Last summer my family and I journeyed to the Hawaiian island of Oahu. This was the first family vacation we had taken that required airline travel, and it was a fun and exciting experience for all four of us!
The view from our hotel on Waikiki Beach was breathtaking and included a good deal of turtle spotting. Every few seconds a giant sea turtle came up for air while frolicking in the waters, leading us to gasp and point. It was truly awe inspiring!
My children, ages 10 and 11 at the time, enjoyed learning about island traditions, and sampled their share of local Hawaiian and Asian cuisine. (After all, traveling with a food-writer mother means experiencing all of the local flavors.)
Back on the mainland, it has been fun to relive our island experiences as I've recreated dishes we enjoyed during our trip. And, planning a family or neighborhood luau is a fun way to introduce Hawaiian culture to your young children.
Luau party invitations abound at local paper shops and gift stores, but you also can get creative and have your children cut surf board invitations out of cardboard or poster board. Cut the surf boards so that they fit in a standard legal-sized envelope then let the children decorate one side of each surfboard with whimsical patterns of fish, flowers or geometrics. Print the invitation details on the computer and glue them to the undecorated side of each surf board invitation.
A typical luau menu is a spectacular buffet of spit-roasted Kalua Pork, Poke (seasoned raw fish), Teriyaki or Shoyu Chicken or Beef, Laulau (pork, chicken or fish steamed in banana leaves), Macaroni or Potato Salad, sticky rice, Chicken Long Rice, Poi and Haupai (coconut pudding). I'm including an easy recipe for Kalua Pork below, and you can receive recipes for a complete luau menu by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org or by sending a self addressed stamped envelope to Jennifer Miller, c/o The Augusta Chronicle, 725 Broad Street, Augusta, GA 30901.
Kalua pork is simply Hawaiian pork barbecue without any sauce. My easy recipe starts with a Boston butt roast that is then rubbed with liquid smoke and coarse salt before cooking on a slow cooker with a cup of water. The recipe also can be prepared in the oven. It's delicious served with the cooking juices over cooked white rice, or on a toasted bun.
Whether you serve your Kalua pork as an entree to your family or make it the centerpiece of a neighborhood luau, use the recipe as a fun opportunity to share some information about our tropical 50th state with your children.
Your children will be the perfect luau hosts and hostesses when they know a few Hawaiian words and traditions.
-On the islands, children refer to adults as "auntie" and "uncle," and call one another "cousins," whether they're related or not. So, your children can greet a female guest by stating, "Aloha Auntie."
-When something tastes really delicious, Hawaiians say it's "ono" or "onolicious." -"Mahalo" means thank you, and "ohana" means family.
Search the internet for more fun Hawaiian facts and phrases!
Oven or slow cooker kalua pork
1 5 to 6-pound pork roast (Boston butt)
2 cups water
1 teaspoon liquid smoke
1/4 cup Hawaiian Salt (or coarse sea or kosher salt)
Place pork fat side up in a roasting pan or deep casserole dish. Combine water and liquid smoke; pour over meat. Sprinkle with salt. Cover and roast in oven at 400 degrees F. for three hours. Remove from pan and shred. (Also can be simmered on low all day in the slow cooker ñ just reduce the water to 1 cup.)
Makes 8 servings.
Note: Reduce the fat content in the finished pork by placing the shredded pork and cooking liquid in a plastic container. Cover and refrigerate overnight. The fat will harden at the top and can be easily removed before reheating.