Sunday 4 August 2013

Underground Cooking and Hawaiian Luau time

Let me get one thing straight right away, this is not just a fooling around blog, but Cooking Around the World. Due to that fact, at times it's necessary to work hard for this.
So I got myself a shovel and went to the garden ...

A grave? Does this mean someone has to die or has died already?

Kind of, but not what you think or what my neighbours thought. They guessed my rabbit had died and I was going to bury it there. No, far from that, although some dead meat was going to this pit.
I was aiming for a one man Hawaiian luau with some underground cooking in my very own imu. Most probably that will be another place, I won't have the chance to go - Hawaii. 
No worries, though, I can quite well survive without having the full entertainment program with Hula and all these things. At least I had a lei and a torch.

As life is full of surprises, things will take a slightly different course, though ...
On the evening where my personal private Luau was going to happen, my neighbours had a family outing in the very same garden. So I got a bit of company from about age 2, 5 and above.
The pit for my imu I had prepared a day before already. Then the day I wanted to start, Marinated some chicken with lime juice, garlic, peanut butter, salt and pepper and olive oil and some pork with lime juice, garlic, ginger, chilli, salt and pepper and some olive oil. On the side I had some coleslaw from white cabbage, onion and green peppers. Just before the party was going to start I warmed up some flatbread  and got my cool beer ready.
Ah, before I forget, I wrapped the meat into pieces of banana leaves, which I had acquired "by accident" a few days before.
Aloha! Now it's time to give some life to my imu.

I wasn't willing to get some lava stones, so I had to do with the normal barbecue ingredients and started to light my fire. I have to say in my defence, I don't owe a barbie and therefore am not even an expert for lighting a barbecue. However, I have a rough idea.
Good that my neighbours where in the garden, too, and where a bit interested in what I was going to do. So, I got a bit of help and some hot coals from there barbecue that was just over.

Originally the plan was to get all the coals glowing white to have the real heat, but things turned out a bit wikiki, because I started a bit late and wasn't willing to wait for my meal until midnight. The coals would have been happy to get some more heat, but ...

I went ahead and covered the coals with some banana leaves. If you appreciate the smell of smoking banana leaves, no worries, then you can stand against the wind. Well, my young visitor liked it.

Next we have the meat on the banana leaves. It would have been better to place it all side by side, but hey, just go for it. Things will be just fine.

More banana leaves on top. After that it leaves us just one more thing to do before our imu is in full operation. The soil goes back into the pit on top of those banana leaves.

Now we should have enough heat in the imu to cook the meat for one and a half to two hours I roughly reckoned. Now would be the perfect time for the entertainment program and Hula or just the cold beer.
However, I still had my young visitors. Therefore we went for handing around the lei and giving everyone the chance to give a brief Hula presentation - kind of. I would say my presentation was the one that lasted the longest.
A beer will do no harm. However, we are not going to just lean back and relax. After all we were next to my garden patch. Time for some herb education and giving everyone the chance to smell, how lovely mint, rosemary, thyme and lavender smell. I'm always willing to help an interested audience. The children stayed with me, so I can't be such a bad person after all.
Still, they didn't stay the whole time, for there is always the need to run around and play as well.
Another beer won't hurt. After carefully timed one and a half hour it was time to start a bit digging and look for the meat ...
... another half an hour would be better, because the meat didn't look quite cooked through. Maybe I should have heated up my imu a bit more. More waiting.
Then the meat was edible. It has been an interesting experience. By the time, the meat was ready, though, the light was very poorly to take a photograph of it, but I guess, you can quite imagine what cooked meat looks like.
I can say now, with the right heat, patience and two hours of waiting you can enjoy your own imu cooked meal, the meat having a slight banana leaf flavour.
The final résumé now: It was a lot of fun and there is a lot more to experiment with. 


  1. Chris, you are an absolute scream. I just love the way you went out and made your own oven pit. Where on earth did you get banana leaves from? This has got to be one of your best posts ever.

    1. Thanks a lot, Choclette! It definitely was lots of fun. The banana leaves I bought in a small Thai Asian shop, which is in another town. I had to got out anyway. I was tired of being in my place.

    2. If you were here in Cornwall, you could probably sneak into one of the big gardens and relieve them of a banana leaf or two ;-)

    3. So I live definitely in the wrong place. :-(

  2. Aah, what fun. I went to a party at FoodUrchin's place a couple of years ago in which he did an imu in his back garden... he cooked a whole lamb (minus head), which he'd wrapped in a sheet and then inside the cage part of a shopping trolley. It took him hours of prep, as it was a large pit he dug, and he nearly set the nearby fence on fire too... but it was definitely worth it!!!

    1. That sounds really great, too. After all that was a real party with some more food, I suppose.

  3. What a cool post Chris! I never knew you could cook food out of the ground! I hear Anthony Bourdain has done this in one of his episodes too, how interesting! How did your meal turn out? :)

    1. Thanks, Kim. The only problem was that it took so long that I was nearly satisfied already with my salad, bread and beer. The taste the banana leaves brought to the meat was really something special and it tasted good. I guess I should have tried fish as well. That would have been a better choice and it would have meant less cooking time.


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