Throw a Party: Say Aloha to a Hawaiian Barbecue
Looking for a theme for a fall party? May we suggest Hawaiian barbecue. As anyone who’s visited this archipelago or its many resorts knows, a luau is perhaps the most famous of Hawaii’s festive food events, usually featuring a pig wrapped in ti, taro, or banana leaves and cooked with hot volcanic stones in an earthen pit called an imu. After many hours of slow gentle heat, the pig is shredded (much like pulled pork) and served with a variety of side dishes like poi (the starchy root of the taro plant), rice, or poke—sashimi-quality fish marinated in soy sauce and other ingredients.
Most of us have neither the means nor the inclination to wrestle a whole animal into a deep hand-dug pit filled with hot rocks and steam, so Steven has modified a recipe that utilizes pork shoulder (butt); his version of kalua pork is much better adapted to smaller gatherings, and still delivers moist, tender porcine greatness. Roasted sweet potatoes can stand in for taro root. Frozen banana leaves are sold in many larger supermarkets, or can be ordered online from melissas.com. If you’re fortunate enough to have a live banana tree in your yard, you can harvest the leaves, providing they haven’t been treated with chemicals.
Another popular specialty of Hawaiian barbecue is the so-called “plate lunch.” Thought to have appeared on the culinary scene in the 1880s—a period when immigrants from many Asian countries arrived in the islands to work on the sugar and pineapple plantations—a plate lunch typically consists of a meat (often grilled), rice, and macaroni salad. One popular plate lunch is called moco loco. It is basically a hearty rice bowl with hamburger patties, fried eggs, and brown gravy. (For the most flavor, grill your burgers over mesquite.) Find a recipe on page 265 of Steven’s book, Man Made Meals.
Other suggested dishes for your Hawaiian barbecue include Sugar Cane Shrimp with Spiced Rum Glaze, Huli-Huli Spare Ribs (“huli” means turn, a reference to cooking the ribs on a rotisserie), Sesame-Grilled Beef Short Ribs, a specialty from Korea, and the impressive Volcano Pineapple.