All posts filed under: Oceania

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Grilled Island Fries

Ok. So even in the summer I crave french fries. But I don’t crave heating up a big pot of oil inside the house. There’s a solution: grilled fries. The fine people of Nauru love their fries. While most of them enjoy deep-fried fries, we covered that with Belgium Pommes Frites. So, inspired by their island setting – where the fine people of Nauru love to grill – I thought it’d be fun to try grilled fries. And it was fun. In my research I found several ways to make these, including boiling the potatoes and then slicing (again, who wants to heat up the house with a big pot of bubbling water? Not me!). I decided to try something different. Something simpler. I crossed my fingers, shut my eyes, and hoped against hope that it would work. And it did. Here is how I did it. Serves up to 5 Ingredients: 5 large yukon gold potatoes, washed vegetable oil salt & pepper Method: First, find the largest yukon gold potatoes you can. You can …

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Menu: Nauru

See the look on our faces? Yep. This week’s menu for Nauru reflects fun, easy breezy island fare – all you need is one bite to feel the joy. The only thing we’re missing is the ocean breeze. I can’t decide if the best part is making fries on a grill, the simplicity of fresh pan-fried fish, or drinking iced coffee out of plastic bottles. What!? What. Seriously. Stay tuned for more explanation on that. What sounds good to you? Grilled Island Fries [Recipe] This week the Nauruan love of all things grilled inspires me to toss French fries on the grill. It’s a little crazy and a lot delicious. Especially once you learn the secret to doing it right every single time. Coconut Crusted Fish [Recipe] A super simple way to cook fish, dipped in egg, then coated with a mixture of shredded coconut and breadcrumbs. The finishing touch? A hearty squeeze of fresh lime juice. “Recycled” Iced Coffee [Recipe] Come with me on an iced coffee journey which begins with a smooth pitcher of cold brewed grounds …

Coral reef on the beach in Nauru. Photo by D-Online

About the Food of Nauru

If you’re the kind of lost soul who loves isolation, knowing your neighbors, and an ocean breeze, then Nauru is for you. Clocking in at just eight square miles, Nauru is the third smallest country in the world (and the smallest island nation). With more than three hundred miles between her and the closest piece of land, well, I can’t help but be amazed that anyone found their way to Nauru in the first place, let alone make their home there. I mean, what are the odds? So let’s figure out what’s for eats on this little island. As you can probably imagine based on the size of Nauru, not a lot of food grows here. Once host to lush forests, Nauru is now stripped almost bare with poor soil. Coconut and pandan fruit are about all you’ll find. Of course, off the island you’ll find a teeming buffet, filled with as much seafood as your net/rod/spear can capture. Coconut fish is on every menu [recipe]. The majority of the food in Nauru is shipped …

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Monday Meal Review: Micronesia

THE SCENE Ava’s at a funny age. Literally. Everything is all giggles and “that’s so funny, mama.” It adds a breath of fresh air to my reality of taxes, tornadoes, and keeping the car clean. All equally impossible to deal with. This week Ava chuckled when she saw the silly straw in her Pineapple Papaya Coco Smoothie. And she loved the fact that there were oranges in our Micronesian Orange Coconut Cake. She laughed and laughed about that one. And, of course, I laughed watching her laugh. (Although I must admit I’m still not sure what exactly was so funny). But the point is, it didn’t matter. We were laughing. We were happy. Oh, if the world could just… stay this simple. If everyone could laugh more. Share smiles over good food. Giggle from the heart over nothing at all. Since Ava was feeling so silly, the Orange Coconut Cake gave me the perfect opportunity to teach Ava her very first joke. “Knock knock” “Who’s there?” “Orange” “Orange who?” “Orange you glad to see me?!?!” I should …

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Micronesian Ginger & Lime Marinade

In college I went by MacGyver. It had nothing to do with my ability to save lives (with little more than a shoestring and a balloon), and everything to do with feeding my four hungry roommates in the face of the greatest of obstacles (an empty refrigerator). I once made them lasagna without pasta or sauce. True story. Which brings me to this Micronesian marinade. There are four fantastic reasons to make it: 1. There is really no need to measure the ingredients. I have it on a local’s authority that any ratio works well. 2. The marinade tastes grand on just about anything. Fish. Chicken. Steak. Tofu. Leather shoes. 3. The marinade does double duty as a dipping sauce. 4.  Katrina says so. Katrina is the gal from Micronesia who emailed me, recommending that I try this marinade. To be honest that was enough motivation for me. And when she said any proportions will do? That was the clincher. I like not measuring. It’s more fun to simply dump a few ingredients into a bowl at …

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Pineapple Papaya Coco Sipper

It took Micronesia to get me excited about a smoothie. Don’t get me wrong – I love smoothies. After a while, though, they all taste the same. Until now. This smoothie blushes, straight from the easy, breezy islands. Why? Because out of the soft, sweet flavor of papaya and pineapple comes the daring zip of fresh lime juice. Adding lime juice to a smoothie may sound strange, but Micronesians know – this is like adding a hint of key lime pie to your drink. A bit of soprano to your alto. A bit of shine to your sun. And then there’s the fact that it’s mixed with coconut water. Healthy, healthy, healthy. So come on, let’s take off our shoes, slide our feet in the sand, and sip a smoothie til we blush. This recipe is inspired by the tropical fruits of Micronesia…but not any one particular recipe. Makes about 4 cups (serves 2) NOTE: Be sure to chill all ingredients overnight in the refrigerator for best results. Ingredients: 2 cups fresh pineapple chunks 4 cups …

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Glazed Orange Coconut Cake

There are times when I want to be fancy, but not fussy. When I want a pretty cake, but I don’t want to decorate it with elaborate roses. When I’d rather be swimming in the sea instead of doing my taxes. Ahem. These are the days when I want (need!) a little slice of heaven to serve along side my afternoon cup of tea. I never thought I’d find my answer in Micronesia. But I did. This orange infused cake comes all the way to us from a little Micronesian island called Kosrae and a local named Katrina. Her version is called a “Juicy Orange Cake” which pretty much sums up the incredible flavor. When Katrina emailed to say that citrus is fantastic on the islands, I knew I had to adapt her recipe. Even without a photo I knew it’d be epic. I changed a few things – most notably knocking down the sugar a bit in the cake so I could coat it with an irresistible orange glaze (which would serve as tacking for a …

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Menu: Micronesia

This week we’re enjoying a sampler-style menu based on Micronesia’s beloved citrus fruit. Each of the recipes I selected for you is bursting with fresh squeezed lime and orange juices. And, given my family’s reaction, I should warn you: they just might make you silly. Especially that crazy orange coconut cake. Speaking of crazy, have you heard the expression “cray cray”? I really amused myself reading the various definitions of this expression in the urban dictionary. I can’t quite decide if it’d be appropriate to describe either the cake or my family as cray cray. But I’m leaning towards yes on both accounts. What sounds good to you?* Ginger & Lime Marinade [Recipe]  A simple mixture of fresh ginger, lime juice, garlic, and soy sauce. Use on fish or chicken destined for the grill. Be sure to finish it off with some fresh cracked pepper – which is grown in the region to top it all off. Glazed Orange Coconut Cake [Recipe] This bundt cake will be you so happy. The rich coconut milk makes the cake so …

Sunset at Colonia, Yap (taken from Manta Ray Hotel). Photo by Eric Guinther

About the food of Micronesia

Micronesia and her gaggle of islands amaze me. She is a dream – half a world away. There is not a lot of information to be found about her thousands of islands because many of them are, at best, sparsely settled.  In an effort to delve deeper into the cuisine of this sprawling federation, I used one of my more recent tactics to educate myself on the cuisine: contacting a local. I love this technique. Emailing with someone halfway around the world makes me happy. While I’ve done it here and there throughout the blog, it really took off with Maldives and my successful recipe hunt for Lomi Lomi on twitter. The banter is friendly. People are excited to talk about food from their homelands and it makes me feel like I’m a part of a neighborly world. A small world. A happy world. This week my pen pal was Katrina from Kosrae – a landmass not even 10 miles wide – a tiny island within the Caroline Islands. As I read Katrina’ s suggestions on what to try, I …

Michelle and Alan join us to try the papaya.

Monday Meal Review: Marshall Islands

THE SCENE Things are getting a bit hairy on this Adventure. I’ve tried not to mention it – to just carry on as if everything is ship-shape, flowing easily. Unfortunately, it’s not. Somehow, over the last month or two, I find myself buried in an avalanche of unfortunate circumstances. I already told you about when I burned my hand, which thereby postponed the making of the Maltese cookies. But there’s been more drama that I’ve shared here, if only because I thought it was all just a temporary drag in performance. Now that it’s added up I feel as though I have to share – the five times Ava was too tired to try the food. Or too cranky. Or too full. The handful of times when Keith had to work late and I found myself sitting down alone to a dinner for four. The times when I burned the food and had to make it all over again. It feels like a full moon all the time. Like the project is short circuiting. So …

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Baked Papaya with Sweet Coconut Cream

When Ava says it, Keith comes running. “Pa pa pa pa yapa” Even for me, papaya is fun to say. Beautiful to behold. But here the thing. I never, ever buy this tropical fruit because I cannot figure out what on earth to do with it, aside from enjoying fresh, cool slices. Preferably poolside. Enter our week at the Marshallese Global Table, where I learned that these easy, breezy, island people bake papaya with a bit of sugar and enjoy with warm coconut milk. Hello. Okay. Let’s just say I’m intrigued. Once baked, the hot, creamy treat reminds me of peach pie, but without the crust. And without all the work. For more exotic flair, I decided to add the Pacific’s ever-popular pandan leaf, which is available frozen in Asian markets. Pandan adds a vanilla/rice floral note… (Use pandan like bay leaf – use it to infuse flavor, and then remove before eating). Ingredients 1 ripe Papaya, cut in half lengthwise and seeded coconut milk, as needed (about 1/4 cup per side) 4 Tbsp sugar, …

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Sweet Potatoes & Fried Bananas

The thing about eating our way around the world is that it makes me realize how very similar we all are. I don’t mean the little things. I mean at our core. We all want to be happy. We all want love. We all get tired and we all get silly. I’ve even come to learn that we eat mostly the same foods, just in different combinations. Take today’s recipe, for example… I’ve spent most of my life eating bananas in cereal and sweet potatoes with butter and chives. But today … today we’re going to the Marshall Islands via stove top travel. And there, the Marshallese add their bit of love to these ingredients. They take bananas, sweet potatoes, and butter – and make a potluck worthy bowl of magic I like to call “Sweet n’ Fried.” Since we’re coming up on barbecue season, let me just plant a little bug in your ear – the next time you have a tender, slow-roasted barbecue – pork or fish especially – make this dish. There’s …