We have created a delicious Mexican-Polynesian fusion with these Polynesian Pulled Pork Tacos featuring the Lilikoi Chili Pepper Sauce from Da Vine Foods. Not only are these tacos incredibly delicious, but the pulled pork is made in a slow cooker, making this recipe easier than ever!
This is our take on fusing one of our favorite foods from Mexico with one of the most popular flavors from Hawaii, which is passion fruit. Also making a cameo is pineapple, which is ubiquitous with island cuisine.
Polynesia includes the islands geographically within the triangle making up Hawaii, New Zealand and Easter Island. Polynesian cuisine often revolves around pure but bold flavors. Packing a ton of flavor into food is a passion of almost every chef, and in Hawaii, they do it expertly. Polynesian spice and herb blends typically mix flavors of allspice, ginger, cinnamon, garlic, onion, cumin, and coriander, amongst others. Usually you find a delicious combo of sweet and spicy flavors, which is exactly why we decided to use the Lilikoi Chili Pepper Sauce in this Polynesian Pulled Pork Taco recipe.
The pulled pork is cooked in a slow cooker with the following ingredients:
- Pork shoulder or Pork Butt: Both of these cuts will work for this recipe
- Pineapple: A fresh pineapple is used in this recipe that cooks with the pork
- Jalapeños: Fresh jalapeños add a touch of heat and flavor to the pulled pork
- Garlic: Fresh minced garlic is recommended here.
- Bay leaf
- Medium Onion: We recommend using a white or yellow onion.
Spice Rub for the pork:
- Olive Oil
- Salt and Pepper
- Dry Mustard Powder
- Ground Cinnamon
- Garlic Powder
- Ground Coriander
- Ground Ginger
- Sliced Red Onion
- Serrano Pepper
- Fresh Lime Juice
- Sea Salt
- Lilikoi Chili Pepper Sauce
To make this recipe easy and approachable for everyone, we prepared it using a slow cooker. Isn't the slow cooker one of the best inventions?? The pork absolutely could be done on a smoker or in some other way, but we chose to do it in a slow cooker so it would be more approachable to more people. Pork roasts can be transformed into an incredible dish if treated properly and this way absolutely works.
The spice rub is the first key to success in making this roast stand out. If you choose to rub the pork down and immediately put it into the slow cooker or let it rest for a day in the fridge with the rub on it, you won’t be disappointed, so this part is flexible, but we typically add the spice rub on the pork right before adding it to the slow cooker.
Once you add the ingredients to the slow cooker, the work is done. The flavors combine as the pork cooks and the meat tenderizes and falls apart when it's don! It is truly magic that requires very little effort from the cook. We cook this on low for 8 hrs for best results.
Once the meat is cooked, do not discard the juices from the slow cooker! This is a critical step! The pulled pork is tasty right after removing it from the slow cooker, but the magic happens in the skillet after the pork is done. You will use the juices from the slow cooker and sauté the meat in a skillet to further deepen the flavors and caramelize the meat slightly.
This is where the Lilikoi Chili Pepper Sauce becomes the star of the show! Add a little bit of the Lilikoi Chili Pepper Sauce to the pork right before serving. The pork at this point is incredibly flavorful and can be eaten as is in a taco, as a sandwich, or however you want. But adding the toppings takes these tacos to another level.
Polynesian Pulled Pork Taco Toppings
The taco topper could be almost anything you want. But the combo we created is a winner! We combined red onions and serrano peppers with lime juice and the Lilikoi Chili Pepper Sauce to make this topping. The citrus sweetens the red onions and breaks down the pungency and bitterness, and the Lilikoi Chili Pepper Sauce adds a bit of sweet heat to the mix.
The serrano peppers are what we prefer, but you could drop it down a notch with jalapeños or drop it down even more and omit them. But the citrus also minimizes the heat of the peppers quite a bit leaving you with the flavor of the pepper itself.
Finally, we add in some fresh mango at the end bringing some more sweetness and South Asian flavor to the topper. It’s a perfect match for this pork! We also like to add a tiny bit of cilantro at the end for a great fresh finish to this Polynesian Pulled Pork Taco.
- Fresh pineapple: Canned pineapple can be used in place of fresh pineapple in the slow cooker.
- Lilikoi Chili Pepper Sauce: This is a unique sauce that may be challenging to find outside of ordering it HERE. You can instead replace this with your favorite chili pepper sauce or hot sauce.
I’d go with flour tortillas warmed up or slightly crisped on a flame for this. Corn tortillas work as well if you prefer corn or can't tolerate flour. Try them both, experiment! And if you like it, this is something you will make over and over and be thrilled with the results!
Passion fruit, or Lilikoi (its Hawaiian name pronounced like the lily flower and Koi like the fish), is a sweet and tart fruit found in tropical regions of the world. When cutting into these round, often yellow-skinned fruit, you will discover a pulp that contains small soft gel-like sacks surrounding black seeds, which are all edible! There is a thin white layer inside the smooth and fairly tough skin, which aren't eaten due to their bitter taste and tough texture. But you can dig into the pulp with a spoon for a delightful treat. Or squeeze and strain the juices to add to a variety of recipes. Da Vine Foods has done all the work for you with their products, and this Lilikoi Chili Pepper Sauce is perfect for a variety of dishes, from appetizers as a dipping sauce to cocktails, and even desserts!
The Lilikoi Chili Pepper Sauce is one of Da Vine Foods' delicious and high-quality passion fruit products! You can find all their passion fruit products on their website HERE. The Lilikoi Chili Pepper Sauce is incredibly versatile. We have used it as a topping for various breakfast scrambles, in cocktails and Bloody Marys, as a marinade, as well as a dipping sauce for pork dumplings and other appetizers.
If you are a passion fruit lover, we recommend you also check out the Lilikoi Cocktail Mix, which we used in a couple passion fruit cocktail recipes recently. Find those recipes HERE. If you want to try out the products, Da Vine Foods has given our users a special discount code to receive 15% off their products! Use code CWW15.
We hope you enjoy this Polynesian Pulled Pork Taco recipe, and if you try it out, leave us a comment below to let us know what you think! Or tag us on Instagram @cooking_with_wine!
Looking for more recipes like this? Check these out:
We love serving these tacos with the following cocktails:
Polynesian Pulled Pork Tacos
- 1 slow cooker crock pot
Slow Cooker Ingredients for the Cook
- 3-5 lb pork shoulder or pork butt
- 1 medium pineapple, chopped
- 1-1.5 cups water
- 3 chopped jalapeños, chopped with seeds and ribs
- 2 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 medium onion, chopped
Spice Rub for Pork
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon allspice
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon dry mustard
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon ground coriander seed
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 small red onion, sliced thin
- 1 serrano pepper seeded halved and sliced thin
- ¼ cup fresh lime juice
- ¼ teaspoon course sea salt
- 3 tablespoon Lilikoi Chili Pepper Sauce
- ½ small mango, small diced
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ½-1 cup slow cooker juices
- 1 tablespoon Lilikoi Chili Pepper Sauce
- Combine all of the spice rub ingredients to form a paste.
- Rub the pork thoroughly with the spice rub
SLOW-COOK THE PORK
- Add pork and all ingredients from the slow cooker ingredients section to the slow cooker. Spread the ingredients around and on top of the pork for best results.
- Cook on low for 8 hrs.
- Once the pork is done, remove the pork to a cutting board and allow to cool slightly.
- Strain juices into a separate bowl and allow to cool for about 10 min. Skim the fat off the top of the juices and discard. You can take the chunks remaining from straining and blend to create a very delicious marinade for chicken, shrimp or pork for future meals. We blend it then put it in an airtight container and freeze it to use later.
- Using a fork, pull the pork meat apart so that it is completely shredded as desired for your tacos.
MAKE THE TACO TOPPER
- Add all ingredients from the taco topper section into a bowl while the pork is cooling.
- Mix well and let it sit and marinate while you finish off the rest of the recipe
FINISH THE PORK
- Heat a skillet on medium high heat
- Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and then add as much of the pork you would like to eat to the skillet. Cook until slightly browned and then add a couple table spoons of the reserved liquid. Cook down for a few minutes.
- Add 1-2 tablespoon of the Lilikoi Chili Pepper Sauce and cook for another 20 seconds. Stirring well to combine.
- Remove and put on a platter to make tacos.
- Refrigerate the remaining pork and juices and following the finishing steps here to reheat and eat as leftovers.
- Add some of the pork to a tortilla and top with the taco topper. Add a little cilantro and you're done!