At last, the sky cleared up. The rain trickled to a stop and a bow beamed from end to end over Waimea Canyon. We pulled over somewhere along Highway 550 to savor the scene. Fog continued to roll down the red, jagged slopes of the Na Pali mountains while the sea to the south surged and swelled.

Kauai felt like home in so many ways. There is rain. Plenty of rain. Even more so in the North Shore where we stayed.

There are chickens in the wild. Chickens out on parking lots. Chickens out on hiking trails. Chickens right on the beach, I kid you not. The rain pitter-pattered and lulled us to sleep at night while the roosters crowed and woke us up in the morning.

There are rambutans in fruit stands along the roadside, papaya trees heavy with fruit in the locals’ yards and taro fields in checkerboard pattern that stretched out for miles.

And there are Filipinos. Plenty of Filipinos. My kababayan — my countrymen — are everywhere, from the general store in Kilauea to the poke joint in Waimea. The best bowl of saimin noodles and the best plate lunch of Kalua pork and cabbage I had on the island were made by Filipino cooks. I was convinced that Kauai is run by Filipinos, that the entire island will shut down without them.

One good thing, I guess, about visiting Kauai in December is that the beaches are empty. We discovered quiet Kahili in the North Shore where the Kilauea Stream opens up to the Pacific and enjoyed our solitude there immensely. If you haven’t tried swimming in the ocean in a little rain with a rainbow in the sky then you should try it. You cannot have a rainbow without a little rain, so they say.

 

Kauai

Kauai

Kauai

Kauai

 

Kalua, in Hawaiian, means to cook in an imu, an earth oven. Kalua pig is a pig cooked in a pit, which is the centerpiece of many a Hawaiian feast called luau. It can be recreated at home by slowly roasting pork rubbed with sea salt and liquid smoke then wrapped in ti or banana leaves. Liquid smoke is a smoke-flavored liquid seasoning available in most grocery stores.

Stir-fry Kalua pork with shredded cabbage and serve with rice and macaroni salad for a classic Hawaiian plate lunch. Fry Kalua pork with garlic, onions, and potatoes and serve as a hash with fried rice and fried eggs.

 

Oven-Roasted Kalua Pork Recipe
Recipe adapted from Rhonda Kahaunani Lizama’s Hawaiian-Style Cooking

2 tablespoons coarse Hawaiian sea salt
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2-inch knob of ginger, peeled and crushed
1 teaspoon liquid smoke
5 pounds pork butt roast

frozen banana leaves, completely thawed and thoroughly washed

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Whisk together sea salt, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, and liquid smoke in a small bowl and set aside.

Cut 1/4-inch-deep slits 1 inch apart all over pork roast. Rub pork with salt and soy sauce. Wrap pork in banana leaves and secure with kitchen twine. Place pork in a Dutch oven or in a roasting pan. When using a pan, place a piece of foil over the top of the pork and crimp edges to the pan. Roast until meat is fork tender, about 45 minutes per pound.

Remove banana leaves and kitchen twine. Shred pork with a fork and season with salt to taste.

 

Kalua Pork

Kalua Pork

Kalua Pork

 

Adobo Loco Adoboloco is Tim Parsons’ Maui-made hot sauces. Adoboloco was inspired by his love of chicken and pork adobo. It started as a homeschooling garden project with his wife and three children. His handcrafted hot sauces are made from just four ingredients: apple cider vinegar, Hawaiian sea salt, garlic, and chili pepper — jalapeno, Thai and habanero — all organically grown in their home in Maui. Adoboloco gives dishes like Kalua pork, pork and chicken adobo, and pretty much anything a tangy kick.

Read more about the Adoboloco story and purchase hot sauces online here. Adoboloco ships anywhere in the world. Read more about Adoboloco’s Kickstarter project and be a backer here.

 

More Hawaiian Recipes

 

Loco Moco Recipe

I couldn’t believe my eyes. I was standing twenty feet from red molten rock flowing quietly into the sea. As the waves crashed against the fresh lava bench, the water flashed violently into a plume of gases. The stench of sulfur filled the air. It was terrifying, to say the least, and yet I was glued to my precarious spot…

 

Spam Musubi Recipe

The colors were incredibly vivid. Lush green foliage. Volcanic black rocks. Water cascading through a series of pools, flowing into the seemingly boundless deep blue sea. The view of the gulch from the old, moss-covered bridge along Highway 31, was absolutely stunning. I managed to filter out the cackle of tourists…

 

Papaya Breakfast

With a plastic fork I salvaged from breakfast, I scooped the guyabano’s soft pulp gingerly from its delicate skin. Each bite brought back memories of sweat-soaked summers of long ago. I remembered how its sweet juice dribbles down my chin. I remembered how its white flesh flakes off into countless thin…

  • http://www.confessionsofachocoholic.com/ Bianca Garcia

    Beautiful pics, Jun. I’ve always wanted to go to Hawaii. The fact that there are so many Filipinos there make it so much more appealing!

  • http://www.facebook.com/Denise.L.Woodward Denise Woodward

    Gorgeous holiday you had! I have not been to the islands in so long, and now I am itching to hit Kauai. I was there years ago, but only for a night, and we never really explored beyond the hotel. I have never been to a luau but have been to a picnic on the beach with friends who live near Oahu. I remember them bringing roasted pig that was juicy and flavorful – they also mentioned that it is served at luaus. The one thing I remember them being really excited about (even more then the pig) was the macaroni salad and Spam slices. I found that comical as the pig was way better! Look forward to trying your recipe!

  • Anonymous

    DROOL! That pork looks amazing and absolutely easy too! And I will definitely be ordering some of that Adoboloco sauce- looks fantastic. Compliments to you on the beautiful photos as well. I am very glad you and Dennis had a lovely vacation in paradise! Cheers!

  • http://twitter.com/HuntersLyonesse Debi Smith

    You have managed to make me hungry and homesick in one post. I love making kalua pork in my slow cooker. Banana leaves are hard to come by in the South/MidWest, so I’ve always put a banana on top. Tastes just the same. :D

  • http://twitter.com/adoboloco adoboloco

    Aloha Jun,

    Thank you so much for including us here and the support with our family project. Always love your writing and photography style. You make everything look and sound so good.

    Mahalo,

    Tim & Family

  • http://www.facebook.com/arthurb3 Arthur B Raleigh

    Nice! Love it!

  • http://blog.junbelen.com/ Jun Belen

    You are very welcome, Tim. Congrats on making your goal and best of luck to you and your family.

  • Anonymous

    If you can’t get banana leaves *like me, then you can double wrap the pork in heavy duty foil. I’ve made this too many times to count….freezes good too.