worldly wednesdays: american samoan cuisine
Ask most Americans about American Samoa and they might tell you that the NFL has over twenty Samoan players. And, most Americans will say that American Samoa is in the South Pacific. Sadly, for most Americans that is about all they truly know about one of our own territories. Not many Americans can ever claim to have visited the small archipelago in the South Pacific Ocean that is comprised of five volcanic islands (Tutuila, Ta'u, Ofu, Olosega, Aunu'u, Nu'utele) and two coral atolls (Swain's and Rose Islands). Tutuila comprises about two thirds of the total area and is home to 95% of the 64 000 islanders, according to the One World Nations website. American Samoa is the center of Polynesia and is located 2,300 miles southwest of Hawaii and 1,600 miles northeast of New Zealand. The first inhabitants came from the west around 600 BCE. The Europeans “discovered” the Samoan islands in 1722 when Dutch explorer Jacob Roggeveen sailed to their shores. American Samoa has been a territory of the United States since the signing of the April 17, 1900 Deed of Cession. The strategic importance of American Samoa was invaluable to the United States during WWll. Since World War II, American Samoa has developed into a modern, self-governing political system with a non-voting representative elected to the United States congress. Samoans have a wonderful variety of local foods such as fresh fish as well as chicken and pork. They enjoy regional foods such talo, ta'amu, and yams; tree crops such as breadfruit and coconut; and local beverages such as coffee and cocoa. But, they also rely on certain imported foods such as rice, canned meat and fish, butter, jam, honey, flour, sugar, bread and tea. The Samoan diet is very rich and flavorful. The colors are equally as impressive in the following recipe that we found at a blog called Panipopo’s Kitchen . Torn between two recipes we elected to make both since they were both very simple, yet wonderfully flavorful. The Oka I'a - Fish Salad is a beautiful and unique dish to bring to a potluck or serve it on individual tasting plates as a small appetizer. The Koko Araisa – cocoa rice is a crowd pleaser. Think Cocoa Pebbles or Cocoa Krispies on steroids. This is a special treat for any child (or inner child) on a cold morning. It is a stick-to-your-ribs breakfast that is certain to fuel you for days to come.
Oka I'a - Fish Salad: from Panipopo’s Kitchen 1 pound fresh tuna or snapper, cut into bite sized pieces ½ cup lemon or lime juice ¼ onion, diced 2 spring onions, chopped 2 medium tomatoes, cut into bite sized pieces 1 large or 2 small cucumbers, cut into bite sized pieces 1 cup coconut milk salt to taste Place the fish into a bowl and cover with lemon or lime juice. Set aside for as little as a few minutes to one hour. The longer the fish sits in the juice the firmer the texture will be. When the fish has “marinated” to your taste drain the juice and discard. Add the vegetables and coconut milk. Add salt to taste. Mix together gently and then refrigerate for at least half an hour to allow the flavors to blend. For the sake of freshness serve the same day. Koko Araisa: from Panipopo’s Kitchen 1 cup rice 5 cups water 1 laumoli (orange leaf) (optional) ½ cup grated Koko Samoa (or high quality unsweetened cocoa) ¾ cup to 1 cup sugar ½ can coconut milk (optional) In a saucepan, over high heat, place water and laumoli. When the rice comes to a boil, add the Koko Samoa and stir well. Turn the heat down low and simmer, covered, until the rice is cooked. When the rice is done, turn off the heat. Add the sugar and stir until dissolved. Add coconut milk, if using. Mix well, and then serve.