When on vacation or travelling to a new place, one of the first things people tend to do is find a place to eat. Sometimes the food is even the reason why a person travels within or out of the country in the first place. Thus, it makes sense that if you are travelling to a hotspot location like Hawaii, you are going to want to partake in the delicious native cuisine. If not, then what is the point of even making the trip? There is no fun to be had in travelling to a new place with new foods to try and just sticking to familiar dishes and fast food chains. So if you are heading to Hawaii, here is one food you should definitely try!
A staple of Hawaiian cuisine is kalua pig or kalua pork. Kalua is a way of cooking using an underground oven. This type of oven is called an imu in Hawaiian. Kalua pork is used in many Hawaiian dishes, whether in general meals found in restaurants, or eaten during special food occasions. However, in the far past, this dish was only served to Hawaiians of importance during feasts, such as chiefs or the king. This changed under King Kamehameha II who created the luau style feasts that would bring hundreds and even thousands of gatherers together to enjoy the kalua pork.
Today, people still enjoy the luxurious taste of this dish, even when it is not prepared in an imu, which some say is now a complicated way of preparing the dish because of the parameters the oven has to fit and the special ingredients needed. However, when travelling to Hawaii, you should still try to find authentically prepared kalua pork, if only for the experience of this once forbidden dish (though it may be hard to find a restaurant using an actual imu).
True kalua pig is made by using a whole pig or pork shoulder butt that is rubbed down with sea salt, wrapped up in a special type of leaf called ti leaves, and then slow cooked in an imu for true authenticity, or in any oven able to prepare the roast. When it is being prepared to be eaten, it has the appearance and consistency of pulled pork. It is often served on top of or with a side of steamed white rice, but a more authentic preparation of the dish can have poi (a paste-like product made of taro corm), lomi salmon, or fresh sliced cabbage. However, each place that serves it can provide its own spin on this Hawaiian classic dish.
It is safe to say that if you travel to Hawaii and leave without trying kalua pork, you have missed out on a delicious staple of Hawaiian cuisine. Many people search far and wide for the most authentic tasting kalua pork where they live in the United States, so if you are given the chance to try it natively-made, you better take that chance and eat to your heart’s content!
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