Recipe: Hawaiian Pa'i'ai With Lychee, Ho'io And Dried Shrimp

Get a fermented fix with Chris Kajioka's Hawaiian dish

Pa'i'ai is made by pounding cooked taro root on a wooden board (papa ku'i 'ai) with a stone pestle (pōhaku ku'i 'ai). As the starch in the taro begins to break down into a gummy paste, the pa'i'ai begins to ferment.

This is all done for you, mind you: Pa'i'ai is sold in one-pound vacuum-packed loaves. Due to the loaf's natural shape, the edges should be trimmed before slicing into square pieces. Leave the pa'i'ai slices out at room temperature before frying to preserve the natural fermented flavor. To finish, Kajioka sprinkles on his lychee-studded take on ho'io, the classic Hawaiian salad of fiddlehead ferns.

To learn more, read "The Best Lei'd Plans."

Recipe adapted from Chris Kajioka, Senia, Honolulu, HI

Pa'i'ai With Lychee, Ho'io And Dried Shrimp
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Make Chris Kajioka's pa'i'ai, a Hawaiian dish made by pounding taro root into a paste.
Prep Time
Cook Time
Total time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
  • For the Relish
  • 2 cups fiddlehead ferns
  • ½ cup white soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • ¼ cup rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons mirin
  • 8 lychee pieces—peeled, seeded and chopped
  • 5 tablespoons dried shrimp
  • For the Pa'i'ai
  • 1 pound pa'i'ai loaf, cut into ½-inch-thick squares and left at room temperature for 1 hour
  • Canola oil, for frying
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons thinly sliced scallions
  1. Make the relish: Prepare a large ice bath. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the fiddlehead ferns and cook for 2 to 2½ minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the ferns to the prepared ice bath. Drain and place them in a medium mixing bowl. Add the white soy sauce, sesame oil, rice vinegar and mirin, and whisk to combine. Fold in the lychee and dried shrimp. Let the mixture marinate at room temperature for 15 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, make the pa'i'ai: Line a sheet tray with paper towels. Working in 2 batches, fill a large frying pan over medium-high heat with ¼ inch of oil. When the oil starts to shimmer, add 4 slices of pa'i'ai and fry until the bottoms are crispy and golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Flip and cook another 2 to 3 minutes until the other sides are crispy. Transfer to the prepared sheet tray and season both sides of each slice with salt while still warm.
  3. Divide the fried pa'i'ai among 8 plates. Using a slotted spoon, top the pa'i'ai with the relish, garnish with the scallions and serve.
Calories per Serving 460
Total Fat 31.5 g
Saturated Fat 2.9 g
Trans Fat 0.1 g
Cholesterol 12.6 mg
Total Carbohydrates 34.2 g
Dietary Fiber 2.6 g
Total Sugars 4.9 g
Sodium 1,208.2 mg
Protein 11.8 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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