Kalua Pork and Soba Noodles

I continue my quest to use things out of the freezer.  I have about 5 pounds of Boston Butt pork in the downstairs freezer, cut into 1-1 1/2 pound pieces.  I’ve been looking for a way to use them in some way other than making some variety of bbq.  This is a pretty tough cut of meat so it has to be roasted a long time to be good.  I searched on the Food Network site and ran across a recipe for Kalua Pork Chow Mein.  Of course I was intrigued by the combination of pork and kahlua until I noticed the spelling difference.  But then I was already there so I decided to read the recipe anyway.

Kalua Pig is the traditional meat served at a luau.  Wow, is it good.  Clearly I don’t have any lava rocks or an in ground pit (imu) for cooking so this is a facsimile of the real thing.  It’s a spice and salt rubbed piece of Boston Butt roasted in foil in a regular oven then cooled and shredded.  I wasn’t too interested in chow mein noodles so I decided to use buckwheat soba noodles instead.  Then Kroger had no bok choy today so I picked up some Napa cabbage instead.  Kroger didn’t have any nori powder either (no surprise there) so I just left it out.  It didn’t seem worth scouring the city for something I only needed a pinch of.  And I don’t keep peanut oil in the house (sorry, Paula Deen) so I used canola with about a teaspoon of sesame oil mixed in.  Lots of substitutions today.

This is not a pretty dish.  If you use a white noodle it won’t like quite such a bowl of brown, but still, it has a brown sauce so it’s going to be a bowl of brown regardless.  The good news is that the yumminess far outweighs the ugliness.  Really good.  It has some heat to it so if you’d prefer it a little milder just reduce the amount of cayenne.  The pork is far and away the best part of this, but it needs the other elements to ramp it up some.  Be careful taking the foil off of the roasting pan.  I have a wicked steam burn on one finger because I wasn’t paying attention.  There’s not much salt on the pork.  Resist the temptation to add more.  The sauce has plenty of salt so once it’s all put together you’ll be good on that front.  If you prefer a more substantial noodle use an udon or use the chow mein noodles from the original recipe.

This is a good do-ahead recipe.  The pork has to be roasted and cooled before it can be shredded.  The sauce can be mixed ahead of time and set aside.  All the chopping can be done early in the day and stored until you need it.  Once all the prep work is done putting this together takes about 10 minutes.

Overall this is really good.  I’m already looking forward to the leftovers!

Good? Definitely
Easy? Relatively. Shredded the pork is monotonous, but not hard.
Good for company? Eh. I’d prefer to serve prettier food to guests.
Special shopping? Your regular grocery should have everything. Make your own 5 spice powder if you like.

The recipe below reflects my changes. The title link will take you to the original.

Kalua Pork and Soba Noodles


2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon sesame seeds
Pinch ground 5-spice blend
3/4 teaspoon Hawaiian salt
1 1/2 pounds pork shoulder roast (Boston butt or picnic roast), at room temperature
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
5 ounces buckwheat soba noodles
3 tablespoons oil
3 tablespoons chopped green onions
1 tablespoon minced ginger
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/2 cup thinly sliced yellow onions
1/2 cup julienned Napa cabbage
1/2 cup julienned carrots
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup mung bean sprouts


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a small bowl, combine the paprika, cayenne, garlic powder, sesame seeds and 5-spice.

Place the meat in a small roasting pan and rub on all sides with the seasoning blend and salt. Cover with aluminum foil and roast until the meat is tender and can be shredded with a fork, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Remove from the oven and transfer the pork to a cutting board. Reserve any juices in the bottom of the pan. When the meat is cool enough to handle, shred with 2 forks and set aside.

In a small bowl, combine the pork roasting juices with the oyster sauce and set aside.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the noodles and cook until just al dente. Drain and rinse under cold running water. Drain well.

Heat a wok or large saute pan over high heat. When hot, add the oil and swirl to coat the sides and bottom of the wok. Add the green onions, ginger, and garlic and stir-fry until aromatic, about 30 seconds. Add the onions, bok choy, and carrots and stir-fry until tender, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the noodles, shredded pork, and pork-oyster sauce mixture, and cook, tossing to heat through, 30 to 45 seconds.

Mix the cornstarch and chicken stock. Add the cornstarch solution and bring to a boil. Cook, stirring, until the sauce thickens. Remove from the heat and serve immediately. Top with bean sprouts.


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