Instead of the usual burger and franks on the grill, why not consider a Hawaiian Food theme for your summer holiday cookout? With just a little effort, and perhaps some help from your friends, you can offer a delicious meal that folks will talk about all summer.
For family and friends who have been to Hawaii it will be a great reminder of some of the favorite foods that they enjoyed on their vacation.
The good news is that most of these dishes are relatively easy to make.
Here are suggestions for each "course" - three drinks, two appetizers, three entrées, a couple of side dishes and, finally, two desserts. Unless you have a really large number of people at your cookout, you don't need to make all of these, but try at least one from each grouping.
Cocktails and Drinks
No Hawaii themed party would be right without a Mai Tai and our recipe is for the traditional, in fact the original, Mai Tai as created by Victor J. Bergeron in 1944 and brought to Hawaii in 1953. You can still find it at the world famous Mai Tai Bar at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel. Made with two types of rum, orange curaçao and fresh fruit juice, it is sure to be a favorite.
This is one drink I have to have when I'm in Hawaii and I've had it at every hotel where I've stayed. This recipe was concocted by Harry Yee who was a bartender at the Hilton Hawaiian Village Resort and Spa in 1957 and still served today. It's distinctive blue color tells you that it's made with blue curaçao together with rum, vodka and a bit of pineapple juice. Your guests will love it.
Since there are sure to be children at your cookout as well as those who don't imbibe, you'll need a non-alcoholic drink on hand. This delicious and healthy drink is made of ripe bananas, mangoes, honey, and coconut milk. All you need is ice and a blender.
This recipe for coconut shrimp is from the Sheraton Princess Kaiulani Hotel in Waikiki. It's a perfect appetizer for a backyard cookout. Served on wooden skewers, folks can easily pick one up and walk around the party. It's a very easy recipe that takes just a few minutes to make. Stay away from those tiny shrimp though. Spend the extra money on the larger ones that folks can really dig their teeth into.
Even folks who don't like sushi will love this marinated ahi tuna. The better the quality tuna that you can find, the more tender and delicious this will turn out. While this is a good appetizer, be sure to keep it around for the main course, since it also makes a great side dish.
Main Course - A Meat, a Poultry and a Fish Option
This has long been one of our most popular and highly rated recipes. The good news is that you don't have to roast a whole pig in your backyard and you certainly don't need an imu (underground oven). You can roast this in your own oven using a pork butt you buy at the grocery store. When it's done, shred the pork and imagine you're back in Hawaii at a luau.
We have two slightly different variations for this Hawaiian (and much tastier) version of grilled chicken. It's a luau favorite. Either can be broiled in your oven or cooked on your outside grill. If you don't have access to huli huli sauce, it's easy to make a quite good version on your own as shown in the second variation.
For our third main course option we offer a seafood recipe that's served at the Ali'i Luau at the Polynesian Cultural Center on Oahu. Mahi Mahi is readily available on the mainland and this is a very easy dish to make that all of the seafood lovers at your cookout will love. From start to finish it takes less than an hour.
A food that you're likely to find at any luau or family gathering in Hawaii is Lomi Lomi Salmon. It not only will be a colorful addition to your cookout presentation, it tastes great. If your supermarket carries Maui onions all the better.
Our choice for a second side dish is the staple of every plate lunch in Hawaii where you get your entrée, two scoops of rice and, yes, macaroni salad. These recipes for macaroni salad come from the excellent book Kau Kau: Cuisine and Culture in the Hawaiian Islands as published on the website of Hawai'i Magazine.
Our most popular dessert recipe is relatively easy to make. You'll probably have most of the ingredients at home already. All you'll need to do is head to the store to get a couple of cans of coconut milk - that is, if you don't plan on husking your own coconut.
Once again we thank the Polynesian Cultural Center for providing us with this great recipe. If you like chocolate, this is definitely for you. If, however, you're tired of cooking by this point - and that's perfectly fine - Trader Joe's has a very good frozen version of chocolate mochi which I've had on several occasions.