Hawaiian Macaroni Salad

I know what you’re thinking – and no, there is no pineapple in this macaroni salad. Macaroni salad was a staple in Hawaiian plate lunches – as laborers that worked on the plantations didn’t eat typical fare like sandwiches. From Wikipedia:

Although the exact origin of the Hawaiian plate lunch is disputed,[1] according to Professor Jon Okamura of the University of Hawaiʻi, the plate lunch likely grew out of the Japanese bento, because “bentos were take away kinds of eating and certainly the plate lunch continues that tradition”.[1] Its appearance in Hawaii in recognizable form goes back to the 1880s when plantation workers were in high demand by the fruit and sugar companies on the islands.[2] Laborers were brought to Hawaii from around the world, including from China, Japan, Portugal, and the Philippines. Kaui Philpotts, former food editor of the Honolulu Advertiser, notes that the laborers “didn’t eat sandwiches or things like that; it was leftover rice and a lot of things like canned meat or teriyaki or cold meat or maybe scrambled eggs or pickles, and almost no salad or vegetable.”[2] Later on, macaroni salad was added to the plates, as it seemed to bridge national tastes and also mixed well with gravy-covered slabs of meat.

  • 2 cups dry elbow macaroni
  • 1  cup mayonnaise
  • 2 hard cooked eggs, peeled and grated on the large holes of a box grater
  • 2 tablespoons yellow onion, finely diced
  • 1 small celery rib, finely diced
  • pinch sugar
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add macaroni and cook about 8 minutes until tender. Pour into a colander and rinse in cold water. Drain.
  2. Transfer pasta into a large bowl, add mayonnaise, eggs, onion, celery, sugar, salt, pepper, and paprika. Stir to combine and chill.
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