A Friend in the Islands
Hawaii Resources and Online Island Gift Shop
INSTRUCTIONS FOR CREATING AN AUTHENTIC HAWAIIAN UNDERGROUND IMU PIT OVEN
PLEASE NOTE: OUR COMPANY IS NOT PERSONALLY EXPERIENCED IN CREATING AND COOKING WITH IMU PITS. THE INFORMATION PROVIDED IS BASED ON INFORMATION GIVEN TO US BY SOMEONE WHO HAS EXPERIENCE IN CREATING AND COOKING WITH AN IMU PIT. WE DO NOT PROVIDE ANY ADDITIONAL INFORMATION OR ADVICE ON BUILDING OR COOKING WITH AN IMU PIT OTHER THAN WHAT IS FEATURED ON THIS PAGE. WE ASSUME NO RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOUR RESULTS USING THE INFORMATION PROVIDED ON THIS PAGE. IT IS PROVIDED FOR ENTERTAINMENT PURPOSES ONLY.
1) Dig a large hole but do not dig it too deep or it will make removing the cooked pig more difficult. For a 200lb pig the hole should be approximately 3' wide x 5' long x 1' deep.
2) Place newspaper and kindling on the bottom of the pit and then stack mesquite wood on top of that, extending at least 1' above the top of the pit. Mesquite briquettes can also be used. Arrange the lava rocks on top of the wood pile. The rocks should be of sufficient quantity to cover the bottom of the pit after the fire has burned down and also have enough to fill the stomach cavity of the pig. Set the fire and let it burn to coals. Use volcanic rocks otherwise the rocks could explode once heated. The fire should burn 1 ½ to 2 hours. The rocks should be HOT, preferably WHITE hot.
3) Set some hot rocks aside to put inside the pig. Rake any remaining coals to one side, leaving the hot rocks bare. Put down about a 6 inch thick layer of banana or ti leaves on the hot rocks, then a piece of clean chicken wire and some more banana or ti leaves, then place the cleaned gutted pig on top of the chicken wire and leaves. The chicken wire will make removing the tender cooked food a lot easier. Fill the inside of the pig with hot rocks. Some people like to line the inside of the pig with banana or ti leaves prior to inserting the hot rocks. Add any other food (fish, shell fish, vegetables) you wish to roast on top of the chicken wire along with the pig.
4) Have a minimum of 100 loose banana or ti leaves cleaned and ready for use. Put a single layer of ti leaves or taro leaves over the food then a thicker layer of banana or ti leaves. Well soaked burlap bags (50 minimum) can also be layered on top of the leaves and the entire mound is then covered by several layers of plastic sheeting as thick as you can find. Put a generous amount of dirt around the edge of the plastic so that no air can get into the imu and so that NO STEAM can escape from it. Shovel dirt over sacking and cook at least 8-10 hours or more. The pig should actually be put in the night before your celebration then dug up the early afternoon of your celebration. Check for steam leaks while the food cooks because if you loose heat then the food will take longer to cook. Dig up the food and enjoy! The imu takes 3-4 hours or more to create and is hard work. Be sure to allow enough preparation time.
FYI- Pork typically takes about 30 minutes per pound to roast in a 350 degree oven. The internal temperature should reach between 160 degrees for medium and 170 degrees for well done.
Note: Banana leaves are usually available or can be special ordered from Asian markets on the Mainland USA. Some folks use watercress, large leafy cabbage, corn stalks, or ginger leaves in addition to the ti or banana leaves or when they are not available.
IMU PIT FEEDBACK
Below is feedback from people who have built an imu pit and how it worked out for them. If you would like to share your imu pit experience email us at email@example.com
PHOTOS OF IMUS some people who build an Imp pit document their experience from start to finish and share them on their web sites so others can have a better understanding of what goes into the imu pit prep work and cooking processes.
IMU PIT EXAMPLE: http://www.primitiveways.com/Imu1.html
IMU FEEDBACK - Our pit was 2x4x1 1/2 deep. I lined the sides with thin fire brick. For the fire I used apple wood and mesquite chips. A friend of mine loaned me lava rock. We got a 50 pound pig which fed 56 people with plenty of meat left over. To create the steam I used 70 loose ti leaves plus I soaked about 25 burlap sacks to finish filling the pit. I covered the sacks with 3 sheets of plastic and shoveled the dirt over it to plug up any steam leaks. To prepare the pig I rubbed it with Hawaiian salt, put a couple of ti leaves inside, and added several small white-hot lava rocks. The fire took about 2 hours to be ready for the pig, and I cooked it for 12 hours. I let it rest about 1/2 hour before shredding the meat--pulling it apart by hand using rubber gloves. I added more salt and served it with a sauce on the side. It came out perfect! - Gary B.
IMU FEEDBACK - For our 70lb pig we ordered 76 loose ti leaves. We found we did not order enough Ti leaves. We had no banana leaves, no banana stalks, no lava rock, so we improvised. We substituted round (igneous) rocks for lava rock; we threw in some man made fire brick just to be safe. We used corn husks from the local produce section in place of ti/banana leaves. We used water soaked green wood in place of stalks. Other than that we followed the recipe and times. We had a 70lb pig split and quartered; came out absolutely delicious! - Frank D. of NY