Your guide to the food and culture of the tropics


Savory Tropical Dishes for New Year’s Eve Dinner

Make New Year’s Eve dinner an affair to remember, with a delectable selection of savory tropical dishes.

Hosting a soiree for New Year’s Eve can be a daunting prospect, we know. With little time on your hands during this hectic season, concocting an exciting menu with minimal effort can seem like a mission impossible. But don’t fear, the tropics are here!
Try some savory tropical dishes to bring your New Year’s Eve dinner to life. And to make your job even easier, we’ve selected meals that suit a cocktail party if you’re aiming for a more casual affair.

Tropical Dishes for New Year’s Eve Dinner

Soy & Sesame Chicken Wings

Get your New Year’s dinner party started right with these sensational sticky chicken wings smothered in gooey sweet and savory soy sauce. They’ll transport your taste buds to the bustling night food markets of Southeast Asia with just one bite.

New Year's, New Year's Eve, Recipes, Chicken Wings, Sesame Chicken

(Photo: Flickr The Delicious Life)

Soy & Sesame Chicken Wings
  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • ¼ cup red wine vinegar
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ tsp grated ginger
  • ½ tsp onion powder
  • 1 packet sesame seeds
  • 1 lb packed pre-cooked chicken wings
  • 2 tbsp corn starch
  • ½ cup water
  1. Combine all the ingredients (except the sesame seeds, chicken, corn starch and water) in a saucepan, combine and bring to a simmer.
  2. Combine the water and corn starch, mixing well.
  3. Add the corn starch mix to the sauce and bring to a boil. Stir often as the sauce continues to boil for 10 minutes, stirring often. The sauce will thicken as it cooks.
  4. Once achieved desired consistency – it should be quite thick – remove from stove and cool.
  5. Just before serving, heat a non-stick skillet and warm the chicken wings for 5 minutes.
  6. Add the sauce to the skillet, mix thoroughly and cook for 2 more minutes.
  7. Sprinkle the sesame seeds evenly over the chicken wings, mix well and transfer to serving platter.

Chorizo, Potato & Avocado Sopes

Sope is one of Mexico’s most adored finger foods. It consists of a cornmeal-based shell, topped with a host of savory ingredients. At home, sope shells are fidgety to make and rather time-consuming, but you can buy them ready-made right here, effectively making this a quick, simple recipe. If you’re hosting a more formal dinner, swap the corn tartlets for a pie crust, and follow the recipe to make a much larger quiche — then serve with the Cuban salad featured below.

Sope, New Year's Eve, New Year's Dinner, recipes

(Photo: Flickr john_Onate)

Chorizo, Potato, & Avocado Sope
  • 4 potatoes, washed, peeled and diced
  • 1 lb chorizo sausage meat (simply buy chorizo sausages and remove meat from skin)
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • ½ cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 tbsp olive oil, for cooking
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  1. Boil the potatoes in plenty of salted water until tender. Drain and set aside.
  2. Cook the chorizo in a little oil using a heavy-based skillet, for approximately 5 minutes, breaking up the meat as it cooks.
  3. Add the chopped onions and continue to fry for a further 10 minutes.
  4. Add the boiled potatoes to the chorizo mix and cook whilst smashing most of the potatoes with a fork. Continue until most of the mix has browned nicely. The crunchy bits are the best!
  5. Mash the avocado in a bowl, add the lime juice and mix with the cilantro. Salt and pepper to taste.
  6. When the chorizo mix has cooled (but is still warm), prepare the sope case or pie crust as per packet instructions, fill with chorizo mix and top with dollops of avocado.

Cuban Chicken Salad

Whether for a formal sit-down dinner or served in single-serve cups with gorgeous mini spoons for a stand-up app, this fresh chicken salad will go down as a treat. Traditionally, an ensalada de pollo includes boiled potatoes and a mayonnaise dressing, but we find that serving it on a bed of baby greens with a vinaigrette to be a much lighter alternative. Plus, the festive rainbow of colors will definitely bring your table to life too. Time-saving tip: Use ready-to-serve BBQ chicken breast cubes in place of diced chicken breasts.

Salad, Cuban Salad, New Year's Eve, New Year's Dinner

By Minseong Kim (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Cuban Chicken Salad
  • 4 cup(s) fresh mixed baby greens
  • 5 oz cooked skinless boneless chicken breast(s), diced
  • ½ cup pineapple, diced
  • ½ cup mango, diced
  • ½ cup red pepper, diced
  • ½ cup chopped black olives
  • ½ cup celery, diced
  • ½ cup cucumber(s), diced
  • ½ cup red Spanish red onion, finely sliced
  • ¼ cup cilantro, fresh, coarsely chopped
  • Ingredients for the dressing
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened orange juice
  • 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • ¼ tsp cumin
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  1. Place the dressing ingredients in a mason jar, tighten the lid, and shake vigorously for one minute. Store in the fridge until needed.
  2. Place all the salad ingredients in a large bowl and set aside until ready to serve.
  3. Add the dressing to the salad bowl and combine well just before serving.

Caribbean NYE Rum Punch

Don’t worry, we didn’t forget about the alcohol. Celebrate the New Year than with a taste of the Caribbean in this bubbly rum punch.

New Year's Eve, New Year's Eve Dinner, Champagne, Champagne Cocktail, Rum Punch

Caribbean NYE Rum Punch
  • 3 oz. champagne
  • 1.5 oz. rum
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 2 lime wheels
  • 6 mint leaves
  • Crushed ice
  1. Combine the desired rum and champagne in a large pitcher.
  2. Place brown sugar, lime wheels and mint leaves in a cocktail shaker and shake vigorously to combine. Do this in batches. Add to pitcher.
  3. Serve in chilled glasses or over crushed ice.

Written by

Laura Pattara is a modern nomad who’s been vagabonding around the world, non-stop, for the past 11 years. She’s tour guided overland trips through South America and Africa, travelled independently through the Middle East and is now, along with her partner in love and travel, riding a motorbike from Germany to Australia. Laura moonlights as a freelance travel writer and, between adventures, loves sharing her travel ramblings on her personal website:Laura's Travel Tales