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Farmer’s Table: Pipikaula


By Susan Maslowski

My husband and I have always enjoyed trying authentic regional dishes when we travel to new locations.

While in Hawaii in December, my husband ordered Pipikaula at a restaurant specializing in local cuisine. It is a salted, dried beef.

In the past week, I have been unable to use my oven, because my husband has been preoccupied with trying to re-create Pipikaula at home.

Pipikaula is the result of a combination of cultures. Cows were not native to the Hawaiian islands. In 1793, British Navy explorer George Vancouver gave King Kamehameha a bull and five cows. The king did not allow hunting of the black longhorn cattle, which were allowed to graze freely. By 1845, it was estimated there were 25,000 feral cattle on the big island of Hawaii.

John Palmer Parker, a Massachusetts sailor, visited Hawaii in the early 1800s, and returned later to make Hawaii his home. He brought his American musket. The king gave Parker exclusive permission to kill the cattle, which supplied meat for local and foreign markets. That was the beginning of the thriving beef industry.

In appreciation, the king gave Parker some land on the big island of Hawaii as compensation. Parker brought in cowboys from Mexico to manage the livestock. They were known as “paniolos,” which is the Hawaiian pronunciation of “Español.”

The cowboys dried strips of beef in the sun, so they would have something to eat while driving cattle. They flavored the beef with soy sauce, a contribution of their Chinese and Japanese neighbors.

Pipikaula, which means “rope meat,” is a Hawaiian-style jerky, although it is not dried to a tough, leather texture. It is slightly moist and tender.

This recipe for Pipikaula is my husband’s recipe that he determined was the best after several experiments.

Bob’s Pipikaula

1 pound flank steak*

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon oyster sauce

2 teaspoons Hawaiian smoked salt

1 tablespoon water

1 tablespoon brown sugar

½ teaspoon ginger powder

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 cayenne pepper, sliced thin

Cut the beef into strips about 1½ inches wide. Combine all of the other ingredients and soak the beef in the sauce overnight.

Set the oven on 175 degrees.

Place the meat on a rack, such as a cake cooling rack and place the rack on a cookie sheet. Dry the meat in the oven for 7 hours.

Cool and store in the refrigerator. The meat will be salty and chewy. It can be eaten as it is, or it can be fried until crispy.

*The example in the photo is a small ribeye roast that was marinated whole and thinly sliced after it was dried in the oven for 7 hours.

For questions about recipes or other information, contact Susan Maslowski at or go to our websites at and Susan also has a Farmer’s Table Facebook page.


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