Three years ago this month, Kyle and I packed up our possessions, our poodles, and as much pizzazz as we could fit in six suitcases and moved to Honolulu. Neither of us had ever visited before, nor did we count a single friend among Hawaii’s residents. But we knew we needed a change of scenery, and what can’t you tackle with a poodle in your lap and a plane ticket in your pocket?
We landed one humid September afternoon, exhausted from multiple layovers, and stumbled into a Waikiki Subway for our first meal (one of our most shameful secrets, though that’s more to do with the price we paid for a turkey sandwich than anything else). Once we’d slept, our sense of adventure propelled us to explore the local cuisine, and since that first week, we’ve immersed ourselves in Asian fusion, farmer’s market stalls, and the flavors of the pacific that are so quintessentially Hawaii.
Though we still have much to learn, we’re convinced that one sure way to travel here without leaving your kitchen is to cook Kalua pork. We wish we lived on the beach and could roast a whole pig underground for hours, but real estate is expensive and we don’t own a shovel. Instead, we can be found jamming in our tiny kitchen to 90’s hip hop while the pork renders in the oven or the crock pot.
The many ways which you can serve Kalua pork are almost more important than the method of preparation (almost): nachos, grilled cheese sandwiches, polenta bowls, lunch plates with cabbage and mac salad, cookies. OK—that’s a cheap joke, but if you make me a Kalua pork cookie, I promise to eat it.
In the following two recipes, I’ve used Kalua pork entirely for breakfast: a Kalua pork Benedict and, its somewhat easier cousin, a Kalua pork hash. If you’ve mastered the hollandaise sauce and poached eggs from our previous benedict, then you’ve got this breakfast in the bag (but don’t really put it in your bag because those yolks are pretty messy). Pair it with Kyle’s Okinawan sweet potato biscuits, and you’ll be the guaranteed winner of brunch. Take that, French toast!
The same can be said of the skillet hash, a one-pot dish that saves on clean up and time. The trick here is potatoes, which must be crispy. Luckily for you, this is a food blog, and I’m going to share with you a tip on parcooking your potatoes in the microwave that would knock your socks off if you were wearing any. I can’t actually see your feet.
Here are two recipes for Kalua pork that I recommend: one for a slow cooker and one for those without. (A note—if you can’t find ti or banana leaves, use foil instead.) The key is time, a little liquid smoke, and sea salt.
- 2 cups cooked & shredded Kalua Pork
- 8 poached eggs
- 4 Okinawan sweet potato biscuits
- Chives or crispy shallots for garnish
- 5 egg yolks
- 3 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 cup butter, melted
- 2 tablespoons Sriracha
- Salt to taste
- Bring a small saucepan to a simmer.
- In a glass bowl that will later function as a double boiler over the saucepan, whisk the egg yolks and 2 tbsp of the lemon juice together until it thickens slightly. Do not yet place bowl over the water.
- Separately melt butter in a 2 cup liquid measuring cup. Skim the white part of the butter off the top and discard. This is my lazy version of clarified butter. You could actually clarify the butter or opt for my version and skim. Set aside.
- Place the glass bowl with eggs over the lightly simmering water. I repeat, it should not be touching the water, nor should the water be at a full boil.
- Whisk the eggs for approximately one minute, or until the eggs have slightly warmed. This tempers the eggs to avoid scrambling, so if you are concerned, you can remove the glass bowl from the heat at any point to keep it from getting too hot.
- Slowly add the melted butter into the eggs, emulsifying them. I add about 3 tbsp at a time, whisking, and then add more.
- Once fully added, whisk over the heat until the mixture thickens. If the mixture gets too thick, you can add a tbsp or two of hot water to thin it out a bit.
- Remove from heat and add the Sriracha.
- 5 Yukon Gold Potatoes, diced and parboiled (instructions on parboiling below)
- 4 strips thick cut bacon, sliced into 1 inch pieces
- ½ yellow onion, diced
- 1 cup sliced brussel sprouts
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 jalapeno, sliced and de-seeded
- 2-4 eggs (depending on how many your are serving)
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme
- 1 tablespoon chopped chives
- 1 cup shredded Kalua Pork
- Vegetable Oil
- Olive Oil
- Place the diced potatoes in a large microwave-safe bowl and fill with water until potatoes are just covered. Add one-tablespoon white or apple-cider vinegar. Cook the potatoes in the microwave in five-minute intervals, until they are fork tender. I ended up cooking mine for 15 minutes. This process removes some of the starch as well as prevents them from being over-handled, as if you were boiling on the stovetop. This, the internet assures me, makes a crispy potato. Once cooked, drain and pat dry with paper towels. Set aside.
- Heat a 9 inch cast iron skillet over medium to medium high heat. Once hot, add the bacon and cook for 5 minutes, allowing it to cook fully while rendering the fat. Remove the bacon from the skillet when cooked and set aside. There should be at least 1 tablespoon of fat left in the pan. If not, add some vegetable oil and heat. If there are more than 2 tablespoons, drain some of the fat.
- Add the onions and cook for 3-5 minutes, or until softened. Add the brussel sprouts, jalapeno, and garlic, and cook for another 4-5 minutes. Remove all of these from the skillet, and add one tablespoon of vegetable oil.
- Once the oil is heated, add the potatoes and cook for 5-8 minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure all the sides get a chance to cook and get crispy. Add the thyme to the potatoes.
- Add all the previously cooked ingredients back in and mix them gently together. Add the Kalua Pork. Heat the oven to broil.
- Cook all the ingredients in the pan together for another 3-5 minutes, and then make indentations in the hash for where you want to place the eggs. Crack the eggs in the indentations. Drizzle a bit of olive oil over the eggs. Place the skillet in the oven. Depending on how you like your eggs, cook until just set. We like ours over easy, so it took about 3 minutes to cook on broil for our own oven. Your time may be different, so base your time on how the whites look in terms of firmness. If you like an over easy egg, pull the skillet out when the whites have just set; over hard, pull it out a few minutes later.
- Garnish with chopped chives.