Stop what you’re doing right now and add this to your dinner menu this week. With this simple, delicious, and beautiful dish you will instantly (see what I did here) be transported to the Hawaiian islands. Can you feel the warm breezes and smell the pineapple yet? Mmmmm.
So I lived in Hawaii a few years ago and it was SUCH an amazing experience. Unfortunately we were only there for about 10 months, but I really feel like I made the most of my time there. Lots of hiking, waterfalls, beaches with the most beautiful azure water, some awesome local cocktails and teas, and LOTS of fun new foods.
One of my favorite Hawaiian foods was always Kalua pig. We had a food truck that was just around the corner from our house in Kaneohe called Mike’s Huli Huli. They were known for their chicken, but I always gravitated toward the tender, succulent pork. It was just too good to pass up. They served it with pineapple and two scoops of white rice. And plenty of hot sauce on the side. Literally drooling as I write this.
If you’re ever on Oahu, I highly recommend it. But kalua pig isn’t just at food trucks, it’s what they serve at most luaus and tons of backyard parties. It literally just means pig cooked in the ground.
So how in the world was I supposed to recreate this ground-cooked pork recipe in the Instant Pot?!? I wasn’t quite sure, but it seemed like a lot of other people making kalua pig from the comfort of their own kitchens were using liquid smoke to give it that smokey flavor. But as a Southerner, I just wasn’t thrilled about that idea. Too much like barbecue. Which kalua pig is oh-so-different from, in my opinion. Yes, it’s all smoked pork, BUT kalua pig doesn’t have a super strong smokey flavor like barbecue does and like a liquid smoke would give it. No, I knew I needed another way to go at this.
After doing some research I figured out that most often kiawe wood is used in the pits to smoke the kalua pig. It’s a really mild-flavored mesquite. I knew this had to be it. So I found some kiawe smoked sea salt on Amazon, straight from Hawaii, and ordered it as fast as I could. I knew that with just the smoked salt and some garlic cloves that this Instant Pot kalua pig was going to be legit. Okay, I wasn’t 100% positive, but I was hoping for the best. And damn was I right. With just three ingredients: a pork shoulder, kiawe smoked sea salt, and garlic cloves, this kalua pig tasted SUPER authentic, if I do say so myself.
So if you’re craving some Hawaiian pork goodness and you don’t have a pit in your backyard to bury a pig and smoke it all day, then this recipe is perfect for you!
I’ve tried to keep it really simple and limit the hands-on time, so you can definitely make this on a weekday! And you know since it’s on my website that it’s not just tasty, but also super healthy. It’s Whole30-approved, paleo, low carb, gluten free, dairy free, and can easily be made keto by omitting the pineapple (or using something like a zero carb pineapple syrup if you’ve just gotta have that pineapple taste and you’re having serious FOMO). I don’t really recommend using a pineapple syrup because they usually have artificial sweeteners and such, but you do you. I’m not gonna judge.
I hope y’all enjoy the recipe!! Aloha!Print
Instant Pot Kalua Pig Bowls
Aloha! These Whole30 Instant Pot Kalua Pig Bowls are everything you need to be transported to the Hawaiian Islands. On a weeknight. For meal prep. Whenever you damn please. This recipe is so easy and tastes super authentic. Plus it’s full of nutrients and fun flavors. You’re gonna love it!
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 1 hr 30 mins
- Total Time: 1 hr 40 mins
- Yield: 4 servings
- Category: Dinner, Meal Prep, Instant Pot
- Method: Instant Pot
- Cuisine: Hawaiian
- 2 lb boneless pork shoulder (organic and pastured is best)*
- 2 1/2 Tbsp + 1 tsp Kiawe smoked sea salt, divided
- 8 large cloves garlic (6 whole for stuffing in pork, and 2 minced for cauliflower rice)
- 2 Tbsp + 1 tsp (29g) grass-fed ghee, divided
- 1 cup organic chicken stock
- 1 large head cauliflower, riced (850-900g after ricing)
- 1 bundle (~12oz) Chinese long beans, cut into 6″ segments
- 1/2 pineapple, cubed
- 1 avocado, sliced
- 4 green onions, sliced (green part only)
- 1/3 cup (45g) salted macadamia nuts, chopped
- Extra kiawe smoked sea salt for finishing
- 4 orchid flowers, optional (they’re edible!)
- Cook pork (Sear, Manual high pressure 55 mins, Natural release). Pat pork shoulder dry then season with 2.5 Tbsp kiawe smoked sea salt. Next we are going to stuff 6 cloves of garlic into the pork. Use a chef’s knife to cut 6 deep cuts into the pork in various places and the place one garlic clove in each cut. The garlic should be tucked away inside and not really visible (this keeps them from falling out). Set the Instant Pot to “Sautè” and wait until it says “HOT” on the display. Then add 1 Tbsp ghee to the pot and stir to coat the bottom. Add the pork and sear on both sides for 5 minutes per side. Remove to a plate and turn off Instant Pot. Quickly add chicken stock and scrape the bottom to deglaze. Place trivet in the Instant Pot and place pork shoulder on top. Put on the lid and set valve to “sealing”. Cook on manual high pressure for 55 minutes, then allow to naturally release*. It will take about 6 minutes to come to pressure and 20 minutes to naturally release.
- Cook cauliflower rice. About 10 minutes after the cook time has ended on the pork and while it’s naturally releasing, start the cauliflower rice. Melt 1 Tbsp ghee in a very large skillet (15 inches is best) over medium-high heat. When it’s nice and hot, add minced garlic and cook for 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Then add in cauliflower rice and cook for 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Turn off heat, sprinkle with 1 tsp kiawe sea salt, and mix. Taste and add more sea salt if desired. Cover with towel to keep warm.
- Cook long beans. When the Instant Pot has finished naturally releasing, remove the pork to a cutting board and allow to rest. Place long beans in a steaming basket and place that right on top of the trivet in the Instant Pot. Replace the lid and set Instant Pot to manual high pressure for 0 minutes (yes, zero minutes). This will steam the long beans. When it’s done, do a quick release and remove the steaming basket. At this point you can season the beans with 1/4 tsp kiawe sea salt and serve as-is OR you can quickly sauté them for about 2 minutes in 1 tsp ghee and 1/2 tsp kiawe sea salt. You can choose to sauté them in the Instant Pot (pour off the liquid first, then press sauté and add ghee) or in the skillet after the cauliflower rice is done cooking.
- Shred pork. Using your hands, break open pork and gently shred into large chunks, similar to what’s in the photos above. This is where I always sneak a taste of the pork and try not to eat my entire serving while standing in the kitchen, ha!
- Assemble bowls. Start with the cauliflower rice and then layer on the pork, pineapple, avocado, and long beans to your artistic liking. Garnish with green onion slices, chopped macadamia nuts, a tiny sprinkle of kiawe sea salt, and the orchid flowers.
- Serve and enjoy!
*If your pork shoulder is bigger or smaller then you will need to adjust the amount of salt and garlic, as well as the cook time. You’ll have to use your best judgement on the salt and garlic amounts, but for cook time, follow these guidelines: 2lb = 55 mins / 3lb = 65 mins / 4lb = 75 mins / 5lb = 90 mins. For anything over 3lb, make sure to cut into 2-3 smaller pieces so that they cook evenly. All of these will be using high pressure and a natural pressure release.