Since the subject of powdered Poi was brought up numerous times in the last post’s comments, instead of saving it for a major “poi shootout” later, we may as well look further into it right here and now.
Taro Brand Hawaiian Poi Powder can be found at most grocery stores around the island, located adjacent to the fresh Poi on Taro Brand’s own little shelf rack, which is usually located in the meat or produce department (where it’s cool).
Here’s the nutritional information, as listed on the back label of the plastic container this powdered poi (taro) is contained in…
“Poi Powder” sound strange to you? Of course it does. Almost scary if you ask me.
Looking at the features and benefits bullets on the side of the label, it says:
• No additives
• Great for all ages
• Easy to digest
It looks like being “easy to digest” makes it “great for all ages”, including babies (from what I hear), as it’s easy on their digestive system, while also supplying much needed fiber and iron.
The ingredients list is simply: ground cooked taro.
Like most powdered (dehydrated or ground) foods, you must add water to bring this ‘Hawaiian Poi Powder’ back to “life”. Here’s the instructions on the lid how to do that…
Here’s how it looks under the lid…
If it were just a little more purple, I’d almost think this was some of that grape-flavored “Lik-M-Aid Wacky Fun Dip” stuff. Or it might also pass as being Nestle® Quik Chocolate Milk powdered mix.
The granules range in size to being just a bit more course than iodized table salt (although not quite kosher salt), to as fine as a course flour, the latter apparently coming from the lighter-colored parts of the taro corm.
It certainly SMELLS like Hawaiian wetland taro when you put your nose to the container, so that was encouraging from the start.
It took so much effort preparing the accompanying smoked meat (and something else I’ll share later) you’ll soon see, so in preparing this powdered poi, I took the easier heating method, opting to give it a 1 minute zap in the microwave vs. going stove top.
Going that route, I placed the entire 3 oz. contents of Poi powder in a microwave-safe bowl large enough to accommodate the additional water that must be mixed into it (while still cold)…
1 ounce of of powder = (just about) 2 tablespoons, so based on that calculation, according the directions, a total of 1-1/2 cups (12 ounces) of water is the amount needed to mix the entire 3 oz. of Poi powder in the container. That’s exactly what I did, mixing in filtered cold water.
After some coaxing and adding a few more drips water while stirring away, I got it to fully incorporate. Then as directed, zapped it in the microwave for about 2.75 minutes to heat it up (longer than directed since it was the whole container) in this plastic bowl. Sorry I didn’t get photos of that sequence, as at this stage, I was more focused on mixing/making this properly.
The volume of what now is supposedly poi became so much for that plastic microwave-safe bowl, that I had to transfer it to a larger stainless steel mixing bowl…
This is how it ended up looking after about 3 solid minutes of stirring, adding more water, and stirring, adding more water, and stirring ‘n stirring. It took way more water than the amount indicated on the instructions. No problem, but just saying. I thought of using a whisk to help fully incorporate it, but didn’t wanna’ deal with the mess of pulling sticky poi out of that.
I noticed it came out rather thick and glutenous after going under the heat from the microwave. So much that I was afraid I’d end up with Kulolo (Taro Pudding)! That’s why after taking it out and transfering it to the metal mixing bowl, I had to continuously add more water to get it to an ideal “One Finger Poi” consistency ( a term coined by Poi afficianados for “thick poi”). There you see it looks just right.
As you seen in the last post, I recently bought a 3.5 pound bag of FRESH Poi from Costco, so that gave me the perfect opportunity to compare this powdered Poi product, which are both manufactured by HPC Foods. Here’s a bowl of the FRESH Poi as it just got mixed…
After mixing them both thoroughly, incorporating the right amount of water to get them to the ideal “One Finger Poi” consistency, I placed them both in the refrigerator to chill for a bit, floating a thin layer of water over the top so they don’t “crust” over. Once cooled, I made a small bowl each of the rehydrated powdered Poi…
and also a bowl of fresh Poi…
If you look closely at the fresh poi (click on the photo to zoom in), you can see actual fibers and bits and pieces of taro, which are noticeably absent (for obvious reasons) in the rehydrated powdered Poi. Also notice a much more “lively” color with the fresh vs. powdered type.
Let’s have a taste…
Honestly, you know what it tastes like to me? Cream of Wheat breakfast porridge (plain with no sugar or milk added), with just a small hint of actual Hawaiian Taro flavor in it. It has this strange, gritty, doughy pasty flavor that’s hard to put a pin on it.
While I’ve never personally tasted the stuff, just like many newbies say when trying fresh poi for the first time, for me as a “veteran” Poi consumer, in comparison to the real stuff, THIS indeed taste like wallpaper paste. Seriously. I could barely stomach, let alone swallow more than 2 tablespoons of the stuff before throwing in the towel.
I know I heated it enough, as if I heated it any more, it would have truly turned into Kulolo. Speaking of which, I can see using this in cooking applications, such as adding to baked goods and desserts. But straight-up like this to replace fresh poi, pass for me, that’s for sure! PASS.
Thank goodness I had fresh Poi on hand to save me from this, otherwise frightening dining moment lol…
Ahhhh… that’s soooooo much better! Fresh “Taro-ee” tasting, smooth and ONO!
Speaking of ono, remember I mentioned I’d be sampling this with some Big Island Style Smoke Meat I just made. Well here’s the full spread…
I figure, since Smoke Meat tastes so AWESOME, it could redeem this otherwise “questionable tasting” powdered poi, right? Well, let’s give this a try…
Notice I place the smoke meat ON the spoonful of Poi. THAT’s how you do it, cuz! Another way I like to do it is DIP the smoke meat in the Poi, but this way works too.
Did the smoke meat “save” the powdered poi. Nope. Not at all. It tasted like smoke meat covered in wallpaper paste. LOL Seriously though, no it still didn’t help, nor did compliment the robust smoked meat at all. It just made it taste like smoke meat with something weird accompanying it.Ack!
Now let’s try the fresh poi…
Now that is M-O-N-E-Y right there! If I were an AIG executive, and the CEO asked to return my bonus check in return for a bowl of Taro Brand fresh Poi and Big Island Smoke Meat to go with, I’d do it in a heartbeat. Otherwise I’m keepin’ my damned bonus. lol Folks, this is some GOOOD EATS (wassup AB).
I’ll get more detailed about how I made this new batch of Big Island Style Smoke Meat in another post coming soon. Another day.
In closing, the Hawaiian Poi Powder, prepared as directed to serve in its intended form as POI, at least the way I prepared it, was not good. Glad I tried it, but once was enough, and several spoonfuls was too much. Even after letting it “ferment” over a day, it still had that non-descriptive pasty flavor. It was slightly better in texture being smoother and less gritty, but that’s about it.
I’ll stick with FRESH POI, thank you very much. If I’m stuck somewhere where I can’t get fresh poi, then based on this experience, I’d just as well substitute with the next best thing in line, RICE!
What? Hawaiian Poi Powder
Who makes it? Taro Brand by HPC Foods (Honolulu)
Where did you buy it and how much? Don Quijote (a.k.a. Daiei or Holiday Mart), $5.29/3 oz. container
Big Shaka to: Compact and dry product easy to transport and store. Smells like Hawaiian wetland Taro when dry. Combines easily with spoon when adding cold tap water. “Cooks” quickly in microwave. Might work great as wallpaper paste or as an all-purpose, non-toxic, biodegradable household glue. Probably also works great in baking and dessert applications. This powdered poi product may be “iffy”, but at least HPC Foods’ Taro Brand offers REAL FRESH POI (the most sold brand in the state?) to fall back on. Supporting Hawaii’s Taro farmers. Made in Hawaii.
No Shaka to: In “Poi form”, it tastes like a mixture of Cream of Wheat and thin raw dough, with just a hint of Taro, but not enough though. Strange, pasty and gritty texture. Just strange, period. If I knew what wallpaper paste tasted like, this just might exactly resemble that. Eating wallpaper paste. Eating this. Even supah ono Big Island Style Smoke Meat couldn’t redeem it. Being “stuck” somewhere where I can’t get fresh Poi.
The Tasty Island rating: n/a
P.S. Since we’ve been on “Poi Fever” lately, here’s a sample luau plate that was catered the other day at our office from Yama’s Fish Market on Young Street…
That’s POI on the left in the separate bowl, which was very fresh and tasted like Taro Brand. In the plate on the top left is Lomi Salmon, which was fantastic, with enough salt salmon in it to validate as NOT being “Lomi Tomato”. The Chicken Long Rice in the top center section was also very flavorful, with a rather intense chicken and ginger-flavored broth. The Squid Luau to the right of that (bright green color) was the only item that we thought was lacking, number one being that it tasted like they used SPINACH, not Luau leaves. There also wasn’t enough coconut milk. The squid was a bit tough, too. The Kalua Pig on the bottom left corner was excellent. Very smokey and moist. The chicken and pork laulau over the rice was pretty good, although, I’d much rather it be served still wrapped in leaves, which retains more moisture and flavor. The Haupia (that white brick thing) was ono, being exceptionally sweet, yet in a good way. The perfect dessert.