fantasy friday: rumaki from betty draper's kitchen

Remember this amazing dinner party Betty Draper hosted in season 2 of Mad Men? She called it her "Around the World" dinner, starting with gazpacho from Spain, and rumaki from Japan.

But Betty was a little misinformed on this one. Rumaki is actually an American dish, made to sound like it has Asian origins, and originally developed as a menu item for Trader Vic's restaurants.

Traditional rumaki consists of chicken liver wrapped in bacon, served with water chestnuts. They get seasoned with soy sauce, ginger, and brown sugar and roasted until cooked. I'm surprised no one at the party noticed what an American dish rumaki actually is...full of sodium, sugar, and cholesterol. They were probably distracted by Betty's beautiful dress (and beautiful face).

My version of rumaki is pretty drastically different than the traditional. I traded the bacon for smoky-flavored mushrooms and the sugar for naturally sweet pineapple. Served on toothpicks, each little skewer has a lovely salty and sweet flavor, accompanied by the crunch of the water chestnuts. These are perfect as a dinner party appetizer, but don't hold up very well after they cool off. So eat them while they're fresh! And if you're doing it in true Mad Men style, enjoy a cocktail or two...or three...

Vegan Rumaki

1 8-oz. can of water chestnuts
1 8-oz. can of pineapple chunks, in juice
4 oz. fresh white mushrooms
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tbsp white vinegar
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp powdered ginger
1/2 tsp liquid smoke

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Wash the mushrooms, cut into bite size pieces, and set aside. Drain the water chestnuts and set aside in a different bowl. Combine the soy sauce, white vinegar, garlic powder, and ginger and pour half of the sauce over the mushrooms, and half over the water chestnuts. Add the liquid smoke to just the mushrooms. Stir each bowl gently, to coat vegetables. Cover, and refrigerate for 1-2 hours.

After 1-2 hours, drain the pineapple, reserving the juice. Grease a baking sheet with a thin layer of oil. Spear appetizer toothpicks with at least one each of mushroom, water chestnuts, and pineapple. Keep an eye on how much you have...I had to cut some pineapple in half again to make sure I had a balanced number of pieces. Before placing each spear on the baking sheet, twirl it in the pineapple juice.

Bake the rumaki for about 15 minutes, checking often to make sure the toothpicks and pineapple juice are not burning! Serve warm.

It's okay, Betty. You can serve these at your next party.


  1. I'm pretty psyched for the premiere this weekend! These just might be a fun little treat to have while we watch. What a creative spin on the original you've got here. Well played.

  2. awesome healthy spin on this. now if only my apartment was big enough to host parties...

    1. Ha ha...I hear you on that one. Ours is also not clean enough. ;-)

  3. You are so creative Clair. I love your new Friday edition! I've never watched Mad Men, can you believe it?

    1. Ah! You need to! I have to admit, I think we're behind a season or two. But it is definitely a great show.

  4. Gorgeous food shots Clair! Who's loving her new camera???

  5. What a great alternative recipe.... nicely done!

    By the way.....I'm throwing a Potluck Party today - and would love for you to 'come' ;D

    Hope to see you there.


  6. Nice, I've never heard of this dish but it's pretty unique. I like your take on it

  7. In addition to tea, and our idea for a dinner party, let's add cocktail party to the list as well.

    Let's do it all!


    1. I love it when you post things like this, because they get me all excited to do all sorts of little things. :D

  8. Are you and I the only bloggers here who are MAD about Mad Men!?! I'm so pysched about this weekend's premiere. We don't have cable so we're trying to figure out where to go watch it. Thanks for the great post!

  9. Your photos with your new camera are GORG!! Love the lighting.


Thanks for making me smile. =)