Every Filipino has probably disparaged our very unique Macaroni Salad, as I have. It’s not the usual macaroni, mayo and dill pickle concoction you’ll find everywhere else in the world. I guess you could call it a bit “confusilcated” as Spouse likes to say. A little bit of this, a little of that…and so much more. It’s a reflection of who we are, a melange of flavors and influences all in one bundle of confusion. I have this theory it’s also a reflection of the Pinoy’s openness to new ideas, cultures and flavors.
I really ought to stop intellectualizing now since, one, I’m not good at it and second, it’s just a salad. All I know is – it can be delicious if you’ll only give it a chance.
I haven’t cooked this for Spouse before, a bit afraid to jar his senses. He liked his bland (for this Filipino) Macaroni Salad with mayo and dill pickles which you’ll get in most diners and restaurants in the US. You know what I’m talking about….the one that comes in a little plastic container with a roast beef sandwich or something. What a huge surprise that Spouse loved the Pinoy version. He absolutely LOVED it.
I wanted to make a very Pinoy version of a Mac Salad for this blog. A lot of readers have been searching for it and ended up here….it’s only fair they finally find the recipe. I went easy on the sweet pickles…Spouse and I both don’t like sweet pickles. But I did put the obligatory pinch of something I’m not fond of. If you were my mom, it would be a whole lot. But I remember all too well what we kids called it when faced with a scoop of Mac Salad at buffet parties. The raisins we called “bangaw” or large flies. The pickle bits….well, we called them boogers.
Never mind that, this is a good salad and is something you won’t find in many places. I hope you’ll try it and like it!
Filipino Macaroni Salad
2 c. uncooked elbow macaroni noodles
1 c.- 1.5 c. mayonnaise
1/2 c. diced ham (boiled chicken breasts and/or ham is also commonly used)
1 celery stalk, diced if you want crunch and minced if you don’t
2 tbsps. finely minced red onion
2 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and chopped
1 15 oz. can pineapple tidbits, drained
1/4 c. sweet pickle relish, drained
1/2-3/4 c. diced cheddar cheese (Shredded is fine)
1 small carrot, peeled and cut into thin matchsticks ( you can blanch this if you don’t like the crunch. I like the crunch and leave it raw)
a handful or two of raisins
salt and pepper to taste
Drain the pineapples and pickle relish overnight in the refrigerator. If you’re out of time, squeeze out the juices instead. My mom always strained it overnight in the refrigerator. But when she was mixing everything up….she’d pour in a bit of pineapple or pickle relish juices if she felt it needed more sweetness. Go figure.
Cook your macaroni according to package directions. While that’s cooking, combine the rest of the ingredients in a large bowl, minus the mayo. Add the macaorni when it’s done and cooled to room temperature. Stir this in, still without the mayo so it’s easier to get everything mixed. Season with the pepper but not the salt.
Then add the mayo and mix again. Correct seasonings and chill at least an hour before serving. The longer you let this salad sit, the more the noodles will absorb the mayo. You may have to add more mayo before serving so it isn’t too dry.
TIP: Spouse taught me a great way to cook pasta. Bring your water and a lot of salt to a boil then add the noodles. Bring it back to a rapid boil then turn off the heat completely. Cover and let it sit in the simmering water for the required timd. There will be enough residual heat on the stove, your pot and your water to cook the pasta. It will be perfectly cooked and you only had the heat turned on for a fraction of the time. Try it, it really works.