Sunday, August 30, 2015

The Road to Waikiki & a Lau Lau Truck - Hawai'i Travelogue Video

Our next destination is Waikiki Beach in Honolulu. And getting there is half the fun, as you will see in my latest Hawai'i Travelogue Video at the end of this blog post.

We spend a few days exploring the scenic Windward Shore, about 45 minutes from Honolulu. Indulging in a Kalua Pig Plate Lunch and fresh-fish marinated Poke; dipping into the deep blue warm ocean and lounging on white sands; and exploring the lightly populated lush coastline. Just click here to see the previous blog post and you'll know what I'm talking about.


We packed up and headed for the big city of Honolulu for our stay on Waikiki Beach, by way of the panoramic Kamehameha Highway. You can pull over anytime for food stops. There are small local restaurants along the way, and a half dozen tempting food trucks. The one that caught my eye is called Holo Holo Truck, parked under a magnificent banyan tree. (In Hawaiian, Holo Holo is the word for vacation, or a leisurely ride.) There were several folding tables and plastic chairs set out for diners.

 Click on any photo to see larger.

It was serving what I most wanted to try, Lau Lau. Boy, is this a great place for it. Lau Lau is a Native Hawaiian dish consisting of meat and/or fish wrapped in Taro leaves and slow roasted in a pit of hot rocks.


At Holo Holo Truck, I noticed the Lau Lau was kept hot, wrapped in foil and steaming in a large metal pot. So I would guess that this recipe is not done the below-ground roasting traditional way. But even if this Lau Lau is oven roasted, or steamed on the stove top, it's a delicious version.

It's all about the Taro leaves that flavor the large hunks of pork. Taro leaves are edible like spinach, but with a flavor that's closer to green tea, or a mild black tea.


The pork is fragrant, tender and moist from slow-cooking with this native plant. Since the pork is probably from the shoulder cut, there are some small fatty pockets, but that is extra flavor, or easy enough to scrape off.

The pork was wrapped in a few Taro leaves, so you get a tender leafy layer. When you open the Lau Lau package, you'll notice the meat has a slight green tint from the Taro leaves. Lau Lau has a minimal amount of seasoning, maybe some Hawaiian salt.


And it's a huge package for $5 -- about as massive as the largest burrito you could order. I saved it for our Waikiki hotel stay, and got about 3 meals out of it! Because it's wrapped in moist Taro leaves, the Lau Lau "burrito" micowaved perfectly. It's a lot of meat, so I made sure to have some fresh local fruit, or a side of cool Macaroni Salad, to serve with it.

Holo Holo Truck has a uniquely local menu, way beyond Lau Lau. Just look at the placards to see what I mean.


Holo Holo Truck was a trip. The local who runs it, George Halas, Jr., is quite a colorful, blustery "bruduh" - always ready with a quip and a hearty laugh. He took over the business from his father. So this eatery has been around and it's well known for pork and taro leaf Lau Lau.


After the quick truck meal, we hit the road to Waikiki. Our final stop was at one of the Top Ten rated beaches in the world, breathtaking Waimanalo Beach. And the parking is free.

You enter a large park with many camping sites filled with tents, wide tarps to shade partying locals, and fired-up BBQ grills all around. It's a short trek through a narrow tree line to walk on the warm, powdery white beach sands - that stretch out a large city block wide, to the ocean. The beach is at least 5 miles long, an amazing sight.


We picked a shady spot along the tree line and people watched for a while. I walked around taking video and even had time to dip into the warm ocean. (It's interesting to read the Yelp reviewers, so many whiny people out there - hey, public parks aren't perfect, duh.)


Make sure to check out my latest Hawai'i Travelogue Video of a truck stop for delectable Lau Lau and spectacular Waimanalo Beach. And come back for more Waikiki scenery, eateries, and homemade cheap$kate Hawaiian recipes.


Road to Waikiki & Lau Lau Truck Stop  - VIDEO

Play it here, video runs 3 minutes, 30 seconds.

My YouTube video link for viewing or embedding, just click here.

99 thanks to George Halas, Jr, of the Holo Holo Truck.

Holo Holo Truck
47-528 Kamehameha Hwy
Kahaluu, HI 96744
Phone number (808) 230-0062

Monday, August 24, 2015

Hawaiian Kalua Pig & Cabbage Recipe

Hawai'i is world famous for their Kalua Pig Plate Lunches. Now that's a long way to go for lunch, but now you can save plane fare plus more, when you follow The 99 Cent Chef's cheap$kate version, made using a whole pork shoulder.


If you like BBQ Pulled Pork you'll like my Hawaiian Kalua Pig with Cabbage recipe. And it makes enough to throw your own Luau party!

Traditional Kaula Pig is wrapped in banana leaves and buried in the dirt with hot coals - slow roasting all day. For my version I oven-roast the pork, so you don't have to dig up your backyard. 


I coat the pork shoulder with couple of tablespoons of Liquid Smoke. This is a cheat, as it won't be as smokey as it could be, but it's still a good way to go. If you have an outdoor grill you could smoke the pork after it is done baking. Click here, to see my gas grill smoking method for BBQ Pulled Pork.


I also wrap the pork in banana leaves. I get mine at my local Mexican grocery for 99 cents per pound. They come fresh or frozen. On thing, some packages have way too many leaves for a single pork shoulder. But you can freeze any leftover banana leaves.

When I got to grocery checkout counter, I had them remove half the leaves.You only need enough to wrap the pork shoulder at least two times.

If you don't have access to banana leaves, a simple substitution is adding fresh brewed green tea to the roasting pan. Banana leaves have a tea taste. I've read some recipes that don't even use banana leaves. I don't get how they can call it Kalua Pig without the leafy fragrance.

The final step for Kalua Pig is covering the pan with foil (or a pan lid if you have one,) adding a couple cups of water (or green tea) and baking the pork until it is fall-apart tender. This takes about 4-5 hours baking time. If you use boneless pork, then it will cook even faster.

You could also steam the banana leaf wrapped pork in a large covered pot. Then when done bake it for 30 to 45 minutes to get some caramelized roasted bits.

The final step is to shred the pork like you would do for BBQ Pulled Pork.



I use the cheapest cut of pork for this recipe. A pork shoulder has a layer of skin and a large center bone. I get mine on sale from the local Mexican grocery for less than a dollar per pound. You could use a boneless pork roast that's more expensive, but it's still cheaper than beef. Remove the skin for a lighter Kalua Pig recipe.


A Kalua Pig Plate Lunch is usually served with sauteed cabbage. It can be mixed into the pork, or served on the side. At Keneke's Grill in Punalu'u, Hawaii, the cabbage is buried under a layer of Kalua Pig. Click here to see my video review of Keneke's Grill.

There's nothing too it. Just add a little oil to a large pan over medium heat, and saute chopped cabbage for about 5 minutes. The cabbage will soften and shrink in size as it cooks through. Just stir it to cook evenly - that's it.


A typical Kalua Pig Plate Lunch is protein and carb heavy (meat, rice and macaroni salad,) so sauteed cabbage is a welcome veggie addition.And scroll down (or click here) to previous blog post for my Sticky Rice and Macaroni Salad recipes.


Cabbage is cheap - you get your money's worth.


My Kalua Pig & Cabbage recipe is comfort food from the islands of Hawai'i. This recipe makes enough for a party, so get a grass skirt and pour yourself a frothy Blue Hawaiian drink and get cooking!

Cabbage Ingredients ( about 6-8 servings)
  • 1 head of cabbage - Remove root end and roughly chop.
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions for Cabbage Stir Fry
Cut out tough root end of cabbage. Roughly chop cabbage into bite size pieces. When you saute cabbage, the pieces will reduce in size as it cooks.


Over a medium heat, add oil. For a lighter version, add chopped cabbage to hot pan and spoon in couple tablespoons of water or a favorite broth, instead of oil.


Stir fry cabbage until soft, about 5 minutes. You can saute cabbage in batches if there is too much to fit frying pan.


Serve warm. Okay to precook and heat in the microwave later, before serving.

You can cook half a head of cabbage, if a head is too much.


Kalua Pig  Ingredients (6-8 servings)
  • 5-7 pound pork shoulder - I used a whole shoulder with bone and skin. It's okay to use boneless pork roast (this will cook quicker by an hour.)
  • Banana Leaves - enough to wrap pork 2 times. Extra layer of leaves as they will spit and shrink, so double wrap the pork. Okay to substitute and steam with brewed green tea in roasting pan.
  • 2 tablespoons liquid smoke - Just coat the pork, allow to obsorb for a minute then add another coat of liquid smoke.
  • Salt and pepper to taste - If you have Hawaiian Salt then use that.
  • Aluminum foil - to cover the baking pan. If your pan has a cover, then use that.
  • A few cups of water (or green tea) to add during roasting.


Directions for Kalua Pig (oven method)
First make deep knife cuts into pork shoulder, at least 6 deep cuts. This will get liquid smoke and banana leaf flavor into the meat.


Coat pork shoulder with liquid smoke. I used a brush, but you can just drizzle and rub it on the skin. Allow pork to absorb liquid smoke for a minute, then give pork another coat to use all the liquid smoke.


Salt and pepper to taste. If you have mineral-rich Hawaiian salt then use it.



Unroll the banana leaves. They will crack and split some, that's okay. What you want to do is cross-layer two leaves. That way the meat stays wrapped by the leaves, otherwise the oven heat will spit leaves open and meat will not be completely covered.


Depending how long and wide the banana leaves are, you need to wrap the pork at least 2 times.



Place banana wrapped pork shoulder, seam side down, in a large enough roasting pan. Add a couple cups of water. Cover the pan with foil. If your roasting pan has a big enough cover, then use it.



(If you can't find banana leaves, then make a large pot of green tea. Add 2 cups of green tea in the bottom of the roasting pan to steam the meat, during baking. Add green tea as it steams away, as needed.)

Roast banana leaf wrapped pork shoulder at 350 degrees for about 4 to 5 hours. You can check the meat for tenderness at four hours. The meat should easily break apart and shred, when it's done. Shred a piece of meat from the center of pork shoulder to make sure the meat is moist and tender.


If the meat is not tender all the way through, then re-wrap and bake another half hour to one hour until done. (The pork doesn't have to be perfectly wrapped at this point - it has the flavor, just needs to be cooked until fall-apart tender.)


For boneless pork it will cook faster, about 3 to 4 hours.

Add water (or green tea) to roasting pan as needed, about a cup every 2 hours. If liquid evaporates out that's okay. When done add a 1 cup of water to loosen tasty bits on bottom of roasting pan. You can use the broth to moisten and add extra flavor to shredded roasted pork.


When Kalua Pig is done just unwrap it and let the meat rest for about 3 minutes, to cool down enough to shred and eat. Use a couple of forks to shred the pork. Shredded is the traditional way to serve Kalua Pig.


I like the pork in big chunks as well - you could just served like you would any roasted meat.

Typical Kalua Pig Lunch Plate is served with cabbage, rice and macaroni salad. I like to put some cabbage under the Kalua Pig.Click here, to see my Sticky Rice and Macaroni Salad recipes.


Hindsight
I used banana leaves. If you can't find them then just steam meat with green tea. Add green tea to pan during baking time, as needed. Banana leaves have a similar flavor to green tea. 

You can use any cheap cuts of pork, even slicing pork off the bone of a pork shoulder. Okay to remove the fat for a lighter version. Boneless and skinless pork will cook faster, so shave off an hour.

If you like your pork extra-smokey, then use my outdoor grill method, click here for my BBQ Pulled Pork smoking method. Basically, when Kalua Pig is done, remove it from the stove, unwrap and move it to an outdoor grill and smoke it for half hour to 45 minutes.

Stove Top Steamed Kalua Pig
You can steam Kalua Pig on the stove top. Follow directions above: coating in liquid smoke, season and wrap pork in banana leaves.

Mainly, you need a pot big enough with a lid. You may need to slice off meat from the bone of a whole pork shoulder, so it will fit in a pot. Or just get a more expensive boneless pork roast.

Add 2 cups of water (or green tea.) Bring liquid to a boil, lower heat to a low simmer, then cover the pot.

Cook 4-6 hours, adding water as needed. Meat will release a lot of liquid during cooking time. Boneless and skinless pork will cook quicker, so check for tenderness after 3 hours. You can finish it up by baking the pork at 350 degrees for 30 to 45 minutes to get some roasted caramelized meat bits (optional.)

Again, if you don't have banana leaves, then use green tea to steam pork with.

A pressure cooker will steam Kalua Pig the quickest, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours total.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Macaroni Salad and Sticky Rice - Hawaiian Recipes

First things first - every Hawaiian Plate Lunch has the necessary sides of Sticky Rice and Macaroni Salad. For my upcoming recipes of Kalua Pig & Cabbage and Loco Moco, just refer back to this blog post for the following recipes.

For this cheap$kate rice and macaroni is priced right. I get white rice at my local Mexican grocery for way below a dollar a pound.


8, 12, and 16 ounce packages of dried macaroni can be had for 99.99 cents at my local 99c only Store. For this recipe I used small elbow macaroni, but you can use large elbow, too - whatever is on sale, really.

For Sticky Rice I rinse the dried grains of rice and cook it with less water. That's it. The rice clumps together but it's still tender. Too much water and the rice grains stay separate.


Of course you can make the rice any way you like. And if you have a rice cooker, then use that. If you like precooked instant rice, go with it.

Plate Lunches sometimes include Hapa Rice, which is a mix of white and brown rice. "Hapa" is the Hawaiian Pidgin word for "half," referring to a person of mixed race.

And for my upcoming recipe of Spam Masubi (like a serving of sushi fish on rice, with a soy sauce flavored and fried slab of Spam) you also add a little sugar and rice vinegar to turn Sticky Rice into flavored Sushi Rice.


My favorite side of a Hawaiian Plate Lunch is creamy Macaroni Salad. It obscenely simple to do. Just cook dried macaroni following the package directions, cool it down, then mix in mayo, finally season with salt and pepper.


Some Hawaiian restaurants make it with shredded carrot, so you can add some, for extra crunch.

When you order the typical Hawaiian Plate Lunch, it comes with two scoops of Sticky Rice and one scoop of Macaroni Salad. I like to reverse that. I prefer more cool Macaroni Salad.

Typical Kalua Pig Plate Lunch

You can see the influences of Chinese, Koreans, Japanese, Filipinos, and Portuguese immigrants workers on Hawaiian cuisine in my following series of Hawaiian recipes. So do check back for more, plus cool video of beautiful scenic Hawaii.


Ingredients for Sticky Rice (3-4 servings)
  • 1 cup rice
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Water to rinse rice -- about 6 cups.

Directions for Sticky Rice
There are a few different ways to make sticky rice. Some use a bamboo steamer. It's easiest to use a rice cooker.

I don't own a rice cooker or bamboo steamer, so the following directions are for stove top cooking rice in a covered pot.

Put 1 cup of rice in a bowl that will hold at least 2 cups of water. Fill bowl and stir rice until water is cloudy. Dump water (not rice) and refill. Repeat 3 or 4 times until water is almost clear.



Add rice to a pot with a cover, Add 1 cup of water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and cover pot. Simmer water with rice 15 minutes.


Turn off heat, give the rice a quick stir (to release any stuck to the pot bottom,) and let sit for 15 more minutes, covered.


Finally season with salt and mix.



Hindsight
You can make rice ahead of time. Let it come to room temperature before eating. I sometimes microwave the cooked rice for about 15-20 seconds to get it to room temperature quicker (drizzle in 1/2 teaspoon water.)

For cooking the rice, a rice cooker is best, but since I don't own one, I resort to regular stove top cooking. It works fine.

For brown rice do the same, except: add another 5 minutes to cooking time, and 20 minutes of setting covered, with heat off. Brown rice takes a little longer to cook. You can also cook brown and white rice together.

This recipe is easy to double, that is, add 2 cups of water to 2 cups of washed rice.


Macaroni Salad Ingredients (4-6 servings)
  • 12 ounces of dried elbow macaroni - large or small elbows.
  • 1 1/2 cup of mayo - I used light, but okay to use regular or any type you like. And add as much mayo as you prefer.
  • 1/2 cup shredded carrot - optional.
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Water - enough to cover and boil macaroni.

Directions for Macaroni Salad
Add water to a large pot and bring to a boil. Add dried elbow macaroni and cook until desired tenderness, about 7 to 10 minutes. Okay to follow macaroni package directions.


After macaroni is tender, drain it and cool macaroni down with cold water -- so the cooking stops before macaroni becomes to mushy. Add macaroni to a large bowl.


Add shredded carrot (optional) to macaroni. Fold in mayo.


Mix it all together. Finally season with salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate until ready to serve.


Hindsight
Add as much mayo as you like to this recipe. 

Some recipes call for half a grated onion. Okay to use a food processor, blender or old school box grater. Remove any left over large pieces of onion. You want the onion to blend in like a thick liquid. Some recipes leave out the onion, so this is optional.

Okay to substitute grated onion with dried onion salt or teaspoon of powdered onion.

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