If you are holding a luau but don’t want to go to the trouble of digging an imu oven then you will need some simple but authentic recipes to create the luau experience. Here are a few ideas:

Kalua Pork – cooked slowly this delicious roast is rubbed with sea salt and liquid smoke to give that traditional luau taste of pork from a Hawaiian imu. Once the meat is cooked you should be able to shred it easily before serving it with yams or poi.


Pork butt roast, about five pounds will serve around 12 guests

1 tablespoon of liquid smoke flavouring

Enough sea salt to rub into skin of pork, about 3 tablespoons should work.

Preparation – preheat your oven to 165 degrees C (325 degrees F). Rub the skin of the pork with the sea salt and liquid smoke before wrapping in foil, making sure it is sealed completely. Place in a roasting pan and then into the oven for around five hours, at this point you should use a meat thermometer to check on things – it should read about 70 degrees C (160 degrees F).  If it is ready remove from the oven, allow to cool and then shred. Sprinkle sea salt over the shredded pork and it’s ready to serve.

Poi – a traditional Hawaiian staple is made from the roots of the taro. It is a bland dish traditionally used to cleanse the palate before trying the next delicacy. It can be made in various consistencies and is often named dependent upon its consistency; three fingers, two fingers, one finger all referred to how many fingers were required to scoop up the dish.


One bag of fresh poi

Preparation – place the poi into a mixing bowl. Mix by hand adding water a little at a time until you reach the required consistency. To avoid it drying out you can store it in a refrigerator with a thin layer of water over the top. It is served cold or at room temperature and can be eaten as it is or with a little salt, or sugar, or even soy sauce. If you haven’t tried it before have it with a bite of the Kalua pork.

Tiki Tiki Chicken – a Tiki is a wood or stone carving of humanoid forms done in the Polynesian style. It also refers to Tiki kitsch, a theme used in Polynesian style restaurants loosely based on Tiki carvings and mythology.


4 cups pineapple juice

2tablespoon white wine vinegar

4 cloves of garlic

2 teaspoon of dried rosemary (or equivalent of fresh)

12 chicken thighs

4 teaspoons cornstarch

Preparation – finely chop the garlic, crush the rosemary and trim off any excess fat from the chicken. Take a large measuring cup or bowl and mix together the pineapple juice, vinegar, garlic and rosemary to make a marinade. Use this to marinade the chicken for at least half an hour, longer is better. Pour off excess marinade into a small saucepan and set aside. Grill the chicken for about ten minutes each side or until it is no longer pink in the centre. Add the cornstarch to the marinade in the saucepan mixing well before bringing to the boil. It is important that you stir constantly to avoid the sauce becoming lumpy. Alternatively you can coat the chicken with some of the marinade reserving the rest for the sauce. Serve the chicken with brown rice and the sauce.

A couple of side dishes you can add are Aloha Sweet Potatoes and Hawaiian Coleslaw. Both are very easy to make;

Aloha Sweet Potatoes


4 sweet potatoes

½ cup butter

1 cup brown sugar

½ cup water

¼ cup coconut (shredded)

Preparation – boil the sweet potatoes for around twenty five minutes, leave them in their jackets. Allow them to cool then peel and slice, the slices should be around an inch thick. Melt the butter in a large skillet before adding the sugar and water, cook for about five minutes on a medium heat. Reduce the heat; add the potatoes and you can say Aloha to your Aloha Sweet Potatoes.

Hawaiian Coleslaw


4 cups white cabbage (shredded)

1 can mandarin orange segments

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon ginger

¼ teaspoon nutmeg

¼ teaspoon pepper

1 cup of crushed pineapple

1/3 cup mayonnaise

Preparation – basically this involves mixing everything together! Use a tablespoon of juice from the mandarins to combine with the salt, pepper, ground ginger and ground nutmeg before pouring over the cabbage. Mix well and then add the oranges and pineapple to the mix before finally stirring in the mayonnaise. Make sure you chill well before serving. If you have used fresh pineapple you can serve the coleslaw in one half of the pineapple shell.

Finally, any gathering wouldn’t be complete without a dessert so here is a traditional Hawaiian one.

Haupia with Pineapple – Haupia is a traditional coconut milk based dessert often eaten at luaus. Since the Second World War it has been popular as a topping for white cake especially at weddings. Although called a pudding it resembles a gelatine dessert. The traditional recipe uses ground pia as a thickening agent. Pia is Polynesian Arrowroot.


1 ½ cups coconut milk

1 ½ cups water

½ cup sugar

¾ cup corn starch

½ cup chopped fresh pineapple (you should have enough left from the coleslaw recipe)

Preparation – mix together the cornstarch, sugar, water and coconut milk in a saucepan, stirring until smooth. Place over a medium heat, stirring until thickened. Lower the heat and cook for around ten minutes. At this point remove from the heat and add the pineapple. Pour the mixture into a flat pan and refrigerate until set.