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Kalua Pork

yanks26dmb Apr 25, 2011 10:45 PM

This post probably could have gone in the home cooking category, and I apologize for posting here, I just thought it'd get a much better response considering there's not too many Hawaii folk on these boards...


I am wondering if anyone has a really good kalua pork recipe for me. I'm in San Diego, and can get decent hawaiian food here and there, but nothing like I had in Maui. I'm dying to make this at home. Anyone able to offer up a good recipe?

  1. m
    Malcolm Ruthven Apr 27, 2011 08:50 AM

    Does anyone know where a good version of Kalua Pork is served in a cafe or restaurant in the Bay Area?

    3 Replies
    1. re: Malcolm Ruthven
      monku Apr 27, 2011 06:26 PM

      If you're desperate I've seen and had this Ono Ono Kalua pork on mainland and it's alright.
      Otherwise some pork butt, Liquid Smoke cover with foil and put it in the oven.

      1. re: monku
        Clinton Apr 27, 2011 10:33 PM

        You're absolutely right Monku. Bottled liquid smoke is basically derived from condensing hardwood smoke and steam. But like I mentioned before, liquid smoke IMO taste artificial. I can definitely notice it right off the bat during a blind test. Nothing like real hardwood smoke but you gotta do what you gotta do when one has to improvise. I buy liquid smoke by the quart at Smart and Final here in LA. Great for pressure-cooked kalua pork and lau laus.

      2. re: Malcolm Ruthven
        Malcolm Ruthven Apr 28, 2011 08:58 PM

        I answered my own question today by having Kalua Pork at Mauna Loa in San Rafael. I posted it in another thread because this one is about cooking it yourself.


      3. KaimukiMan Apr 26, 2011 01:42 AM

        If you google Kalua Pork you will find most of the recipes are pretty similar. The only two necessary ingredients are sea salt and liquid smoke. Some people put garlic or onion in, but thats not real authentic, neither were grown here before western contact. There are recipes that suggest putting some banana and or spinach leaf in to try to impart some of the plant flavor that the banana leaf wrapping imparts to the 'real thing.' People obviously have widely divergent opinions on that. to be honest, i find the taste of the pork, the salt and the liquid smoke are strong enough the other flavors are lost, but some people have more sensitive palettes than I. Have fun with it!

        18 Replies
        1. re: KaimukiMan
          Clinton Apr 26, 2011 02:28 PM

          Agree with KaimukiMan. You can try Google-ing or visiting Alohaworld.com and check out their Ono Recipe section for local style dishes. I personally prefer to pressure cook mine for a couple of hours with salt and liquid smoke. Those are the basic flavors which will eventually stand out like KMan says. Good luck.

          1. re: Clinton
            Sarah Apr 26, 2011 02:42 PM

            Here's the site -- it's got tons of KP recipes. Please let us know which one you like best.:

            1. re: Sarah
              KaimukiMan Apr 26, 2011 05:01 PM

              a quirk of the alohaworld site, you may have to scroll down to see the text, it may look like a blank page when you first open the link.

              recipes may be under kalua pork, kalua pig, kalua and cabbage, etc.

              1. re: KaimukiMan
                Sarah Apr 26, 2011 07:37 PM

                You're right -- or Izzy's PK, Crock Pot PK, Slow cooked PK -- well, you get the idea!

          2. re: KaimukiMan
            Bill Hunt Apr 26, 2011 06:55 PM

            Something that might go a very long way towards "taking you back to the Islands" is the wood used to cook the pork. In Hawai`i, the wood will most likely be kiawe, but it is in the same family as mesquite/locust, and not THAT far from the mimosa of the Deep South.

            In SD, you should be able to find either mesquite or locust wood, and then cook in a closed environment with as much smoke, as is possible.

            One of the absolute best examples of kalua pork that I have ever tasted (and I have tasted a bunch) was when we hosted a lu`au in Phoenix. My wife's food services catered the event, but the exec. chef is Le Cordon Bleu trained, and we had hired a wonderful Polynesian troupe to perform. They met with the chef, and shared some of their family recipes, and techniques. The chef even built an imu at the back of the hospital, and followed the recipe. Luckily, the servers hid some for me to taste, as the 200 guests ate almost 300 lbs. of it! Here, in AZ, the chef used mesquite wood.



            1. re: Bill Hunt
              Malcolm Ruthven Apr 26, 2011 09:37 PM

              Do I assume correctly that you don't use liquid smoke when you smoke with real wood?

              1. re: Malcolm Ruthven
                Bill Hunt Apr 26, 2011 09:39 PM

                I do not believe that the chef did, but will ask him.



                1. re: Bill Hunt
                  manomin Apr 26, 2011 10:40 PM

                  If you have or buy the Hailiimaile General Store cookbook Bev Gannon has a foolproof oven recipe that is absolutely wonderful and ridiculously easy!

                  1. re: manomin
                    Bill Hunt Apr 27, 2011 07:02 PM

                    We've got one (maybe two?) of her cookbooks, from her last trip to AZ. Have not looked for that, but guess what I will be doing soon... [Grin]



                2. re: Malcolm Ruthven
                  Clinton Apr 27, 2011 12:17 PM

                  Liquid smoke is typically never used with the old style traditional "imu" oven. Special non-exploding stones are fired white-hot with kiawe wood which is then lined with banana stumps and leaves to generate steam for the underground oven. The prepared salted pig is naturally smoked with the kiawe charcoal then covered with a wet canvas or burlap. It is then covered with dirt or sand for several hours (like a pressure cooker) until the meat falls off the bones. Liquid smokes gives it an artificial flavor IMO.

                  1. re: Clinton
                    KaimukiMan Apr 27, 2011 05:58 PM

                    absolutely agree with Hunt and Clinton, but building an imu on the floor of my condo really isn't an option. Liquid smoke may not be exactly on the mark, but it is close enough for 'everyday' use. And trust me, most of the kalua pork served in Honolulu, even at luaus, was never buried in a pit. The meat from the pig, if there is one, is mixed with pre-prepared oven cooked meat.

                    1. re: KaimukiMan
                      Bill Hunt Apr 27, 2011 07:12 PM

                      [Insert great big grin here - and so glad that I did not have a mouthful of red wine!]

                      K'man, I danged near lost it. Good points. Not sure if the Facilities Management at the hospital has EVER forgiven the chef, but the pit has been covered up, and planted over.


                      1. re: Bill Hunt
                        KaimukiMan Apr 27, 2011 08:08 PM

                        the church i attend used to dig an imu in the lawn of one of the members directly across the street. it was a sad day when the kids sold the house and the imu pit became the garage of a duplex. such is life. and the department of health doesn't make it easy to dig imu's, city reg's control open fires, neighbors complain about the smoke, etc. we even gave up on lau-lau several years ago. too much work, too many agencies, and the whole neighborhood smelled of kiawe smoke for a week. People who live a block away would go to work and their co-workers would say... oh, you live near Epiphany in Kaimuki, so does my auntie. Febreze can only do so much....

                        1. re: KaimukiMan
                          Bill Hunt Apr 27, 2011 08:24 PM

                          You know, there are some other things, that one could arrive at work, smelling like. Kiawe smoke is NOT all bad.


                          1. re: Bill Hunt
                            KaimukiMan Apr 28, 2011 12:25 AM

                            lol... so i guess you never read those threads about what goes in office microwaves.

                            but to a degree i do agree, there are worse things to smell like, unless of course there is no food to accompany the smell.....

                          2. re: KaimukiMan
                            manomin Apr 27, 2011 08:54 PM

                            Kailua H.S. is going a fund-raising imu coming up, I saw it in the paper today. They do it quite frequently and I think charge only $15.00 for your tray of food to be cooked.

                            1. re: manomin
                              Bill Hunt Apr 27, 2011 09:28 PM

                              Dang! Wish that I was on O`ahu for that.


                      2. re: Clinton
                        monku Apr 27, 2011 06:30 PM

                        Sounds so authentic. Friend of mine's in-laws make kalua pork commercially in Oahu in a bunch of cinder block pits in the ground.

                        Liquid Smoke is made from real smoke.

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