Keoki’s Lau Lau makes 7,000 to 8,000 laulau a day. To make them, the factory goes through 18,000 ti leaves, 4,000 pounds of pork and 3,000 pounds of taro leaves. The most experienced of the laulau makers can make one in 20 seconds. Keoki’s buys pork picnic shoulder as well as pork fat so that each meat package has a set ratio of pork and fat. “Without the fat, it ain’t gonna be laulau,” says Gary Ishimoto, president of Keoki’s.
Keoki’s sells to supermarkets and Costco, as well as L&L Drive Inn, but beyond that, Ishimoto won’t expose restaurants’ “homemade” laulau.
Chunks of pork shoulder and a small piece of salted butterfish go into the luau leaves and then the whole ball is wrapped in two ti leaves and the stems tied. “It takes a lot of strength to keep it tight,” says Monica Toguchi. The laulau are steamed for about four hours, and the ti leaves snipped right before serving.