Lilikoi Kālua Pork Sliders with Pineapple BBQ Sauce

Mahalo no kou heluhelu ʻana mai i kēia puke. Okay, so technically that says “Thank you for reading this book”, and this is a blog but Eric ever learned the word for “blog”, and we figured that this was close enough. Last night we put together the second entry in our Foodbuzz Project Food Blog Challenge. This time around were tasked with tackling a foreign classic, something outside of our comfort zone. We were kicking around ideas on what culture we could tackle and what kind of dish we wanted to prepare and promptly hit some major problems. We were starting to get really frustrated when Eric announced that we would just cook a traditional Hawaiian breakfast. This was meant as a joke because the traditional breakfast in Hawai’i is very basic and involves fried SPAM, something Charisse is just not a fan of. While Eric’s Hawaiian breakfast idea didn’t fly, it did get us thinking about other Hawaiian foods. It seemed like it would be too easy for us though, since Eric went to college there but lets face it, frozen pizza and Top Ramen is no cuisine (it turns out that college food is truly universal). We kicked around different kinds of dishes that are native to the islands, and found that about half of them involve SPAM, but hit on a few possibilities, one being Kālua pork and the very mention of it set Eric salivating. This is the Luau pork, traditionally cooked by digging a big hole in the ground, having a nice fire then burying a whole pig in there for a few hours. Eric ran and got the shovel and Charisse,  the voice of reason, reminded him that burning the neighborhood down is not the best way to make friends, so we used a more practical approach, our oven.  
One of the things that gives the Kālua pork such a unique flavor is the Alaea salt. This is a large grain sea salt that is drawn from the red clay native to the islands. This clay is a huge source of various minerals and adds a real earthy tone. To sweeten the meat we wrapped it in a large banana leaf which added more flavor and helped retain the pork’s moisture (the leafs actually added way more moisture than the meat had to start with, a huge plus). Banana leaf? Alaea salt? Not going to find these at Safeway, at least not one in San Jose. We ended up going to three different Asian markets trying to track everything down and that was an adventure in and of itself. The trip took us almost 3 hours, and practically drove Charisse nuts. Okay, the part that drove Charisse nuts wasn’t the fact that we couldn’t read any of the packaging nor was it the fact that we really stood out, but Eric’s complete in-ability to focus on the task at hand. He wanted to stop and look at everything and half the time was to excited to remember what it was he was looking for. We also picked up what we needed for the Lilikoi BBQ sauce and Pineapple slaw. 
 We enjoyed the smell of roasting pig for over 3 hours, and we should have opened it in a pan because a river a juice hit the floor, something we’re not used too with meat! We were pretty worried that we’d screwed up and ruined the pork, but when we pulled a piece off, we knew we had a winner. This pork is sweet and earthy, like nothing else we’ve ever had. The banana leaves impart just enough sweetness and the salt brings that sense of Hawai’i style earthiness, which is something you’ll get if you’ve ever been there, if you haven’t been there, its the off season now, so flights are cheap! We tossed the pork in a Lilikoi Pinapple BBQ sauce and topped it with a Pineapple coleslaw on a taro sweet roll (also at the Asian market). This was the closest we’ve gotten to tasting Hawai’i since we were there last, and if you’ve never been there, this is what your missing! 

Kālua Pork Sliders
What You Will Need
5 lb pork butt
2 1/2 Tbs Hawaiian Aaea salt
2 Tbs liquid smoke
1 large banana leaf 




Preheat the oven to 325*F
Rub the pork with the liquid smoke and salt after slicing a handful of long shallow cuts in the pork. 
Wrap pork with banana leaf, tying with kitchen twine to secure. Wrap again in foil and place in a roasting pan with about 1 inch of water and cook for about 3 1/2 hours or 45 minutes per pound. 


Once done, remove foil, twine and leaf and discard. Shred with forks and coat with Lilikoi Pineapple BBQ Sauce. Serve on Hawaiian Taro Rolls with pineapple coleslaw.


Lilikoi Pineapple BBQ Sauce
What You Will Need


1/12 Cup Cider Vinegar
1 Cup Pineapple Juice
1 Cup Ketchup
3 Tbs Soy Sauce
3 Tbs Honey
3 Tbs brown sugar
2 tsp liquid smoke
2 tsp worchestershire sauce
3/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 1/2 cups Lilikoi juice (passion fruit juice)


Combine all ingredients except lilikoi juice in a large saucepan. Boil and whisk until sauce thickens, reduce heat and simmer for 20 mins. Add lilikoi juice and reduce to 2 cups. 

Pineapple Cole Slaw
What You Will Need


1 head green cabbage (shredded)
5 carrots (shredded)
2 cups pineapple (chopped)
1/2 mayo
1/2 pineapple juice
1/4 white vinegar
1 Tbs sugar
1/2 tsp ginger


Whisk mayo, pineapple juice, vinegar, sugar and ginger together and toss with cabbage, carrots and pineapple.



34 thoughts on “Lilikoi Kālua Pork Sliders with Pineapple BBQ Sauce

  1. These look amazing and it also sounds like you had fun fulfilling this challenge. I am so hungry right now and wish I had one of these sliders. Great job and good luck with the contest!

  2. what i realize from this challenge is that we don't need to go over the top or out of this world to come up with a good entry. yours is simply beautiful, it transports us to Hawaii and it still feels homey. job well done! :) definitely spending +1 vote for you!

  3. I love sliders but have never had them like this before! This is a great party recipe…definitely holding onto it for the next time we have friends over for dinner :)

  4. What's up with men and digging hole. All in the name of good BBQ? I loved the story and love looking at these sliders. Holy moley they looks so doggone delicious! The flavors are so new to me, but they sound and look delicious together. Great post, good luck advancing!

  5. I will definitely try your kalua pig– it's one of the recipes we miss most from HI (we lived there a few years ago). I don't miss the Spam, though :) And I love that you served them on taro buns, very authentic!

  6. Oh my goodness does that pork look amazing! And the pineapple BBQ sauce sounds sooooo good. You did a fantastic job with the 2nd challenge, best of luck to you! :)

  7. Your post brought me back to the Hawaiian luau I attended on a trip to Maui several years ago.They do bury the pig in a pit, but your rendition of the Kalua pork looks, wonderful, and I can almost smell it? Did you dress in your Hawaiian attire to eat the meal:)

  8. Probably smart that you didn't dig up the backyard, you might have hit a water pipe or something.Those sliders look amazing. I'm very close to licking my monitor, just on the off chance that I'll be able to taste them. You've got our vote, good luck this week.Lick My Spoon

  9. The pork slider looks delicious. I've been wanting to cook something with banana leaves, this may be it. Great post and you got my vote. Good luck!

  10. I didn't realize that I liked pork until recently, and this is exactly how I like it. Pulled, on sandwiches. This looks great–great story too!

  11. I recognized those Taro rolls from my recent trip to Hawaii, which makes me miss their amazing pork! I am so excited you posted this and I can't wait to try it, hopefully I can find those rolls near me!

  12. We were just watching the Hawaii ironman competition today over the Internet from here in the UK, so this recipe has good timing for me. It sounds lovely. All the best with the rest of the competition.

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