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Hawaiian Kalua Pig Experiences?

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Aloha, I, being a chef, am always interested in your experiences in preparing food for your lu'aus and tikifests...Lord knows you have all demonstrated how capable a bunch you are with the libations,( surely the only food some of you need,:lol:,) but I wondered what kind of pupus you serve...( I am always available to help with tips and recipes for you guys,)....but making your own kalua (imu-baked) pig is a time consuming deal, but it is always a piece de resistance...and generates such great stories, friendships, and hangovers...So, fork over the stories! Grey

Here's a very easy recipe for Kalua pig that can be made in a crock pot:
Get a 5 lb pork shoulder or pork butt (or larger depending on the size of your crock pot), salt and pepper it, throw it in the crock, pour half a cup of apple cider over the meat, then pour a cap full of liquid smoke on it. Cover and cook on low for nine hours.
I like to serve the meat over rice, or make sandwiches using King's Hawaiian Sweetbread rolls.

Well, sometimes I find it's easier to just go buy Kalua pork. I love sushi but I'm not going to make it as well as my favorite place (Sushi Momo - Fullerton, CA).

So I usually go to a great place in Huntington Beach called The Loft.

We've made Kalua pork a few times, using a recipe Maggie found online. It's awesome and my mouth waters every time I think about it...

You take that big 'ol pork butt and cover it in a mixture of a couple tablespoons of liquid smoke and a couple tablespoons of coarse sea salt. Wrap it tightly in heavy duty foil and seal it good. Roast it in a slow (325) oven for about 5 hours. It shreds easily, and when it's shredded add another tablespoon or so of salt. It's easy and SO good! Find some really good liquid smoke to use for best results. I hear banana leaves can be had to wrap the pork in before you wrap in foil, but haven't tried it...


Has anyone here actually tried to cook a pig in an imu? It seems like a lot of work, but it would be pretty impressive.

Oh, yes. I have...and there is nothing like it....I'm an old Southern Boy (NC) and I grew up watchin' the menfolk in my family do it Southern style...in the ground with a corrugated metal roof over it...sitting up all night, drinkin beer in lawn chairs, basting occasionally...and so it's not such a far reach for me to do it Hawaiian style...but when I lived in Maui I found out I love Kalua pig...but the thing with Hawaiian style is that you cover it all up and take it out hours later...much easier, but it lacks the festive, drunken, party atmostphere that is necessary while cooking it Southern style...only afterwards do you party with a lu'au pig...Grey

As one who attended a few backyard luau's in da islands, I can certify that imu cooking does include the drunken, festive, party atmosphere you described both before and after the pig is put in the ground. Also, you may be interested to know that Primo beer was the beverage of choice in the 60's and 70's, not Mai-Tai's. I think you are confusing the tourist luau with the da kine luau. Maybe beer drinking and pig roasting is a southern thing, no matter if you're in South Carolina or the South Pacific :)

I remember going to Oahu in 1979, buying a 6-pack of Primo Beer (drinking age was 18 then) and noticing on the can that Primo Beer was brewed on the mainland by Miller.

Primo used to be brewed somewhere in downtown Honolulu. They had a restaurant/bar called Primo Gardens and my friend's mother had a hula show that performed there, so we got to go along, which was very cool. (I mean the girls, not the bar even though we snuck some beers).
Anyway, even at that time the beer was acquiring a bad reputation and after awhile it couldn't compete with the imports. (Anyone remember the radio commercials for San Miguel Beer... "There we were, surfing the Banzai Pipeline on the north shore of Oahu. Afterwards we had a San Miguel. It tasted Good!. San Miguel. Internationally famous. Of course." The of course part was done by a girl with an incredibly sexy voice.)
Regardless, here is the deal on Primo's demise.... And oh yeah, everyone used to leave cases of the stuff on the curb at Christmas time for the rubbish men.

Andrew Gomes PBN Staff Reporter, 1998

The world's largest contract brewer, Detroit, Mich.-based Stroh Brewery
Co., has been unable to find a way to viably keep making Hawaii's oldest beer, Primo.

Unhappy anniversary

Just short of 100 years in production, a run
originated by Honolulu Brewing & Malting Co.
Ltd. in 1898, Primo was brewed for the last time in November and should
completely disappear from
Hawaii shelves by May.

Stroh, which had been
making the once-popular
beer in Long-view, Texas, for years, was unable to stop sliding demand for the product, which in turn made production unfeasible.

Volume in Hawaii had fallen from a peak of around 12,000 cases a month to 1,200 cases a month, according to Dave Dolim, supervisor at Primo's local distributor Paradise Beverages, which has represented Primo for well over a decade. He said Stroh worked different angles trying to increase volume,
including making the beer available in parts of California and on Cape Cod,Mass., as far back as 1986. Primo was even sold in Japan for awhile. Other attempts were made in Oklahoma, Texas and Colorado. "It just wasn't working," Dolim said.
Hawaii has always been the largest market
for Primo. And in 1996 when Stroh, the
nation's fourth-largest brewing company,
acquired the nation's fifth-largest brewing
company, G. Heileman Brewing Co. Inc., there were plans to move production of
Primo to a G. Heileman plant in either Portland or Seattle to reduce shipping
But anemic volume and a lack of room at the West Coast breweries ruled out the change that may have sustained Primo.
"The brewery did do their best trying to get the volume up," Dolim said.
One factor in the ailing demand for Primo seems to have been bottle color.
Brown = bad, green = good
Over its history, Primo has changed a few times between brown and green glass. Dolim said when Stroh changed from brown to green bottles in 1985 and a new long-neck shape in 1986, sales rocketed up to 12,000 cases a month in Hawaii. Volume tapered off sharply when the company switched back to brown bottles in 1990-91 for beer stability reasons. (Sunlight, which is better blocked by brown glass, can disturb beer freshness.)
The theory is local beer drinkers were those without much money to spend, those who saw Heineken and Steinlager in green bottles wanted premium-like beer for an economical price. "They figure green is green," Dolim said.
Primo retails for somewhere in the $4-something to $5-something price range for a six pack with occasional specials as low as $3-something. Dolim said there was a move to change back to green bottles in the plan to brew Primo on the West Coast. Alas, the suds never got a chance.
Walter Wong Yuen, whose brother runs the Wong Yuen Store in Waiohinu, near the southern tip of the Big Island, is said to have one of the greatest Primo beer bottle collections around.
Wong Yuen said he has a bottle with the first label used as well as ones with numerous different labels as changes were made over the last 99 years.
"I better get the last one," he said.
Aloha oe "It's sad of course," said Hoku Swartman, secretary of the local microbrewery Alii Brewing Co. "But they lost their tie to Hawaii, and that's what made themgreat."
Swartman said islander loyalty was something that diminished gradually after brewing was moved to the Mainland decades ago.
"They lost that Hawaiian connection," he said.
Mattson Davis, general manager of Kona Brewing Co., said the overall beer market has shrunk over the last 10 years. Fewer consumers and more micro breweries were a couple factors leading brewing giants like Stroh to pick winners and losers among their labels.
Dolim said Stroh held negotiations with all four Hawaii micro breweries in an attempt to continue the brewing of Primo and return it to its Hawaii-made status. But Hawaii's fledgling micro breweries are trying to focus on viability and growth of their own operations.
"It doesn't really fit with the portfolio of hand-crafted beer," Davis said. "[Stroh] certainly made a go of trying to get it back to being brewed in Hawaii," Dolim said, adding the company was willing to offer a subsidy and lend the label to a Hawaii brewer while retaining brewing control and product rights. He also said Stroh was not necessarily concerned with making money.
Primo was a drop in a bucket for Stroh. Forbes Inc. ranked the brewery, factoring in the G. Heileman operation, No. 113 in its top 500 private companies with estimated 1996 revenue of $1.35 billion and operating profits of $35 million.
Founded in 1850 by Bernard Stroh, the company remains family-owned and distributes beers including Stroh's, Old Milwaukee, Schlitz, Schaefer, Special
Export, Old Style, Rainier, Henry Weinhard, Schmidt's, Lone Star,Champale, Colt 45 and Mickey's to more than 70 countries.
Stroh acquired Primo in 1982 in the purchase of the Jos. Schlitz Brewing Co.
Reformulating the recipe, featuring a replica of a 1904 label and launching a
new promotional campaign, the company had hoped to restore the beer to its former stature. Right now there are no plans to do anything with rights to the beer, although
theoretically Primo could be revived at a later time, which is something at least
Dolim would like to see.

Copyright 1998 American City Business Journals Inc. it.

According to Trader Vic, Kalua Roast Pork uses both 2-3 Bannana leaves and 5-6 Ti leaves. -T

Geoff,...oh, I've seen many pigs done in Hawaii...hell, I lived just three blocks away from the Old Lahaina Lu'au in Maui...those guys really did it traditionally...and some mornings I'd amble over and help them if I could...I even helped the guy that pounded poi the old fashioned way...so whenever my friends would have a baby lu'au or something, I'd get paid to recreate the whole affair...but, hell, I'd still drink beer, but my favorite was named ALI'I Ale...which I thought was da bes'damned beer on da islands...I don't know if they still make it...do you remember that beer? Grey

Nah, I lived there from 1969 to 1975 and was 16 when we moved away. I don't think the microbrews were happening then. Did you smoke any Pakalolo with your pig?

Aloha, Geoff! You know I did...mostly what was given to me...Too scared to mess with the cane spiders to get myself some...If I was gonna spend money on it...I'd get some Puna Butter from da Big Island...made my head run soft lik t'ree finger poi!..you know da kine! I'm slowly working my way back to Maui, though...great place to raise keikis when I get ready...Mahalo, Grey

Pakalolo works really well with just about any tropical drink. I'm surprised it hasn't been listed as an ingredient in previous posts.
Slowly working your way back to Maui... I have visions of you cooking your way across country, grilling steak burgers at roadside diners, slinging hash on a tramp steamer, Shanghaied in Shanghai, etc... but I notice you use the name Chef, instead of Cookie.
I wonder how many of us long to actually live in the islands (quite a few, I bet)? Or is the fantasy better than the reality for some of us?

Yeah, Geoff...toasted and powdered on the rim...nice touch, huh! Some sort of Alice B. Toklas Brownie Shooter? B-52 with da kine?
Yeah, that's me...I pretty much have cheffed my way around...your description is not far off...Except I worked in a British Pub in Hong Kong for a month, not Shanghai...But heads up, I might be moving to Florida in a year to open up a restaurant for this group of investors...then they are thinking about Australia...maybe I can talk them into Maui.

No, Living in Hawaii is the ultimate...just wished I'd have realized it when I lived there, then I wouldn't be here in VT pining for it...then again, I probably wouldn't be such a tikiphile if I lived there...go figure...Grey

forgive an ignorant Brit here -- I'm assuming that liquid smoke is some kind of barbecue-syle marinade. Don't suppose anyone knows (a) if it's available in the UK; (b) if not, what is available here that would work as a substitute? I'd love to have a crack at this.

Aloha! I used to live in London...I was a pastry chef in South Ken...and I would imagine it to be available...if you can't find it at your local grocer...then ask your butcher...otherwise, look on the internet...look for LIQUID SMOKE...it is not a sauce, rather a flavouring...much like vanilla extract. Hope this helps...Grey

On 2002-08-31 10:14, theandrewssister wrote:
Don't suppose anyone knows (a) if it's available in the UK; (b) if not, what is available here that would work as a substitute?

we couldn't find it. actually had em's parents bring some over when they visited.

talk w/ em for more of the scoop.

let us know if you ever find some here.

btw, happy birthday!

On 2002-08-31 10:51, chefgrey2 wrote:
...I was a pastry chef in South Ken...and I would imagine it to be available...

where'd ya work? i live in south ken!

Aloha! I used to work at a French pastry shop called Patisserie du San Quentin...I was in London a year ago and it was no longer there..it has become a coffee shop...it was across from the Michelin building, somewhat...the French restaurant of the same name is still nearby...across from the Bromptom Oratory...I lived two floors above that...God, I loved London! Grey

On 2002-08-31 10:14, theandrewssister wrote:
forgive an ignorant Brit here -- I'm assuming that liquid smoke is some kind of barbecue-syle marinade.

In answer to your question, liquid smoke is, basically, bong water made with wood instead of weed. I called one of the manufacturers once 'cause I was curious how they make it. They have a big burning vat in which they place the desired wood (hickory is the popular choice) and they burn the sood, while pulling the smoke through a tank of distilled water. Apart from some preservatives, that's pretty much it - smoke flavored water. But it's magic stuff, to be sure!


I did the liquid smoke/crock pot method over the week-end. I also squeezed in a fresh orange and tossed in the shell, along with a clove of garlic, and Salt and Pepper. 9 hours later, it was shredded and served on Kings sweet hawaiian rolls. Tasty!

go to http://www.foodtv.com right now and look under Food 911 they have a recipie for Kalua pig which I've personally tested and it turned out great.

Aloha, pig afficianados! I'm looking to find someone (Hawaiian caterer?) who'll come out and prepare a whole pig for an event in the Northern San Francisco Bay Area. Any tips would be appreciated. Post here or feel free to e-mail me at [email protected] Mahalo!

-Weird Uncle Tiki


You might check out Hukilau's catering service:


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