# 10 Samoa: Palusami (Coconut creamed spinach with tofu)

Palusami 250px-Flag_of_Samoa.svg

Think Samoa and I think of beautiful pacific beaches and rugby, but I really had no idea about its cuisine before embarking on this next recipe.  Turns out, perhaps not surprisingly, that coconut figures prominently in many dishes; so I decided to give this coconut-based Palusami a go.

A more authentic version of this recipe would use taro leaves, but spinach is deemed to be a good substitute if that is not an ingredient that is readily available to you.  Also the recipe I adapted this from featured corned beef, but I have replaced this with tofu.  If you want to get a feel for what a really authentic Palusami looks like, then check out this video on YouTube where coconut is wrapped in leaf pouches and baked underground.  I wanna cook outside like that!!!

I enjoyed cooking and eating this dish, although it was a little on the sweet side for me.  In researching this recipe I also stumbled across some really tempting Samoan desserts which I might have to try out now!

Ingredients (serves 4-5)

  • 400g pack of tofu
  • 200g baby leaf spinach
  • 2 medium onions, roughly chopped
  • 2 cans coconut milk
  • Salt and pepper


  1. Prepare the tofu pieces: press out the excess water; cut into cm square pieces; and gently stir fry in a little olive oil for 10-15 minutes.
  2. Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
  3. Alternately layer a casserole dish, with spinach leaves, onion and tofu pieces, until the dish is full to the top.
  4. Add the coconut milk, topping up with a little water if necessary, so that the liquid covers the other layered ingredients.
  5. Cover and bake for 55 minutes. Season to taste and then serve.

Acknowledgement: I adapted this recipe from one I found on Sasha Martin’s ‘Global Table Adventure’ blog.


#6 New Zealand: Kumara and rice patties



Whilst listening on the radio to the All Blacks beating England at rugby, I kept with the New Zealand theme and had a go at this recipe from Down Under which makes for a nice little starter.  At first I thought this dish required a vegetable that was completely unheard of to me, until I discovered that ‘Kumara’ is in fact the Maori name for sweet potato.

As with any patty or rosti-type recipe, where you need your ingredients to bind together, you have to use your own judgement to get the balance of ingredients right to get a texture that will hold when you fry your patties.  Mine did, thankfully… but only just!  I’d be tempted to add more breadcrumbs next time, as the mashed sweet potato is quite sticky.  But the brief ‘will-it, won’t-it hold together?’ anxiety as I carefully turned the patties in the frying pan was worth it for the end result: a light and satisfying starter in which the clean and simple flavours come through in a way that works really well.  It’s just a shame that the final score from Twickenham wasn’t equally as satisfying!

Ingredients (makes 10 patties)

  • 1 cup basmati rice
  • 1-2 large sweet potatoes (500g)
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 cup diced courgette
  • 1/3 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley


  1. Cook the basmati rice.
  2. Chop the sweet potato into chunks and then steam or boil until tender.  Mash the cooked sweet potato in a large bowl until almost smooth.
  3. Dice the courgette into small pieces and add these to the mashed sweet potato.
  4. Add the rice, frozen peas, breadcrumbs, cumin, garlic, egg and parsley to the mix, stir well, and season with salt and pepper.
  5. Spoon equal portions of the mix into a round pastry cutter for an even patty shape, and then transfer your patties and cook in a lightly-oiled frying pan, turning as required, until golden brown on both sides.
  6. Place on a paper towel and use to remove any excess oil, before serving each patty on a bed of baby leaf salad drizzled with a chili dressing.

Acknowledgement: This recipe is based on one I found on Food.com.