Updated: Aug 28
Going into lockdown has brought out the adventurous chef within many around the globe. From freshly baked banana bread to handmade pasta, quarantine boredom has stirred the foodie’s imagination. “What type of cuisine can I cook next?” they may ask. Well, here lies the answer to their question: Samoan cuisine!
Cooking is embedded in the Samoan cultural lifestyle or “Fa’a Samoa” – the Samoan Way. Special above-ground ovens called “umu”, built from hot volcanic stones, are traditionally laid three times a day to cook meals for the whole family or village. Food baked using this age-old custom, usually pork or freshly caught seafood, is smothered with coconut cream and smoked to delivering a taste of the tropics. There are multiple opportunities to try the flavours of the umu: attending a Fiafia night (cultural evening) organised once a week by most resorts on the islands or stopping for lunch at the Samoa Cultural Village where visitors can try their hand at cooking the traditional way.
Authentic Samoan flavours come from locally grown produce, such as tropical fruits and vegetables and succulent meats. Seafood straight from the ocean is sold at Apia’s fish market but island’s visitors can cast their own line and catch their dinner with an once-in-a-lifetime chartered fishing trip on the turquoise ocean.
A favourite amongst both hungry travellers and locals is Palusami which is baked coconut cream cooked inside taro leaves. Oka is also a much-enjoyed Samoan meal, marinating raw fish in a tasty sauce of coconut cream, lemon juice, chilli and onions. More adventurous guests visiting Samoa in October or November may enjoy Palolo. Considered a rare treat, Palolo is a marine worm collected in nets during the Palolo Rise and either eaten raw, fried with egg, cooked in coconut milk and onions or baked into bread.
Unsurprisingly, the base of many Samoan dishes is the coconut which can be found everywhere on the islands, including many roadside stalls, alongside other refreshing snacks and BBQ meals – a welcome sight after a day out exploring by car, bike or foot. Besides it is a great way to meet the friendly and laid-back locals who run these stalls on the islands of Upolu and Savai’i.
Whether you want to try a Samoan recipe for yourself or simply dream about post-pandemic feasts, it’s worth planning your next trip to the ultimate foodie’s tropical island paradise.
For more information on Samoan cuisine, click here