Palusami is a delicacy in Polynesia that is made by wrapping a beef, onion and coconut mixture in leaves before baking. It is considered a staple in the Polynesian islands, particularly in Samoa, Kiribati and Fiji.
Palusami wildly popular at feasts and parties and it’s extraordinarily easy to prepare.
Palusami is an iconic Polynesian meal that has several different variations depending on the different ingredients.
The main ingredients of the dish are taro leaves and coconut milk. Both these ingredients have immense significance in the Samoan culture.
Not only are they an important source of food and survival, but they also play a role in folk tales. In Samoan mythology, there’s a famous story about how the coconut emerged from an eel.
Meanwhile, Taro is considered a gift of the ancient gods. This is one of the reasons why Polynesian people hold this dish in such high regard. Some popular additions to Palusami are: corn beef, onions, and lemon juice.
In this article, we break down everything you need to know about the deliciously exotic Palusami.
Where Does Palusami Come From?
The earth oven, umu used to make Palusami is likely some 3 millennia old, which is how long the Samoan people have inhabited the island. The dish consisting of Taro leaves and coconut is as classically Samoan as it gets.
Though Palusami is an important Samoan and Kiribatian dish, it also has a presence in other cultures across Asia and Polynesia.
In the Philippines, this delicacy is called Laing.
Laing also uses coconut milk and Taro leaves that can either be shredded or whole.
Laulau is a Hawaiian dish that uses Taro leaves along with other ingredients such as fish or pork.
There is also a Tongan dish called the Lapulu, which uses corned beef and is considered Tonga’s favorite dish.
This similarity is due to the prevalence of Taro crops which famously thrive in these areas. In Samoan culture, the Taro crop holds a lot of cultural significance. Palusami, as a dish, is a tribute to that.
Polynesian Palusami Recipe
Palusami is considered a staple in the Polynesian islands, particularly in Samoa and Fiji. It's wildly popular at feasts and parties and it's extraordinarily easy to prepare.
- 20 oz coconut cream
- 14 taro or banana leaves
- 12 oz corned beef
- 1 white onion diced
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- salt to taste
- pepper to taste
- Finely chop the onion, mince the garlic and place them into a large mixing bowl.
- Add corned beef, salt and pepper to taste and mix thoroughly.
- Take a big sheet of aluminium foil, place two leaves on top of the other on the foil and scoop a large dollop of the mixture in the centre.
- Add 3 tablespoons of coconut cream on top of the mixture and around the centre of the leaf.
- Now fold up the first leaf, add another 2 tablespoons of coconut milk and wrap the second leaf. Wrap it all up in the aluminium foil and repeat until you have none of your mixture left.
- Cook in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes.
- Unwrap the package from the foil, open the leaves and enjoy!
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 1416Total Fat: 40gSaturated Fat: 27gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 10gCholesterol: 83mgSodium: 1094mgCarbohydrates: 246gFiber: 25gSugar: 80gProtein: 20g
How Is Palusami Prepared?
Ease of preparation is the hallmark of any classic dish, the Palusami’s delicious simplicity is accessible to the entire world. There are only a handful of ingredients to be used.
This delectable dish is so easy to prepare! All you need to do is wrap whichever ingredients you enjoy in some Taro leaves and bake it.
Can’t find any Taro leaves in your vicinity? No problem! Use any other big, edible leaf such as spinach.
Next, you have to bake it. Traditionally, it’s baked by Samoan men in the umu: hot rocks are placed on the dish, after which it’s covered in banana leaves and buried; around 45 minutes later, the dish is ready to be served.
How Does Palusami Taste?
Palusami is savoury but also has a hint of sweet because of the coconut. This is a deceptively simple-looking dish that hides a world of different flavors.
All of which will hit your taste buds with every bite! The diversity of flavors is quite a pleasant surprise because very little ingredients are required to cook up the dish.
If we were to draw equivalents, Palusami has a similar texture to spinach, but with a creamy taste.
How Is Palusami Eaten?
This Oceanic delicacy is served at many fiafias and Samoan festivals.
Palusami is highly adaptable and goes great with several other dishes such as grilled fish or chicken. In the umu earth-oven, you can bake Taros alongside Palusami and serve the two together.
It’s quite straightforward to eat, you can just use a spoon or fork and dig in!
Watch: Making Palusami
And if you’re going full Samoan, why not try out this traditional Samoan Sapasui recipe?
Featured image credit: NeilsPhotography