Celebrate Someone Special with a Hawaiian Luau Dinner

Aloha from sunny Washington D.C.! That's me, on the right. Aren't I handsome? Of course there's no way that could be me, mainly because if I'm going to the trouble of matching a hat to my outfit, it would be far more fantastic than than the plain thing this guy is wearing.

But I digress. Tis' time for the First Annual Mr. Luz Birthday Extravaganza post. This post is dedicated to the one and only Party Momster. She's a Birthday-party-aholic, and you can check out her blog here. Party Momster says "I just love the permission a Birthday gives you to escape the everyday and do things you wouldn't normally do. And just be over-the-top in making someone feel special."

Well, Party Momster, Mr. Luz and I agree with you and applaud your dedication to the under appreciated art of partying. Here's to you.

Mookalakaheeki. Come on, you wanna lei me. Pass the poi, Mahalo. A Luau Menu in 4 Parts

This menu should serve 8-10 for dinner, and you can easily convert everything into appetizers. (get some Hawaiian buns and make smoked pork & pineapple salsa sandwiches, cut the ribs into small portions, and spoon the potato salad onto a lettuce wrapper pupu platter-styles.)

Char Sui Ribs: (for 6 lbs. of ribs)
This recipe was relatively easy, because the Asian-inspired ingredients added a richness to the ribs even though I didn't brown them before braising. They were sweet and mellow, and so tender that they weren't really ribs so much as piles of pork with some random bones sitting around. (Oops!) The glaze adds flavor without mess, so don't skip that part.

I think it's typical for Hawaiians to bake rather than braise these puppies, but I'm not experienced with that technique. Instead, I went with a tried and true approach and was rewarded with luscious pork ribs and a lovely soy-roasted garlic-sesame oil perfume throughout the house as the guests arrived.

2 Slabs of Baby Back Ribs (6 lbs.)
1/2 Cup Light Brown Sugar
2 Tbs. Vanilla Extract
1 Cup Hoisin Sauce
4 Tbs. Sesame Oil
4 Tbs. sliced Garlic
4 Tbs. sliced Ginger
4 Tbs. Soy Sauce (I used 2 Tbs. each of regular and low-sodium)

Trim excess fat from the ribs, and remove the tendon from the back of the ribs if you prefer. Place the ribs in a large baking dish with the meaty side facing down.

Mix the rest of the ingredients in a large bowl and pour over the ribs in the roasting pan. Add enough water to the pan so that the ribs are covered ½ way. Cover tightly with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 2.5 hours.

After 2.5 hours, check on the ribs. If they are tender, remove the ribs to a large dish and pour 4 cups of the braising liquid into a sauce pan.

Skim the fat off of the braising liquid and boil until caramelized and reduced to 2 cups. Brush the glaze over the ribs, and if desired, bake at 450 degrees for 5 minutes, or until the glaze has set on the ribs. Cut into the desired size, and serve.

Smoked Island Pork Tenderloin:
Maybe I don't have room in my "yard" to bury an entire pig with some coals and ti leaves, but I do know how to marinade and smoke stuff. Hence the inspiration for this smoked pork recipe. The pork was succulent from its milky marinade, and our guests commented that the coconut flavor was subtle, and yummy.

3 lb. Pork Tenderloin
1 can Coconut Milk (approx. 2 cups)
3 Tbs. Soy Sauce
1 Tbs. Lime Juice
1 cup Pineapple Juice
2 Tbs. chopped Garlic
3 Tbs. chopped Ginger
2 Tbs. Asian 5-Spice
Salt and Pepper

Trim the excess fat and tendon off of the pork tenderloin. Add the remaining ingredients to a blender and blend until the garlic and ginger are minced. Place the tenderloin in a non-metal bowl, and pour the marinade over the top. Cover and refrigerate for 8 hours. If the marinade does not cover the pork, turn it halfway through.

Prepare the grill for smoking. Remove the pork from the marinade, and season liberally with 5-spice, salt, and pepper. Place the pork on the center of the grill, over indirect heat and the drip pan, and smoke for 40 minutes. You can turn and baste with any reserved marinade after 30 minutes, but PLEEZE keep the grill closed otherwise. The pork should be medium after 40 minutes, but smoke for an additional 20 if you want it to be well done.

Remove the pork from the grill, let it rest for 10 minutes, and serve with pineapple salsa (see below).

Kimchi Potato Salad:
This is a recipe for an easy, crowd-pleasing side dish with some interesting and unique element and a light, smoky taste. Hawaiians typically serve poi (paste from taro roots) and kimchi (vinegary, pickled cabbage)at luaus, and I struggled with how to make these elements fit with the BBQ theme.

In the end, I added wilted cabbage and vinegar to an Asian-inspired potato salad, and would have added boiled, cubed taro root if it was available. If you do use taro, be careful and do some research. There are toxins in the skin and the flesh, so take extra precautions when skinning and cooking this starchy, sweet root vegetable.

6 slices of Smoked Bacon
1 ½ Cup sliced Purple Cabbage
5 lbs. of Yukon Gold Potatoes, skinned, boiled, and cubed
2 Cups Mayonnaise
2 Tbs. Soy Sauce
1 Tbs. Sesame Oil
1 Tbs. Dijon Mustard
1 Tbs. Rice Wine Vinegar
1 Cup chopped Green Onion
½ Cup chopped Cilantro
4 dashes Hot Sauce
Salt & Pepper to taste

Cook the bacon in a frying pan over medium heat until crispy and coarse chop when cooled. Wilt the cabbage in the bacon fat and drain on paper towels.

Place the cooked potatoes in a large bowl. Add the bacon and cabbage while still warm, if possible. Mix the remaining ingredients in a small bowl, and pour over the potato mixture. Toss, chill, and serve.

Pineapple Salsa:
Fresh pineapple is now my favorite thing ever. That should say it all.

2 Cups fresh Pineapple, chopped (reserve juices)
½ Cup chopped Cilantro
1 Jalapeno, finely chopped
1 Cup chopped Sweet Onion
1 Red Bell Pepper, finely chopped
4 Tbs. chopped Basil
2 Tbs. chopped mint
4 Tbs. Lime Juice
4 dashes Hot Sauce
Salt & Pepper to taste

Place the pineapple and any juices released from chopping in a non-metal bowl. Add the remaining ingredients, and stir. Let the salsa sit in the fridge for 1 hour to let the flavors blend. Serve well-chilled with taro chips and/or on the smoked pork tenderloin.



  1. I'm so choked up -- what a great post! Mr. Party MOMster has always dreamed of having a pig roast -- your Smoked Island Pork Tenderloin is close enough for me.

    Mahalo nui loa (Thank you very much)

  2. yeah, kimchi potato salad!!!! i like.

  3. You are truly ridiculous, my dear, and I miss you! (But then, you already knew that, since you can see that I'm reading this from my hotel in the beautiful ABQ.)

  4. PartyMOMster, thank YOU. I would lurve to see your take on a luau, and am anxiously awaiting a post. When is Mr. PM's birthday, anyway? Could you throw a half-birthday for him? :)

    Christina, I need a real kimchi recipe because pickled stuff just tastes better. Any ideas?

    Mal! I miss you, too. I wasn't sure when you were transitioning from Maine lobster to....Red Lobster so I shall harass you in ABQ now. You missed chowing down on 16 lbs. of pork at Mr. Luz's party. However will I make it up to you?

  5. By bringing me 16 pounds of cold pork the first day we're back in the office together. I can offer you... brussel sprouts and breakfast sandwiches? And hugs? And wine? And awkwardness?

  6. I can't wait to try everything you've posted here! It all looks great!

    By the way, I have something for you. Head over to my blog at