Kalua Pig is a classic Hawaiian style preparation using banana leaves and pink salt for a juicy and delicious pulled pork.
Kalua Pig with Hawaiian-Style BBQ Sauce
by Sue Lau | Palatable Pastime
I’m still waiting for the warm weather of Spring to arrive and stay put.
We bought pepper plants today and still will have to coddle them indoors in a small greenhouse area to keep them safe. Other warm weather loving plants for the garden are going to have to wait. And while we wait, my mind wanders to the sunny tropical shores of Hawaii.
Alaea Salt, Black Pepper and Banana Leaves
This Sunday, as part of a group of bloggers who post fun-themed recipes as a group in the Sunday Supper Movement on the same day, we are all dreaming of tropic shores collectively.
And for my selection, I wanted to try Kalua Pig, a Hawaiian style pork recipe usually roasted in an open pit (Also called a “lua”) (from ka•lua to cook in a pit). So if you were wondering, this roast pork dish has nothing to do with kahlua at all, which is a coffee flavored liqueur. And in fact, lua forms part of the more commonly known word “luau” which we all know as the fabulous shindig of barbecues that Hawaiians specialize.
Traditionally, these pits are dug into the ground and lined with heated volcanic rocks and pork (sometimes whole suckling pig, but for home use we chose to do a pork roast Boston butt). The pork is wrapped in banana and taro leaves and other island vegetation and roasted at a slow temperature for a very long time.
The pork itself is simply seasoned with a type of coarse Hawaiian pink salt called alaea. You can find that at specialty stores or buy it on the internet. It has a complex flavor and is not quite as salty as other salt types, so it can’t be substituted for on an equal basis (cut back on normal coarse salt).
I cooked this pork roast in an electric smoker with burning wood chips, If you can find them, I have seen orange smoking chips available, but you may be limited on choice. Choose fruity ones over types such as mesquite or hickory. I also used fresh banana leaves (you might be able to find those frozen as well) tied with twine (I had nothing else, but it worked well.) If you can’t find banana leaves at all, you can use foil by itself or baste the meat with a mop of pineapple juice, but some of the flavor won’t be there, since the banana does impart that. I did see a recipe for kalua pork somewhere that asked users to supplement with a banana (the fruit). I don’t recommend that. The bananas don’t taste like banana leaves and it isn’t why the leaves are used anyway. They are there to keep the meat moist.
After the pork is cooked and has time to rest and cool down somewhat, the fat is trimmed away and the meat is shredded as you would any type of pulled pork. You can do this with your fingers, shred it with two forks, or chop it with meat cleavers.
I have mixed up a tempting Hawaiian style barbecue sauce to go with my pork, and it is delicious spooned over the meat on a warm bun. You can even add a little coleslaw to your bbq sandwich if you prefer. I like mine without slaw, but sometimes serve it on the side. Hawaiian baked beans also make a good side dish. In my case I served it with pineapple chunks and home made poi (mashed taro root) which I made in a nontraditional style with flavorings I felt improved that side dish greatly (I’ll post it soon!)
I do hope you enjoy this and scroll down further in the post to see a full listing of SSM tropical recipes for this week which you should be able to enjoy in the spirit of aloha.
Until next time-
- 1 (5-pound) pork shoulder Boston butt roast
- 3 fresh banana leaves (or if frozen, thawed)
- 2 tablespoons coarse Pink Hawaiian Alaea salt
- 1 tablespoon cracked black pepper
- kitchen twine
- aluminum foil
Other optional ingredients:
- Hawaiian style barbecue sauce (see recipe below)
- sandwich buns
- cole slaw (may I recommend poppyseed slaw?)
- orange or other fruit flavored smoking chips
- Allow roast to come to room temperature.
- Rub roast on all sides with a mixture of alaea pink salt and cracked black pepper.
- Wrap roast in banana leaves and secure with twine.
- Wrap banana leaf-wrapped roast in foil and puncture with a fork all over to make many vent holes (this keeps the banana leaves from drying out and burning).
- Roast at 275ºF. in a smoker, oven, or grill with indirect heat until temperature reaches 185ºF., and allow meat to rest and the internal temperature rise to 190ºF.
- When meat is cool enough to handle, trim fat and shred meat.
- Serve meat on buns with Hawaiian style bbq sauce, if desired.
from the kitchen of palatablepastime.com
Hawaiian Style BBQ Sauce
Yield: 1 cup
Multiply this out for however much you want to make, makes one cup. Since I make my sauces fresh, I don’t like too much leftover.
- 8 ounces tomato sauce
- 6 ounces pineapple juice
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon grated ginger root
- 1 tablespoon Aloha brand Hawaiian soy sauce or dark sweet soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 2 teaspoons liquid smoke (hickory)
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- 2 teaspoons Sriracha chili sauce (optional)
Cook’s note: Hawaiian brands of soy sauce are generally sweeter; use Hawaiian or dark sweet soy sauce or supplement ordinary soy sauce or tamari with a little brown sugar to taste)
- Mix together ingredients in a saucepan and simmer over low heat until mixture reduces to one cup, about 20-25 minutes total.
from the kitchen of palatablepastime.com
You might also like:
No-Mayo Slaw with Poppyseed Dressing
Hawaiian Brown Sugar Glazed Ham
Celebrating recipes that remind of us the warm trade wind breezes of the tropics.
As part of the Sunday Supper Movement, I and a host of other food bloggers are pleased to present to you some of our favorite tropical recipes to enjoy and prepare for you and your families and friends while enjoying the warmer weather and perhaps the spirit of aloha.
Special thanks to Marlene of Nosh My Way with Cindy of Cindy’s Recipes and Writings for graciously hosting this event and working so hard to make sure all the I’s are dotted and T’s are crossed. It’s a big group and a ton of work to keep all together! Thanks so much.
And now on to the recipes! Check out as many recipes as you would like and be sure to pin those to have for later.
Tidbits and Pupus
- Chicken and Lemongrass Sugarcane Skewers by Jane’s Adventures in Dinner
- Coconut crusted Tofu with Spicy Mango Cucumber Topping by Soni’s Food
- Larp (Laos chicken salad) by Caroline’s Cooking
- Midwest Style Loco Moco by Our Good Life
- Tropical Sunrise Fruit Salad with Coconut Chia Cream by Cupcakes & Kale Chips
- Caribbean Black Beans with Rice by A Day in the Life on the Farm
Condiments and Sauces
- Thai Sweet Chili Sauce by Magnolia Days
- Cilantro Margarita by An Appealing Plan
- Coconut Mojito by Flour On My Face
- Pineapple Upside Down Cake Cocktail by Hezzi-D’s Books and Cooks
- Strawberry Lava Flow by Nosh My Way
- Bali Spicy Grilled Fish – Ikan Bakar Jimbaran by Food Lust People Love
- Crockpot Hawaiian Pulled Pork by Fantastical Sharing of Recipes
- Grilled Jerk Shrimp Roll with Tropical Fruit Slaw by Food Done Light
- Grilled Swordfish with Pineapple Salsa by Cooking Chat
- Kalua Pig by Palatable Pastime
- Mango Barbecued Pork Chops by A Kitchen Hoor’s Adventures
- Mango Lime Fajitas by Curious Cuisiniere
- Pineapple Pork by Basic N Delicious
- Catibias o Cativias (Dominican Yucca Empanadas) by The Petit Gourmet
- Shrimp Salad with Avocado Ranch Dressing by Cindy’s Recipes and Writings
- Slow Cooker Kalua Pork Tacos by Bobbi’s Kozy Kitchen
- Tropical Chicken Burgers by Momma’s Meals
- Whole Roasted Bream with a Ginger-Tamarind Sauce by Culinary Adventures with Camilla
- Seven Layer Bars by That Skinny Chick Can Bake
- Tropical Sunshine Cake by Lifestyle Food Artistry
- Double Ginger Cookies by Pies and Plots
- Majarete Ice Cream by Sew You Think You Can Cook
- Mini Mango Cheesecakes by The Freshman Cook
- Pineapple Blueberry Ooey Gooey Cake by Recipes Food and Cooking
- Pumpkin-Coconut Biscotti by What Smells So Good?
- Tropical Fruit Salad by The Redhead Baker
- Tropical Layered Poke Cake by Daily Dish Recipes
- Ube Panna Cotta by The Joyful Foodie
- Whole Wheat Mango Coconut Bars by Peanut Butter and Peppers
- Wine Pairings
- The Best Wines to Pair with Tropical Food #SundaySupper by ENOFYLZ Wine Blog
This looks delicious Sue and it is always something I have wanted to make! Pinned and shared and hope you’ll share it at the party!
Thanks Joanne! 🙂
Congratulations! Excellent work – thank you for the recipe of the Hawaiian sauce
Thank you. Hope you like it!
Now to just find some banana leaves and I’m ready to cook this awesome pork!
I hope you like it! 🙂
This is perfect!! I love kalua pork.
Oh, my gosh, Sue, your photos are making my mouth water! What an amazing dish.
Oh my!!!! This just looks amazing! I’ve never used banana leaves before — now I can try it! Thanks!
I never cooked with banana leaves. Does it change the flavor?
Yes, it does a little bit. 🙂
Beautiful pork! Your bbq sauce sounds wonderful, too.
I’m so impressed that you made this in such a traditional way! I wouldn’t have the patience to find banana leaves.
SOmetimes they are very easy to find in Asian grocery stores. Check the freezer section!
Kalua pig is one of my favorites! My mom used to make a wonderful version, but it has been years since I’ve had it. I need to try your recipe!
Thanks! I hope it is every bit as good as hers. 🙂
I remember eating this pork in Hawaii. It was so good.
Oh my!I love everything about this recipe!The banana leaves must give so much flavor and that bbq sauce looks to die for!!Will be making this for sure 🙂
Hope you enjoy!
You can come cook my dinner anytime! Yum!
I always make our makeshift Kalua Pig in the slow cooker because we didn’t have a smoker. My brothers just made a smoker, though, so now I’m super excited to try it smoked!
It’s very easy as long as you keep the temp in there steady. I hope you enjoy!
Great minds think alike hehe gotta love that Kalua pork 🙂 Your sandwich looks delicious!!
Thanks Bobbi! We do love the bbq, don’t we? 😀
Your pulled pork looks fabulous Sue! I think you’re right, a Zin or a Pet would be amazing with this dish!
Thank you! But any wine is good as long as you like it! 🙂
I can not wait to try this! What an amazing recipe! I see that you live in Cincinnati. I grew up in Milford, but I haven’t lived there for many years. It’s nice to meet you and find your blog!
Thanks! We were just over in Milford last week trying to look at some antiques but got there a bit late. I love antique and retro kitchen things and that town has a few shops I want to check out! Thanks for stopping by!
The pit used to cook the kalua pork is called an “IMU”.
LUA is commonly used to mean toilet.
Kalua – “to cook in an underground oven.”
Kalua pork – “Pork baked underground.”