Kalua Pork and Cabbage – Straight from the Heart of Maui

Enjoy kalua pork and cabbage as a meal. Kalua means to cook underground and cabbage is filled with nutrients, making this a healthy addition to any dish.

I remember the days, when my uncles would dig the imu (pit) for the pig and my grandfather, stood over them barking orders, ensuring that his sons did it just perfectly. Here’s a short outline of this process from memory, for exact details, go to Hawaii and experience it firsthand.

Preparing the imu so that you can cook the pig underground took a great deal of planning and hard work. It was a full day’s event in most cases. But it was also a good excuse to get together with family and enjoy each other’s company.

Digging the imu

After digging the imu you have to start the kindling to heat the lava rocks until they are the color of fire or lava. These are the rocks that will be used to roast the pig. You season the pig using Hawaiian salt, place some of the hot lava rocks into the cavity of the pig and tie the legs together.

Next you need to get the chicken wire ready, placing ti leaves on the wire and setting the pig on the ti leaves which are on the wire. Now you’re going to encase the whole pig in the chicken wire, because when it’s done it just falls apart. The wire keeps the meat together, until you are ready to open it.

Back to the imu, this is hard work, while the pig is being dressed; banana tree trunks were being cut and sliced. The banana trunk is very fibrous and it’s filled with moisture, which is why this is the perfect material for the next step. You put the shredded banana trunk on top of the lava rocks and follow it with the pig wrapped in the chicken wire.

We’re almost done with preparations for the imu; you’ll top the pig with banana leaves and the wet burlap bags, more leaves and then cover the pit. The ti and banana leaves keep the pig meat covered so that sand or dirt never touches it. Depending on the size of the pig it can take 2 – 6 hours to cook.

Delicious meat

When the pig is done, the meat just falls off the bone all by itself! These were good memories, spending my summers with my grandfather on Maui. All of this effort and dedication to making the perfect imu to roast the perfect kalua pig was and still is worth it.

Those days are long gone but you can still make kalua pork and cabbage in your own kitchen with a taste from yesterday. At a luau you have all of the accompaniments; in our home we serve the kalua pork with rice and a macaroni salad. Can’t get any better than that!

Believe it or not, most Hawaiian dishes are very healthy for you. And with our seasons changing now and fall vegetables in the stores, this is a perfect time to try a cabbage recipe. Cabbage produces an enzyme that activates detoxification in your body; which is another healthy attribute.

You’re going to love this dish. It’s simple to prepare and even easier to serve. Leftovers are heated easily and taste even better the next day,that is of course if there are any leftovers.


  • 1 5 lb. Pork Butt about – pick one with fat one it. The fat just adds to the flavor of the dish.
  • Hawaiian salt (sea salt) and pepper
  • 2-3 TB of Liquid smoke
  • 2 cup of broth – chicken or pork will work
  • 1 Head Cabbage – sliced and shredded
  • Mom puts thin slices of ginger (not alot) into the pork roast – optional


Salt and pepper the pork roast, add the broth into the crockpot, put the pork roast into the crockpot and let it cook till done. You will know it’s done, by piecing the meat. If the juices are clear, it’s done.

When the roast is done, take it out of the crockpot and set it aside.

Put the shredded cabbage into the crockpot with the sauce and let it cook till tender.

While the cabbage is cooking, take the pork roast and pull the meat apart so that you have shredded meat. Add the pulled meat back into the crockpot with the shredded cabbage and let everything simmer for about 20 minutes.


Get your plate ready and place two scoops of white rice on the plate and add the kalua pork and cabbage. You can season the dish with some shoyu sauce to your taste.



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