Ricardo: Kalua Pork and other recipes to take your taste buds to a tropical paradise
This Hawaiian-inspired meal brings spring break to the kitchen.
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We can’t all make it to Hawaii this March break, but that doesn’t mean we can’t put on our best tropical attire, drop some umbrellas in colourful, fruity drinks and dish out a festive, Hawaiian-inspired meal.
This ridiculously good pulled kalua pork recipe is my take on the Hawaiian tradition of wrapping a whole pig in banana leaves and cooking it in an underground oven until it’s unbelievably tender. All you need to prepare my simplified version is a slow cooker. Just toss your pork shoulder in with salt and seasonings and leave it alone for eight hours. Remove the pork, pull the meat apart, make your sauce (vinegar, sugar, Worcestershire) and mix for the ultimate crowd pleaser.
1 pork shoulder roast, about 4 lb (1.8 kg), bone-in, untrimmed
1 tbsp (15 mL) toasted sesame oil
2 tbsp red Hawaiian salt (see note)
2 tbsp (30 mL) Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp ground pepper
1/2 cup (125 mL) rice vinegar
1/4 cup (55 g) lightly packed brown sugar
1 tbsp (15 mL) Worcestershire sauce
For the pork, in the slow cooker, coat roast in oil and rub with salt, Worcestershire sauce and pepper.
Cover and cook on low for 8 hours. It can be maintained on “warm” setting for up to 8 hours.
Remove roast from the slow cooker and remove bone and fat. Shred meat, set aside on a large platter and discard cooking juices (they’re too salty to be used again).
In a small saucepan, bring all sauce ingredients to a boil and simmer until brown sugar has dissolved. Drizzle over meat.
Serve the shredded pork in lettuce leaves with avocado or in sandwiches on Hawaiian rolls with pineapple coleslaw (see recipes to follow) and mayonnaise.
Makes 8 servings.
Note: Hawaiian red salt is a mineral-rich, unrefined salt that is mixed with volcanic red clay. It is often used to season kalua pork and poke. In this recipe, Hawaiian red salt can be replaced by the same quantity of kosher salt.
HULI HULI CHICKEN
If you’re a fan of teriyaki or sweet-and-sour sauces like I am, you’re going to love this zippy huli huli sauce. A Hawaiian chicken staple, this quick and delicious condiment is made with pineapple juice, sugar, ketchup, vinegar, garlic and ginger. I like using chicken drumsticks for this recipe because it makes serving (and eating) a breeze, especially at a party. Make sure you marinate your chicken overnight for maximum flavour punch.
1/2 cup (105 g) lightly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup (125 mL) pineapple juice
1/2 cup (125 mL) ketchup
1/4 cup (60 mL) soy sauce
1/4 cup (60 mL) rice vinegar
1 tbsp finely chopped ginger
2 cloves garlic, chopped
24 skinless chicken drumsticks
In a large bowl, combine brown sugar, pineapple juice, ketchup, soy sauce, rice vinegar, ginger and garlic. Add chicken, season with salt and pepper, and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight, stirring once or twice.
With rack in middle position, preheat oven to 400 F (200 C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Drain chicken and transfer marinade to a saucepan. Place drumsticks on prepared baking sheet.
Bake drumsticks for 1 hour or until cooked through, turning them halfway through cooking.
Meanwhile, over medium-high heat, reduce marinade until syrupy, about 20 minutes. Cover and set aside.
In a large bowl, toss the cooked chicken and sauce together to coat well.
What’s the secret to these super-soft, bite-sized Hawaiian dinner rolls? Pineapple juice! It’s actually the enzyme and the sugar in pineapple that helps make the rolls so moist and sweet. Warning: Keep an extra batch on hand (they freeze perfectly). They’ll start disappearing as soon as your guests realize they can tuck kalua pork into them, or use them to sop up the last of that addictive huli huli sauce.
3/4 cup (180 mL) pineapple juice, warm
1/4 cup (55 g) unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup (55 g) sugar
3 1/4 cups (490 g) unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tsp instant dry yeast
1/4 tsp salt
1 egg yolk (optional)
1 tbsp (15 mL) water (optional)
In a bowl, whisk together pineapple juice, melted butter, sugar and eggs. Set aside.
In a stand mixer using dough hook, or in another bowl using a wooden spoon, combine flour, yeast and salt. Add juice mixture and knead until dough begins to form.
In stand mixer or on a lightly floured surface, knead the dough for 5 minutes. It will be soft and slightly sticky. Place in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a damp cloth or plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm, humid place for 1 hour and 30 minutes or until it has doubled in volume.
Butter a rectangular 13 x 9-inch (33 x 23 cm) baking dish.
Divide dough into 15 pieces. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough into balls using the palm of your hand. Place balls into prepared pan and cover with a damp cloth or plastic wrap. Let rise for 1 hour and 30 minutes in a warm, humid place until dough has doubled in volume.
With rack in the middle position, preheat oven to 375 F (190 C).
In a small bowl, lightly beat egg yolk and water. Brush on dough, if desired.
Bake for 13 to 15 minutes or until rolls are golden brown. Let cool.
Makes 15 rolls.
GREEN SALAD WITH PAPAYA DRESSING
No party is complete without at least one salad, and this one delivers the tropical goods: Ribbons of romaine lettuce are laced with slivers of cucumber, fresh coconut and — if you’re channelling your Hawaiian shirt — edible flowers. But the real scene-stealer is my papaya dressing — a fresh fruit purée mixed with oil, vinegar and a hint of maple syrup to add a little extra flavour layer.
1 small papaya, about 1-1/3 lb (600 g)
1/4 cup (60 mL) water
3 tbsp (45 mL) canola oil
1 tbsp (15 mL) maple syrup
1 tbsp (15 mL) white balsamic vinegar
8 cups (360 g) romaine or frisée lettuce, torn
3 Lebanese cucumbers, thinly sliced diagonally
1/2 cup (40 g) thinly sliced fresh coconut
Edible flowers, as desired
To make the dressing, on a work surface, cut papaya in half lengthwise. Keep one half for another use.
Remove 1 tbsp of papaya seeds (see note) and discard the remaining seeds. Peel papaya-half and cube solid end to obtain 1 cup (160 g) of cubed fruit. Cut remaining papaya into thin slices and set aside.
In a blender, purée papaya seeds and cubes with remaining ingredients. Season with salt. Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate until ready to serve.
To make the salad, on a large serving platter, combine lettuce, cucumbers and papaya slices. Season with salt, and drizzle with half of the dressing. Sprinkle with coconut and edible flowers. Serve with remaining dressing on the side.
Makes 8 to 10 servings.
Note: Papaya seeds have a peppery flavour similar to nasturtium. Their zippy taste perfectly replaces crushed pepper in our dressing.
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