South Pacific CuisineDinner in Fiji
The polar vortex may be raging outside your window, but you wouldn’t know it with these South Pacific dishes bubbling away in your kitchen.
Lots of restaurants serve farm-to-fork cusine. Few do so as literally as Plantation House on the private Fiji resort Laucala Island. Executive Chef Anthony Healy and his team forage the island for local ingredients, from coconut to vanilla plants to mushrooms so fresh that they're washed of their dirt clumps just minutes before landing on your plate. The seafood (mahi-mahi, coral trout) and meats (Wagyu beef, quail) are equally excellent. As Chef Healy puts it, “Here we maintain ‘paddock-to-plate’ like nowhere else in the world. Our menus are very much based upon what is available on that particular day – there is no back-up option of ordering from suppliers.” Chef Healy shares two of his favorite recipes with Galavante, so you can celebrate the islands without leaving home. What polar vortex?
Chef Anthony Healy: Palusami is one of my favorite local dishes, and we serve it at the Plantation House. This is a South Pacific specialty, which is traditionally cooked in a lovo, an earth oven that uses pre-heated rocks and the moisture from leaves and banana stumps. In the case of cooking pigs and goats, heated stones are also sometimes put into the body cavities to ensure thorough cooking. Our lovo is prepared only with products from Laucala Island.
Combine coconut cream, lime zest and salt. This can be adjusted to your own personal taste. To wrap, start with the breadfruit leaf on the outside, then the banana leaf and the first leaf will be the dalo. Carefully ladle about 160ml of the coconut mix into the leaf combination. Without spilling any, carefully wrap the leaves together.
Bake inside the lovo for 1.5 hours. Remove from the lovo and discard the breadfruit and banana leaf gently from the outside. In the middle, the set coconut cream should be wrapped in the dalo leaf. Cut into portions and serve. The flavor that the coconut and dalo takes on from this cooking method is incredible.
Break down the suckling pig into 6 pieces – legs, shoulder and bellies. Vacuum-seal in a heatproof bag with a generous amount of olive oil and sea salt. Cook sous-vide in either a water bath or steam oven for 18 hours at 75°C.
Once cooked, open bags and strain juices off. Keep the juices. Remove all meat from the skin, being extra careful to not break the skin of the pork. With each piece of skin you have remaining, place on a flat surface and scrap away any excess fat.
With all the meat, gently pull apart. The meat should really just fall apart anyway but make sure there are no large pieces left in the mix. Combine all the meat with the seasoning and mix well.
Once all the meat is seasoned well, place back on top of flattened skin. The meat should be about 1 inch thick. Place another piece of the skin on top so that it is now covered on the top and bottom. Place each large piece of pork into a vacuum bag and seal tight. Press overnight on a flat surface in a fridge. Once set, remove from bag and portion into desired size. To cook, place into warm pan and cook each side on low heat until crispy. Serve with wild pumpkin puree, wild pumpkin shoots, pork crackling, pumpkin flowers and, of course, the palusami.