Macaroni Salad is a people pleaser. From picnics in summer, to a must-have side dish for those filling Hawaiian Plate Lunches. The Hawaiian Plate Lunch has been making people happy since the late 1800’s. A hearty “island style” presentation of the Japanese Bento Box designed to feed hungry pineapple and sugar plantation workers—but proved too irresistible for the rest of us. Typically filled with lots of meat and lots of rice, the plate lunch expanded in the last century to include mac salad.
Hawaiian Mac Salad is unique because of the taste and texture, the macaroni is cooked very soft which adds to the creamy texture and the addition rice vinegar + a little sugar balances out the flavor. The secret ingredient is a little bit of canned tuna, it took me years to figure this out because I could never get it to taste like my favorite restaurant’s mac salad, but just a little bit adds that extra boost of umami. If you’ve ever been to Hawai’i you can appreciate the protein options from Kalua Pork, Chicken Katsu, Huli Huli Chicken, BBQ Ribs to Spicy Garlic Shrimp and how perfectly the creamy Mac Salad pairs with any of those dishes.
To get the most authentic flavor, you must use Best Foods or Hellman’s Mayonnaise and a lot of it!
Cook the macaroni for 20 minutes, for Hawaiian Mac Salad the macaroni needs to be overcooked and very soft. If you use al dente pasta, the mac salad will be creamy when you first add the mayo mixture, but after it sits in the fridge, it dries out and the mayo becomes clumpy instead of creamy. This is a basic recipe, it’s similar to what you’d get at almost any Local Food or Hawaiian BBQ restaurant, feel free to add your own touches to it, some people like to add chopped ham or ground black pepper