a delicious hawaiian-inspired fried rice packed with grilled chicken, pineapple, jalapeños & spicy portuguese sausage that all come together to create the perfect balance of a rich, smoky, sweet & spicy bowl. top this hapa fried rice off with a squeeze of lime & some sliced avocado & you’ll for sure be hooked on this quick, flavorful for the rest of summer.
so i told you earlier this summer that chris & i were soon headed to hawaii to visit family.
wait, whaaaaaaaat? (that’s usually the response i get when i mention our trip, anyway…)
my beautiful mom was born & raised in honolulu, hawaii. long story short, my dad (a native wisconsinite) & she met while he was serving in the army & was stationed on the islands. he charmed the socks off of her & she swept him off his feet, & soon they were married & starting a family of their own.
so what the heck brought us back to wisconsin?? (that’s usually the next question to come up in this conversation…)
well, a lot of things: career opportunities & cost of living to name a couple of key reasons, but my favorite is the fact that my mom – an island girl who grew up in the kind of paradise that is 80 degrees & sunny but also perfectly breezy every day – fell in love with the changes in seasons throughout the year (aka winter…what the heck…).
anyway. mom’s whole family is still out on the islands & we make an effort to get back as often as we can to spend time with everyone (& stuff ourselves full of the kind of seafood & local cooking that you can only get in hawaii). even though i’ve never had the opportunity to live there, it’s a place that has always felt like home to me, in a very spiritual & healing way.
needless to say, this trip is a huge highlight of the year. whether our flights are taking off in 2 days or in 10 months, i literally giddy every time i think about it. & like any true foodie, i very strategically select the places we will eat, which inevitably makes the cravings for good island food start to come on strong.
enter this hapa fried rice (hapa = half or part hawaiian = yours truly!), my part hawaiian twist on fried rice.
inspired equally by the foods i love to eat in hawaii & the foods i love to eat while at home in the midwest, this hapa fried rice is 100% full of the kind of deliciousness that you’ll find yourself craving time & time again.
this hapa fried rice starts with the quickest & easiest way to develop deep flavor: throwing the main ingredients on the grill.
chicken breast gets deliciously charred.
pineapple caramelizes & develops a beautiful sweetness.
jalapeños (which have been halved & only partially destemmed & deseeded for the perfect amount of heat) get smoky & rich.
the star of this whole dish is portuguese sausage, a pork sausage that is really similar to chorizo. in my mind portugese sausage is pretty much synonymous with truly local hawaiian flavor (you can even get it with eggs & rice off the breakfast menu at mcdonald’s in hawaii!). garlicky, smoky, spicy, rich, & de-freaking-licious. you can look for it in specialty stores, but if you can’t find it, any good chorizo will make a great substitute.
once these main ingredients are grilled, you simply dice them into uniform pieces & quickly stir fry with coconut oil, aromatics, rice, & salsa verde until all of the ingredients are heated through & mixed together.
finish with a big ol’ handful of cilantro & a good squeeze of lime.
if you want to go really crazy (yes, you do!), top with some diced avocado & a sprinkle of sea salt.
the smokiness of the portuguese sausage is perfectly complimented by the sweetness of the grilled pineapple, the spicy kick that the jalapeños offer, & the bright tangy notes that salsa verde & lime juice bring into the mix.
serve it up, close your eyes, & pretend you’re sitting next to a food truck on the north shore after a long day at the beach (at least that’s what i do…). THIS, friends, is exactly what paradise tastes like. the only thing missing is some POG, yeah?
i’d love to know what your favorite comfort food is!
is it a classic meal you ate as a child? is it something unexpected, but takes you back to a special time in your life? comment below & let me know!
- 1 C uncooked basmati rice
- 2 bell peppers
- 2 jalapeño peppers
- 1 pineapple
- 1 medium red onion
- 10 oz link Portuguese sausage, or 1/2 lb fresh Spanish chorizo
- 1 lb chicken breast
- 1 tbsp coconut oil
- 2 C salsa verde
- cilantro, lime, & avocado for serving
- Preheat your grill to medium heat.
- Cook 1 C basmati rice in a rice cooker or on the stove top per instructions on the package - I always cook 1 C rice in 2 C water & it comes out perfectly every time.
- While rice is cooking, prep your peppers & pineapple for the grill. Destem & deseed the bell peppers & cut into thirds or quarters. Cut the jalapeños in half down the middle & destem & deseed to your liking. I like pretty moderate heat, so I leave stems & seeds in 1 pepper. Core & cut the pineapple into large spears. You want all pieces of pepper & pineapple to be big enough to sit on the grill grates without falling through.
- Dice 1 red onion & set aside.
- Grill the peppers & pineapple over medium heat until
- Gill the Portuguese sausage & chicken breast over medium heat until cooked through, about 6 minutes per side.
- Once cool enough to handle, remove skin from peppers & chop the grilled pineapple & peppers into small dice.
- In a large skillet, sweat onions in coconut oil until soft and transluscent. Salt & pepper to taste.
- Add peppers, rice, & salsa verde to skillet & heat through, stirring often to prevent the rice from sticking to the pan.
- Add sausage, chicken, & grilled pineapple to skillet just long enough to heat through.
- Serve in bowls with sliced avocado & top with a squeeze of lime juice & a handful of cilantro.