In the last few weeks, one crock pot recipe keeps popping up on my radar and disrupting my calm: "Hawaiian chicken" and its variants. Three guesses which spiky tropical fruit is a key ingredient in these recipes. Mm-hm.
It's the last day of January, and most people have probably given up on their original New Year's resolutions, but let's try a new one. In 2015, let's all stop calling food "Hawaiian" just because it's pineapple-adjacent. Pineapple on food does not make it Hawaiian. Just stop.
Do you want to make Hawaiian food that actual Hawaiians eat? Bust out your crock pot and let's rock.
Kalua pork with cabbage is the quintessential Hawaiian dish. Someone always brings it to our hula halau potlucks, and there's never any left over. It's super easy to make, only has four ingredients, and it is YUMMALICIOUS.
It only gets more tender the longer you cook it, so it can go low and slow for up to 12 hours. Honestly, the hardest thing about this recipe is leaving the pork alone to cook. Dusty and I take turns yelling at each other to stay away from the pot as it cooks all day, filling the entire house with its delicious aroma.
Kalua Pork with Cabbage
Prep Time: ~10 minutes
Cook Time: ~8-12 hours
4 lbs boneless pork butt
2 tbsp sea salt (You can use Hawaiian sea salt, but it's not mandatory.)
1 tbsp liquid smoke
1 small head cabbage, shredded
- Using a fork, poke holes all over the pork butt.
- Rub salt and smoke all over that butt. (Stop snickering.)
- Place the pork in the crock pot, turn the heat to LOW, and wait.
- About 30 minutes before serving your meal, separate the fat from the meat with a fork. At this point, the pork should be fall-apart tender.
- About 15 minutes before serving your meal, put the shredded cabbage into the pot. Mix the cabbage in with the juices.
- Serve over steamed jasmine rice.
You have a perfectly awesome meal already, but you can easily expand it into a Hawaiian plate lunch. A basic plate lunch usually has two scoops rice, two scoops mac salad, poi and/or lomi salmon, and a main dish like kalua pork. Sometimes it also has ahi poke (POH-kay), which is usually served as a pupu or appetizer. Our version of plate lunch definitely includes poke.
When I first got this poke recipe from one of my hula sisters, her instructions were, "Put a little of each thing, taste, put a little more, taste again, put a little more until it tastes good." After a couple of trials, this is the basic recipe we like, but you can put a little of each thing, taste, put a little more, taste again, put a little more until it tastes good to you.
Basic Ahi Poke
Prep Time: ~20 minutes
Chill Time: ~2 hours minimum
4 cups sashimi-grade tuna, cubed
1/2 cup yellow onion, minced
1/2 cup green onion, minced
1/2 cup soy sauce
2 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
- Mix all ingredients together gently, taking care not to smush the fish.
- Chill for at least two hours before serving.
- Try not to eat all of it in one sitting. Leave some for your beloved spouse. (This is more for me and Dusty, but it may apply to you.)