Lomilomi salmon is a traditional Hawaiian salad-type dish that uses salted salmon. It’s a good choice for a luau because it’s simple to make in large quantities. Image source: Flickr CC user stu_spivack
I always like to come up with some sort of a theme for a party to make things more fun and interesting. We once celebrated my father’s birthday with a Hawaiian theme. We really like to roast each other in my family, so we all dressed in Hawaiian shirts with sandals and socks since that seems to be my father’s outfit of choice. A huge bonus of that party is that he changed his wardrobe!
Even if your father has excellent taste in clothes, a theme can help to anchor a party, and a luau-themed party is always fun (and you can make it as authentic or as kitsch as you want). And sure, cooking a whole pig in a pit is traditional at a luau, but you don’t have to bother with that to have authentic food. A seafood-based menu gives the party that island feel, and it’s a whole lot easier.
A Hawaiian Starter
There are a couple of things that I really love when it comes to Hawaii, but my absolute favorite thing is the fresh seafood. I love ahi poke, which is becoming popular outside Hawaii, but there’s another, similar traditional Hawaiian dish that doesn’t get enough attention. Lomilomi salmon is just diced salmon mixed with tomatoes, onions, and seasoning. It’s a light, salad-type dish that is a perfect starter to any luau. It’s also amazingly simple to make in portions large enough to feed the masses. Since the fish in this isn’t cooked, you’ll want to start with super-fresh salmon that you know hasn’t been sitting.
This is what you will need for about 12 people:
First you’ll need to cure your salmon a bit. Take a large piece of plastic wrap and lay it in a casserole dish. Pour in enough salt to cover the bottom of the fish, then place the fish on top of the salt-covered plastic wrap. Pour more salt on top of the fish, wrap the fish up, and refrigerate for 12 hours at the very least.
Rinse the salt off your fish, and cube it (chunks should be about the size of dice). I find the fish easier to cut if I first stick it in the freezer for a couple minutes. Mix the fish with the rest of your ingredients, and you’re ready to party!
Macadamia Nuts Make Deep Frying Obsolete
The next dish I love may not be typically served at a luau, but it is very traditional of Hawaii. Along with sugar, fresh fish, and spam, another staple food for Hawaiians are macadamia nuts. (Side note: if you have never had a Mele Mac, I highly suggest you try one ASAP!) I don’t know when it happened, but somewhere along the line, someone decided to take two of their staple food items and marry them together to create a beautiful seafood dish consisting of macadamia-crusted fresh mahi mahi with a pineapple ginger relish. If mahi mahi is not in season, the texture and firmness of Alaskan halibut make it a great substitute. The flavors are great in this dish and the macadamia nuts form a nice crunchy crust on the fish without any deep frying, keeping it super healthy.
Macadamia-Crusted Mahi Mahi
For 12 people use:
All you have to do now is brush your fresh mahi mahi or halibut with oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and grill for about 5 minutes on one side. Then flip the fish over and brush the already grilled side with honey and sprinkle with crushed macadamia nuts. To finish it off you will want to flip it one more time to get the nut crust a nice golden brown color. Your last step will be to serve the dish with a side of pineapple ginger relish. The easiest way to make this is to mix diced pineapple, minced ginger, scallions, and chili pepper to taste (a squeeze of lime juice is optional).
To Complete the Luau Experience
Along with the seafood and the kitschy fake coconuts, for my family, a Hawaiian party is about making a batch of signature island drinks. My personal favorites are the Lava Lava, Kona Coffee-Tini, and that old favorite, Mai Tais. The recipes for these are easy enough to get off of the internet if you are looking to gear your luau towards adults. Make a batch or two ahead of time in a large pitcher, and you won’t have to miss the fun while you mix drinks in the kitchen.
When you’re looking for seafood for your island-themed party, it goes without saying that the best kind of seafood is the fresh kind! When you order fresh fish online, you actually cut out the middleman and save yourself time and hassle. Most importantly, cutting out the middleman will guarantee freshness, as your seafood doesn’t have to travel from the docks to the store, at which point it could be in the seafood case for a couple of days before you purchase it. Daily Fresh Fish will ship any amount of seafood you need right to your home. Even better, it’s not just fresh and convenient, it’s also sustainable.