Yesterday was St. Patrick’s Day, and I forgot to wear green.  I didn’t even get to eat my favorite boiled corned beef dinner with mustard (sniff, sniff).  I will, however, make up for it today by picking up a Ruben sandwich for lunch, I think.  My husband is part Irish (I am not), and he detests cabbage (I do not).  This tends to present monumental, but infrequent  problems when, for example, we pick up our favorite fried chicken and cannot decide whether to get cole slaw with the mashed potatoes or stale greasy bisquits – or whether to eat a boiled dinner on St.  Paddy’s Day.

I can’t say that I’ve ever really craved cabbage, but I have on occasion fixated on one particularly simple, but oh-so-comforting, meal from my childhood – Kalua pork and cabbage.  This is a dinner that is fast, easy, and inexpensive –  three essentials of a perfect weeknight meal.  You can find Kalua pork at nearly any grocery store in Hawaii, and also (if you happen to be in the San Francisco bay area), in the freezer section of Tokyo Fish Market.  (You may also make your own Kalua pork with a boneless pork butt and liquid smoke.  More on that in a future post.)In this little canister (or even if you make your own Kalua pork), you will discover a method of cooking that produces a meat that is succulent and tender, with a rich, earthy flavor.To prepare Kalua pork and cabbage, simply defrost the pork and pan fry it in a medium-size saute pan over medium heat.  Do not add any oil to the pan; the pork has enough fat in it to keep it flavorful and to keep it from sticking.While the pork is heating, slice the cabbage into strips, about 3/4″ wide.  Wash and dry the cabbage (I use a salad spinner).  You’ll be stir-frying the cabbage with the pork, and you don’t want any water splattering about in the hot pan or diluting the pork’s flavor.  In order to cut down on the cooking time for the cabbage, my Grandma B. recommends microwaving the cabbage on high for about three minutes before adding it to the pan.  This will save you dividends on cooking time over the stove, as well as the inconvenience of having to wrestle with raw cabbage in a shallow saute pan. Add the cabbage to the pork, and stir together until heated through.The Kalua pork will impart a rich, smokey flavor to the cabbage, and the pork’s dense meat contrasts well against the thick, chewy cabbage.  Serve this over hot rice.  Once it’s plated, I like to top everything off with a large dollop of yellow mustard.  Perhaps not for the cabbage-averse, but for the rest of us, this is local homestyle cooking at its best – comforting, hearty, and uncomplicated.


7 Responses to Kalua Pork and Cabbage

  1. Issac Maez says:

    This is great stuff, thanks!

  2. Nelson maeda says:

    This stuff is delicious

  3. Laurie Tillett says:

    Bought some Kahlua pig in Orlando last week and was so surprised to see your photos and it was the exact same brand…pink tub and all. I did mine a little different….fried my cabbage up first in a little oil, salt/pepper. Then fried up the pork in same skillet with a tad more oil. Hot rice from the cooker, splash of Shoyu.
    Ono kine grinds for sure!

  4. sherry says:

    Hi Laurie, I like the idea of frying up the cabbage in oil first and seasoning with salt and pepper. Thank you much for the tip. :)

  5. sherry says:

    Thanks for your post, Nelson. Kalua pork and cabbage is definitely one of my favorite, easy to prepare meals. My Aunty just sent up a couple tubs of Kalua pork, I am looking forward to making this soon.

  6. island girl says:

    i live in Jacksonville florida , we dont have already cooked frozen kalua pork in containers like orlando n california, where can I find some in my area or need arecipe for kalua pig/pork

  7. sherry says:

    @Island Girl: Sorry, I don’t have a recipe. But, maybe try seasoning pork shoulder with Hawaiian salt and braising it over the stove top with water and a little bit of liquid smoke. Slow cook it, until you can shred the meat. I have not tried this with pork (yet), but I roasted a whole turkey in the oven once with liquid smoke. And it came out tender and tasting like Kalua turkey.

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