The key to Kalua Pork is the long slow cooking process. Popular at Hawaiian Luaus, it is traditionally made by smoking a whole pig in a sand pit, but can be made at home using pork shoulder and cooked in a slow cooker/crock pot. So easy, and so delicious!
I made this Hawaiian style pulled pork for a family get together. I wanted to try a different recipe than my usual slow cooker pulled pork, and found lots of kalua pork recipes online. With just three ingredients I wasn’t sure how flavourful this was going to be, but wow was I wrong!
Kalua Pig is a main feature at Hawaiian Luaus, and a big tourist attraction because it is cooked using a whole pig. Kalua is a traditional Hawaiian cooking method that uses an underground oven called an imu. The imu is made by digging a large (6′ x 4′ x 3′) pit, and lighting a fire in it using koa wood. It is then layered with rocks which will retain the heat when the fire has burned down. When the rocks are hot, they are covered with banana leaves.
The pig is prepared by rubbing salt all over it, placing rocks inside the body cavity, and wrapped with more banana leaves. Once the pig is in the pit, it is covered with a wet burlap to provide even cooking and to retain moisture, and that is then covered with a layer of sand. When the pig is cooked, it is removed from the pit and shredded.
I’m pretty sure we aren’t going to be digging holes in our garden and roasting pigs in it, so it’s good that there is a recipe for kalua pork that can be made in the slow cooker! I love using my slow cooker for gatherings, because it means I can start the dish off and just forget about it for several hours.
I served the pork with my Tropical Rice Salad, and bread rolls, but you could also serve alongside plain rice, a macaroni salad, fresh coleslaw, a baked sweet potato, or just a regular green salad. It tastes good cold too, wrapped up in a tortilla with some lettuce and and coleslaw.
Pretty much every recipe I found online called for a specific ingredient which may be a bit tricky to source in the UK – liquid smoke.
Now, we had a bottle of this because I am the sort of person who when she goes on holiday to the USA goes grocery shopping to bring back American ingredients! Tesco sell a liquid smoke and barbecue sauce combo which isn’t really what you want for this recipe. But you never know, you might find plain liquid smoke down the World Foods aisle of your supermarket. If you can’t buy/find it, as a last resort throw in some smoked garlic (which I know you can buy in the UK) or some smoked bacon – it won’t be as authentic, but it’ll still be tasty!
All recipes called for salt – some specifically saying to use Hawaiian red salt. I guess you could sub it for Himilayan pink salt, which we seem to be able to buy in the UK these days. I just used regular table salt. Thanks to the magic of the internet these specialised ingredients can be bought online!
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- 2.5 kg pork shoulder, remove the thick layer of skin, but retain some of the fat
- 2 tbsp liquid smoke
- 2 tbsp salt
- Place the pork in the slow cooker and prick all over with a fork.
- Pour over the liquid smoke and then rub in the salt.
- Cook on low for 12+ hours.
- Pull apart and shred with two forks.
Mesquite liquid smoke will provide a more authentic taste, but you can use hickory if you have that. If you can get a hold of Hawaiian Red Salt, and grind it, use that instead of regular table salt.
Read next » 50 Recipe for a Hawaiian Tropical Party
Looking for more Hawaiian recipes? Check out: Slow Cooker Hawaiian Pulled Pork
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