International Dinner Project #37: Solomon Islands

Solomon Islands dinner

Saturday, 12 January 2013

With the  heat, sunshine and humidity we’ve been having lately, Sam’s choice of the Solomon Islands was rather appropriate. We’ve been sweltering for the last few weeks, as I type this it’s 11 o’clock at night, doors and windows are all open and it’s still 28˚C (83˚F) inside the house and humid as all get out! So it will feel like we’re there while we’re eating this!

On with the meal…

Tropical Fruit StarterCoconutMilk Slippery Cabbage Soup SlipperyCabbageSoup_WP

—————————————
Entree:
Tropical Fruit
Slippery Cabbage Soup
Coconut Milk / Mango Juice
——–——————————

Fresh tropical fruit are one of the best things about visiting the tropics, right on your doorstep (literally!) Are bananas, papaya, Mangos, and coconut. As a child I remember the amazement at cracking open a coconut and drinking the milk, and although we’ve done it before (straight from the tree in Samoa, armed only with beach rocks) and at home with all the mod-cons, the boys are always excited to help and watch. Normally that’s where it ends, they only “kind of” like Coconut Milk, but this time they were all in with their straws, and they only left the smallest bit behind for me…

The tropical fruit is also popular with them, but mainly the bananas, I think they polished off four tonight, so most of the Papaya, Coconut and Mango went to Jocelyn and I.

And now for the dish that actually involved some cooking (but then again, that’s what I love about island food, it’s all so fresh and simple to prepare). Slippery Cabbage (Hibiscus Manihot / Bele), so called because when cooked the leaves go a little slimy. Cooked up with chillies, onions, shallots and tomatoes in coconut milk, with salt to taste, it was simple to make and the standout dish tonight. Both Jocelyn and I really enjoyed this one I think we may be cooking this again. However as Sam says “We’re not really soup kids” it wasn’t as popular with the boys, I’m aware of their aversion to soups but it was on the only entree I could find for Solomon Islands – so they could at least had a taste and a chance to like it and then could defer to the fruit… which they did… the soup rocked by the way –recipe here!
I
 just found out Samoa actually has an almost identical recipe called Bele Soup!

FRUIT: 
Sam’s rating: 10/10
 
Ryan’s rating:
 10/10
COCONUT MILK: 
Sam’s rating: 7/10
 
Ryan’s rating:
 5/10
SLIPPERY CABBAGE SOUP: 
Sam’s rating: 6/10
 
Ryan’s rating:
 3/10
 
Dad’s rating:
 10/10

ChilliTaiyo_WP Sam-ChilliTaiyo_WP

—————————————
Mains:
Chilli Taiyo (with Noodles)
——–——————————

Apparently Tuna (Taiyo) is a staple food in the Solomons, people eat it practically everyday and many dress it up with chilli to make it more interesting. When we were in Samoa, Yellow Fin Tuna was always on the menu and it seems it’s the same in the Solomons. Again preparation was quick and easy, and the end result was spicy, and refreshingly tasty. The tuna was quite hot, a little too hot for the boys, which we found out after their first couple of mouthfuls, but to their credit – once we had pulled out any visible chilli, they did finish it – their favourite part… the noodles! Typical haha!

CHILLI TAIYO:
Sam’s rating: 7/10
 
Ryan’s rating:
 6/6

Cassava Pudding

—————————————
Dessert:
Cassava Pudding (sort of)
——–——————————

Cassava Pudding, right I thought this would be interesting. Interestingly enough, cassava is the world’s 3rd most popular crop – but could I find it in New Zealand? If anyone knows where I can get Cassava in Auckland let me know. Tapioca is derived from the cassava root, so tapioca was my fallback ingredient. And it was almost successful… I thought having the tapioca pearls baking in coconut milk for 45 minutes would  have been enough to soften them up, bu in hindsight (and hindtaste) I should have probably boiled them in water first to soften them up, but I thought if they absorbs the coconut milk flavour up it would be better. SO, while they did soften up a bit, not all of them did, especially the ones at the edge – and while the flavour of the dessert was quite nice, the occasional hard tapioca pearl was off-putting when you crunched on it. Everyone enjoyed it – but not the hard tapioca understandably.
This was one of my first real failures in terms of cooking international dinners, so when I find a source of cassava I’ll try it again.

CASSAVA PUDDING: 
Sam’s rating: 8/10
 
Ryan’s rating:
 6/6
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