I enjoy many cuisines, and lately my cooking had steered toward Hawaiian cuisine. This is often persuaded by which cookbook(s) I am reading. One of the many cookbooks I've been enjoying lately is by chef Sam Choy (the guru that made spam and char siew fried rice better known to mainland Americans, and also widely popular for home cooks in South-East Asia). This is one of his recipes that used the home-friendly oven to roast Hawaiian pork instead of an imu (underground oven using coals and sand), and I love this as a shredded pork dish for my little mantau (chinese steamed buns) sandwiches. I also made this with some vegetables for the asian women's meeting last weekend, and had compliments for this dish. Some of the ladies had asked for the recipe, so I'm sharing it here. The traditional way of serving this is with sweet potatoes and poi (mashed taro root). I adapted his recipe and this serves 6-8. The original recipe also appeared in Bon Appetit.
7 lb boneless pork butt
3-4 tablespoons Hawaiian alaea sea salt
2 tbs light soy sauce
4-5 frozen banana leaves, thawed and rinsed
6-8 cups water
1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke
Set the oven at 350F. Cut 1/4-inch-deep slits 1 inch apart all over pork roast. Rub 2 tablespoons sea salt and light soy sauce all over pork. Rinse and towel dry banana leaves. Unfold 1 or 2 banana leaf on work surface and place pork roast atop leaf. Fold up leaf around pork, enclosing completely. Repeat wrapping pork in remaining 2 banana leaves.
Tie securely with kitchen string, then wrap roast in foil. Make sure to wrap foil securely so that you save some of the juice from the roast. Place pork in roasting pan and pour about 4 cups water into pan..Roast pork in oven until very tender when pierced with fork, about 5 hours. You may have to add more hot water to the water-bath once or twice during the cooking process. After cooking, wait a few mins. and carefully remove the roasting pan from the oven.
Unwrap pork and cool slightly. Shred pork and place in large bowl. Pour the juices into a gravy separator to remove fat. Bring remaining 2 cups water and remaining 2 teaspoons salt to boil in saucepan. Add the juices from the roast. Add liquid smoke, and pour over pork and stir to blend. Let stand 10 minutes to allow liquid to flavor pork. Serve
Note: I have done this once without using the banana leaves, and it came out fine. Great with a green salad and/or cucumbers as sides. In the picture above, I prepared this recipe with steamed plain Chinese mantou buns as a fun delicious sandwich for this pork dish and my keiki loved it. I added some green onions and red peppers in mine for an extra crunch.
I have also read somewhere (I think it's one of the forums) that you can use a oven bag to cook the pork in and I intend to try that next time I make this.Here's a shot from the asian women's meeting last weekend. I didn't get many shots as my flash wasn't working properly that day. The famous Lily Ng was present with her freshly baked pastry and A.Y. brought her tasty assam fish and biryani. J.K. brought some beautiful sausage rolls, S.H brought sweet kuih dadar and P.K. brought a nice, dark, spicy chicken dish. E.W. brought yummy meatballs, and J.H. brought her very spicy chicken curry. There were many more, but I can't recall who brought what though. I finally got to chat with some old friends and met some new ones. Didn't cook much myself except for a chicken drumstick curry dish, basmati rice, Hawaiian pork with veggies, bubur hitam (that I inevitably forgot to stir in all the excitement), and some mini cocktail sausages. All the ladies brought wonderful feast for the potluck and I thought everyone had a great time.