Archive for May 24, 2013

4 Years Without Mom: Hawaiian Food (Kalua Pork & Mac Salad)

May 24, 2013 1 comment

1979: Me & mom at the San Diego Zoo

May 14, 2013 marked four years since my mom’s passing. Every year since, my extended family gathers in her memory.  In Vietnamese, we call it a gio. I asked my dad how long we are traditionally obligated to have a gio and he said you can continue to do this as long as you want to honor and remember the person. So I guess this is happening every year. Really, we just say a few prayers, eat and laugh.

Growing up, family gatherings happened every Sunday. As we’ve gotten older, started our own families and, honestly, lost key family members that were our glue, big family gatherings with all of my aunts, uncles and cousins happen significantly less often. I see my cousins that live nearby weekly; I hope that my nieces and nephews remember these gatherings as fondly as I look back on the family meals of my youth. These days, opportunity for the families of all seven of my grandma’s kids to gather is so rare.


Mom and her 5 sisters

I can’t remember whether it was my mom’s 70th or 71st (her last birthday) but she sent me out to pick up tacos because she secretly confessed that she was tired of having Vietnamese food at every gathering. That was a revelation to me!!! We only ordered Vietnamese food because we thought that’s what she preferred! In honor of her request, my cousin, brother and I have hosted a different themed meal every year. The first year I think we ordered a roast pig because I still lived in Chicago and could only fly home for the weekend. The second year, we made Mexican. Last year, I roasted a ridiculous 32 pounds of Korean pork (bo ssam). This year, we did Hawaiian food. I made a more reasonable 9 pounds of kalua pork and cabbage and 3 pounds of macaroni salad. My cousin made cole slaw. We ordered spam musubi, egg rolls, grilled chicken and pork katsu from Phil’s Kitchen in Menlo Park. (Note to self for next year ~3 small trays of meat is good enough. Don’t panic order!)

Kahlua Pork & Cabbage, preshredding

I didn’t shred the pork until right before serving so the meat would retain most of the heat

Mac Salad Read more…

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