The thing I miss most about Hawaii is the food.
Hawaii’s local cuisine includes an array of dishes influenced by Hawaiian, Chinese, Japanese, Filipino, Portuguese, and other styles of cooking.
In my humble opinion, nothing beats a traditional Hawaiian meal, or “luau food” as it is often referred to. And while it’s true that you can go to any hotel in Hawaii and enjoy a luau (complete with Polynesian dancers wearing coconut bras) for a hefty price of $50, the real luau experience is found in the weddings, graduations and 1st birthday parties celebrated by the locals. For these events, it is commonplace for a family to rent out a community center building for the day, involve at least 20 moms/grandmas/aunties in the meal preparation, hire a local Hawaiian band, and invite 200 guests for a food-filled extravaganza. If you ever visit Hawaii, let me know so I can hook you up with a true luau to crash. The locals are always hospitable and welcoming to strangers who appreciate their food!
This week I prepared a traditional Hawaiian meal for a few of my students. The meal included kalua pig, steamed white rice, lomi salmon, chicken long rice, Hawaiian sweet bread, pineapple, and haupia.
Since I didn’t feel like digging a hole in my backyard to cook the kalua pig the way it’s meant to be done, I used my beloved slow cooker. This recipe is so simple, yet produces the most moist, smoky tasting pork. You can find different kinds of Hawaiian sea salt at Trader Joe’s. I recommend cooking it for 17 hours (which creates a delicious smell in the house), and using all the drippings. The end result is a fantastic kalua pig that the aunties would be proud of.
Slow Cooker Kalua Pig
1 6-pound pork butt roast
1 1/2 tablespoon Hawaiian sea salt
1 tablespoon Liquid Smoke
Pierce pork all over with a carving fork. Rub salt then liquid smoke over meat. Place roast in a slow cooker. Cover, and cook on Low for 16 to 20 hours, turning once during cooking time. Remove meat from slow cooker, and shred, adding drippings as needed to moisten. Serves 12.