pulehu ulu: fire-roasted breadfruit

Marlene Nakamoto
September 28, 2023

The Hawaii Ulu Cooperative is on a mission to make it easier for more people to eat more ulu, kalo, uala, and palaai (breadfruit, taro, sweet potato, and pumpkin, respectively). The farmer-owned co-op collects these staple crops and minimally processes them, packages and freezes them, and distributes them in “recipe-ready” packages to grocers statewide.

Given the hardy, long-lived, climate-friendly trees that bear a bountiful supply of fruit almost year-round, ulu remains the co-op’s flagship product. But that doesn’t mean you can’t get a whole ulu at your favorite farmers market and cook it the traditional way – pulehu, or fire-roasted.

“Pulehu ulu is probably my favorite way to enjoy breadfruit,” says Kenta Nemoto, the co-op’s marketing manager. “It's so soft and doughy when done right, like the inside of a malasada.”

Nemoto learned this technique from Uncle Ricky Rocker, an ulu ambassador who’s eaten ulu as a significant part of his diet for 50 years.

Properly cooked pulehu ulu will form a charred, black shell. But not to worry ... peel the skin off to reveal fragrant, starchy flesh with a rich flavor and gooey consistency.

Read more about the Hawaii Ulu Cooperative at their website. Order products online and see recipes, too.


1 firm, mature ulu

Prepare a campfire, bonfire, or large grill (without the grate) with wood and charcoal. Place the whole fruit in the fire for 50 minutes, turning every 5-10 minutes to ensure even roasting. Remove ulu from the fire and let rest 10 minutes. Peel off the charred skin while the ulu is hot or warm.

Serve pulehu ulu with a simple citrus-based or coconut milk sauce or mash it into paiai. Or mix it with chopped onion, minced garlic, and fresh herbs, form into patties and brown in a skillet.

See Uncle Ricky’s detailed instructions on the co-op’s website.

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