from stewing the squid in taro leaves and coconut milk. It has just the right balance of salty, sweet, and creamy—all of which come together in this deliciously hearty stew.

The Nutritional Benefits of Taro Leaves

Taro leaves are a great source of vitamins A and C. Vitamin A is important for healthy vision, the immune system, and reproduction. Vitamin A also helps the lungs, heart, kidneys, and other organs function properly.

Vitamin C is a nutrient that acts as an antioxidant to help protect cells from damaging free radicals. The body also needs vitamin C to make collagen, which is a protein required to heal wounds. In addition, vitamin C helps to improve the absorption of iron from plant-based foods and helps the immune system work properly to protect the body from disease.

Traditional and Authentic Flavors

Growing up in a multiracial Hawaiian family, I was blessed to have had the opportunity to watch my elder family members cook traditional dishes. I kept these recipes and techniques in my head, and I am now able to recall them from memory.

This recipe is based on the authentic and traditional version of squid luau—with the exception of butter and baking soda. The reason I use baking soda is that it helps the leaves retain a fresh green color; otherwise, they would tend to get quite dark. I incorporate butter because it brings out the naturally rich and buttery taste of the taro leaves. This step adds richness to the complexity of flavors.

The reason I use a mixture of sweetened and unsweetened coconut milk is to add just a hint of sweetness without it being too overpowering

I hope you enjoy this recipe!

Cook Time

Prep timeCook timeReady inYields

30 min

1 hour 40 min

2 hours 10 min

12–24 servings


  • 10 lbs taro leaves (purple or Hawaiian taro leaves), washed, peeled, stemmed, and chopped
  • 5 lbs squid or octopus, cleaned, cooked, and chopped
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter
  • 1/2 tablespoon baking soda (to help retain color)
  • Hawaiian or course sea salt, to taste
  • 1 can unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1 can sweetened coconut milk


  1. Peel and wash the taro leaves thoroughly. Peel the woody flesh off of the stems, ends, and leaves. Cut the stems from the leaves. Roll and chop your leaves like you would collard greens. Be sure to chop up the stems and throw them in there, too. Set everything aside in a large bowl.
  2. Next, clean and cook the 10 lbs of squid or octopus in boiling water for approximately 15–20 minutes. (If using squid, be sure to remove the hard cartilage from each squid). Chop and set aside. Reserve 1 cup of squid broth. Discard or freeze the remaining broth for other dishes requiring fish broth.
  3. In a large stew pot, add 2 cups water and bring to a boil. Add taro leaves and baking soda. Cover the pot and bring to a rolling simmer for 30 minutes.
  4. Add the cooked squid and the reserved cup of squid stock. Cook for another 30 minutes.
  5. Add the butter and coconut milk and simmer on low for 15 minutes. Add salt to taste and serve.

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© 2014 Angelique Anela Moanike'ala Waiwaiole-Tyler