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Hawaii's almighty imu oven


When you stop to think about it for a moment, we place a lot of emphasis on the way we cook things. We know if we see the words "wood fired" in front of pizza, we're going to get only the finest quality 'za. A trip to a hibachi grill will result in delicious Japanese meats and fried rice. And a barbecue grill will deliver mouthwatering smokey meats slathered in zesty sauces. But what are you in store for with an imu oven?

What is an imu oven, you wonder. Well, if you're headed to Hawaii, you might want to know all about it - it's a real treat and experience that you can't miss!

The history of the imu

An imu is an "earth oven" - a special type of oven that uses hot coals, stones and layers of leaves for the heat, and is covered by cloth to steam the food. Of course, this isn't your everyday oven - the imu is primarily used during luau ceremonies. The most popular type of meat that is served is the kalua pork.

During every luau there is an imu ceremony. It's a small gesture to give thanks for the food and observe the cooking process. All it really consists of is the grand unveiling of the pork. The cooks slowly remove the layers of cloth and the leaves to reveal the delicious, glistening meat.  After some oohs and ahhs the pork is removed from the pit and taken to the kitchen. There, it is shredded and put on platters in preparation to serve to you!

How to build an imu 

You can make your own imu when you're on your Hawaiian getaway! The whole process takes a little bit of time (roughly 11 hours) so be sure to give yourself plenty of time to prep. All you have to do is dig a pit about three feet deep and build a fire around some dry rocks about the size of your fist. Next, you lay down a level of vegetation called hali'i which you will place the food on. Once you lay the meat down, you cover with another layer of hali'i and then cover with the mats. A layer of dirt is then added on top of that to keep steam from escaping. And now you're cooking!

As you can see, it can be a bit of a process so you might want to leave it to the experts - but each to their own!

Feeling hungry yet? The mouthwatering meat that is produced from the imu is simply indescribable - you must head to Hawaii and participate in a luau that features this traditional Hawaiian cooking method and taste for yourself.