Aloha, folks! Manapua, what is that?! Manapua is a shortened form of the Hawaiian phrase mea ono puaa, which translates as “pork pastry,” or mauna puaa, which translates to “mountain of pork.” Traditionally, manapua is filled with char siu (pork filling), there are many different fillings that you can get or make. From veggies to chicken, you can put anything you like in a manapua. You can even get savory kinds that have Okinawan sweet potato, haupia, or other custards. According to Hawaii Magazine: “The Chinese are believed to have brought bao to Hawaii in the mid-to late-19th century during their largest wave of immigration. After finishing contracted terms as sugar plantation laborers, many Chinese opened businesses and restaurants. Food peddlers would walk neighborhoods selling snacks, including Manapua, from large aluminum cans hung with cords at the ends of poles hoisted on their shoulders. Affectionately dubbed manapua men by locals, they eventually took to selling the popular filled buns and other Chinese dim sum goodies in populated areas such as beaches and business districts, too, using vans and food trucks. “
Would you try manapua? If so, which type of filling would you like? You can check out my recipe for manapua here.