Believe it or not, I’ve never had kalua pig. Or if I have, I don’t remember it. So I looked up a recipe. Pork butt, salt, liquid smoke, low heat, and time. When I make pork at home I use a rub with I-don’t-know-what-all in it. Chile powder, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, kosher salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper… maybe some other things. I’d have to look it up. And since I don’t have a smoker, I cook it low-and-slow in the oven with a bit of Stubb’s liquid smoke. So kalua pork is pulled pork seasoned with salt, and pulled pork is kalua pork with a lot more in the rub – plus BBQ sauce on the side, and coleslaw.
Have I got that right? How is kalua pig traditionally served?
You need to find a (good) hawaiian barbeque place to sample kahlua pig. That recipe seems to be missing teriyaki sauce as a marinade. Most of the kahlua pig I’ve had has had some teriyaki flavoring to it (how much varies greatly, though). My thinking is that kahlua pig is like “hawaiian carnitas”: marinated (teriyaki) pork that is slow cooked.
It is typically served over cabbage, but I also like it served on (white) rice.
Yes to serving it with cabbage. Japanese rice on the side, plus some sort of tropical fruit: papaya halves served with lime wedges, or pineapple, or mango slices.
And if you have leftover pork, you can chop it with cold cooked potatoes and onions, and fry them all together in a pan to make kalua pig hash for breakfast with over-easy eggs. Beware: it’s majorly addicting.
A Hawaiian place? I NW Washington? Ahahahahaha! There’s a ‘Hawaiian’ place in Bellingham that I went to once. Once. Basically Chinese fast-food with more pineapple in it. There’s Ohana in Belltown, which I liked, but my office is no longer in Belltown so I’d have to drive and find parking, and take a long lunch.
Of the recipes I randomly looked at, none of them mentioned teriyaki or marinating. Just deadpig, salt, liquid smoke, and (optionally) banana leaves.
So… Is it mixed into the cabbage? Served on top? Beside it? Or, on* the rice?
Thank you for mentioning papayas. I’ve been meaning to get one. Half a papaya with lemon juice, an English muffin with margarine and Vegemite on it, and a cuppa tea is a great breakfast that I should eat more often.
And we like pineapples in our house. And I want a mango.
I’m from Hawaii and have had kalua pork many times, including once when I was 8 when I ate so much it came back out. (Totally worth it.)
Traditional Hawaiian kalua pig is made with pork, Hawaiian salt, and liquid smoke. It’s wrapped in ti (or banana) leaves and steamed in an underground oven for many hours. That’s it.
I’ve seen recipes with teriyaki sauce, soy sauce, other sources of sweetness and salt. No. It’s just coarse salt, liquid smoke, and pork, shredded. Fruit and cabbage are garnish and not required. Anything else is making it more complicated than it has to be and changes it into something it isn’t.
Johnny, can you make it to Lynnwood? There’s a place there called Bobby’s Hawaiian. I’ve never been there, but I saw it featured on Food Network and it seemed decent. Here’s the menu.
There is another option in Lynnwood.L & L Hawaiian Barbeque. I can’t vouch for authenticity, but I like their Kalua Pork. They serve it with cabbage, sticky rice, and in the weirdly Hawaiian tradition, mac and cheese. I used to get it on Kauai and a portion would last two meals.
It would at least give you a starting point for appearance and taste.
I lived in Hawaii a long, long time ago, and never got to try the whole “Pig wrapped in banana/taro leaves and roasted slowly underground with hot coals and stones”. I’d really love to try it, but not as a part of a touristy luau, but with a local family that invited me, preferably on Molokai.
Your Hawaii cred is better than mine (I’ve been nothing but a very part-time resident since 2002, though I’m moving there full-time soon) but while your recipe is consistent with what I know, I disagree that “anything else is making it more complicated than it has to be.” A plate lunch from L&L with kalua pig and cabbage is to die for. Most of my seemingly authentic Hawaii cookbooks offer up some variation of kalua pig and cabbage dishes, too - it’s a great combination.
I’ve seen kalua pig in few contexts: catered for a wedding, at a touristy luau, a traditional Hawaiian food restaurant, and in a plate lunch. It was only in the plate lunch that the cabbage was there, automatically, every time. For the catering and the luau, the pork was presented in a pan, no cabbage underneath nor on the side. The restaurant had it two ways: without cabbage, and mixed with cabbage. So I lean toward it being optional.