We thought there’d be no better way to celebrate the legacy of Trader Vic’s and Polynesian-inspired anything than with a full party menu – after all, the resurgence of tropical tipples would only be made complete with accompanying retro fare.
So get ready to dust off that ukele and throw on your kitschy best – it’s island time, starting now!
Photo courtesy AZAdam via Flickr/CC
Have you set the mood? After laying out the buffet table, planting your Tiki lamps and Citronella candles, and putting the Best of Don Ho on repeat, make sure you’ve properly lei’d your guests and served up the first round of Mai Tais.
Ease into what is sure to be a long night of grazing and drinking with some light fare to whet your appetite. Pronounced “po-keh,” poke means to slice or cut and accordingly, this raw fish salad is similar to a carpaccio or tartar. It is a revered Hawaiian appetizer that typically consists of cubed ahi tuna in a soy-based marinade containing sesame oil, sea salt, green onion, chili pepper, roasted crushed candlenut and limu seaweed. According to natives, there is simply no party without poke!
A luau is meant to be a fun, casual affair and we’re not sure there’s a party food better suited to that end than meatballs! Serve over rice as a meal, or individually pinned with toothpicks as a handy appetizer. Whether you’re feeding adult guests or children, be sure to make a double batch as these sweet and sour nibbles are sure to go fast.
Island Chicken and Rice
It seems we’re always looking for new ways to put a spin on chicken, a weeknight favorite for many. This is a great one-pot meal that will quickly become a go-to, long after the party ends. A basic chicken and rice dish gets an island makeover with a sauce scented by sweet pineapple juice, rich coconut milk and buttery macadamia nuts.
Slow Cooker Kalua Pig
There’s no stronger image associated with a Hawaiian luau than a whole roasted pig being lifted out from the depths of a man-dug pit. We’re not sure you’ll have the time or means to replicate the traditional version; but this Kalua pig recipe from La Fuji Mama takes the smoky luau staple from the backyard into your slow cooker. Don’t let the ease of the recipe fool you – you’ll still need to plan well ahead of schedule, as this pork butt goes low and slow for a good 16-20 hours. Serve shredded in a slider, or alongside rice, noodles or the classic Hawaiian Macaroni Salad.
Lomi Lomi Salad
Let’s be honest here – this dish is just plain fun to say aloud! Lomi lomi is Hawaiian for massage and the salmon gets ample treatment with coarse sea salt. After an overnight chilldown, the salmon is diced and tossed with onion and tomato. Like its cousin poke, lomi lomi is a Hawaiian soul food dish that must be present at all traditional gatherings.
Polynesian Flank Steak
Break up the seafood at your luau with a juicy char-grilled Polynesian flank steak, fit for any meat lover. The marinade consists of popular Asian ingredients like soy sauce, pineapple juice, honey, ginger and green onions, sure to complement its fellow neighbors on the buffet line. Any leftover thinly sliced steak would make for tasty sandwiches the next day!
Rum Macadamia Ice Cream with Grilled Pineapple and Coconut
Did you save room for dessert? We hope so because this killer treat hits the jackpot with a variety flavors, textures and temperatures. While it may not be a traditional fixture at a luau, its flavor profile gives it honorary status, with the cool rum-laced confectionary getting a sweet and tart lift from the grilled pineapple. Throw in some crunch with toasted coconut flakes and macadamia nuts, and you may need to wheel your guests home after serving this one up. Aloha!