Palusami is a main dish from Samoa made of young taro leaves and rich, creamy coconut cream. It is a Samoan delicacy. Palusami is almost a staple in Samoan cuisine. Traditionally Palusami is cooked in an umu, a traditional ‘above ground’ oven using red hot lava rocks to cook the food. Palusami is one of the most delicious dishes of any traditional Samoan meal.
In Samoa, most of the traditional cooking is performed by men. When cooked in Samoa, it is common to add canned corned beef to taro leaves and coconut cream before cooking. One may also add some onions and lemon juice.
The authentic way of cooking palusami is wrapping the preparation in banana leaves or maybe breadfruit leaves and placing them in the umu. If fresh taro leaves are not available where you live, you may try spinach or silverbeet as a replacement. There is plenty of canned coconut cream in every country, however, palusami is better tasting with freshly squeezed coconut cream.
Subsequently, when you do not have banana or breadfruit leaves, you may use aluminium foil. Using aluminium foil is as common as using either gas or an electric oven replacing umu, outside of island countries. They have become acceptable new age replacements. However, for a true island flavour palusami is cooked in an umu or earth oven. A perfect complement to palusami is freshly baked taro.
It is crucial that the taro leaves you select are young and tender. Taro leaves contain calcium oxalate. In its raw form, calcium oxalate may irritate your mouth, throat, and maybe stomach. It may also cause your tongue to swell, therefore it is possible you may lose the sense of taste. When the taro leaves are undercooked, in small quantity it may be irritating. Whereas when eaten in large quantities, it may be dangerous.
It is also important to thoroughly remove the thick stem on the back of the leaves. This may include the round sections that connect to the leaf. Further to these precautions, Polynesians recommend cutting off the tip of the leaf. Then ensure washing the leaves well.
Contemporary society has developed various alternative ways to cook palusami. Most islander cooks recommend cooking in a pit or earth oven. However, a pit may not always be available. Hence the use of conventional ovens or steaming methods. The most common method to cook for Polynesian families is to use an electric steamer. These steamers make palusami cooking guaranteed tender. You may simply place the prepared palusami parcels in the steamer with the desired amount of water. Then cook for at some four hours or maybe more.
When baking in the oven, you may also need to add water to the pan and cover it with aluminium foil.
Palusami is a popular dish throughout the Pacific and certain parts of Asia. It may be in little different forms across different countries. Generally, traditional Polynesian palusami is taro leaves, coconut cream, and onions. At times, it may be cooked with chicken or fish and maybe with corned beef. It is very similar to cooking in Hawaii and is called lau lau.
Fiji version of cooking palusami may be inclusive of tomatoes, garlic, and canned corned beef. A similar dish in the Philippines is known as Laing.