For those that aren’t familiar with kalua (ka-loo-ah) pork, it’s the Hawaiian way to cook a whole pig for large gatherings or lu’aus in the ground. Traditionally, the pig is cooked in an underground pit, called an imu (e-moo). However, since I’m not cooking a whole pig and an imu requires me to dig a whole the backyard, I’ll share with you an oven method to cook kalua pig.
This cooking preparation has basic seasonings and lets the pork flavor shine through. Of course, the pork is delicious on its own, but you could also add other ingredients to the leftovers (we always have leftovers) and make a whole new dish. You could add cabbage (pork & cabbage – another Hawaii favorite), make BBQ pulled pork sandwiches, stuff quesadillas, add to soups, and more.
Let’s get started…
First, line your roasting pan with foil. The pork will release a lot of liquids and this will make clean-up a lot easier.
*You can get frozen banana leaves at most Asian markets. If you can’t find banana leaves, eat some bananas and use the peels on top of the pork. Peels won’t give it quite the same flavor, but it is a decent substitute.*
Place the damp banana leaves in the pan in a cross pattern. You want this moisture to help steam the pork.
Leave enough of the leaves hanging over the sides to be able to wrap around the pork (think gift wrapping).
Slice a 1/4″ deep criss-cross pattern all over the pork. Space cuts approximately 1″ apart.
Sprinkle sea salt all over the pork and rub it in.
Pour liquid smoke on the pork and rub it in.
Wrap the banana leaves over pork.
Cover pan with foil and place in a 400F degree oven for one hour.
After one hour, drop the oven temperature to 275F degrees and cook for another 4 hours 30 minutes to 5hrs.
When done, let the pork sit for 30 minutes to cool down a little before shredding.
After 30 minutes, start shredding the pork. It should shred easily using two forks.
I usually take the pork out in chunks and shred it in another container.
Once the pork is shredded, there will be a lot of liquid (fat) in the pan. Take a few tablespoons (3-5 T.) and spoon onto your shredded pork.
This will help keep the pork moist and will add back some of the salt/liquid smoke flavor.
Heat water and sea salt on the stove until the salt is dissolved. Take a few spoonfuls and mix into the shredded pork to your taste.
This is just to add more salt flavor.
We like to eat Kalua Pork with rice and macaroni salad.
If you would like a taste of Hawaii without breaking a sweat, I hope you give this recipe a try and let me know how you like it. In fact, I’ve decided to dedicate the rest of the month to a few more favorite Hawaii recipes. So please check back 🙂
Kalua Pork Ingredients
- 5-6 lb pork butt
- 2 -3 T. Hawaiian salt or sea salt
- 2 T. liquid smoke
- 1-2 banana leaves (banana peels)
- 2 cups water + 2 T. Hawaiian salt
- 3-5 T. of pork liquid left in pan
Kalua Pork Directions
- Take a roasting pan and line with foil (for easy clean-up).
- Lay banana leaf in a criss-cross pattern in the pan, leaving enough overlap to be able to wrap over pork.
- Make criss-cross pattern all over the pork butt – 1/4″ deep and approximately 1″ apart.
- Rub 2-3 T. sea salt and 2 T. liquid smoke all over the pork.
- Wrap banana leaves over pork and seal pan with a foil.
- Place pan in 400F degree oven for one hour.
- After an hour, drop the temperature to 275F degrees and cook for another 4 hr. 30 min. – 5 hours. For a 5 lb. pork butt, cook approximately 4 1/2 hr and longer for a larger pork butt.
- Remove pan from oven and let it sit for 30 minutes.
- Remove chunks of the pork and start to shred with two forks.
- Add 3-5 T. of pan liquids into the shredded pork for moisture.
- Heat 2 cups of water and 2 T. sea salt on the stove. Stir to dissolve the salt.
- Add several spoonfuls of the salt water to the shredded pork to your taste.
- Serve with your favorite sides.
- Leftover pork can be frozen.
You could make this in a crock pot on low for 6.5 hours, but I prefer the oven method. The kalua pork just seems to shred better when it is done in the oven.