The Lau Lau is to Hawaiian food as tamale is to Mexican food. Considered the ultimate comfort food and a Hawaiian BBQ staple, Lau Lau makes a great addition to any large gathering. Sometimes a side dish, often a main course, always served over hot steaming white rice, LauLau can be made with a variety of meats or veggies, or even both. In Hawaii, these would be made by large batch (several hundred at a time) with family members on a Lau Lau line, then divided up and frozen to be thawed and re-steamed later. Here we will do a recipe for 12, which could easily be halved, doubled or more depending on gathering size.
8 to 12 pounds boneless pork butt roast or country-style boneless ribs (cut into 48 or more one-and-a-half-inch cubes)
24 large taro leaves*, cleaned, washed and stems removed
3 tablespoons Red Hawaiian Sea Salt (can substitute Himalayan salt if needed)
6 tablespoons shoyu sauce (also known as soy sauce)—can use low sodium if desired
1 cup water
String or ribbon
Heavy duty aluminum foil
•Rinse and pat dry pork or ribs with paper towel.In large bowl, add the meat, Hawaiian sea salt, and shoyu. Toss until all the meat pieces are covered evenly.
•Stack 2 large taro leaves on top of each other.Place 4–5 chunks of seasoned pork or ribs in the center of one taro leaf. Fold taro leaves around the meat mixture, creating a square bundle, place open side down on second leaf and fold again then tie off with string. Repeat 12 times.
•Once all of the bundles are made, line a crock pot with foil. Place all 12 Lau Lau inside, pour water over top, and cover with foil. Place crock pot lid over foil.
•Cook on low heat 6–8 hours (be sure leaves are dark green). Serve with hot steaming rice, or your favorite lomi, mac salad or even poke.
*Bellingham’s Asia Oriental Market, 2408 Meridian St., can order them for you.
*West Coast Oriental Grocer, 4060 Meridian St., Bellingham has fresh leaves in stock.