Kālua Pork, From the luau to Wichita
If you’ve ever been to the island of Hawaii, you’ve likely encountered Kālua Pork, this succulent dish is a mainstay at luau feast on the islands. What you may not know is that you can get this same traditional Hawaiian dish here in Wichita KS at Noble House Hawaiian Foods. So what is Kālua Pork and what makes this dish so popular world wide?
Origins of Kālua Pork
Kālua Pork derives it’s name from Kālua which is a traditional Hawaiian cooking method that utilizes an imu, which is a type of underground oven. Kālua can be used to describe any food cooked using this method as the term literally means “to cook in an underground oven”, therefore it is not unusual to also see Kālua turkey show up at luaus in addition to Kālua pork.
Kālua Pork Traditional Cooking Method
To properly cook Kālua pork in the traditional method, you must start by digging a large pit and starting a hard wood fire inside of it. This pit must be large enough to not only contain the food, but also the stones and vegetation that will be used as a cover for the food while it is cooking. Next stones are placed on top of the fire and after they have reached maximum temperature, normally 2-3 hours, they are spread out evenly over the coals. Next banana leaves that have been pounded to make the pliable are laid over the stones and extended up and past the edges of the pit to keep the food from being contaminated by the soil. A layer of ti leaves are placed over the banana leaves and the food is then placed on top of the ti leaves. The food would then be salted and in the case of a whole pig, hot stones would be placed in the body cavity to ensure the meat was fully cooked. The meat is then covered with several layers of ti and banana leaves, which is then covered by a minimum of several inches of soil. This seals in the steam and ensures the meat will retain it’s natural moisture. In modern methods it has become acceptable to use wet burlap material instead of the vegetation although you won’t get the same effect as having the ti leaves, which impart some flavor on the meat. Several hours later when the meat is done cooking, it is dug up and shredded manually.
The results of this traditional method are an unbelievably moist, tender pork meat, with the flavor of the ti leaves giving the pork a unique savory flavor unlike any other slow cook pork methods using hard wood fires. Kālua Pork remains a popular dish at luaus, however in recent years other cooking methods have popped up such as using an electric over and artificial mesquite or liquid smoke. Also many businesses have switched to using wet burlap instead of vegetation and using an imu pao, which is an above ground variation of the original imu. Despite all of this, the traditional method still stays popular on and off the islands with a variety of businesses still cooking it the traditional way.
Authentic Kālua Pork in Wichita KS
Luckily you don’t have to go to Hawaii to experience this wonderful, traditional Hawaiian dish. Noble House Hawaiian Plate Lunch creates a wonderful, authentic Kālua Pork that is one of their most popular dishes, along side other wonderful traditional dishes such as Katsu Chicken, Terriyaki Steak, Aloha Garlic Shrimp, Laulau, Loco Moco, as well a wide variety of Poké. All of these and other dishes on the menu are prepared using authentic Hawaiian methods under the supervision of Chef Akamu.
Patrons of Noble House love the authentic Hawaiian cuisine and especially the Kālua Pork. Elizabeth Schenck writes, “it has a delightfully unique flavor that I aggressively crave!” Brian Adams commented, “The Kālua Pork is one of the few dishes in Wichita that I have a hard time passing up, even if I want to try something new. In fact, if I was stranded on a dessert island with only a container of Kālua Pork and some water, I would consider it my happy place!”
So if you’re a fan of shredded pork and want to try a wonderful, savory authentic dish from the shores of Hawaiian, come visit Noble House Hawaiian Plate Lunch. The pork is served with white rice and macaroni salad, and will have your stomach saying “Mahalo”!