Internationally acclaimed Hawaiian chef Alan Wong created the post-modern island feast on Thursday for President Obama's first-ever White House Luau at the annual Congressional Picnic on the South Lawn. Chef Wong is known for bringing an excellent and modern farm-to-table aesthetic to traditional Hawaiian cuisine, which is in keeping with the White House focus on healthy and fresh foods. Kalua Pig and Wasabi Potato Salad, two of the biggest crowd pleasers at the Luau, are fairly easy to do at home, although the Kalua Pig is a bit time consuming. (Above: The President with pals at the picnic)
In traditional Hawaiian cooking, Kalua Pig is often cooked in a pit in the ground, but at the White House, it was slow-cooked in ovens, because historic considerations prevented cooking pits from being dug into the White House grounds. This recipe is, happily, for the oven version. Side note: You also might have to snoop a bit to find banana leaves at your local market, but it's worth it. And with Fourth of July coming...these recipes are an excellent embroidery on picnic foods. (Above, the President and First Family greet the crowd)
Alan Wong's White House Kalua Pig
1 large banana leaf
6-lb boneless pork shoulder Boston roast (Boston butt), cut across grain into 6 pieces
2 1/2 tablespoons coarse salt
2 1/2 tablespoons natural liquid smoke-flavoring
1. Preheat oven to 500°F.
2. Lay 2 sheets of foil (each about 1 foot long) on a work surface with long sides overlapping by about 4 inches. Cut 2 (12-inch) lengths from banana leaf and center 1 on foil. Put pork on banana leaf and sprinkle with salt and liquid smoke. Cover top of pork with other 12-inch length of banana leaf and 2 overlapping sheets of foil (each about 1 1/2 feet long). Crimp edges of foil tightly to form a packet and put in a large roasting pan. Add 1 inches of water and cover pan tightly with more foil.
3. Bake pork in middle of oven 4 hours. Pour off liquid from pan and, when pork is just cool enough to handle, shred with 2 forks in a bowl. Serve warm.
Alan Wong's White House Wasabi Potato Salad
8 slices bacon
2 cups mayonnaise
2 tablespoons prepared horseradish
1 to 2 tablespoons Wasabi paste
1 tablespoon Dijon-style mustard
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup finely chopped celery
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
2 tablespoons snipped chives
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
8 medium potatoes (about 2 2/3 pounds), cut into 1-inch pieces
1. In medium saucepan, add potatoes to 2 inches boiling salted water. Return to a boil; reduce heat to medium. Cook, covered, about 12 minutes or until tender; drain and cool.
2. Meanwhile, in large skillet, cook bacon over medium heat eight to 10 minutes or until crisp. Drain bacon on paper towels; reserve pan drippings. Cut bacon into small pieces; set aside.
3. In large bowl, combine mayonnaise, 1/4 cup reserved bacon drippings, horseradish, Wasabi, mustard, salt and pepper until blended. Add potatoes, bacon, celery, onion, chives and parsley, tossing carefully until combined. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Tip: Wasabi paste can be found in the Asian food section of some supermarkets. An additional tablespoon of prepared horseradish may be substituted for the Wasabi paste.
Above, the picnic tables before the party started.
*Top photo by Pete Souza/White House; others by pool.