It started with a tweet from @ShareYourTable, and a fuzzy shot of a brownie from The Pineapple Room, Alan Wong’s “ladies-who-lunch” spot tucked in the back of Macy’s in Waikiki’s tony Ala Moana Shopping Center.
I tweeted back that the best reason to hop a plane to Honolulu was The Pineapple Room’s Kalua “BLT.”
Or maybe the black rock and white sand beaches, or a mai tai on the Halekulani patio, but no, no, really, that pork is worth the trip alone. And voila! The next tweet I got was a link to Share Your Table’s oven-roasted Kalua Pork.
As luck would have it, I had a pork roast in the fridge that was destined for a little achiote paste and sour orange juice, a la cochinita pibil, but I thought, maybe I could do a little Hawaiian hula instead.
Kalua pork, the centerpiece at so many Hawaiian celebrations, is just another version of pulled pork, like the Yucatan’s cochinita pibil or Southern BBQ pulled pork.
I happened to have a jar of Hawaiian pink salt, called Alaea, a sea salt that gets its pinkish hue from the red clay where it’s harvested.
I didn’t have the banana leaves the recipe called for to wrap the pork, although these days they aren’t hard to hunt down. Check in the freezer section (or even in the fresh produce section) of Latin or Asian markets.
I did have a bottle of liquid smoke on hand, a subject that was tweeted back and forth last week, namely “what the heck is it and is it safe to eat?” (Here’s the answer.)
Armed with the essential ingredients, I set about recreating the Kalua Pork recipe from @ShareYourTable, with a few minor adjustments to accommodate what I had on hand, and now, I’m sharing it with you.
I have to confess that I modified the key ingredient — the pork.
Kalua pork is made with pork butt (also called picnic shoulder). It’s a gloriously fat-laden hunk of swine, but I had a top loin roast in the fridge so that’s what I used. It probably resulted in a slightly drier end product, but I can tell you that it is still lip-smacking delicious.
Oven-Roasted Kalua Pork
(adapted from Share Your Table)
2-1/2 pounds top sirloin pork roast (or, for real decadence, pork butt)
1 tablespoon of Hawaiian Pink Alaea salt (or sea salt or kosher salt)
2 cups water
2 tablespoons liquid smoke
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Heat the oven to 500°F. Rub the pork with the salt and place in a roasting pan. Mix the water and liquid smoke together and pour into the pan (but not over the pork or you’ll wash off the salt.) Cover tightly with foil.
Roast for 30 minutes, then turn the oven heat down to 325°F. Roast for 2-1/2 hours. Remove from the oven and let stand, covered, for 10 minutes. Remove foil and shred pork with two forks. Sprinkle with black pepper and toss again.
(NOTE: At this point, you can eat it as it is, or mix in your favorite BBQ sauce.)