Being a tiny and isolated country, Tuvaluan cuisine is largely uninfluenced by any surrounding countries. Tuvalu was briefly occupied by the British, so there is some resemblance of British cuisine found in certain aspects of Tuvaluan cuisine.
Traditional foods eaten in Tuvaluan cuisine include “Pulaka”, which is similar to taro, but with roots that are more coarse and bigger leaves. Pulaka is a swamp plant, hence the nickname: “Swamp Crop”. Favorite fruits are coconut, breadfruit and bananas.
Tuvaluan cuisine is also abundant with seafood, harvested from the lagoon and ocean, and another staple protein source is pig meat, which is the main livestock raised on the island. Pork meat is usually reserved for special occasions, parties, and celebration gatherings.
Coconuts are the primary agricultural crop in Tuvalu, along with the growing of pulaka in large pits of composted soil below the water table. Pulaka is the primary source of carbohydrates in Tuvaluan cuisine. We will be presenting several traditional dishes here, but let’s start off with a seafood dish, prepared with coconut milk. Enjoy your trip to Polynesia and the little country called Tuvalu, where you can say “Tālofa,” (hello) to your scrumptious ethnic foods adventure into the world of …
Tuvalu Coconut Tuna
- 1 lb. raw, wild caught, Yellowfin or Ahi tuna steaks
- 2 tbsp. vegetable oil
- 1 medium onion, peeled and rough chopped
- 1 tbsp. freshly grated ginger root
- 4 large cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- 2 Scotch Bonnet hot chili peppers, seeds left in, and rough chopped (only 1 if you don’t like super spicy hot dishes, and leave the seeds out for even milder)
- 1 tbsp. curry powder
- 12 oz. unsweetened coconut milk
- 4 green onions
- 6 oz. sugar snap pea pods (or any green vegetable of your choosing)
- Soy sauce, to taste
- Fresh cilantro or parsley, for garnish
- In a large skillet or wok, heat up some vegetable oil over medium-high heat.
- Sauté the onions for a few minutes, until fragrant and translucent.
- Now add in the Scotch Bonnet pepper(s), curry powder, garlic and reduce the heat to medium. Cook until softened and your whole house is filled with the enticing aroma.
- Now stir in the coconut milk, and then the green onions and sugar snap peas.
- Add the tuna steaks into the mix, and soy sauce to taste—personally I like a lot of soy sauce, it really sets the rest of the flavors off nicely.
- Cook until the tuna is nicely browned on the outside and as done in the center as you like it.
- Traditionally Tuvalu Coconut Tuna is served with rice, and often coconut rice (Rice cooked in half-and-half coconut milk and water). You can also garnish the steaks with fresh parsley or cilantro.
For more Tuvaluan dishes, click on the recipes below:
Bame cu Carne de Oaie (Okra with Lamb Stew)
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