Take meback to Samoa

For a foodie, noth­ing holds mem­o­ries of a spe­cial time or place like the food you en­joyed at that time, so recre­at­ing dishes like this Samoan rice pud­ding is some­thing spe­cial.

Marlborough Express - - FOOD - NI­COLA GAL­LOWAY

Ilove a good food mem­ory. One, that when the food is eaten, trans­ports us to a time and place as if it were only yes­ter­day. Be­ing a foodie I have many dishes that do this, how­ever, this takes me back 12 years to when I spent a fort­night trav­el­ling around Samoa.

The first thing I do when vis­it­ing a new place is to search out the real food of a cul­ture. Not the high street restau­rants and re­sorts, but the early morn­ing food mar­kets and home­s­tays, where meals are pre­pared in a deep­rooted rhythm of gen­er­a­tions. Back to a time when recipes were learned by sim­ply be­ing in the kitchen and cook­ing to­gether.

Mem­o­rable dishes from that trip in­clude Palusami – co­conut cooked in taro leaves; Oka – raw fish salad; and Koko Alaisa – co­coa rice pud­ding (of­ten served for break­fast). This sim­ple dish is made from grated Samoan ca­cao bean (koko), white rice (alaisa), orange leaf (lau­moli), fresh co­conut milk or evap­o­rated milk, and sweet­ened to taste.

The se­cret is in the orange leaf. Like kaf­fir lime leaves, cit­rus tree leaves have an ex­quis­ite cit­rus aroma. While milder than kaf­fir, any cit­rus leaf of­fers a sub­tle flavour that is hard to repli­cate FOOD with zest alone, although this can be used as a sub­sti­tute. Orange, tan­ger­ine, tan­gelo, man­darin, cle­men­tine: any orange-skinned cit­rus can be used.

When recre­at­ing a recipe from warmer climes, I amal­ways grate­ful for the won­der­ful se­lec­tion of qual­ity im­ported in­gre­di­ents now avail­able in New Zealand. Prefer­ably choose re­spon­si­bly sourced prod­ucts such as Trade Aid or other fair trade brands. For some­thing dif­fer­ent, I also tested the recipe us­ing lo­cally grown quinoa, grown near Tai­hape, by Kiwi Quinoa. I have in­cluded di­rec­tions for short grain white rice or quinoa, or you can use a com­bi­na­tion of the two. tex­ture I used ca­cao nibs ground in a spice or cof­fee grinder. Good qual­ity co­coa pow­der can also be used.

Serves 4 Prepa­ra­tion time: 10 min­utes Cook­ing Time: 20-25 min­utes

cup ca­cao nibs or co­coa pow­der cup short grain white rice or quinoa

1 cups wa­ter 400g can Trade Aid co­conut milk 1 orange or tan­ger­ine leaf, or long strip of orange zest

2-3 ta­ble­spoons maple syrup or sugar

If us­ing ca­cao nibs, grind them in a spice grinder un­til they have the tex­ture of fine cof­fee. Open the can of co­conut milk and scoop cup of the thick creamed co­conut from the top into a bowl. Cover and chill while pre­par­ing the rice.

Put the rice and wa­ter into a saucepan and bring to the boil. If us­ing the orange/tan­ger­ine leaf crush lightly with your hand and add to the pan – or the strip of orange zest. Pour in the re­main­ing co­conut milk. Sim­mer for 10 min­utes un­til the rice is ten­der.

Stir through the ground ca­cao or co­coa pow­der. Cook for a fur­ther 5-10 min­utes un­til thick­ened. Add maple syrup or sugar to de­sired sweet­ness – a lit­tle bit­ter­ness is good as the co­conut cream is sweet. Re­move from the heat and set aside to cool a lit­tle and thicken. Spoon into four bowls and dol­lop each with tan­ger­ine cream (recipe be­low).

PHOTOS: NI­COLA GAL­LOWAY

This ca­cao rice or quinoa pud­ding is a recre­ation of tra­di­tional Samoan Koko Alaisa.

Grind the ca­cao nibs in a spice or cof­fee grinder.

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