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Fishing and Eating Like Ancient Hawaiians

– [Mark] On the south corner
coast of Hawaii island, there is one of the last
Hawaiian fishing villages in the world, and it’s Ho’Okena. (water splashing) They still practice traditional
fishing in the old style, in a canoe chumming the water the way that generations of Hawaiians have done. It is something that needs
to be experienced firsthand. If we don’t continue
to learn these things, that knowledge will be lost. (upbeat music) My name’s Mark Noguchi. My friends call me Gooch, and
I’m a chef here in Hawaii. My belief is in preserving the techniques and the ingredients that we have in this place that I call home. When we talk about Hawaiian food, there’s before Western contact, and then there’s post Western contact. One of the biggest misconceptions
about Hawaiian food is how it’s always
presented in this gigantic, you know, luau with the
emu and the kalua pig, and then the fire knife dancers, which, that’s not even Hawaiian! Hawaiians, they eat simply. It was largely a very ocean, or Palauea, and vegetal based diet. The reason why I’m going
down to Ho’Okena today is to spend the day with
one of the Hawaiian families who have graciously called
their friends and family to come down and share their practice. (upbeat music) – [Charles] Hawaiian practices
around fishing and planting and growing is all about sustainability. We fish with nets, and catch what we need. Opelu is a mackerel; and it’s the mainstay of the fishing village here. If you were to try and go in the water and catch them with a
spear or something else, they’re gonna just leave. They’re not gonna stay
around, you need to feed them. You would prepare their bait,
which was 100% vegetable. We call that the pololu. That’s put into a bag and the
bag is thrown into the ocean, and when it’s yanked, all the
pololu-or the bait-is let go. The fish aggregate and
come around and feed. We don’t separate ourselves from the land. We don’t separate ourselves
from what feeds us. So, it’s important then to
sustain those aggregation areas, and they did that by feeding the fish during the off season
without even catching them. And this was a means to train the fish to come back to the
same area all the time. It’s almost like ocean farming. (upbeat music) – [Mark] So, after you
harvest all of this fish, you gotta clean it; and you see aunties, and you see husbands; and
you see friends come around. Everybody knows that there’s a job to do. Today, we’re gonna prepare opelu in as many ways as possible. Fried, seasoned just with pa’akai, keeping it super simple. We’re also gonna have opelu raw, which is just cut up, and
it’s just lightly seasoned. Opelu lomi, where you
take it and you lomi it, and you turn it, and you mix
it with other ingredients. Onions, tomatoes, green onions, seasoned with like just
chili pepper and salt. We also have poi today-fresh poi. Poi is taro that’s been cooked, and it’s been mixed with water, and it is one of our staple starches. We also have ulu, which is breadfruit. Breadfruit is another traditional
Hawaiian staple as well. And this is how we eat, everyday, simple. (speaking foreign language) One thing that we always
do: we bless the food, that it’s a non-denominational mahalo, to all the hands and all the spirits and all the people that have come together to put all this food together. Mahalo. (crowd clapping) And then you eat. You just sit around and hang out. That’s when the stories come out; that’s everything that we
worked for for that day. It reinforces, for myself, the importance of being able to know the difference of what it is that we’re
cooking and serving. So good. In today’s day and age, where we are all worried
about our resources, there are people still doing their part to preserve an eco system. It lends hope for us to continue to preserve the place that we call home. We need to take these lessons
that aren’t shared worldwide; we need to be able to take these lessons and apply them to our daily life. (light upbeat music)


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