Recipe: Kalua Pig with a Korean Twist

Cooking / Eating In

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Happy Hump Day, Noshers!  Even though we’re smack-dab in the middle of May, the weather has been a little ridiculous lately. What’s with the drab over cast sky and rain, rain (go away!)? While we have a few more dreary days ahead of us, I thought it would the perfect time to share a super easy way to make Hawaiian-style kalua pig with the good ol’ slow cooker!  No, that’s not coffee-flavored pork; kalua refers to a Hawaiian cooking method where food is cooked in an underground oven, or imu. If you’ve been to a luau in Hawaii, you know what I’m talking about – that climactic moment when a whole pig is unearthed after cooking for hours, revealing tender, flavorful meat.  Well, I’m in Missouri at the moment without ready access to an imu; however, I love Hawaiian food (and hope to live in Hawaii someday – how do I make that happen??).  So, I used the next best thing in my kitchen arsenal – my trusty slow cooker.

There are a number of different kalua pig recipes out there, but I liked the simplicity of this one, that calls only for the pork, Hawaiian sea salt, and liquid smoke:

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I happened to have smoked Hawaiian sea salt from an event I attended a while back, so this was the perfect opportunity to use it! So yummy.  Additionally, since I grew up on the East coast in a town with a sizable Korean population, I also decided to mix things up a bit with the addition of gochujang from Born With Seoul. I bought a bottle of their gochujang at a craft fair a while ago and was thoroughly impressed – who would have guessed that my taste for Korean food would follow me from NYC to KC?

I like big (pork) butts, and I cannot lie:slow-cooker-pulled-pork-born-with-seoul-gochujang-1

The recipe itself is super easy – poke a bunch of holes in the pork, rub salt and liquid smoke into it, and slow cook on low for 16-20 hours, turning once.  (Yeah, it takes a while – no instant kalua pig here).  The wait is worth it though, when you lift the lid to see this: slow-cooker-pulled-pork-born-with-seoul-gochujang-3

Once you remove the pork from the slow cooker, shred it with two forks, add drippings as desired, and you voila! Kalua pig! Moist, flavorful, and definitely reminiscent of the original Hawaiian dish, even without the underground oven.

I ate mine wrapped in lettuce with brown rice, cilantro, and gochujang.  Hawaiian-Korean fusion, can’t go wrong:

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This recipe makes a LOT of kalua pig, so it would be great for parties or families.  It’s super easy, and while you do have to prep a day in advance, there’s hardly any effort involved. Give it a try and let me know what you think!


Kalua Pig in a Slow Cooker (original recipe here)

  • 1 6-lb pork butt roast
  • 1.5 tbsp Hawaiian sea salt
  • 1 tbsp liquid smoke flavoring

1. Pierce pork all over with a fork. Rub salt then liquid smoke over meet.

2. Place pork in slow cooker, cover, and cook on LOW for 16-20 hours, turning once during cooking.

3. Remove meat from slow cooker and shred, adding drippings as desired to moisten.

Have you had Hawaiian or Korean food before? What are your favorite dishes?

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