All posts filed under: Samoa


Samoan Tropical Salad

Summer can’t come soon enough – the heat of sun on my shoulders, the way my skin smells with sunscreen on, hot evenings under the stars. So today we’re going to Samoa. There’ll be drippy sweetness: papaya and cantaloupe. There’ll be richness, too – buttery avocado and moody – almost bitter – spinach. And to finish it all off? A puckering of lime juice – as bright as a Samoan seascape.   Typically known for rich, coconut milk-laden recipes, this Samoan salad is a healthier twist on island fare. The version I based mine on even won a Samoan recipe challenge! I chose this salad for sentimental reasons – something to set the scene a bit for the release of my new book Life from Scratch: A Memoir of Food, Family, and Forgiveness. I went to Samoa 2 months before I was born (as a real life stowaway, I suppose). Scientists believe our taste preferences can be affected by what our mother’s ate while we were gestating. I like to think I carry a bit of Samoa with me today. It was an …

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We are one family

Monday Meal Review: Samoa

There’s a Samoan proverb which reads “Ua iloa i vaʻa lelea,” or we are one family.  I love this proverb. I spent most of my topsy turvy childhood figuring out what love means. What family means. And then, one day, those grace-filled words dawned on me … We are one family. The Samoans knew it all along. Blood bonds and geographic bonds are just the wonderful beginning. We can find love whenever and wherever we open our hearts. We are all one family. Sometimes it’s a bit messy. Sometimes it’s not how we pictured it. Sometimes we disagree and sometimes we cry. Sometimes we need a break. But sometimes it’s easy. Sometimes we laugh and see eye to eye. Sometimes we can’t get enough of each other’s smiles. We are one family. How my life changed when I began to look at the world through this lens. Sure, I still mess up (all the time, actually… and I’m sorry for that), but reminding myself of these words helps me to slow down and “think kinder,” with more love, …

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Samoan Steamed Spice Cake | Puligi

When Samoans want to bite into the holidays, their kitchens fill with the warm scent of cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg. If you try to peer under the lid to see what’s cookin’, you’ll more than likely get a full steam facial, so watch out. Within that foggy cloud of vapors, you’ll find cocoa brown puligi, a steamed bundt cake made dark with the unusual addition of “burnt” sugar. The cake is traditionally steamed in an underground oven known as an imu, although many now steam it on the stovetop, or as I have done in the oven. We ate this treat one early morning, as part of a Samoan Saturday breakfast which included our Koko Rice (a.k.a. chocolate and coconut rice pudding). I was so bleary-eyed from my too-early wake up (thanks to my ever-eager Miss Ava) that I completely forgot to serve it with the traditional accompaniment – vanilla custard – and instead passed around some softened butter. It was only days later that I remembered what I’d read, cut myself a new slice, …

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Chocolate & Coconut Rice Pudding with Sweet Orange Peel | Koko Rice

I used to say I wasn’t a chocolate girl but, as the year’s go by, I’m realizing that it’s really more about finding the right time to eat chocolate. After dinner? Certainly. At 3pm? I’m game. For lunch? Maybe. Midnight? Definitely. 3 am? No way. I’m sleeping for goodness sakes. But breakfast? Am I game for a chocolate breakfast? Let’s just say it’s an arrangement I’m willing to get out of bed for and I know of at least two other people who are as well. After all, who couldn’t use a jolt of dark chocolate goodness to start the day out right? Which brings us to today’s Koko Rice from Samoa. I originally dubbed it “choconut” because I thought I was clever. Unfortunately, Google quickly informed me that I had not, in fact, invented a word so I had to go back to the much simpler, but wordier expression “chocolate and coconut.” Whatever you decide to call it, koko rice is a rich and creamy blend of chocolate and coconut milk with just the lightest hint of orange zest. Each …

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Samoan Coconut Creamed “Spinach” | Palusami

Oh, boy. I honestly never thought this would happen. Me. Canned meat. Together at the table. At the Global Table. When I decided to cook a meal for every country in the world, I had visions of exotic spices laced throughout grand feasts of epic proportions. I imagined a variety of fresh herbs, carefully plucked from a garden somewhere. Canned corned beef, never really popped up in these daydreams. But, when Soraya the Samoan suggested I try Palusami, I quickly learned the time had come to eat canned shaped meat. I sidestepped this challenge for as long as I could but throughout Polynesia, canned corned beef is a fact. A much loved staple. I could have cooked it for Fiji, or Nauru, or Kiribati, or Palau, and on and on. But I didn’t. Some of you even egged me on. But I just couldn’t face it. Until now. Until Samoa. Today we finally cracked open a can for their version of creamed spinach called Palusami. Coconut creamed spinach. The irony is, of course, that the recipe is just …

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Menu: Samoa (Plus Giveaway)

“E tuai tuai, ta te maʻona ai.” This Samoan proverb states that food which takes a long time in the oven will be satisfying. It’s the equivalent of “good things come to those who wait.” You see, much of Samoan dinners were traditionally cooked in underground ovens made with hot stones and covered with dirt and leaves. My mom said that was just about all there was in the late 70’s. Today, electricity takes much of the guesswork out of when dinner will be done but there’s still satisfaction in enjoying traditional favorites. For our menu, I went with yet another festive holiday spread. Bring that Palusami to your next holiday potluck. As for the rice and the puligi? Yes, yes. Definitely. Special thanks to Soraya, a lovely Samoan friend of Brian (longtime reader who always leaves the neat musical selections). She was kind enough to message with me about all kinds of good, traditional eats (especially the Palusami). All recipes and meal review will be posted throughout the week. Coconut Creamed “Spinach” | Palusami …

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About the food of samoa

Mom was the ultimate “drop everything and go” traveler at a time when not many people, let alone pregnant women, did that sort of thing. She was in Samoa in 1979 – just months before I was born. P.S. In case that wasn’t tough enough for ya, she also had a (very energetic) toddler in tow – my brother Damien. Amaz. ing. I know, I know, I know. You’re thinking things have changed since then – and to some extent they have (although much is still the same, like the fact that this tiny Polynesian nation is made up of a few islands totaling just over 1,000 square miles ). But I had to get her report of the place and what I heard was too good not to share. Here’s just an excerpt of her letter dated April 16, 1979 (just 3 months and 2 days before I was born), where she talks about the singing, the food, and the children. For starters her “condition” as a single mom just about to pop raised many questions. “Where’s your …

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