Cook N Bake Hawaiian Series: Kalua Pig

Rometti Cook N Bake Hawaiian Series Kalua Pig

In a few days we will be celebrating one of the biggest and oldest traditions, Christmas, so for our weekly Cook N Bake blog we picked a traditional Hawaiian recipe. If you don’t have a Christmas menu planned yet, this one perhaps could be a great idea for a Christmas dinner that your guest will remember for its originality: Kalua Pig.

In Hawaii a party with entertainment and food is called Luau, and Kalua Pig is one of the main dishes served for the occasion together with loom salmon, poke, and fruity desserts. In Hawaii Kalua pig is traditionally cooked in an underground oven called imu, which is an earthy oven, a dirt pit where koa wood is set (koa is a typical, local Hawaiian wood), and once the flames die out, a few rocks are placed on top of the imu in order to maintain the heat. Eventually the meat, after being seasoned, is also stuffed with hot rocks, wrapped in banana leaves, and placed in the imbue, which is covered then with a wet burlap, sand and soil. After seven hours the pig is usually fully cooked and at this point the meat is shredded and ready to serve. Its taste is very smoky and earthy. Such a great flavor can be reached with the addition of liquid smoke when you don’t have an actual imu, however as you may know, it won’t taste exactly the same.

Now, dear Reader, you are probably thinking now that you can’t cook a Kalua Pig without a pig, and without an imu. Well, yes you can! All you need is some pork, liquid smoke, a banana leaf and a few ti leaves. Make sure also to give yourself plenty of time because the meat will need to be slow cooked.

Serve the Kalua pig with rice, mashed potatoes, boiled cabbage.


4-5 lb Pork butt
2.5 tbsp Hawaiian salt (or Kosher salt)
2 tbsp liquid smoke
1 banana leaf (or 5 unreeled bananas will also do the trick)
4-6 leaves of ti (or aluminum foil)

Trim any excess fat from the roast. Make several shallow long cuts along the roast or pierce liberally with a fork. (This allows the salt and liquid smoke to penetrate the meat.) Rub with salt and liquid smoke. Wrap the roast with banana leaf or in the absence of same, place whole bananas on top of meat .
Cut the ribs from the ti leaves and wrap over the banana leaf. Substitute aluminum foil, if ti leaves are not available. (Ti leaves can often be obtained from a local florist). Tie securely with twine.

Roast in a 325-350 degree oven for about 45 minutes per pound. When meat is done, remove ti leaves, banana leaf (or bananas) and shred pork.


Recipe from Mel Tootoo’s Lu’au & Catering, NC.
Image from Seoul Taste