Friday, January 27, 2012

Chicken and Taro Leaves...I wish

By panipopos

Finally gave in. 

I didn't want to make anything that required lautalo (taro leaves) because I can't get those where I live. And I wanted to be as true-blue-baby-I-love-you to Samoan food. When email requests came in for palusami, taro leaves baked with coconut milk, I faithfully replied "No can do. Cannot source genuine ingredients. Over and out." 

But there comes a time - a 'defining moment' in Oprah-ese - when you just have to face facts: sometimes you have to substitute. 

When koko samoa is unavailable, you use cocoa powder; when coconuts don't grow in your back yard, reach for a can; when you can't afford butter, mash an avocado; when you got no candy, chew on some sugar cane...I could go on.

So I've used spinach in place of lautalo. Actually, spinach is not a bad substitute for taro leaves. It's just not as good as the original. Once you've had the real deal, it gives you a food memory that is hard to overwrite.

The following recipe makes a quick, satisfying dinner and I haven't met a single person on earth who doesn't like it. 

(Serves 2-3)

1 pound (450 gr) chicken (dark meat)
1 can (400 ml) coconut milk
1 medium onion
1-2 teaspoons salt
1 pound (450 gr) cooked drained spinach OR 
        1 pound (450 gr) of uncooked young taro leaves

If using spinach: Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces. Put in a medium saucepan with the coconut milk. Chop the onion and add to the saucepan. Add salt and stir to mix. Bring to the boil then turn down, simmering until the chicken is cooked. Add the spinach and bring to the boil once more, then turn off the heat. 

If using taro leavesCut the chicken into bite-sized pieces. Put in a medium saucepan with the coconut milk. Chop the onion and add to the saucepan. Add salt and taro leaves stir to mix. Bring to the boil then turn down, simmering gently until the chicken is cooked.

Serve hot with taro, green bananas, breadfruit or rice.


  1. Yeaaaaaaah Glad to see your back! I was wondering were your blog went. We live in the desert and no where to find any exotic island driven produce so my dad improvs as well. Especailly, with palusami imitation. Great to see you back. Happy New Year

    1. Happy New Year to you too Kim! The lights went out in my kitchen for a bit - video camera crapped out, oven went on the blink, the cook got lazy :( but we're back on now. Hope we can cook up some great dishes together this year!

  2. yaaaaay You're back - I have you on my blogroll and always looking to see if you've got something new :) Going to try this soon sounds yummy! Happy New Year!

    1. Thanks for following the blog. Hope to have more time this year for cooking than I did in 2011. Happy New Year to you and yours!

  3. You can even use bok choy

    1. yes, most dark greens work well with this...kale, silverbeet/chard etc.

  4. I was wonder where all this updates come from samoa or somewhere else ?

  5. I tried taro leaves. It is kind of cramping feeling in my mouth.