Monday, November 15, 2010

Laumoli Lautipolo - Citrus leaves

By panipopos

lau = leaf
moli = orange
tipolo/kipolo = lemon

Samoans are one of the few populations to use citrus leaves in the kitchen. I mean, lots of people drink tea made from lemon leaves, but not many use the leaves to actually cook with. The Thai people famously use kaffir lime leaves in their curries and the Vietnamese fry lemon leaves up with grubs. And a few Mediterranean populations use citrus leaves for wrapping food and in marinades.

Well, Samoans don't use citrus leaves for curry. And although I've heard of people eating coconut grubs, I don't know many Samoans that do. We don't wrap food in citrus leaves either. Are you kidding? We have taro and banana leaves for that. They hold waaaay more food.

What we do use orange or lemon leaves for is very simple - to impart a subtle citrus fragrance to sweet dishes such as koko araisa (cocoa rice) and sua araisa (milky rice).

Take your orange or lemon leaf from a tree that hasn't been treated with chemicals. You want to choose leaves that are dark green, not the young lighter coloured ones, because the darker, more mature leaves have got more citrus oils (eg. flavour) in them. Throw your leaf in the simmering dish, but like a bayleaf, it's not to be eaten. The leaf will leave a hint of orange or lemon flavour, but the dish won't be overwhelmed by it.

If you can't get your hands on fresh citrus leaves, then try substituting with the fruit zest or essence. But citrus leaves are never an essential ingredient, so you can always leave them out. For instance, I like lautipolo in sua araisa, but not in koko araisa. It's just a matter of taste.


  1. mmmm, and of course can't forget the laumoli/lautipolo tea the old folks love so much! with or without sugar, with or without cream, it sure goes great with masi or fa'apāpā, a ea?

    1. So right, Jake! I drink it myself from time to time because it's so pure. Thanks for the reminder.

  2. My mom makes suamasi with laumoli leaves - still my favorite!!