Thursday, November 14, 2013

Win a copy of Mea'ai Samoa

I've been blogging for a couple of years now and every year around Christmas I've had this urge to have a giveaway of some sort, but I could never figure out what to give away. Koko Samoa? Might get turned away at customs. 
Taro chips? Would go off before they reached their destination. 
Coconut cream? Um, you can buy that anywhere in the world. Plus the price of postage would be more than the value of the can. 

So this year, I came to the realisation that I didn't have to give away food - I could give away something food-related.

So here it is folks:'s first ever giveaway in the form of a photo contest.

First prize is a copy of Mea'ai Samoa by Robert Oliver, Tracy Berno and Shiri Ram.
Second prize is The Bone Bearer by Lani Wendt Young. 
Third prize is an Amazon gift voucher worth a whopping five hundred cents.

Visit's facebook page for more details and if you enter, good luck!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

New Release: Mea'ai Samoa

Okay, I know this page is starting to read like a book club and not like a food blog, but tough, it's my page and I'll do what I want.

On that surprisingly belligerent note, I have EXCITING news. Like very VERY exciting news. Exciting FOOD-RELATED news. It's so exciting that my caps lock is getting bit of a workout today.

Finally, finally, FINALLY, Samoa has its very own cookbook.
Choohoohooooooo! (if you don't know what that last one is, you need to visit Samoa).

Penned by the the award-winning team that put Pacific Island food on the map with their book Me'a Kai, their latest work is completely and totally dedicated to Samoan food. Check out the stunning cover.

(Copyright: Random House)
This gorgeous 288 page hardcover book is available for pre-order here or from the publisher, Random House.

Mea'ai Samoa showcases Samoan cuisine like no other publication before it, and it focuses on the traditional food of Samoa, the stories of the organic farmers and their land, and on the amazing natural paradise that is SAMOA. Knowing the fantastic job that was done with Me'a Kai, I have no trouble wholeheartedly recommending this current book to all you Samoan food fans. If any of you have been searching for the definitive Samoan cookbook, this is probably it, so make sure you pre-order your copy so you don't miss out.

From Real Pasifik/Zoomslide
I know you all must be as excited about this new publication as I am, but (yes...there's a 'but') it won't be out for a few more months, some time mid-October. However, to bridge the wait, Chef Robert Oliver is hosting Real Pasifik, a new television series dedicated to Pacific Island food which premieres next week. So if you're in New Zealand, you lucky bugger you, then tune into TV 1 on Saturday 7th September (See schedule on the right).

Also, Chef Oliver has done a TEDtalk which you can watch below. Let's support this amazing man and his team who are taking Pacific food to the world and to a whole new level.


Wednesday, June 26, 2013

New Release: The Bone Bearer

Okay, so I haven't dropped off the face of the earth, although I can understand how you might think that given my absence on the blog. What's happened is that I've landed in this hotbed of Samoan food. It's everywhere! In my relative's houses (down the road), in the shops (again, down the road). I don't ever have to make Samoan food again for myself because it's all around me, puligi, german buns, sapasui, taro...They sell coconuts, like honest-to-goodness hairy brown coconuts in the supermarket! And there's like, seven different kinds of coconut milk. They even sell barrels of povi masima in the butcher shops. I can get pisupo, elegi, koko samoa. Even size 2 pigs!

So there's my excuse for not having updated my blog in the last couple of weeks. I don't know when I'll get back into it, but yes, I have been receiving your requests and yes, I have been considering them, while thoughtfully munching on kale, fa'alifu fa'i and pagipopo...

But this post is about something more exciting that my Samoan feasting. Lani Wendt Young has released the last of her Telesa trilogy: The Bone Bearer. If you're lucky, you can nab a digital copy for $5.99 in the next 48 hours, after which the price will rise to $7.99 (hey, a girl's gotta eat! I'm talking about Lani, not me!)

Print book will be available in August.

Check it out!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

From our readers

Every once in a while I get an email that moves me. For some people, my blog means the chance to remember their grandmother who made the best kopai ever, or their long-departed brother who could make oka like nobody's business. For some people, it's a chance to relive their childhood. Read on to see what this site meant for Emma and her kids.

Dear Panipopos!
You have helped me to connect to my heritage! For that I am so so grateful.
I am part Samoan, but for a long time estranged through family ignorance and situation from my Samoan relatives and culture.
To look at me, other Samoans know I am Samoan - but my children are very fair and you wouldn't know they are Samoan too.
Recently my daughter completed a group social studies project at school on Samoa, and seeing the lack of knowledge and support from the teacher and school really gave me a kick in the pants! My children live here in Auckland - this multicultural city, yet they exist in a mostly white bubble. None of the teaching staff are Pacific Islanders...and I realised that I am failing my kids by not bringing their heritage into their consciousness, and making it a part of their everyday life.
So together we have been reading, watching, talking about all things Samoan.
And to complete the project, I used recipes from your wonderful blog to cook a feast for kids in the project, and we invited our neighbourhood kids along too.
We made Supasui, Keke pua'a, and the Poi banana pudding. It was a big hit! (Maybe even life-changing).
So thank you again for sharing your wonderful recipes and cooking techniques,
Kind Regards

Thank you Emma for sharing our culture with your children and your whole neighborhood. You really made my day with your email.

And these photos were sent in by Helen and Tina from Queensland. Check out their scrumptious panipopo.

Helen also has a handy tip. If you like shiny buns, then just reserve some of the sauce and when the buns come out of the oven, brush the sauce over them while they are still hot. The glaze will give them that 'freshly baked' look. Thank you Helen and Tina for sending in your photos. 

Finally, from a corner of the world I know very little about, here is part of an email from Kristina: 

Hello,my name is Kristina, I am form Lithuania, North Europe. First of all I would like to say how much I like your blog and recipes. Samoan food is absolutely exotic for us (we have almost 6 months of cold and snowy winter here), but I like to learn something new about cultures and to try new recipes, of course. I made keke pua'apaifalapanipopovaifala and even pisua (it was the very first time we ate tapioca:) - and everything was a huge hit in my family. Thank you!...

Thank you, Kristina, for making Samoan food all the way over there in Lithuania. I'm inspired now to try out some Lithuanian food. Spurgos looks like a nice dish to start off with.

It's amazing to me how far the internet reaches - readers of our blog are making Samoan food in Dubai, Saint Lucia, Germany and even in Chile! - so I have never regretted doing what I do for this blog. I'm settling in nicely in this new location and very soon I will post up some new recipes for you all. Thanks for your continued support and for all the feedback and emails. 

Your success in the kitchen is also mine. 

Malo fa'afetai.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Lemon Coconut Scones

My cast has come off, yay! and now I'm learning how to use my arm again. Very busy now winding up some long overdue projects and busy packing because I'm moving to a new country soon. 

So anyway, here's a quickie. I made this recipe for a friend's cookbook, but he didn't end up using it. Still, I think it's too delicious to keep to myself. It's a moist, delectable scone with lemon accents. Kind of like gourmet fa'apapa. Enjoy.

Lemon Coconut Scones
Makes 12

3 cups (375 g) flour
4½ teaspoons baking powder
6 tablespoons (90 g) sugar
¾ teaspoon salt
½ cup (110 g) cold butter
¾ cup (60 g) shredded coconut, unsweetened
2-3 teaspoons (10-15 ml) lemon zest
1½ cups (360 ml) thick coconut milk

Lemon glaze:
¼ cup sugar (50 g)
3 tablespoons (45 ml) lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 210°C (410°F) and grease or line a baking sheet.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt in bowl. Add the butter and cut into the flour mixture with a pastry cutter or two knives until it is crumbly. Add the coconut and lemon zest, mixing to combine. Add the coconut milk and mix just until the dry ingredients are moistened. Cut or shape into 12 scones. 
Place on the baking sheet and bake for about 15 minutes or until golden brown and risen.

While they are baking, make the lemon glaze by heating the sugar and lemon juice in a small pot over gentle heat until the sugar is dissolved. When the scones come out of the oven, brush the glaze generously over them.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Koko Bread

I didn't mean for you all to be staring at Goddess's tuiga for a month (gorgeous as they are), but I broke my arm, so I haven't been able to cook much. Or at all, really. 

Anyway, my good arm is still able to type and when the one-handed typing gets too much, picture me with a pen in my mouth, tears streaming down my cheeks, painfully tapping out each individual letter on my keyboard. 

Yeah, I know what you're thinking. 'Tell it to Oprah - Where's our recipe?'

Okay, fine, fine, here it is. This is something I made a while back when I was feeling experimental. It's  a rich egg bread ribboned with koko samoa. You can substitute cocoa if you like.

Ain't it purty?

You'll have to forgive the unimaginative name. I did consider some others - Tree Bark Bread, Ebony and Ivory, Striation Celebration. But I think when I broke my arm, I must've fractured my creativity too because those names are just plain sad. If you can think of a better name for our bread, let me know. 

Koko Bread

Makes 1 loaf

1 cup milk
2¼ teaspoons active dried yeast
¼ cup sugar
½ teaspoon salt
¼ cup liquid coconut oil or softened butter
2 egg yolks
2½ -3½ cups bread flour

1 egg white
1 teaspoon milk

Heat the milk until scalding and pour into a large bowl and leave to cool. When the milk has cooled to warm, add the yeast, sugar, salt, coconut oil, egg yolks and 2 cups of the flour and mix well. Gradually add the rest of the flour, adding as much as you need to make a dough that comes away from the sides of the bowl (you may not need all of it). Knead the dough for at least 10 minutes until it is soft and pliable. Place the dough in a greased bowl and cover. Leave to double (1-1 ½ hours).

In the meantime, make the koko paste.

Koko Paste:
2½ tablespoons flour
¼ cup sugar
1 egg white
1/3 cup milk
¼ cup finely ground Koko Samoa or unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons coconut oil or butter

Mix the flour, sugar and egg white in a cup or small bowl and set aside.
Warm the milk (don’t boil) and dissolve the koko or cocoa powder in it. If using koko, strain into a small pot and discard the nibs. Add the egg white mixture stirring until combined. Heat over low heat until it thickens into a paste. Add the coconut oil or butter and mix well. Remove the paste to a piece of baking paper and leave it to cool slightly. Covering it with another piece of baking paper, roll the paste out into a rectangle about 6 x 8 inches(15 x 20 cm)  and place in the refrigerator until needed.

When the dough has doubled, punch it down and let it rest for 10 minutes. Roll the dough out into a large rectangle a little bigger than the koko paste. Place the refrigerated paste in the centre and seal it in with the bread dough, taking care to press out any bubbles. Roll the dough up jellyroll style, and split the log lengthways, almost in two, but not quite. Twist the two pieces together so that the cut edges are facing outwards, tucking the ends under the loaf. Place into a well-greased loaf tin and leave to double in size. Brush with glaze.

Bake at 160°C (325°F) for 45-55 minutes.

Enjoy this warm from the oven, and serve with a hot cup of anything but koko samoa.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Interview with a Goddess

Tuiga by Goddess
The blogosphere is a small world with only a handful of Samoan bloggers online and I can't think of a better way to herald in the new year than an interview with one of my favourites. 

I return to her blog time and time again because her writing is witty, refreshingly honest and pulls no punches whether she's dealing with a rude commenter or the editor of a newspaper or even herself. She updates more often than the rest of us and posts about everything from current events to family events to non-events. 

Her piece titled Fifty Shades of Savai'i had me laughing out loud and I love the fact that she blogs publicly what the rest of us only dare to think. 

Not only is she a savvy blogger, she also makes amazingly gorgeous tuiga (ceremonial head-pieces), which I don't think many people know how to make these days. 

Enjoy an interview with divinity -the ever-entertaining and straight-shooting Goddess from Fagogo mai Samoa,...aue!

1. How long have you been blogging? And what got you started in the first place?
Since 2006. I was working for a Samoan govt corporation and was really wary of the dramas in reality, so I resorted to a weird thing called a blog, good outlet to air things without getting slammed to the wall in front of Amau.

2. Can you tell us a bit about your blog, Fagogo mai Samoa?
Fagogo Mai Samoa...fagogos were told to us as children by our elders in Savai'i. We didn't have tv but having fagogo was the most entertaining and calming time of the night, when we were lined on the mats with our ie afu [bedsheets] listening to a story, in our case, a mixture of legends and fair tales and whatever our granma and uncle felt like telling...likewise, my blog is a collection of fairy tales, faiga gukus, and whatever is in my head.

3. We all have moments of drama on our blog (I had a reader cuss me out because a certain recipe didn't work out for them). What's been the most dramatic moment on Fagogo?
- I have had many. Most dramatic ones are some of our villagers sending me hate mail because our family keep winning our matai title court cases. It doesn't affect me, but I am certain they are getting their wrinkled balls in a knot over it.
- The editor of a well-known Samoan newspaper insulting my sibling because of what I write. Mistaken identity....(nice having sisters sometimes to take the backlash, thanks sis).
 - Another editor telling me to go f*** up. Somehow I have awkward relationships with editors.
But I am flattered that people actually read my madness. There are bored people in this world. Indeed.

4. What's a blog you'd like to see someone start?
Samoan whistle blower - about affairs, corruption, anything that is silly and entertaining, because I'm shallow like that.

Tuiga with bore tusks by Goddess
Onto some food questions: 
5. What's your favourite childhood food memory?
The sweet rich aroma of raw brown sugar poured on a hot rock and seeing the liquid pool into the kava bowl....very manaia watching taufolo and faausi being prepared this way by the untitled men (aumaga) while my highness is perched on the coconut pile waiting for the food to cook. Needless to say, I enjoy watching others (ideally men) do the cooking. The stars are aligned. Amen.

Most traumatic food experience
Watching the size 2 pig being choked with a ua mea (steel bar) for dinner. Sucks to be a pig in Samoa. 

6. What's your favourite Samoan food? Least favourite?
Favourite: faausi, and fresh water prawn in coconut cream with taro and pork with limu, sashimi, oops, Japanese - ahem - sasimi. (:
Least: Suafa'i: stupidest invention in the history of humanity, I have my reasons, refer below. I rest my case.

7. If I'm a tourist going to Samoa, what do you think is an essential food/drink experience?
Drink: Vailima Beer, cold fresh coconut. 
Food: Can't go wrong with marinated fish(oka) at popular places like Amanaki, Apia Yatch Club, Schwashbuckles etc. Paddles is very manaia but you don't need to pay heaps to have a more fantastic food experience.

8. Can you recommend a good place to eat in Samoa? 
Encounters for lunch. I love that the chicken salad is more chicken with a dash of salad....Samoan idea of a dream salad! 
Amanaki for poke, oka and other fish dishes, downed with Black Russian.
Savaiian Hotel for Samoan food.
Pinatis for after hours and I'm-too-pissed to-know-what-I'm-eating cuisine experience.
Amanis for cheap but cheerful food, like fancy pork buns and mamoe and other artery blocking goodness. Uma le case!

Tuiga by Goddess on a model
9. How did you learn how to cook?
By doing, watching but more so from, eating.

10. What's the worst mistake you've made in the kitchen?
Being in the kitchen in the first place. 

11. What food will you never give up?
Size 2 crackling, faaausi, pork puns and faiai anything. 

And finally, 12. What's your problem with suafa'i?
More to the point, whose non-brilliant idea was it to get perfectly good bananas and boil the hell out of them, and then add a truckload of diabetes into it ...sorry, I meant sugar. This is the silliest thing ever. C'mon! boiled ripe bananas in sugar and pe'epe'e? Aue Malia e, it tastes as disgusting as it looks....and I don't care what you say Panipopo, this it the one dish i think is a disgrace. I am prepared to start a facebook page called "Suafai is an insult to food, leave the bananas alone and walk away"

So the Goddess has spoken. 

Although suafa'i will always be a sticking point between the two of us, fa'afetai tele lava for answering my nosy questions. I really enjoy your blog (even your family notices which I feel like a bit of a stalker reading) and psst...can you hurry up and write the sequel to Fifty Shades of Savai'i? I think the next one is called 'Darker'.

All the images in this post belong to Goddess. Please check out her blog for her uniquely Samoan take on life or if you need a tuiga for any occasion.