Squid Lū‘au Recipe


Recipe courtesy of Tanya Doyle, sous chef, The Banyan Tree, The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua

Yield: 50 portions as a side dish (Split recipe in half or quarter for fewer portions.)

Prep time: 3–4 hours


  • 10 lb. tako (octopus) legs, cooked & sliced
  • 10 lb. lū‘au leaves (available at most island grocery stores, and in Asian food sections)*
  • 64 oz. coconut milk
  • 15 oz. sugar
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 3 tbsp. salt

Procedure: Wash lū‘au leaves, remove stems and peel off thick veins. Add 6 cups water, baking soda and salt to pot and bring it to a boil. Add the leaves to the boiling water, working the leaves into the water with a spoon. As it cooks down, the leaves will submerge. Continue to cook until the leaves’ consistency resembles overcooked spinach, approximately 1–1.5 hours. Carefully drain, then rinse under cold tap water and squeeze out lū‘au leaves several times, to assure that the baking soda is fully rinsed out. After the last rinse, squeeze the leaves until they are dried out.

Set aside.  In a pot, combine the tako and 2 cups of the coconut milk and bring to a simmer, stirring constantly. Add cooked leaves to the pot and mix well, bring it back up to a simmer, stirring. When it’s mixed well, gradually add in the sugar. Once sugar is dissolved, add salt to taste. Ready for service!

*Spinach is an easy substitute for lū‘au leaves. Rinse spinach thoroughly, add to the tako and coconut-milk mixture, and simmer, stirring.


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