All posts filed under: Tonga

Monday Meal Review: Tonga

  My family almost didn’t get to try the Sweet Potatoes this week. Twice I screwed up the caramel. Once, Ava was too tired to eat. When she was better rested, I was out of sweet potatoes. It was a comedy of errors. Except I wasn’t laughing, To blow off some steam, Ava and I decided to wash the car. We got on our bathing suits and began to scrub. Dust and bird gunk (and so much more) gradually peeled off the car. As the car cleaned up, something curious began to happen. I began to feel better. Cleansed, even. Ava laughed – no squealed – as she got caught in the spray. And I found myself joining in her joyous refrain. When we were done, we had the watermelon ‘Otai. It was just hot enough, and we were more than thirsty. Ava wasn’t crazy about the chunks of watermelon (although I loved chewing them)… but that wasn’t the point. It never really is. The point is to try it. And to have a little fun in the process. …

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Coconut Watermelon Refresher | ‘Otai

Sun. Sweat. Waves. If lemonade is the go-to poolside drink in the United States, ‘Otai is the go-to ocean-side drink of Tonga. Our recipe for ‘Otai takes us way out into the southwest Pacific, where the tropical days lull a person into putting away their smartphone. Can you imagine? Oh, please, someone take my cellphone from me!! My heart is there already. I promise you won’t need your phone to enjoy this drink. What you do need? A watermelon, a can of coconut milk, and some shredded coconut. If you want to get fancy, you can add things like crushed pineapple or papaya, too. A squeeze of lime juice brightens up the flavors (and looks fancy schmancy) TIP: The watermelon and coconut milk should be very cold. Refrigerate them overnight.. or you could make the drink ahead, and refrigerate it for several hours, or overnight. While you wait, paint your toenails watermelon pink (or is it red?). Use three coats. No biggie. Makes about 1 1/2 quarts Ingredients: 1/2 seedless watermelon (about 5 cups mashed) …

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Sweet Potatoes in Coconut Caramel Sauce

I love necklaces. The bright stones add a splash of color and fun to my generally plain-Jane outfits. Seeing as I don’t general have time to put on makeup, necklaces are the one and only way to brighten up my look. To make it look like I tried. Well, today, we’re getting a taste of how the islanders in Tonga dress up dinner. In short? Sweet potatoes meet coconut caramel sauce – a vivid display of orange, white, and golden brown. Sweet potatoes and coconut grow easily in the Pacific, making this dish ubiquitous in Tonga. In fact, from what I read, this coconut caramel sauce is on everything in Tonga, from dumplings to taro. Instant goodness. The caramel is just sugar and coconut milk (yay, for an accidentally vegan caramel sauce!). The coconut milk gives the caramel a depth of flavor butter can’t touch. It’s just so tropical. So dressed up. TIP: You can substitute boiled taro, or even boiled dumplings, for the sweet potato in this recipe. Ingredients: 2 lbs sweet potatoes (about 2-3) …

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Menu: Tonga

Apparently the fine people of Tonga have quite the sweet tooth. Whether it’s the coconut caramel sauce (which they put on everything from boiled taro to dumplings), or the watermelon chiller, Tonga serves up sweetness in all they do. I for one can appreciate the natural sweetness, especially in the drink. Try the sweet potatoes as a snack or on the side of grilled meats. The drink is great any time of day, but is a perfect alternative to punch or lemonade at your next gathering.  Oh, and, yay for an accidentally vegan menu. Because… why not? All recipes and the meal review will be posted throughout the week. Sweet Potatoes in Coconut Caramel Sauce [Recipe] Gussy up your candied sweet potatoes like they do in Tonga -with a totally vegan coconut caramel sauce and a dusting of shredded coconut. Pretty and easy! Coconut Watermelon Refresher | ‘Otai [Recipe] Mashed watermelon blended with coconut milk and shredded coconut. Don’t forget the twist of lime! P.S. As you enjoy your meal, consider sharing the Tongan greeting, which is …

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Royal Sunset Island Resort at 'Atata Island, 30 min boat ride from Tongatapu. Photo by Haanofonua.

About the food of Tonga

If you’d like to make some friends, you might want to head over to the “Friendly Islands,” a.k.a. Tonga. There are 170 of these islands to choose from, all dotted through the Southwest Pacific, in Oceania. They got their nickname because they were so kind to Captain Cook when he came there to visit in 1773. Even with all these islands, the CIA World Factbook claims its total area is just four times that of Washington D.C. In this scattered tropical country, vanilla, banana, coconut, and pumpkins grow with ease, despite the tough soil. The soil is best used, perhaps, for underground ovens, where entire pigs can be roasted, along with root vegetables. Once you arrive, stay a while. You can dine on all manner of seafood, along with boiled Taro, Sweet Potatoes [Recipe] or even dumplings… Many Tongans pour on a coconut caramel sauce, to make things even richer. The one with Taro is called Faikakai Topai. As with most of Oceania, Spam is a “thing” – you can find it baked in banana leaves …

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