If you’ve ever had a Hawaiian plate lunch then you’ve tried this style of macaroni salad. It’s slightly tangy, slightly sweet and traditionally served with some sort of pan-Asian main entree like teriyaki beef or kalua pork and a few scoops of white rice. I made it recently for a Hawaiian-themed dinner party that Husband and I attended. Each creamy bite of macaroni salad brought back fond memories of a trip to Hawaii a decade earlier when we feasted on plate lunches almost daily.
I know it sounds like a lot, but don’t hold back on the dressing ingredients. Make the recipe as it is written because the soft macaroni soaks up the dressing and becomes very creamy and delicious.
Hawaiian Macaroni Salad
-recipe from Cook’s Country Magazine
Hawaiians cook their macaroni until it’s “fat,” or very soft. Turns out they know what they’re doing. Here’s what the Test Kitchen discovered:
•While overcooking the pasta seemed like a bad idea, it actually enabled the macaroni to absorb more dressing.
•The dressing had to be thin enough to soak into the pasta. We used an equal amount of mayonnaise and milk, and we used a lot—a full 2 cups each—to get the right texture.
•To prevent the cider vinegar from curdling the milk, we poured the vinegar directly over the hot macaroni.
•After the vinegar soaked in, we poured on about half the dressing, gave the mixture a stir, and let it cool. We then stirred in the remaining dressing and added grated carrot, chopped celery (for crunch), scallion, a bit of brown sugar, and some vigorous shakes of salt and black pepper.
•Don’t use low-fat milk or mayonnaise because it will make the dressing too thin.
Serves 8 to 10
2 cups whole milk
2 cups mayonnaise
1 tablespoon brown sugar
Salt and pepper
1 pound elbow macaroni
1/2 cup cider vinegar
4 scallions , sliced thin
1 large carrot , peeled and grated
1 celery rib , chopped fine
MAKE DRESSING: Whisk 1½ cups milk, 1 cup mayonnaise, sugar, ½ teaspoon salt, and 2 teaspoons pepper in bowl.
COOK PASTA: Bring 4 quarts water to boil in large pot. Add 1 tablespoon salt and pasta and cook until very soft, about 15 minutes. Drain pasta and return to pot. Add vinegar and toss until absorbed. Transfer to bowl. Cool pasta 10 minutes, then stir in dressing until pasta is well coated. Cool completely.
MAKE SALAD: Add scallions, carrot, celery, remaining milk, and remaining mayonnaise to pot with pasta mixture and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to serving bowl and refrigerate, covered, for at least 1 hour or up to 2 days. Serve.