Kalua pork and cabbage

I haven’t had much time to cook in the past few months, since by the time I get home I’d rather give my husband and my daughter 100% of my attention.  I appreciate that we have a helper around who can also cook basic Filipino dishes, but both the hubby and I (as self-centered as this sounds) really miss my cooking!

So anyway since our little girl is visiting grandma this week, I was able to make dinner tonight.  It’s a wonderful dish we had during a recent vacation in Hawai’i, kalua pork and cabbage.  Hawai’i has been a favorite vacation spot for my family since I was a kid, but because kalua pork looks unappetizing, I’ve never tried it until our most recent trip when I stole a forkful from my husbands plate in Duke’s Waikiki.  And just like that, I was hooked and ordered it several more times during the duration of our trip.

I asked my Aunt (who has lived in Hawai’i for almost 30 years and is a fabulous cook) how to make it and she told me to just roast pork butt in the oven with a little garlic, Hawaiian red salt and liquid smoke until it’s fork tender.  I also saw a lot of similar recipes online so I decided to give it a shot.  Anything that can be cooked on low heat in the oven can been made in a slow cooker, so I took out my trusty slow cooker early this morning and tonight we sat down to this:

Slow cooker kalua pork and cabbage

Slow cooker kalua pork and cabbage

Kalua pork and cabbage for 2

  • 600 grams pork butt/shoulder/kasim with a good amount of fat
  • 2/3 cabbage (we love cabbage, you can definitely use less if you want)
  • Garlic to taste
  • 1 tablespoon liquid smoke
  • Salt – I used regular kosher salt since I couldn’t get my hands on any Hawaiian red rock salt
  • A few strips of bacon

Take your pork butt or kasim and salt it generously.  Poke it with a knife and stuff slivers of garlic around the pork.  Stick it in your slow cooker fat side up to keep it moist, add the liquid smoke, set the slow cooker on low, and forget about it for at least 8 hours.  Yes, you can cook in a slow cooker without water or a lot of liquid!  🙂

When I checked on my pork, it was so tender that it only took a few pushes with my bamboo spatula to make it look like this:

Shredded kalua pork after 8 hours in the slow cooker

Shredded kalua pork after 8 hours in the slow cooker

Next time though I would pick a part that had a little more fat since that’s the only thing that keeps the pork moist.  Chop up your cabbage and throw it into the slow cooker, adding a little more salt to taste.

Cabbage waiting for the kalua pork

Cabbage waiting for the kalua pork

Since I felt the pork was a bit too lean, I decided to add a little bacon, which of course goes with anything!  Yum!


I left this to cook for another hour while I made some brown rice, and served everything with some macaroni salad that I made the day before.

I brought some liquid smoke with me from Honolulu but you can get it here in Manila either in Unimart or Market Market.  I found that information on this great thread on Marketmanila where MM and readers have compiled a lengthy list of where to buy some hard to find items.


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