Is today actually National Mai Tai Day? That’s a very good question. According to Foodimentary, June 30th is National Mai Tai Day. Okay, sounds good to me so let’s go with that.
Woo – not so fast. It seems the official date may be in question. If you ask Trader Vic’s, Home of the Original Mai Tai, the date should be August 30th. After all, as the story goes on August 30th 1944 Victor Bergeron, Trader Vic himself, crafted the infamous rum cocktail using rock candy syrup, fresh limes, Orange Curacao and Orgeat (a sweet syrup made from almonds). It’s said his Tahitian friend explained “Mai tai roa ea!” What does that mean? Out of this world! Man oh man, that seems fitting enough for this tropical cocktail masterpiece.
Bottom line is, with two National Mai Tai Days, we have two seemingly valid reasons to celebrate Mai Tai Day twice each summer. I don’t know about you, but that works for me.
I say as long as we’re celebrating the day with a Mai Tai or two, we may as well have a delicious Hawaiian dinner to go with it. We’ll start with the Mai Tai, then savor everything from Island Appetizers to a tropical dessert. Enjoy!
Mai Tai by the Glass
1 cup Ice Cubes
1 oz (2 tablespoons) Dark Rum
1 oz (2 tablespoons) Amber Rum
2 tablespoons fresh Orange Juice
1/2 oz (1 tablespoon) Triple Sec
1 tablespoon fresh Lime Juice
1 drop Almond Extract
1 teaspoon Superfine Baker’s Sugar
Dash of Grenadine
Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add both rums, orange juice, triple sec, lime juice, almond extract, and a dash of grenadine. Shake together, then strain into a glass filled with ice cubes.
Maraschino Cherry (with stem)
Drain cherry on a paper towel. Cut top from pineapple, slice pineapple, then cut slices into wedges. Snip leaves from the top.
Skewer together a cherry, a pineapple chunk and a couple of leaves from the top of a pineapple to garnish the glass.
Mai Tai Escape Menu
Teriyaki Pineapple Meatball Skewers
Main Course –
Grilled Huli Huli Chicken Thighs
Hawaiian Macaroni Salad
Nanna Wafer Tropical Trifle
Teriyaki Pineapple Meatballs Skewers
1 Jar Teriyaki Glaze
1 Can Pineapple Chunks, drained juice reserved
1 package Frozen Meatballs (plain, about 24 balls)
Chives for garnish
24 Mini Bamboo Cocktail Skewers
Place Teriyaki Glaze in a large pot. Drain pineapple chunks, and stir juice from the can into glaze, reserve chunks for the assembled appetizers. Add frozen meatballs. Bring just to a boil over medium-high heat.
Lower heat and allow teriyaki meatballs to simmer for about 30 minutes or until heated through. Meanwhile, snip chives for garnish and set aside.
Once heated, remove meatballs from sauce. While the appetizers are assembled, let the sauce continue to simmer and thicken. Place the meatballs in a bowl to make assembling easier and less messy.
First skewer a pineapple chunk and run it through, then skewer a meatball. Place on a serving platter, continue to assemble until all the meatballs have been arranged. Scatter chives over the platter.
Drizzle with a little of the sauce, pour remaining sauce in a small bowl for dipping. Serve and enjoy.
Grilled Huli Huli Chicken
2-1/2 teaspoons fresh Ginger, minced
2 Garlic Cloves, minced
1 cup packed Brown Sugar
3/4 cup Banana Sauce
3/4 cup Soy Sauce
1/3 cup Chicken Stock
12 boneless Chicken Thighs
Peel and finely mince fresh ginger and garlic cloves, place in a small mixing bowl. Add Brown Sugar, Banana Sauce, Soy Sauce and chicken stock. Reserve 2 cups for basting; cover and refrigerate.
Arrange chicken in a large non-reactive casserole dish or marinating container. Pour Huli Huli sauce over the chicken. Cover and refrigerate at least 8 hours or overnight
Heat grill to medium heat, oil grate well to keep chicken from sticking. Drain chicken, discarding marinade.
Grill chicken, covered, for 6 to 8 minutes per side or until a thermometer reads 170-degrees; baste generously with reserved marinade during the last 5 minutes.
1 whole fresh pineapple (see note)
3 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed orange juice
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Note: Smell the pineapple when purchasing. You should pick up a sweet flavor. The stronger the smell, the riper the fruit. Turn the pineapple upside down in an empty container for a few hours before you grill it to distribute the sugar throughout the fruit.
Trim, core, and peel pineapple. Cut the leaves off the top of the pineapple, then peel it with a serrated knife. Remove any eyes with a paring knife. Cut into quarters from top to bottom. Slice out the core from each quarter. Cut each quarter slice into four pieces (two pieces lengthwise and two crosswise). You should now have 16 wedges of pineapple (about 3-inch by 1-inch each).
In a small bowl, combine honey, lemon, lime, or orange juice, and black pepper. Brush the glaze onto each slice of pineapple, coating completely.
Heat barbecue grill to medium heat. Either oil or spray the grill rack with non-stick cooking spray. Place pineapple wedges on the grill and cook approximately 4 minutes on each side (turning so that grill marks are on all sides) until the pineapple becomes fragrant and starts to dry out on the surface.
NOTE: Do not overcook the pineapple spear or they will turn mushy, as the natural sugars in fresh pineapple caramelizes quickly as it is grilled. Watch carefully or they will burn.
Remove from the grill and brush with any additional glaze one more time. Serve and enjoy!
Grilled pineapple can be kept at room temperature for up to 8 hours. Re-warm before serving. To serve, arrange on a platter and serve alongside the chicken.
Hawaiian Macaroni Salad
4-5 Hard-Boiled eggs
1 lb Spaghetti Noodles
1 Bunch Green Onions
1/2 White Onion
2 Celery Stocks
1/2 cup Best Foods Mayonnaise (more if needed)
1 Dollop of Red or Orange Caviar (optional)
1 Can of Spam, cut into strips (Optional)
Place eggs in a saucepan with a tight fitting lid. Cover with cold water, bring to a full boil. Remove saucepan from heat, cover with lid and let eggs steep for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare an ice-water bath for the eggs. Once steep time is complete, remove eggs from hot water with a slotted spoon. Tap egg shells to crack, then plunge into the ice water bath. Let cool for 20 minutes. Peel eggs under cold running water, place in the refrigerator to cool completely before using.
Note: Eggs can be made a day in advance.
Break spaghetti noodles in half and cook noodles according to package directions. Rinse well under cold running water. Drain well.
Trim roots from green onions. Slice all but the bottom portion of the onion, see note. Set aside. Finely dice half a white onion, set aside. Peel and grate carrots, set aside. Trim ends from the celery and discard. Dice remaining ribs, set aside.
Note: If desired, reserve the bottom portion of three green onions, white to just below green part. Trim root end while leaving onion intact. Using a sharp knife, cut slits into the white portion, leaving attached to the bulb. Carefully open to create little onion “blooms” for additional garnish to the salad.
In a large bowl, combine onions, green onions, carrots and celery. Add cooked spaghetti noodles to vegetables and toss to blend.
Chop all but 1 egg, add to salad. With final egg, cut V lines to create a flower. Reserve one half of flower, chop other half and add to salad. Add mayonnaise and fold to coat all the ingredients.
Transfer macaroni salad to serving bowl, smooth out top for a flat finish. Place egg tulip in center of dish, pressing down lightly to keep tulip in place. If desired, for a little added color, place a dollop of caviar in the center of the tulip. Top the finished salad with spam in a spoke-wheel patter from egg. Cover and refrigerate for several hours or until well-chilled.
Note: The Spam and caviar are purely optional but a nice touch.
Nanna Wafer Tropical Trifle
1 (20 oz) can Crushed Pineapple
2 large (5oz) boxes Instant French Vanilla Pudding
6 cups Whole Milk
6 Bananas, sliced
1 box Nilla Wafers
1 (16 oz) container Cool Whip
Line a strainer with cheesecloth, place over a bowl. Empty pineapple into the strainer. Wrap in cloth and press as much liquid as possible from the pineapple. Let continue to drain.
In a large bowl, whisk milk with pudding mix until soft-set. Cover, chill for 20 minutes for a firm pudding. Remove pudding from the refrigerator, fold in the drained pineapple, mix well. Set aside.
Peel and slice bananas, set aside.
In a trifle dish, place a layer of Nilla Wafers on the bottom of the trifle dish. Spread a layer of pudding over the wafers. Add more wafers around the outer edge standing upright in the pudding. Spread a layer of bananas over the pudding, top with a layer of whipped topping.
Repeat layers, ending with whipped topping. Crumble a few wafers to sprinkle throughout the top.
Cover and chill until serving.