Prepare the luau leaves. Wash the leaves very thoroughly. Chop off and discard the stems. Chop the leaves into 1" ribbons. Set aside.
Toss the cubes of pork shoulder with a teaspoon of salt. Set aside.
In a large pot, add oil, and turn to medium-high heat. Add the pork in a single layer and brown evenly on all sides. Remove the pork and set aside on a plate. Pour out any excess oil from the pot.
Add the sliced onions and minced ginger to the pot. Turn heat down to medium and cook until the onions are translucent.
Put all the luau leaves over the onions and ginger. Put the browned pork over the luau leaves. Add a half-cup of water to the pot. Bring to a boil and then turn the heat down to low and cook for 1 hour (more or less time depending on how tender your luau leaves are).
Check on the stew every 15 minutes, give it a stir. The pork will begin to break down - you can shred it into smaller pieces with chopsticks (that's how we like to eat it), or leave them as larger chunks.
Season to taste with salt. Some people also like to add shoyu, but that is up to you. Serve hot with rice and all the other good Hawaiian dishes. Don't forget the chili pepper water!
Luau Stew is a traditional Hawaiian dish made by cooking fresh luau leaves (which come from the taro plant). Eat it with rice or poi! You can find luau stew plain/vegetarian, with squid, chicken, beef, or pork.
What Is Luau Stew?
Luau stew falls into the category of traditional Hawaiian foods (this category also includes kalua pork, lomi lomi salmon, lau lau, haupia, kulolo and much more).
Some places add coconut milk and brown sugar to the stew (gives it so much flavor). Others add onions, ginger, and garlic. You can also add squid, chicken or beef to make a meaty luau stew. We often make luau stew with pork at home…I have the full step-by-step photo recipe at the bottom of this post.
You’ll see both spellings on menus in Hawaii. Traditional Hawaiian restaurants likely spell it lu’au (which is the Hawaiian spelling). Other places spell it luau (which is the local/English version). They both refer to the same dish.
1-pound luau leaves (Note: luau leaves are often sold in 1-pound bunches at supermarkets in Hawaii like Foodland and Safeway. If you’re not in Hawaii, you may be able to find frozen luau leaves at certain Asian markets.)
1 sweet Maui onion, thinly sliced
1 2-inch piece of ginger, peeled and minced
1 pound pork shoulder, cut into 2-inch cubes
1-2 teaspoons Hawaiian sea salt (or kosher salt)