Thursday, September 16, 2010

Keke pua’a – Samoan-style bao

By panipopos


Bao are Chinese steamed buns with a wide variety of fillings, both savoury and sweet. In Samoa, bao are always filled with meat, usually pork, which is why they are called keke (cake), pua’a (pork).

Yeah, I know it’s not a cake.


Anyhoo, it's not common to make keke pua’a at home, because they are labour-intensive, and they’re relatively cheap to buy. Plus not many of us have a three tiered bamboo steamer at home.

The usual Samoan filling is a basic mixture of pork, onions, maybe garlic and then seasonings like soy sauce. But you could fill your keke with practically anything, leftover sapasui, curry, beef stew - anything you would eat between two slices of bread.

Whatever you decide to put in your buns, make sure your filling is really well-seasoned, a touch over-seasoned, so that one bite of it has enough flavour to carry the soft but bland bread.

Keke pua’a dough (makes 16)

2 Tablespoons dry yeast
¼ cup (60ml) warm water
1 Tablespoon sugar
½ cup (120ml) warm milk
¼ cup melted butter
¼ cup (50g) sugar
½ teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, room temperature
3½ cups (437.5g) all purpose flour

Mix the yeast, water and first measure of sugar in a large bowl. Let it stand for 5 minutes until it’s frothy.

In the meantime, combine the milk, butter, second lot of sugar, salt and eggs. Add this to the yeast mixture and mix until combined.

Add 3 cups of the flour and gradually mix it together until it forms a dough. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead it until it’s smooth, about 10 minutes, working in the remaining ½ cup of flour.

Grease the bowl, place the dough back in there, cover and let rise until it’s doubled in size.

While the dough is rising, cut out 16 4” (10cm) square pieces of waxed paper. Set up your steamer. Get your keke filling to room temperature. Anything else? Yeah, while you’re at it, do the dishes.

When your dough has doubled, punch it down then divide into 16 even pieces. Roll each piece into a ball, then roll or press into a 4 inch (10cm) circle, dusting with flour if necessary.

Spoon a generous amount of filling into the centre of each circle, being careful not to get liquid on the edges. (Wet edges are hard to seal.)

Pleat the edges together over the filling and close the top by pinching and twisting the dough together.

Place each bun on a piece of waxed paper, pleated side up if you’re proud of your pleats, or pleated side down if you screwed it up prefer a smooth top surface. Put your buns at least 2 inches (5 cm) apart from each other to rise. Let them rise until doubled in size (about 45 minutes) and then steam them on full steam for 15 minutes.

Alternatively, bake at 375°F (190°C) for 15 minutes or until golden brown. As soon as they come out of the oven, brush the tops with melted butter to keep the surface soft.

Whether baked or steamed, eat immediately, or within a few hours.
And don’t forget to peel away the waxed paper before eating.
No seriously, don’t forget.

100 comments:

  1. OMG!
    Thank you so much!
    I've just come back from a holiday in Samoa and have been CRAVING keke pua'a. Unfortunately where I am, you cant buy any decent tasting ones.
    No one wanted to share their recipe, and then I find your blog. So gave it a whirl and DEVINE, better then the one I had in Samoa!!
    Thanks again!

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  2. It's for people like you that I write this blog. Thx for the comment.

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  3. WOW, THANK YOU!!! My husband lived in NZ for 2 years speaking Samoan and took me back last year to a keke pua'a shop--Pinati's--near Auckland. It was amazing and I have been in constant search for a recipe since! I can NOT wait to try this, but in the meantime, I will be trying your sapasui and panipopo recipes this week.

    Fa'afetai,
    Alisa from Arizona

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  4. Geez Alisa, that brings back memories of piled up plates of steaming hot food. Pinati's is renowned for it's Samoan cuisine. It's such an establishment that my parents still talk about eating there in their younger days. Good luck with your cooking!

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  5. Thank for your recipe, made this last night and my family loved it.

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  6. Love your work Panipopos - keep up the awesome samoan recipes and vid's on how to bake n cook the delicacy of Samoan food. Like you I enjoy working in the kitchen esp when I have 6 Children to feed and it's alot easier then going out to buy where I can js make my own homemade from my kitchen lol See that you've recently posted u your own Puligi recipe made from scratch! Malo lava and again LOVE YOUR WORK and BLOG!!

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  7. Thanks a lot for following my blog...My family had six kids too, in addition to random relatives who lived with us over the years, and I can only appreciate now the enormous amounts of food it takes to fuel a family this size...Friday's used to be alaisa and elegi day, just to give Mum a break...Anyway, thanks for the encouragement and support...Hopefully in the future, when you and I are old and grey, our kids can use these recipes to whip us up some good ole' Samoan food...

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  8. Hi, i was just wondering if the pork was to be cook first?..i know..i cant cook these but you make it look so EASY!.. maybe i missed it on the video, but could u please note how and what was mixed in with the pork PLEASE! im so keen to try it, and so THANKFUL that you have made this blog..will share it with EVERYONE..because i know what you mean, with the a cup of this a cup of that! thats how what i have been told, so i never try it.

    Thanks again Panipopos! u ROCK!

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  9. Hi, you shd definitely prepare your filling beforehand so that it's at room temperature when you go to fill the buns...Unfortunately I didn't video my fillings (I made three different kinds: pork, pisupo and chicken curry), but I'll try to make a video for the filling recipe in the near future...

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    1. Thanks for posting Recipes made this and my family loved it.now they are requesting more your amazing.

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    2. Thanks Winnie, happy your family liked it.

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  10. My sister and I made your version of the keke pua'a and followed your recipe. It was delicious. Our family LOVED it. I have pictures that I'd like to share with you so you can see how your site has impacted people from around the world. Thank you for sharing your talent. You are a Blessing!

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  11. Thanks heaps for your feedback! I always love to hear if a recipe works for someone (and even if it doesn't)...Please email me a link to your photos, or the photos themselves, and I'll share them with our readers, if you like...Happy cooking!

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  12. I e-mailed the photo's to panipopos.kitchen@gmail.com I hope you received it. My sister and I had made steamed and baked Keke Pua'a along with Panipopo. It was an amazing weekend of fun, baking, bonding and great memories created. Thank you again. I pray God's BEST upon you.

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  13. WOW! You really made my day with your pictures, AND you made me hungry, AND you made me miss my sisters...Thx for sharing...I'll post your pics up soon...Have an awesome week!

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  14. so...i wanted to surprise my husband by making keke pu'a a(he loves it). i made the dough and was going to buy some of that red pork from the chinese place, but i ran out of time:( then i remembered you said we could use just about anything for the filling! found some leftover bbq pork strips in my fridge and used that. also, i read of someone filling them with peanut butter and jelly...i just KNEW this would be a hit with my kids-and it was! this was also my first time baking the buns(couldn't find my steamer tray) but it turned out great. next time though, i'll be steaming these for sure! thanks again for a most delicious recipe:) enjoy your weekend!

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  15. Hi, you're awesome, testing out these recipes...Never heard of pb & j filling, but sounds interesting...glad to hear your kids are enjoying Samoan food too...yes, I prefer the steamed version as well, but I can only steam so many at time, so I bake the rest...you have a great weekend too, and thx again for frequenting this site...

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  16. OMG - thank you so much for the recipe. You are a blessing:) Made some last night for the very first time...and I loved it....I miss having these back in Samoa...now I dont have to crave myself for keke puaa again...I can make my own...thank you. Oh and I gave some to my friends and inlaws and they asked me if it was a Samoan dish...I said HECK YEAH!!! they loved it too...now they are asking me for the recipe...my goodness....lol

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  17. Love your blog sister...can you get us the recipe for the Vaisalo pretty please

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  18. Anonymous 4:44pm: So happy everyone enjoys the keke puaa...Not hard to make, just takes some time...Happy cooking!

    Anonymous 4:46pm: Thx for visiting the blog...Would love to make vaisalo, but can't buy coconuts here...Sorry...

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  19. I love my Samoan food, and I've always tried my best to recreate the koko araisa, kopai, panikeke(round ones), sua fa'i, sua i'a, just to name a few, - all by memory of my younger years, hanging out in the kitchen helping my older cousins (who were born & raised in Samoa), do the mea'ai, & fighting with my siblings for the right to sit behind the one scraping the coconut to get our little delight from the vigorous motions of the coconut scraper. You know, it was our "horsey ride" because we never had any toys ...
    I better stop before I bore your readers. It's just that your site has brought a lot of memories, good ones!
    I will definitely try your recipes and let you know how it turned out! God Bless you and please continue your great Blog!

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  20. Hi Kokoaraisa,
    Thank you for your comment...Nothing like a food-evoked walk down memory lane...Those are some of my most vivid childhood recollections too, the food-related ones...Thx for visiting my blog, and all the best with your cooking!

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  21. Ohhh I dont knw how to begin but thank you so much you are a true Samoan Ive been asking around for this recipe but eather they too aiu to give it or they just not enterested in sharing but thank you my kids love eating it and their favourite is Pagipopo so thank you and God bless you hope we gona have more cause Ive tried all of it and they are yummy and my family loves them thank you very much....Lilly

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  22. Hi Lilly, everyone has a different recipe, but this one works for me...Thank you for trying the stuff from my blog, and good luck with your cooking!

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  23. I just came across your blog...what a find! I have been craving Samoan food, so I will be giving quite a lot of your recipes a try.
    Just a question for this bun recipe, if I just wanted to make 8 buns can I just half the recipe? I have a very small family, so would like to make a smaller batch (frequently...hehe).

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  24. Hi Bina, thanks for visiting my blog...I've never tried halving the recipe but give it a go and see how it turns out...good luck!

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  25. Thank you for sharing all your delicious recipes. I've tried almost all your recipes, and they come out ohhh so yummie..thanks to you i get many compliments on my baking :) wish you all the best and God Bless!!

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  26. That's wonderful to hear! Bake on!

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  27. hi :) i was just wondering, what should i put in the filling, just pig? i wanna know what you put in yours..if that's okay.

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  28. Hi, you can put anything you like in these...I put in a Chinese stir-fry pork mix, canned corned beef mix, and chicken curry...But anything goes!

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  29. wow this is really neat and I am ready to try this out. Thank you soo much for sharing your talent with us. Do you happen to know how to make keke saiga well? I was just curious because that is my mums favorite snack :)thanks again

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  30. Hi teinesamoa! Keke saiga is on the to-do list :)

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  31. having a hard time finding a pork filling recipe. Could you share? I would love to make these soon. Thanks

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  32. I freestyle the filling every time I make it so don't really measure anything...If I have time, I'll make up a recipe...Cheers!

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  33. Fa'afeta'i!!!

    That's one of the only words I know in Samoan. Lol! I'm part Samoan and we grew up eating this food since my dad was trying to keep up with his favorite foods. I can't thank you enough for posting these recipes. It was like pulling teeth trying to get the Coconut Bread recipe from my father so imagine my surprise when I found your blog. WOOHOO!!! I had to call my dad and let him know that I had all his secrets at my fingertips!!!

    Thanks again for making these wonderful recipes available to everyone. God Bless.

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  34. Very happy you discovered my blog...I totally understand how hard it is to get recipes from people...With my folks, it's the same thing...They're excellent cooks, just bad cooking teachers...lol...All the best!

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  35. Thank you very much for this, we will try to make it, my husband will be so happy.
    THanks From CANADA

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  36. Greetings Canada, hope you like the recipe!

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  37. Bless you for sharing your recipes.... I made this one too and boy was it a hit!!! Vinaka Vakalevu!!!

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  38. You're awesome! Thanks for the feedback!

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  39. Love your blog! I'm part Tongan and I've been searching for a lot of these recipes with no luck. I'm out here in West Virginia and there are several Samoan missionaries who are dying for poly food, I can't wait to surprise them with a Samoan feast!
    Can I use the seasonings you used in your sapasui for the meat in this? How do I store this? I was thinking about making it a day ahead so that I can steam them all rather than bake them.

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  40. Hi Nativa (love your name), these are best made on the day your going to eat them, and the sapasui seasonings should be fine...just make sure it tastes good before putting filling the buns. Good luck!

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  41. Yah just attempted to make some keke pua'a with my niece! and she was very disappointed with your recipe which made me look bad in front of her which i don't fucking appreciate!!! Next time you post a god damn recipe make sure you don't lie about ingredients! And make sure you be a little bit more specific! This was a BIG ASS FAIL!

    Thanks for ruining my day off and quality time with my niece!

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  42. Hi and thanks for your angry comment. I didn't know cooking could get people so worked up. Loads of people before you have made this recipe successfully (see the comments above) so unfortunately, I can't take any blame for your niece's disappointment. I stand by my recipe, which is a solid one, and as for being more specific, I provided not only photo instructions but video on YouTube as well. Short of standing next to you in your kitchen, I don't know how I could have been more specific. If you would like assistance with this recipe, I'm always glad to help, but if you post another aggressive and insulting comment, it will be deleted.

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    1. Wow that was a harsh comment!!! He just needs to fa'apa his ulu on his computer hahaha!! I tried this during the weekend and OMG!! DELISH!!!! We got mafukaga this weekend and as usual everyone has to bring a plate and this is what i've been asked to bring!! hahaha!!! THANK YOU FOR SHARING YOUR YUMMY RECIPES!! Haters like the above just need to take a chill pil!!! LOL!!!

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    2. I know right, it's as if I forced him or her to make my recipe...some people...Anyway, thanks for your feedback. I think your keke pua'a will be a hit at mafukaga. Try to make them fresh on the day and be generous with your filling. Happy cooking!

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    3. Asians are good cooks because things are done through trial and error. The old man Pinati had to do the same and even now the recipe for making kekepuaa is still changing. You have to have a bit of faith and let your tastebuds do the work.

      Enjoy cooking and good on you panipopo for sharing your recipe.

      Might have to try yours someday.

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    4. Really hope you give these a go. And I totally agree that you have to do things through trial and error. A bit of knowledge about your ingredients is also useful.

      Thanks for mentioning Pinati. Brings back memories of hot, steaming, delicious, overflowing plates of food. Legend!

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    5. Yes will definitely try it. Love cooking and love New challenges :) the recipe is different to how we make ours which is why I'm super excited to try it out.

      Thanks!

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    6. Please let me know how it goes - pictures always welcome :)

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  43. THANK YOU for this recipe!!!! My sissy and I have been SEARCHING for these every year at the Samoan Flag Week and they haven't sold them for YEARS, which is so disappointing :( So, THANK YOU for this! I just have a few quick questions...What seasoning's do you put in with your meat for the filling? And do you cook the filling all the way through or half way through before steaming? And do you make your filling the night before or day of?

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    1. Hi, I've been meaning to make a filling recipe for the longest time, but have never gotten round to it. In short, the seasonings change every time depending on what meat I'm using. Make sure your filling is fully cooked, but cooled. (That also answers your last question I hope)

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    2. Yes it does. Thank you so much :)

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  44. OMGAAAHHHH!!! BESTEST!! No one else wants to share how to make with me.. LMAOO!!

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  45. Aww yummy, thanks for the recipe..
    Will make it this weekend..
    Palangi's love island food lol =D

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  46. Hi there thank you so much for the recipe always wanted this so I can try it at home. Looks like i will be busy in the kitchen...I hope that my family will like it coz keke puaa is our favourite and this will be my first time too. Wish me luck:)
    Faafetai

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  47. Hello there! My husband said to the family last night, that he'll try to make keke poaá. So, he came across your recipe, and I ended up helping him. They were beautiful!! You're such an expertise in cooking these, and your recipe is just perfect!! Thank you so much and God Bless:)

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    1. Thanks so much for your comment. It really put a smile on my face. All the best!

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  48. Hello Panipopo,
    WOW, this is such a helpful site to get samoan recipes and how to make it so simple and easy. I would love to make kekepua'a but just wanting to know how to make the filling and what ingredients do I need to get please.Need to change some some flavors in my family and feed my aussie partner with some REAL Samoan food...

    Cheers for the help:):)

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  49. Just a random comment. But I have to say I love your funny humour that you bring out on your comments like (keke-cake) pua'a-pork) a little bit of translation going on as well as recipes haha...I love cooking with a smile and add a splash of fun as well and people would want to eat it(well, in saying that, they have no choice, either eat or leave lol..thanks again

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  50. Hi Panipopo,

    WOW...this is such a helpful site for samoan recipes...I thought I'll change the taste in our family and make some samoan food instead of kangaroo and rabbit leaves (salad)everyday. Yeah, it's nice and healthy but. Anyways, I want to make some kekepua'a but dont know how to make the filling and what ingredients do I need thanks.

    Cheers:):)

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    1. Hi Anonymous, I'm assuming the last three comments are all from you. Thanks so much for your compliment on the blog and question about the filling. I have written a post especially for you (May 1 2012). Good luck trying to get your Australian family to eat our food. I have a feeling they'll be ditching the kangaroo as soon as they discover slow roast pork. Happy cooking!

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    2. Hi Panipopo,

      Yes, all 3 are from me, I wasnt sure if they came thru coz my internet conged out on me lol. thank you lotz for the blog on how to make the filling....
      And yes, my aussie famiree are already adopting the samoan food in their family, like my sister inlaw had already made some pagikeke bolo (round pancake) so there you go...:):)

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  51. Hey your keke pua'a recipe is lovely really yummy, I was craving some and seeing as I live back in Palmerston North and all my samoan friends live back in Auckland I thought i'd make some and send them all pics of what I am eating and what they are all wanting... hahaha they were so jelous that they wanted me to make some for them... so I have made more and they said they were beautiful and even though I am maori I am samoan at heart. they are a great bunch of friends and your recipe made there day haha they continue to hassel me to make them more when I go up :) thanks heaps

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    1. Hi and thank you for the feedback. Love that you are Maori with a Samoan heart. Cousins of mine are Samoan with Maori hearts so plenty of love for your culture. Keep up the great cooking!

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  52. Awesome work, you are a true Samoan at heart sharing your recipes with everyone. Like most others I have always wanted to make keke puaas at home, as my kids love them. I finally have done so, and my kids love it. Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge with us....very much appreciated.
    Helen Brisbane Australia.

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    1. Thank you for your kind words Helen. I'm very glad you and your children could enjoy these. Please pass the recipe on to anyone and everyone who is interested in Samoan food. All the best with your cooking!

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  53. Am making these now...can't wait to devour them! Thanks heaps for the recipe..

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  54. I hope you don't mind but I have done a lot of Samoan food and following your recipes , took pictures and post them on Facebook ... A lot of good feedback and they have been asking for recipes of the food I made so I gave them your website samoafood.com... Thank you for your delicious recipes my family loved it..:)

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    1. Hi Marrina, hope you have connected with SamoaFood.com on Facebook. Would love to see your photos. Please spread the word about our recipe site and all the best with your cooking.

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  55. Awesome bake this every 2nd sunday,uncle use to have a bakery in grey lynn auckland, surrey cres bakery famous for his P.P.back in the day. Thanx now i know how to make it.

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    1. Thanks for your comment. Awesome to hear about people who have actually been in the Samoan food business. Here's hoping more Samoan food shops open across the world.

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  56. I made keke pua'a tonight for dinner using your recipe. Thank you very much, my family who are samoan/maori really enjoyed them. We are so use to getting them from the Porirua markets on a Saturday morning, that it was nice to give them a go. I love your blog/site. Thank you for your insight & recipes :)

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    1. Hi Cherie, thanks very much for your comment. The best thing about making them at home is that you know exactly what's going in them. But when we're short of time, buying them is definitely the way to go. Thanks for visiting my site!

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  57. thank you so much for sharing your recipe. btw, the panipopo is always the winner amount my friends n families. and this recipe here, I am going to try it. cross finger!

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    1. Got my fingers, toes and eyes crossed for you. Good luck!

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  58. Talofa Panipopos and nice work on the keke pua'a. I remember making these under my mother's guidance. Thanks for sharing this and making it viral for all the other Samoans around the globe to keep it going for the next generator LOL!

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    1. Thanks for your comment. Some of my favourite memories are those of cooking with my mother.

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  59. Hello I absolutely LOVE your blogs, I tried your recipe for the keke pua'as last night, and they turned out fab! I need to practice my bun making hehe but managed to make 12. Even my two fussy kids ate them and off course Daddy loved them too.... thanks for the inspiration my next mission will be the panipopos. My partner now has the greatest appreciation for them watching me make them he's always complained how expensive they were even at $3.50 haha I now think now that I've made them how much work goes in it & that it should be $5 each hehe.... Many many thanks Panipopos keep up the great work!

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    1. You're very welcome. When you can get fussy eaters to eat stuff, you must be doing something right. Good on you for trying these at home (this is one of the more intimidating recipes on this site). All the best with the panipopos!

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  60. Thank you so much for help on this reciepe many family members do a little things differnt with thiers but, your s was simple and easy to make I made my first batch when my husband was back home from working out of state, as soon as they hit the table they were already devoured by him and my kids they loved it thank you again for sharing your wonderful reciepes the world hugs and kisses from one island girl to another alofa atu! Tagaleo'o Family...

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    1. Thanks so much for the hugs and kisses...Just what I needed to start my week. On one hand, I hate a recipe that takes so long to make, but seeing the joy on people's faces when they devour the food makes it all worthwhile. I appreciate your feedback. Much alofa for you and your family.

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  61. thank you... I just finish making this.. I love it

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    1. Fantastic Anne Maria! Thanks for the feedback.

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  62. MY HUBBY AND I MADE SOME ON THE WEEKEDN AND WE USED SELF-RAISING FLOUR, BUT IT TURNED OUT LIKE A ROCK, WHAT FLOUR DO WE USE.....

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    1. The recipe says 'all purpose', so plain flour.

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  63. Yummy yummy have just made some of your recipe and they turned out real good. Not bad for a Palagi :)

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    1. Awesome stuff! Keep up the good work.

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  64. I've got to get me a bamboo steamer. I'm drooling reading your recipes. Amazing! And I haven't had these for years so I'd most likely eat the paper too..yep, seriously. :)

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    1. I love it when a comment makes me laugh.

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  65. Hi, I wanted to try this today & I've got all the stuff I need for it at home, except paper.. Can I make it without paper?

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  66. Forever buying pork buns in shops, which have more bun than filling :-( Never thought I'd be able to make them, until I came across your recipe! Thank you. They turned out absolutely delicious, and I was EXTRA generous with my filling :-)

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  67. Thankyou so much for the recipe I have been craving pork bun since I return from Samoa....

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  68. Thankyooou sooo much for the recipe .... gonna be making them when I get home...

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  69. Thank you so much for sharing your recipes and talent with us. I'm not Samoan but my hubby is and wanted to surprise him with all his favourite Samoan food and not to mention my in-laws. I have made a few of your recipes and they turn out amazing. My favourite is the panipopo and the keke pua'a I use lamb meat instead and it was a hit at dinner tonight.. thank you once again I love your blog xx

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  70. Hi Nickky and thanks for your comment. Always nice to have a taste from home no matter where in the world you are. Even better when your non-Samoan partner can make it. Keep up the great cooking!

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  71. I filled mine with roasted turkey tail in pineapple/mango teriyaki marinade (aloha brand) and canned corn beef and mayo. My sweetheart was over the moon! His family can't believe that a white girl can cook like this...all thanks to you! Thanks for the love and the recipes from Oceanside,CA.

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  72. Love u Panipopi, ur awesome..u remind me of all the good times in the.kitchen with mom, grandma, and all the aunties. Good samoan cooks and bakers dont often like to share their recipes. But thank u internet for givinh us Ms. Panipopo..love all the recipes, videos, and the simplicity of ur tutorials. "CheooHooo" 👍 Ur awesome Panipopo....
    we ❤ u...

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