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May 2005


By Fran Kato

I love Hawai`i and when we go to Honolulu, I love to eat the local food. We go to the Rainbow Drive-in at least twice in a visit. We eat at ‘Ono Hawaiian Foods and Irifune Japanese restaurants. We eat at the Ala Moana Shopping Center in the food court. I buy musubi, either Spam or with ume so I can eat them in my hotel room. I also buy haupia cake and guava cake – yummmm. I buy malasadas at Leonard’s Bakery and shave ice with the azuki beans on Kapahulu Street too. On the Big Island, of course I love the pork chops at the Manago Hotel.

Here in Seattle, I like the Kauai Family Restaurant, Clara’s, L&L Barbecue and Kona Kitchen but don’t get to them very often. And last week I went to the Waimea Brewing Company in Kirkland.

My group of friends, around 12 people, has four who grew up in Hawaii: David Kusumoto and Ken Seno from Maui, Ralph Iboshi from Hilo and Sadami Ono from Kohala on the Big Island. When David made this for one of our parties, I had to have the recipe!


Kalua Pig in a Crockpot

3.5 – 4 lbs of pork butt (shoulder)
1-2 teaspoon liquid smoke
1-2 teaspoons Hawaiian/kosher salt

Put the pork in a crockpot, pour salt and smoke over and cook on high for six hours. At the end, finish it off in the oven at 400 degrees for ½ hour or until it browns a little and shreds easily. Salt to taste. Enjoy.

Fran has traveled to Hawai`i at least once a year for the past twenty years and likes to pretend she’s one of the locals (especially when she sees kama’aina rates!).   She loves the local food, warm weather, and casual lifestyle.


Fran’s recipe is an island favorite and we all love kalua pork. Today, we slow-cook it in a crockpot or in the oven, but if you’re lucky to attend a lū`au, you’ll eat kalua pig cooked the old-fashioned way, in an imu, wrapped with ti and banana leaf. Below are instructions for anyone inclined to dig an imu in the backyard to kalua your pig. Be sure to tell us what time da pig coming out. We’ll help…EAT! ~RdC


Kalua Pig

Kalua pig is the favorite way of serving pork at an old-fashioned luau.


Imu or underground oven:

Dig oblong hole 4 ½’ long by 3’ wide and 2 ½’ deep.
Make it larger if pig is large size.
Lay kindling in bottom.
Put long stick upright in center of imu. Lay firewood around it using 3-4 bags of wood.
Cover wood with imu (round, porous) stones, about 40-50, more if necessary.
Make a lighter by wrapping rag around end of long stick. Dip in kerosene. Light.
Remove center pole and light kindling through the hold.
Burn till wood becomes glowing coals and stones are very hot.


The pig:

1 pig dressed.

Slit between shoulders and ribs to backbone and up to head, being careful not to cut through the skin.
Rub 1 handful Hawaiian (coarse) salt in slits.
Rub 4 handfuls salt inside pig.
Put hot stones in slits and opu (abdomen) as many as they will hold.
Tie the 4 legs together.
Line a 4’x4’ piece of chicken wire with ti leaves. Place pig on it.
Then cover hot stones in imu (pit) with 4 banana trunks that have been cut 2’ long and crushed with blunt side of an axe.
Lay netting containing pig on banana stalks.
Cover with 2 dozen banana leaves or 6-8 dozen ti leaves.


Completely cover this with:

1 dozen burlap bags.
Cover bags with sand.
Allow pig to cook 2 ½ to 3 hours according to size.
Remove sand, bags, leaves and stones inside pig.
Put pig in large container.
Cut in generous servings. Serve at once.


From Kauai COOK BOOK, by KEKAHA PTA, 1954

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