What's Pua'a? And Why is it Hawaii's Best Meat?
Kauai-native, avid bow hunter, spare fisherman, rancher and adventurous cook, David Takiguchi (Instagram handle: davidspearo) dedicates an entire fridge to his pua'a harvest. He has brought the ancient tradition of hunting pua'a into the modern day with a little UMAi Dry inspiration.
So, what's pua'a? In Hawai'i, pua'a (wild pig) has been eaten for millennia. Existing in isolation, the Hawaiian islands, originally possessed very few edible land animals and plants. Between 300 and 500 AD, the first settlers arrived from elsewhere in Polynesia, bringing with them plants to cultivate and animals (pigs, chickens, and dogs, to name a few) to domesticate. Pua‘a (pigs) were highly valued and only occasionally eaten by maka‘ainana (commoners). Today, you will find kalua (pit-roasted) pork with "two scoop rice" or "smoke meat" on nearly every menu and certainly at every Hawaiian luau.
Last Christmas, he decided to try a little experiment with a boneless ribeye and an UMAi Dry Ribeye/Striploin bag. Keeping it a secret from his family, he started dry aging on Nov 17 with a target date of Dec. 25.
When he served the 38 day dry aged steaks, no one could guess how he managed to create such amazing flavor and tenderness.
With that success under his wing, David decided to put UMAi Dry to the test with that freshly hunted wild pig (Yes! That one pictured above!). Using UMAi Dry Charcuterie methods, David crafted some beautiful rolled pancetta. With the UMAi Dry Capicola Spice Blend and Premixed Curing Salts Blend, he transformed a meaty neck muscle into an appetizing striped capicola.
PRO-TIP: Since he didn't have a dedicated stuffer, he just piped the sausage blend through the corner of a ziplock bag into a tube of UMAi Dry he'd shaped from the bags.
Though David was a bit disappointed at how the sausage flattened during fermentation and drying, the shape was perfect for nicely plated, easy-to-nibble slices.
Thanks to Instagram--and good fortune--David graciously invited us to sample his perfect Kauai pua'a charcuterie platter. He paired the pua'a with two cheeses--aged gouda for the capicola and sharp cheddar for the salami.
What really made the platter shine was the two local treasures: Kauai Shoyu Jalapeños (@kauai_shoyu_jalapenos) and bright, crunchy chayote pickled with a fragrant citrus-y vinegar, Kauai pepper and a homemade jewel-like slice of salty sweet dried island lemon. Floral, sweet, salty, with a just a bit of heat.
David and his family have been amazed and delighted with the pua'a meat craft he has achieved. In fact, when David was getting ready to assemble his sampler platter, he discovered that the rolled pancetta had already vanished from the fridge! Time to plan another hunt for pua'a to get that next pancetta started. Who knows what David will try next! You can be sure his family is eagerly waiting.
Takiguchi-san, the honor is ours entirely. Mahalo nui loa iā'oe!