Kalua Pork and Lomi Lomi Salmon


Hawaii is a favorite vacation destination for our family. Little guy loves the water and during this trip he has proclaimed himself a world class swimmer. On the first day of vacation, he declared that he was going to swim 100 miles.  When he ‘swam’ the width of said pool twice, he calculated that he swam 120 miles, thus exceeding his original goal.  “Tomorrow, I will swim 1 million miles.”

I think this would be a good time to mention that his swimming prowess was aided by a pair of arm floaties and the pool was at most 3 feet deep. I hope he never loses that unbridled confidence.


jhulagirlJJ: Can I kiss your belly?
Hula girl: No, but we can take a picture together.
JJ: But I’m shy.


Because of our penchant for the islands and all island foods, we’ve made kalua pork many, many times.  Since Pru and I have neither the patience nor the yard space to dig up an imu, the traditional underground pit oven in which Hawaiians bake a whole pig, we settled for perfecting our recipe in the crockpot.


*pork butt or pork shoulder, 3-5 pounds
3-4T Ono Hawaiian seasoning (can be found at Whole Foods, Cost Plus or my favorite Takahashi Market)
2T liquid smoke


Pierce pork butt all over with the tines of a fork. This is to ensure that the spice and liquid smoke are absorbed throughout the meat. Spoon liquid smoke first and then Hawaiian seasoning all over meat and rub throughout. Cook in crock pot for 8 hours on low setting. About 7 hours into cooking, check on meat which should be tender and falling apart. Take 2 forks and shred, leaving for another hour to cook in its own juices. Serve with white rice and lomi lomi salmon.

*Do not try to low fat this recipe like I once did by using a lean cut like pork loin. The healthy version unfortunately tasted like a dry, salty dishrag. A fatty cut like pork butt or shoulder is the only way to go. The long cooking time means it will render its own fat and juices which makes it moist and delicious and extremely unhealthy. But like my son who thinks he is the next Michael Phelps, I believe that all the fat released from the long cooking time means it won’t be as unhealthy or fatty.

Lomi Lomi Salmon

I’ve found that eating kalua pork without lomi lomi salmon is less than an authentic luau experience. It’s like having a hula girl dance in heels and denim cutoffs. If you’re gonna try and recreate that island experience you might as well go big, right?

2 tomatoes, diced
1 white onion, diced
1 stalk green onion, diced
salmon fillet, 8 oz

To get the salty briny flavor of lomi lomi salmon, you need to cure it. Layer a bed of salt on a glass Pyrex baking dish; set the salmon on top of this bed of salt. Sprinkle enough salt to cover entire salmon filet. Cover the whole dish with Saran Wrap and place in refrigerator for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight. Once salted, rinse excess salt off the salmon filet. Cut into small cubes and combine with diced tomatoes, onions and green onion. Serve alongside white rice and kalua pork.

And another cautionary tale: don’t do a short cut by using diced smoked salmon filets. Lomi lomi salmon is supposed to taste like the ocean, not bagels and lox.

kalua pork


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