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Hawaii's Best Local Potato and Macaroni Salad Recipe

Updated: Jun 28, 2021

In 2013 I recorded my grandparents from Laupahoehoe, Hawaii making their potato and macaroni salad. Since it's been on YouTube, it's gotten a lot of positive feedback. Needless to say, it's my most popular YouTube video...

To put the origins of this salad in to context, grandma and grandpa are Nisei (second generation Japanese Americans) who grew up in Hawaii with the mentality of working hard, making "do" with what you have and never wasting food.

Throughout their life, grandpa and grandma modeled having a strict and consistent work habit in their daily activities, a solid foundation and belief in family values, and a generous heart for everyone that crossed their path.

They both grew up working in the sugar cane field doing various jobs and by the time they had a family, grandpa worked his way up in the sugar mill as a mill supervisor and grandma owned her own barber shop business. On top of their jobs, they raised four children, were avid temple members at Papaaloa Hongwanji, and also spent much of their time cultivating a special relationship with what we know today as "plantation-style" dishes and foods. Little did they know that their recipes would be shared with thousands of people through YouTube. Their videos give viewers a special and nostalgic feeling of home and comfort and not to mention, delicious recipes that bring them back to a unique time in history.

What are plantation-style dishes?

In my personal opinion and from making various dishes on this topic, a plantation-style dish is something that usually has little pieces of canned or store-bought meats, pineapple flavor and a lot of vegetables. Many people, including my grandparents grew a lot of their own vegetables which they used in their cooking for their family. I've never asked my grandpa this but I want to believe that his potato and macaroni salad dish is from the days when they lived on the plantation. All of the ingredients in this dish are very simple, easy to come by, and his special ingredient that he adds for sweetness are canned pineapple chunks with some of its juice. Knowing my grandpa, he loved everything sweet. Hopefully reading a little bit about my grandparents backstory will give you a little more appreciation and understanding for this very delicious potato and macaroni salad recipe. Please enjoy and share this with your friends and family.

Every time someone makes this recipe, they share a little bit of my grandparents history and love to someone else.

***In the video, grandpa and grandma are making for a huge party. The recipe that I am writing and sharing in this blog post is 1/4 of their whole recipe. This will make about 4 servings.


1 potato

2 boiled eggs

2 pieces of imitation crab (we suggest the Hilo Amano brand)

1/3 C. macaroni

1/4 C. frozen peas

1/4 C. mayonnaise

5-6 pineapple chunks with juice

salt and pepper to taste

Boil the eggs.

Peel the potato and cut into cubes.

Fill up 2 small pots of water. Add a little bit of salt. When the water boils, add the macaroni to one pot and the potato cubes to the other pot.

After the eggs are boiled, cut into fourths the long way and then cut into cubes horizontally.

Cut the imitation crab into thirds and then shred into pieces.

Cut the pineapple chunks into small pieces and save a little bit of juice to keep the salad moist.

When the potatoes and noodles are soft, drain water and turn off the oven. Make sure these two ingredients are cool before adding to the potato and macaroni salad.

Now we are ready to mix!

Add in the egg, crab, peas, potato, macaroni and pineapple to the mix! Slowly add in mayonnaise, salt and pepper. Do a taste test... sometimes grandpa and grandpa would add more pineapple juice if they wanted it sweeter or more salt and pepper for a savory mix. And mix, mix, mix!

After mixing, put in the refrigerator and cool for approximately 1 hour.

Please enjoy grandpa and grandma's potato and macaroni salad recipe! This a great for summer parties... or honestly it's just good year round. Grandpa used to make this for almost every occasion which included birthday parties, holidays, and just for dinner sometimes. And I'm sure if grandpa were here today, he would be so happy to see so many people enjoying his salad!

Grandma is 98 years old today and still enjoys eating this potato and macaroni salad. She does not cook as much in the kitchen these days and has become more picky with what she eats, but I can tell that this salad is very much a part of her and holds a very special place in her heart.

I hope you try this recipe for your next gathering! If you got to the end of this blog, thank you so much for reading it through. It means a lot to me to be able to share so much about the people that I care about.

Till the next one,


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