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Manapua are barbecue pork buns. The buns are filled with barbecue-flavoured cha siu pork. They are served as a type of dim sum during yum cha and are sometimes sold in Chinese bakeries.
Manapua does not mean "chewed-up" (mana) "pork" (puaʻa) in the Hawaiian language, as its spelling suggests. Rather, the current form is a shortening of meaʻono-puaʻa, meaning "pork cake" (meaʻono meaning "cake"). In the U.S. mainland, the Chinese term is commonly used. The Chinese brought this dim sum item with them when they were brought over as plantation workers.
This food usually consists of a white bun with a dark pink-colored diced pork filling. The red pork filling is called char siu, and the dark pink color comes from marinating the pork with a very small amount of salt peter prior to slow roasting. The bun is occasionally baked, but is more frequently steamed when it is made. Manapua has come to mean any meat-filled or bean-paste-filled bun made with the same dough as described above including locally created versions with hot dogs, curry chicken, kalua pig, and even ube (purple yam), which is a popular vegetarian version of the manapua. In Hawaii, freshly prepared or prepackaged frozen manapua may be found in dedicated bakeries, restaurants, and chain convenience stores.
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