Let’s Give ‘Em a Big Hand: Tropical Finger Foods Your Guests Will Love

As time goes on, you might find yourself entertaining the idea of having a few close friends over to safely catch up in person. While you don’t have to attach a theme to this small, simple shindig, admittedly, it does make a special occasion even more fun. Cocktail attire is an elegant choice, or—and maybe we’re a little biased here—you could go with a tropical theme. You don’t have to go all out with a large Hawaiian party in the backyard, complete with tiki torches. But why not suggest people arrive in aloha or floral attire, as if they were attending a lovely luau at sunset?

As the host, keep things easy-breezy by serving tropical finger foods. Not only do they work as conversation starters, people can still carry on conversations between bites. After all, the ultimate goal is to reconnect with good friends. We’ll leave the party decorations—and perhaps the mai tais, piña coladas, and other tropical drinks—to you. But we’ll supply a few appetizer ideas and some topics—or should we say, “tropics”—of conversation to weave into the evening.

Oh, the Joy of Soybeans!

A signature starter at sushi bars and now on the menus at many other restaurants is edamame: soybeans in their shells all aligned like peas in a pod. Due to their popularity over the years, edamame can also be found at most grocery stores nowadays, even in the freezer section for easy storage. After preparing your edamame according to the instructions, just sprinkle Hawaiian sea salt on them, and serve! Garlic is another popular addition, or perhaps try this recipe for Wok Charred Edamame provided by Foodland Hawai`i.

A “Tropic” of Conversation: Have you been to any of Chef Roy Yamaguchi’s restaurants in Hawai`i? Chef Roy adds shichimi, a Japanese red pepper seasoning, to his edamame recipe.

A Coconut Classic

Another appetizer to place on the table is a platter of coconut shrimp. As part of their series, HAWAI`I in the Kitchen, HAWAI`I Magazine featured Duke’s Coconut Shrimp. It’s a signature dish at the Honolulu restaurant, Duke’s Waikiki, located on the sand at the Outrigger Waikiki Beach Resort.

Two of the ingredients are unsweetened coconut flakes and panko breadcrumbs. The breadcrumbs provide a crispy, crunchy texture that infuses with the classic, aromatic coconut. The dish is traditionally served with liliko`i chili pepper water on the side, but let’s save the liliko`i (passion fruit) flavor for a little later.

Second “Tropic” of Conversation: Duke’s Waikiki is named after surfing legend and international icon of the sport, Duke Kahanamoku. He was also a five-time Olympic medalist in swimming (three gold, two silver).

And now from shredding waves to shredded pork…

Nothing Finer Than a Slider

After these starters, keep with the ease, and serve up some sliders: easy-to-eat mini sandwiches that pack big flavor. These are not made with traditional sliced bread, but small square- or round-shaped halves, baked to be thick and sturdy so they can hold the stacked components. King’s Hawaiian bakery has pre-sliced slider buns and their Original Hawaiian Sweet Dinner Rolls. Their website also has a delicious recipe for Pulled Pork Sliders with Hawaiian Slaw, featuring shredded pork in a smoky barbecue sauce, with a cabbage-carrot-pineapple-based slaw for crunchy tartness.

Next “Tropic” of Conversation: The story of King’s Hawaiian bakery begins here in Hilo, Hawai`i in the 1950s. Founder Robert R. Taira opened Robert’s Bakery, where he started selling round loaves of the Original Hawaiian Sweet Bread.

Squares to Share

Round out the good time with scrumptious brownie squares. Big Island Candies has done the baking for you! In keeping with the tropical theme, share the natural sweetness found in our Chocolate Covered Coconut Brownies, available in milk chocolate and dark chocolate varieties. Or maybe your guests would like to have a little leisure time with liliko`i. Our Chocolate Covered Passion Fruit Brownies send taste buds to a relaxing island retreat where they’re greeted by a layer of passion-fruit-infused silkiness, followed by the sumptuous softness of the brownie. We went ahead and added four milk chocolate and four dark chocolate flavors to each box. Either choice is the right one. Better yet, all these brownies are individually wrapped, which means your guests can unwrap the experience whenever they’re ready. It could be right then and there or at home as a midnight snack.

There’s also our line of Mochi Brownies, a whole new type of brownie featuring a distinctive chewy texture. A sheet of brownies is held in our bento-style tray, allowing you to slice the desired-size squares. (Go big!) If someone gets a piece along the sides, or the sought-after corner, they may experience even more chewy goodness. Available in Chocolate, Blueberry, Coconut and Passion Fruit.

Another “Tropic” of Conversation: Mochi hits the main(stream)! The Netflix series, “Waffles + Mochi” features a whimsical pair of puppets who travel the world, discovering and learning about different types of food and meeting new people along the way. That includes celebrities, chefs—even Michelle Obama.

Pack Your (Goodie) Bags!

When the get-together starts to wrap up, hand out goodie bags of tropical finger foods for everyone to take home. Our Gifts page has a variety of amazing assortments in colorful bags and mini totes that reflect how beautiful Hawai`i is and how delicious its finger foods are! 

One Last “Tropic” of Conversation: Let’s do this again! Before your besties leave, schedule the next get-together. Maybe even plan the next group vacation to the Islands. (And if you can’t make it there, plan an amazing staycation.)

With these ideas, not only will your friends remember how good the party food was, they’ll remember, more importantly, the company, the conversations around the tiki bar, and how good it felt to see everyone again.

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