Friday, October 30, 2015

Hawaiian-Style Macaroni Salad

Macaroni salad is a quintessential component of the Hawaiian plate lunch, which typically consists of two scoops of rice, a scoop of mac salad, and an entree. I'm not sure of its exact origins, but (according to Wiki), it probably had its roots in Japanese bento, which would have been familiar and appealing to the Japanese, Chinese, and other day laborers/plantation workers on the islands back in the day. Hawaiian-style mac salad is pretty simple and doesn't include any pickles, ham, mustard, etc. Just some finely chopped onion, scallion, shredded carrot, maybe a little minced celery, all tossed with a delicious, super creamy, mayonnaise-based dressing (only Best Foods or Hellman's will do). Here's my version.

1 lb. elbow macaroni
2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup grated onion
1 large carrot, finely shredded
1 stalk celery, minced (optional)

2 cups mayonnaise (regular or light Best Foods or Hellman's only)
1 cup half-and-half or milk
1 tbsp. brown sugar
3-4 scallions, finely chopped

1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. black pepper

1. Cook the macaroni in salted (large pinchful of salt) boiling water. Cook until the pasta is very tender or "soft and fat," as they say, about 30 minutes (al dente doesn't work here as the macaroni will not absorb the dressing well if it's on the chewy side).

2. Drain the pasta into a bowl and toss with vinegar, grated onion, shredded carrot and minced celery. Set aside for about 10-15 minutes to cool slightly.

3. Stir together the mayo, half-and-half (or milk), brown sugar, and chopped scallions in a bowl until combined. Pour onto the seasoned macaroni and stir gently to combine. Season with salt and pepper.

4. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. For a touch of color, sprinkle the top of the mac salad with a bit of paprika just before serving. 

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