Rumaki—marinated chicken liver and water chestnuts wrapped in bacon—is a classic tiki pupu platter addition. It was created either by the godfather of Tiki, Donn the Beachcomber, or the second godfather of Tiki, Trader Vic, and was a popular menu item at tiki restaurants and parties in the mid-20th century. It’s totally faux-Polynesian. Which makes my version, which uses chicken breast instead of liver, faux-faux-Polynesian. That’s why we’re calling it ru-mock-i!
I used basic ol’ chicken breast (feel free to use thighs!) instead of liver, to appease the picky taste buds of my household. Sorry, mom. Evan won’t touch chicken liver with a ten-foot toothpick. I loved chicken liver when I was a kid (especially marinated and grilled!), and I loved the rumaki my parents made. As I’ve gotten older though, I’ve sort of lost my taste for the stuff. Isn’t that backwards? Isn’t your palate supposed to become more adventurous the older you get? Either way, these little bites are fun and addictive, with hints of all five basic tastes: sweet, salty, umami, bacon, and bacon.
Check back for the rest of my tiki party menu! Yesterday I shared the star of the show, the Three Dots and a Dash tiki drink, and tomorrow I’ll be combining two classic tiki treats into one tasty little bite: coconut shrimp and crab Rangoon!
Alright, are you ready to roll (some chicken and water chestnuts inside some bacon)!?
Ru-mock-i (Mock Rumaki)
Makes about 45 pieces. I use thinner bacon, for better roll-ability. If you use thicker bacon you might need toothpicks to hold them together. If that's the case, be sure to soak toothpicks in water for at least an hour.
1/2 cup soy sauce
3 Tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 inch-long chunk of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
Fresh ground black pepper
2 chicken breasts (about 1 pound), cut into small bite size pieces
1 can of whole water chestnuts, halved
1 lb package of bacon, cut in 3rds
In a large bowl, whisk together soy sauce, brown sugar, ginger, and pepper. Add chicken and water chestnuts, and marinate in the fridge for at least an hour (several hours is even better!).
Heat oven to 425.
Strain marinade off of chicken and chestnuts, and set aside. To assemble, wrap one chestnut piece and one chicken piece in one of your pre-cut 1/3rd size bacon slices, and roll up tightly. Repeat with remaining pieces, and place rolled rumakis on a baking sheet. Brush with reserved marinade.
Bake until everything is cooked through and bacon is just crispy, about 25 minutes.