Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Pineapple Kalua Pork On The Smoker for Hawaiian Salads (and more)

One of the advantages of buying all sorts of spices, herbs and salts (that I may or may not use right away) is when I decide on a new recipe to try, there's a damned good possibility I might just have everything I need on hand. As was the case when I decided to duplicate the Hawaiian Salad with kalua pork from Nalu Hawaiian Surf Bar & Grille in Bethany Beach, DE. Yep, another of the dishes we enjoyed so much on vacation that we needed to do it again at home. 

The salad itself is fairly simple...just a matter of assembling the various components that make it "Hawaiian." What would that be? First and foremost, smoky kalua pork. We'll talk about that in a minute. The rest? Pineapple, of course, and mango, banana chips, coconut chips (Trader Joes!), macadamia nuts all mounded on a (not just Hawaiian) base of lettuce and baby spinach. 

The dressing? A decadent rich and creamy pineapple tahini dressing. The surprising thing about duplicating the dressing is that my version is relatively low in calories! Only 39 calories to 1/4 cup of dressing. You'd never guess. The Belgian endive in the pic? Decidedly NOT Hawaiian, but I'm guessing they used the spears to look life surfboards in the sand at the beach...that's what they looked like to me anyway.

Okay, back to the kalua pork. Most recipes I've seen call for the use of liquid smoke. Come on. Really? King Kamehameha's chefs had liquid smoke on hand? I'm thinking that's a no. Why not be a (little) more authentic and put some real smoke on this baby?! What's the point of having a smoker if you don't use it instead of the fake stuff? So I did. I didn't, however, wrap the pork in banana leaves. (Hmmmmm...maybe a stealthy trip to Phipps Conservatory would have been just the thing. Just kidding!)

Anyway, here's what Kimber and I came up with and I have to say it was every bit as good as the original. And the Pineapple Coconut Tahini Dressing was even better! I'd say it was `Ono Lani. That's "delicious heaven" in Hawaiian!

The Hawaiian Salad we enjoyed at Nalu Hawaiian Surf Bar & Grille in Bethany Beach, DE

Pineapple Kalua Pork on the Smoker 
for Hawaiian Salad

  • 2 pork tenderloins, pierced all over with a knife
  • 1 head garlic, cloves separated, paper skins removed, smashed
  • 2" long piece of fresh ginger, peeled, cut into coins and smashed
  • 2 C fresh pineapple with all the juices
  • 1 T Salish Alderwood smoked salt (look for it in your local gourmet food shop or order it from Gourmet Delights like I do)
  • 1 1/2 t coarse black lava Hawaiian salt (check Amazon)
  • 1 t Hawaaian pink salt (check Amazon)

In a gallon size zip top bag, mix together the garlic, ginger, pineapple and the salts. Add the pork tenderloins, squeeze out all the air, seal and evenly distribute the marinade mixture evenly around the tenderloins. Marinate 12-24 hours.

The next day, prepare your smoker and set the temp to 225 degrees. Remove the tenderloins from the bag, pour the marinade into the water bowl in your smoker along with water to fill. Smoke the tenderloins until they reach an internal temp of 180 degrees or until still moist and tender, but beginning to fall apart. Take it off and let it rest for 15-20 minutes before pulling.

Because a tenderloin is a long muscle, before I "pulled" the pork, I cut it into 2" slices across the grain and then pulled it. It's ready now to use in the salad or sandwiches on King's Hawaiian buns! If using in sandwiches, use a little pineapple juice to moisten the pork and maybe a little Asian-style BBQ sauce. Delicious!

Now for the dressing:

Pineapple Coconut Tahini Dressing

  • approx 3/4 C fresh pineapple chunks
  • approx 1/4 C tahini
  • 2 T mirin
  • 1 T rice wine vinegar
  • 1 T fresh lemon juice
  • 2 T cream of coconut (yep, the same stuff you use in a pina colada!)
Throw everything into a blender and let 'er rip!

Hawaiian Salad ala Nalu Hawaiian Surf Bar & Grille

  • mixed greens of baby spinach and lettuces of choice
  • a few spears (surfboards) of Belgian endive
  • fresh pineapple chunks
  • coconut chips (yes, I forgot to put them on the salad before the pic! But we put them on when we ate it!)
  • macadamia nuts, coarsely chopped
  • banana chips
  • fresh mango, diced
  • kalua pork
  • pineapple coconut tahini dressing
In a shallow bowl, make a bed of spinach and lettuce, top with the above and enjoy! Aloha!


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