Sunday, 4 October 2009

Kiribati Part 3

Finding a traditional Kiribati dish led me to Palu Sami. I'm not sure if this is strictly speaking a Kiribati dish, but rather a Pacific speciality and the recipe I used was one written by some Samoan ex- pats living in the States.

I must admit, I had to cross-reference the recipe with others online to convince myself that the main ingredient was really corned beef. Something I associate more with sandwiches and a 'dubious pleasure' I haven't had since childhood, corned beef is considered somewhat of a delicacy in Kiribati. It's hard to produce and preserve food on the atolls and I imagine, as it's all imported, it's probably relatively expensive. I bought the most expensive one I could find and did my best to suppress thoughts of dog food as I opened the tin.

I managed to resist the temptation to add a bit of spice to the spinach, corned beef and coconut milk and my first 'surprise' about Pacific cuisine is how bland it is. Perhaps in the back of my mind I was placing 'the Spice Islands' somewhere in the Pacific. I was thinking of the Maluku Islands in modern-day Indonesia. Although Pacific colonisation is deemed have gone West to East, they must have left their spices behind them.

My ever-patient Kalmyk-Russian partner has been very supportive of my journey through world cuisines and has been willing to try everything so far from Icelandic liver patties to Jamaican jerk chicken, with its palate-blowing Scotch bonnets. One spoonful of Palu Sami was enough to put him off for life. But then, he's not a big fan of coconut. Telling him the main ingredient was dog food probably didn't do much for his appetite either :)

I quite liked it. Wouldn't want to eat it every day, and would love to spice it up a bit - oh, and I'd probably use tinned tuna next time. Photographic evidence below:

Image credits

The photo of tinned corned beef is by flickruser GianCayetano who is a computer engineer and professional photographer from Antipolo in Rizal Province, Phillippines.

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