The Mother of all invention is need!
Having moved away from Hawaii to the Desert SouthWest, Hawaiian Food is not plentiful. When my husband and I first started coming here many years ago, there wasn’t much of anything, period. Then we moved here permanently. We found a couple of restaurants that served, kinda-sorta’ Hawaii style food, but, MEH… Next, we found a market that carried some of the ingredients to make the dishes from back home. My culinary adventure began!
The featured dish at any style Luau, be it at someone’s home or a commercial location, is the Kalua (kā-loo-ā) Pig.
In Kaneohe, where I’m from, our neighbor two doors down from our house, had an Imu (e-moo) or underground pit oven permanently dug into their back yard, no really! Drove us all wild! The smells coming from their house about four to five times a year were phenomenal. The family was nice enough to let a few of us Kalua our Thanksgiving and Christmas Turkeys and Hams. Oh my gosh, my drooling right now.
I should probably describe Kalua Pig or what some folks here on the “mainland” call Kalua Pork. Think of the most moist, tender, juicy, smoky pulled Pork. YUM! I had tried the oven-method once before, when we still lived in Kaneohe and could easily find all of the ingredients. Here in the Desert SouthWest, it’s been a struggle.
Here is a basic recipe, so you have a point of reference. There’s only four main ingredients:
*Ti Leaves (the all green ones only), enough to wrap the meat up like a burrito
The process in making oven-style Kalua Pig is simple:
For each pound of Pork use: ½ Tablespoon of Sea Salt; ¾ Tablespoon Liquid smoke
Pre-heat the oven to 500⁰
Rub the Liquid Smoke all over the meat and then sprinkle evenly with the Sea Salt.
Wrap the meat in your leaves and then in heavy duty foil
Place in a baking pan/dish; into the oven for 30 minutes, then reduce the heat to 325⁰
Bake for an additional 3 ½ hour.
Allow to cool enough to handle; unwrap and discard the foil and leaves (save any juices)
Shred the meat how you like, either by hand or using two forks
*You can substitute the Ti Leaves with Banana, Taro, or Spinach leaves, but it’ll taste a bit different
I found Banana leaves here in the Desert.
You could wind up making a lot of Kalua Pig with a large piece of meat, so what I like to do is portion off the lot and freeze it for later.