Kalua Pig and Cabbage

Happy Monday, guys! This week I thought I'd try a little something different and share a bunch of my favorite recipes from home with all of you. In case this is the first time you're tuning in, I should probably tell you that I'm from Hawaii, born on the Big Island and raised on Maui. My mother is third generation Japanese and my father is a mix of mainly Irish, German, and Danish making me hapa haole (rough translation:  half white/caucasian, half something else). While we're on the subject of translating Hawaiian or pidgin English (Hawaiian slang), please forgive me if from time to time, I use strange words like haupia, shoyu, or the like and forget to 'translate.' SHOUT AT ME  and demand a translation. Chances are I've got no idea I'm using a word that isn't commonly used in the rest of the US/World.

Anyway, this week's posts were a long time coming. Imagine this: you're kinda missing home but if you're being really honest with yourself, what you are really missing, more that the physical location (ok, you might actually miss that too) is the food. I mean, amiright or amiright? Food has the innate ability to immediately transport you to remote places, and various periods and points in your life. It's really pretty amazing but, hey, we all knew that! 

So a few weeks ago, I found myself daydreaming about a wedding I attended with my parents when I was probably ten. Here's how the day started, the wedding was wayyyy out far, in the boonies, if I had to guess, I'd say it was in Ke'anae. If you've ever been out to Hana, Ke'anae is on the way to Hana, so you get the picture. If you haven't, imagine a narrow, really windy, one-lane road and then picture a ten-year-old who's prone to carsickness. Yup. So, needless to say, there was a really sick, crabby, bratty me hanging out, scowling at a beautiful, waterfront wedding ceremony.  Well, I'm gonna be honest here, my foul mood probably, ok, most likely would have persisted except when we sat down for dinner, I was presented with the most impressive plate of kalua pig, lomi salmon, white rice, poi, fresh Hawaiian-style ahi poke, and chicken long rice. While my ten-year-old self didn't know what hanger was, it's clear to me now that I was super HANGRY as I recall the evening progressing in a positive manner the minute after I took my first bite of the best chicken long rice I've ever had (to this day). PSSTT: Bear with me for a few more days if you're wondering what any of the dishes I listed off are.

Thanks to the daydream above, I was inspired to share the recipes for this meal, with exception to the poi (which is made of steamed taro root, that's been pounded/mashed into a starchy paste which is then smoothed and thinned with water) all throughout the week. I even added one of my personal favorites, that's not exactly traditional but still reminiscent of my childhood, lychee lemonade!! And if you make it through the week, I might even have a bonus recipe!! :D :D :D

Today's recipe comes from Moses' (my boyfriend's) mom. And what is Kalua Pig exactly?! Well, it's basically slow roasted pork, although, in Hawaii, it's roasted over a giant, outdoor pit that's been fortified with paper, rocks, banana stump, banana leaf, etc. As I'm sure my landlord wouldn't appreciate me digging up a giant pit to roast a whole pig, I'm sharing Moses' mom's slow cooker recipe. I tweaked the recipe a touch, but I got the Hawaiian's seal of approval (Moses', not mine, as I'm hapa haole but he's actually got Hawaiian blood, making him a true Hawaiian)!! This dish is so easy to make that I almost felt guilty sharing it with you but here's the thing, I think I nailed the proportions, so forget that guilt, it's gone. P.s. If you're wondering why there's cabbage in here, I'll give you a little background. It was originally added to leftover kalua pig to 'stretch' it out for another meal, but I can't imagine eating it without that slight crunch and I'm definitely not in the minority on that one. However, feel free to leave it out if you're not a fan. Check back throughout the week for the rest of my favorites from home! 

Kalua Pig and Cabbage

Recipe adapted from Hilary Aipa

Serves 8-10 people, depending on hunger levels :D


  • 5 1/2 lbs. pork shoulder/butt (boneless)
  • 12 cloves garlic, lightly smashed
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. Hawaiian salt
  • 2 tsp. cracked black pepper
  • 1 c. chicken stock
  • 1 1/4 tsp. liquid smoke
  • 1 medium cabbage, outer leaves removed


  • Small chef's knife or paring knife
  • Cutting board
  • Slow cooker
  • Serving pan/dish
  • Two forks


  1. Using a small chef's knife or paring knife, cut slits in the roast, deep and wide enough for one whole clove of garlic. Cut slit a little deeper than the length of the clove and repeat (all around roast) until all cloves have been inserted in the pork. Rub roast with olive oil then with Hawaiian salt and cracked black pepper. 
  2. Place in slow cooker, fat side up, then add chicken stock and liquid smoke to the bottom of the pot. Cover and cook on high for 7 hours or until the meat is tender and falling apart.
  3. Quarter the cabbage, remove the core, then slice crosswise into 3/4-inch strips. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use. Add chopped cabbage to slow cooker around 20 minutes before roast is done.
  4. When cabbage is almost tender, remove from liquid and transfer to a serving pan. Remove meat from liquid and transfer to a cutting board (preferably with a well/moat to keep liquids from getting all over your counter). Reserve 1/2-cup of liquid (fat skimmed off) for rehydrating meat if there's any meat leftover. Using two forks, shred meat (think pulled pork) being careful not to smash. Discard fat. Add shredded pork to the cabbage and gently toss together. 
  5. Serve and enjoy!

Note: I recommend serving this with a scoop or two of white rice, lomi salmon, chicken long rice, shoyu ahi poke, lychee lemonade, and a giant bowl of poi if you can find it!