The basic ingredients for any successful luau are lots of fruity drinks, fish, a few good side dishes, and a lot of slow-cooked pork. From there, it really depends on where you’re holding it, how many guests you have coming, and especially how much work you want to put into it. It’s your luau too! If you’re spending all day in a hot kitchen, how much energy will you have left to enjoy it?
Start with your slow-cooked pork, because that’s going to take the longest amount of time if it’s any real size at all. It’s a good thing you don’t have to be standing over it all that time. You might not have an imu pit to slow-roast it, but at least try to use a slow cooker!
5 lb pork butt
5 lb wedged sweet potatoes
1 cup liquid smoke
1/2 cup soy sauce (look for a low-salt variety)
Marinade overnight. Before cooking, score the pork all the way through the fat in about 1-inch squares. Rub with sea salt, then place it in the slow cooker and let it simmer all day, starting early in the morning. When you can start to smell delicious aromas, you’ve got about an hour and a half to go. Turn the pork over, pour the drippings back overtop, and add the sweet potatoes. Let the whole thing keep on simmering for an hour and a half to two hours. Shred the pork, and serve proudly.
Now for your appetizers. It’s a good thing these puu puus are quick to make. The smell of slow-roasting pork and sweet potatoes will be making your guests very hungry!
For your fruit skewers, use cubed watermelon, honeydew melon, and pineapple. For more variety, add tangerine or mandarin slices, mangos, and papayas.
For your meat skewers, you’ll need to plan ahead enough to marinade your beef cubes and soak your skewers overnight. Here’s one recipe for coconut shrimp (you’ll need a deep fryer) and another for Korean barbeque beef.
2 lbs shelled, deveined jumbo shrimp
1/2 cup coconut flakes
1/2 cup flour
A can of your favourite beer
This is a simple one-two-three process. Place each of the ingredients in its own bowl. Dip the shrimp into the flour, then into the beer, then into the coconut. Make sure it’s completely coated each time. Spear them, then dip them into the deep fryer for about two minutes. Be careful not to overcook them. When you’re done, the shrimp should be tender, the batter light and crispy. Serve quickly!
2 lbs rump roast, cubed small
1/2 cup kiwi juice
3 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp sesame seeds
2 tbsp chopped garlic
1 tbsp ground black pepper
1 tsp sesame oil
This isn’t a long marinade, just about ten minutes or so before you set the beef on the grill. But before you marinade, rub the kiwi juice into the beef cubes. Rub it in really well, because it’s going to tenderize your beef. Then roll the cubes in the brown sugar and let them sit a little before you put them in the marinade. Spear them, roll them in the sesame seeds, then grill over high heat for about four minutes, turning once.
If your guests have never tried Korean barbeque before, double the recipe. It’s amazing how quickly those skewers vanish!
You can make the rice ahead of time, although rice never takes all that long to make. There’s all kinds of things you can do with rice, but you’ll want to keep the flavours simple to set off everything else.
3 cups plain cooked rice
1/4 onion, minced
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp salt (optional)
A smidgeon of tamerind, or saffron to make it really special
Heat the butter and oil in a skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Butter has a very low burn temperature, which is why you’re mixing it with the oil. Test when it’s hot enough by adding a piece of onion. When the oil-butter mixture is hot enough, the onion will sizzle instantly. It should take less than half a minute to get to this point.
Now add the rest of the onion and saute until transluscent. Add all the rest of your ingredients except the rice and give the mixture a quick stir. Be careful not to let the butter burn! Finally, add the cooked rice and give it another few good stirs until the mixture has absorbed into the rice. That’s it. You’re done!
To make it more Hawaiian, substitute coconut milk for about a third of the water when you’re cooking the rice. Don’t overdo it! A little coconut milk goes a long way. Another trick you can use is to add a couple of tablespoons of diced carrots into the cooking water.
You’ll want to add some kind of fish to go with your rice and pork. Against all those delicious, strong flavours, you’ll also want a bit of contrast. Here’s a quick recipe for lomi-lomi salmon.
1 lb salted salmon, skinned
6 large tomatoes, skinned and crushed
1/2 Videlia or Maui onion, diced
Chopped green onions
Soak out some of the salt from the salmon, then shred it on top of the crushed tomatoes and diced onion and mix the whole thing together. These are Videlias or Mauis because that kind of white onion is a lot milder than the usual cooking onion. Sprinkle the chopped green onions on top. Chill and serve cold. Yes, the salmon stays raw.
Finally, if you don’t want to go with more fruit or the usual pineapple cake, here’s a special drink recipe for a very special dessert.
8 oz dry Marsala
1 oz coconut rum
1 oz white chocolate liqueur
1/2 oz hazelnut liqueur
1/2 oz vodka
A dash of vanilla
Three or so cracked ice cubes
Pour everything into a cocktail shaker, shake it up, then strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Chocolate shavings on top should make it perfect.
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