Foods | Cooking
Hints & Tips
This wonderful Hawaiian Lau Lau Pork recipe was generously shared by Beth and her website,
Cooking and Crafting 101.
Beth grew up and still lives in Oahu, Hawaii. Making Lau Lau helps connect her to her family roots. Beth says, "My dad used to be the one to make us all our Lau Lau. We would get
together and make an assembly line and make 50 at a time. He'd pressure cook
them while we sat around talking and eating and when they were done, we got
to take our Lau Lau home. He's gone now, so it is nice to know that I can
still have my Lau Lau and remember the good times." Check out Beth's YouTube step by step
video for making Lau Lau Pork:
My youngest daughter and husband love Hawaiian cooking. On
their last trip to Kauai, they stopped at a small family diner called Ohana Diner in Kapaa for lunch and decided to try all the local
specialties. It was a small family run diner which had a sign on the door that read “Closed on days when the surfs up” You gotta love that island spirit! Their favorite
was the Lau Lau Pork. The pork was so tender, moist and had a wonderful saltiness wrapped in these steamed taro leaves. We could easily break it
apart with a fork! When they asked the owner how it was prepared, they learned the pork was wrapped in taro leaves, then ti leaves and steamed for
hours. A lot of preparation and cooking time went into the pork, which led to further appreciation of the dish. My daughter was happy to find a crock
pot version of Lau Lau Pork that she could make at home and was not disappointed. In this recipe she has shared her cooking pictures. She even
took the left over pork, cooked taro leaves, broth, rice and added some onions and garlic to made a wonderful soup the next evening. Traditional
Lau Lau Pork includes a piece of salted cod fish in the meat bundle to add an additional salty flavor. In this recipe, soy sauce will take the place of
the salted fish.
The History of Lau Lau Pork:
Lau Lau is to islanders what barbeque is to Southerners. Hawaiians consider Lau
Lau their soul food that effects them deep to their core. Lau Lau translates to Leaf, leaf. The kalo plant (taro) is so central to Hawaiian culture that
Hawaiian origin stories place kalo as the elder brother of man. Both the leaves and the corm (root) were central to the Hawaiian diet, and the plant was intricately woven
into every part of Hawaiian culture. The taro (luau) leaf is the essential Lau Lau ingredient which is very healthy and full of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
The Lau Lau wrapper is a ti leaf which is a tough waxy leaf that can withstand high temperatures. In Hawaiian culture, ti leaves hold
ceremonial and medicinal importance as they are regarded as having protective powers and believed to ward off negative energy. Lau Lau is
essential to any lu’au gathering. Islanders may judge your feast by the quality of your Lau Lau. Did it have a true island flavor? Enough saltiness,
fatty or meatiness to it?
Lau is known as a form of cooking and not a specific dish.
The cooking method involves chunks of a fatty meat (usually pork) and a piece of salted fish (salted cod - also called butterfish) and
some sweet potato wrapped in taro (luau) leaves It is then tied up in a ti leaf packet and steamed in an underground imu. An imu oven is a large pit
dug into the ground with a layer of hot rocks over a fire (wet banana leaves are layered over the hot rocks). The
Lau Lau packets are placed on top of the
banana leaves for steaming and another layer of banana leaves are covered on top. Then everything is buried with a layer of dirt to slowly steam for
hours. Now days, many Hawaiians will also cook Lau Lau in a pressure cooker, rice cooker, or bake in an oven to reduce the need for an underground oven.
Other types of meat used could be any fresh-caught fish of the day, turkey tails,
chicken thighs, or corned beef to add a fatty content. It’s a
personal preference for most islanders and everyone has their own special technique for Lau Lau.
Alea Salt- Hawaiian Sea Salt History and Uses:
Salt is also known as Alaea, Alae, and Hawaiian Red Salt. Salt
making has been performed in Hawaii for over 1000 years. The waters off the
coast of Hawaii are considered some of the purest in the world. These waters
are used to make the sea salt in Hawaii which yields very pristine
salts. Traditionally the salt was evaporated through a series of small
ponds. As the water evaporates the salt concentrate increases. Alea Salt is
sea salt that has been mixed with red alea volcanic clay which can only be
found in Hawaii. Alea clay gives the salt a pinkish brown color which is
also rich in iron oxide and up to 80 additional minerals.
salt is commonly used in Hawaiian rituals to purify and bless their tools,
canoes, homes and temples as well as healing rituals for medicinal
purposes. Alea salt is also used in several traditional Hawaiian food dishes
such as Kalua Pig, Poke, Hawaiian Jerky, and Lau Lau Pork adding a bold,
earthy flavor. Alea salt can be used as a finishing salt, cooking salt, or a
rub for meats. When rubbed on meat, the mineral clay hardens which helps to
seal in the natural juices of the meat. Other great pairings with food
include salads, barbeque, fish, meat dishes, soups, and stews. True Hawaiian
sea salt is very expensive to purchase. This is why you will find most Alea
sea salts sold in the U.S. are produced in California.
Hana Hou - The magazine of Hawaiian Airlines, Bundle of Joy - The classic laulau, by Wanda A. Adams.
Asian Supper - Authentic and Modern Asian Recipes, Laulau (pork wrapped in taro leaves).
Lau Lau Recipe - Hawaiian Lau Lau Pork Recipe:
Slow Cooker - Crock Pot
Far West (Hawaii)
Yields: serves many
Prep time: 40 min
Cooker time: 8 hours
on low heat setting
4 to 6 pound boneless pork butt roast or country-style ribs (cut into 1 1/2 inch chunks)
2 pounds fresh taro (luau) leaves, cleaned, washed and stems removed*
3 tablespoons Hawaiian Sea Salt**
3 tablespoons soy sauce (also known as shoyu sauce) - can use low sodium if desired
6 Ti leaves or Banana leaves, cleaned and thick rib removed***
1 cup water
* Taro Leaves
(Luau Leaves) need to be purchased fresh and can be found at local Asian
specialty markets. If unable to find locally, Swiss Chard, Beet Greens,
Collard Greens or large spinach leaves can be substituted. I personally
think the Swiss chard or beet greens would have the closest flavor to cooked taro leaves.
Taro leaves are edible when properly cooked.
** Hawaiian Sea Salt can be found at
most gourmet or local Asian markets or ordered on line (Hawaiian Alea Sea Salt). Coarse kosher or sea salt can be substituted.
Ti leaves or
can be purchased frozen at local Asian or Latin specialty markets,
and also online. Allow frozen leaves to thaw,
rinse and pat dry before using. If unable to purchase, lining crock pot with aluminum foil and covering top of pork snugly with foil can be substituted to create
steamy environment. Both Ti Leaves and Banana Leaves are not edible.
Taro Leaf (Luau Leaf)
Rinse and pat dry pork with paper towel. Cut pork into 1-1/2 inch cubes. In large bowl, add pork, Hawaiian Alea Sea
Salt, and soy sauce. Toss until all the meat pieces are covered evenly.
Line a 5-quart crock-pot bottom and sides with 4 Ti leaves or banana leaves (shiny side up - facing food), forming a slight basket all the way up
the sides of the crock pot. If unable to purchase the Ti or Banana leaves,
lining crock pot with aluminum foil and covering top of pork snugly with aluminum foil can be substituted to create a steamy environment.
Crock pot lined with Ti or Banana Leaves.
Remove stems from taro leaves. Stack 2 large taro leaves on top of each other or 4 to 6 medium to small taro leaves.
Place 2 to 3 chunks of seasoned pork in the center of the taro leaves.
Wrap taro leaves around the pork chunks creating a bundle.
Place bundle in crock pot seam side down. Repeat this step until crock pot is full of wrapped pork. Pour water over
the pork bundles.
Place remaining Ti or Banana leaves over top (shiny side down, facing food), tucking in edges. Cover the top of the crock pot with aluminium
foil and place the lid on top.
Cook on low for 8 hours or until Taro Leaves are fully cooked (dark green and soft).
* Not recommended to cook on high setting. The author of
Cooking and Crafting 101 received the following feedback: “I received feedback that
the fast 4-hour version caused their mouth to itch. Luau leaves need to be thoroughly cooked so that this does not
happen, so I encourage you to do the 8-hour version.”
Serve pork and cooked taro leaves with steamed white rice and enjoy!
* Note: Do not eat the Ti or Banana Leaves as they are not edible.