Tod's Blog

Adventures with family & friends and other things I'm passionate about…

Kalua Bear Recipe!

Posted by todblog on August 1, 2006

Being from the Hawaiian islands, there are certain things you just gotta have every now and then wherever you happen to be living now. One such item is Kalua Pig. There are lots of recipes for kalua pig using liquid smoke but, that isn’t even close to the real thing. To kalua something is to put it in an underground pit, trapped with lots of green ti leaves, banana stumps and hot rocks. It stays in there for 8 hours or more. All kinds of meats and vegetables can be thrown in there to be cooked and the flavor imparted from the ti leaves is a big part of why it tastes so good. Living in Oregon, there are lots of opportunities to use other meats instead of pork. We tried using a black bear rump roast.

Rather than dig an imu (underground oven) we chose to use a steamer. Thanks to our dear friend, Paul Chang of Kohala and also currently residing in Oregon, he taught me how to improvise and we converted a 55 gallon drum into a large steamer with a couple of racks (Weber BBQ grill racks) in it and it allows us to cook several picnic shoulders, Boston butts, rump roasts, turkeys, etc. at one time. Here’s how we made the steamer…

In Roseburg, we are fortunate to have Umpqua Dairy. They make some of the best ice cream around. They have a large supply of food grade 55 gallon drums. The drums contained powdered flavoring for ice cream and they came with a metal lid fastened in place with a metal band. We cut the top third off using a sabre saw with a metal cutting blade (use ear plugs and eye protection!) Grind the cut edges so they’re not jagged or sharp. This top third will become the stand that supports the steamer unit. Flip it upside down so that the cut edge is facing up. If you cut it right along the ridge, it will be flared. Notch an opening along the bottom of the stand so a burner can be placed within. Your stand is now ready. Take the bottom two thirds of the original drum and place it on top of this large metal stand and the metal lid should fit securely along the flared cut to keep the steam in.

Top third will become the stand for the steamer.

Stand is flipped over and notched to fit a propane burner inside. Flared edge holds steaming unit in place. Lid fits on top of steaming unit.

55 gal drum

Looking into the 55 gallon drum steamer with a couple of Weber grill racks separated with 2×4’s or 2×6’s on end

Besides the meat, the two main ingredients are ti leaves and Hawaiian salt. You can obtain them from a number of internet retailers or if a local college has a Hawaii Club, go to their spring luau where Hawaii kids get parents to ship greenery up for the event. Ti leaves are usually in abundant supply on table tops, etc. Become part of the clean-up committee and gather unwanted ti leaves before you go home. They keep well in the freezer and last for a long time. I was fortunate enough to have some mailed up to me from Kauai (thanks mom!). They need to get inspected by USDA first and then they can be mailed. The Hawaiian salt could be substituted with Kosher salt (coarse sea salt). The black bear rump roast worked really well! The roast was scored with a knife to allow the salt and ti flavor to penetrate. The roast was wrapped in ti leaves (about 4 leaves) and then completely wrapped in foil. It was then steamed overnight for 8hrs. The meat shreds right off the bone and I use two forks to help shred it on a large platter.

Add Salt

Shredding the Kalua

I usually taste test some pieces and add more Hawaiian salt to taste.

You can stop here and just eat the meat with your poi you have stashed in the freezer or if no more, then eat it on a bun or on a bed of rice. Don’t go to all this trouble just to eat it with potatoes…

Jacob & Tod shredding the kalua

Another favorite way to eat the kalua pig/bear is with cabbage and onions. I slice the cabbage (1/2 head) and onion (1 whole sweet onion) into strips and stir fry in a lightly oiled large wok or skillet. Add cooked shredded kalua pig/bear last to the cooked vegetables. Salt and pepper to taste and serve.

Kalua Pig


Read about this September 2005 bear hunt.

Jus’ like I neva lef home!


3 Responses to “Kalua Bear Recipe!”

  1. […] Bear Bubble Butt In case you thought eating cow rump roast wasn’t American enough, these folks ate the ass right off a black bear. They even cooked it in the Hawaiian “kalua pig” method, burying it in an underground […]


  2. […] We ate rice with salmon/caribou stew over it. (YUMMO!) We sampled moose tongue (not TOO bad) and roasted black bear (YUMMO! although I DOUBT they used this recipe.) And, for dessert, in addition to traditional buffet […]


  3. Bu La'ia said

    Dis is good, cuz! Mahalo!


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