South Sea sunshine: Tuvaluan tuna curry

Next on our culinary tour of the Pacific Islands is Tuvalu, which lies halfway between Hawaii and Australia and is made up of three reef islands and six atolls. Its population is only about 10,000, so, unsurprisingly, there weren’t many Tuvaluan websites telling us what to cook!

Like most of these small island nations, Tuvaluan cuisine is centred around ingredients that are locally grown or hunted and therefore easy to acquire. Specifically, most dishes are based on the staples of coconut and fish. Imported ingredients (essentially the remainder of this recipe) are also necessary, however, as so little can actually grow in Tuvalu.

We rejected this recipe at first: we like tuna a lot, but we don’t like messing with it, and hiding it in a curry constituted messing with it. However, as mentioned earlier, our options were limited, which is how we found ourselves making tuna curry last weekend (thanks once again to Global Table Adventure for the recipe). Continue reading

Redefining pudding: Solomon Islands cassava pudding

If we’re honest, we’re looking forward to escaping the region of the Pacific Islands. We’ve certainly discovered some very enjoyable dishes from this region of the world, but the islands are so small (and often linked to another, bigger, country) that many of the traditional dishes are very similar. The other problem with these tiny nations is that it’s often difficult to find information online about their national cuisine, the Solomon Islands being no exception.

We couldn’t dispute the fact, however, that the common theme in the meagre selection of websites we were able to consult was the dish we eventually chose to make: cassava pudding. If you’re planning on making this dish, you first need to banish any preconceptions that ‘pudding’ means ‘after dinner treat.’ You also need to be aware that a cassava has woody fibres in the centre of it that contain traces of cyanide, so one important preparation step is getting rid of those woody fibres!

Our cassava pudding involved a journey to our local ethnic food market to pick up some cassava and white sweet potato. We’d never bought – or probably even eaten – cassava before, so Google Images was consulted to make sure we had the right thing. With a couple of tins of coconut milk in our bags as well, we were ready to go. What we didn’t predict was just how long it would take to prepare the cassava and sweet potato: even with a food processor, the peeling, grating and squeezing took ages. Despite the fact that we’d planned to ignore the warnings that this wasn’t pudding as we know it, we’d planned to enjoy it after our evening meal, but by the time it actually went in the oven, there was no way that was happening, so we had to wait until the next day.

What did we think of it? Keep reading… Continue reading