As a trained chef, Vanuatu is a difficult, inspiring and refreshing location to cook. It is all about cooking with the seasons, the way it should be, keeping it fresh, organic and interesting. The pineapples are sweet, the carrots have unique shapes, the tomatoes are acidic and juicy, and the island cabbage is sticky and forest green.
So, like me, you may be wandering through the markets looking at the endless bundles of manioc (cassava), Taro and Kumala (sweet potato) and thinking to yourself what are you going to do with that? Well, search some more and you will see that the locals have adapted to selling all the root vegetables in smaller quantities and you will find small-netted bags of each, usually on the floor.
Try these easy and tasty recipes; you will want to cook them again and again!
Great for canapés, or a side dish to your meal. Easy to do and preparation time is 10 minutes.
2 medium-sized maniocs grated
3 leaves of island cabbage
2 tbsp coconut oil – to fry with
Peel the manioc and wash it. Grate the manioc with a normal grater. Place all the ingredients but the oil in a bowl. Mix well. Shape the manioc into patties and fry with the coconut oil on both sides until golden brown. Finish off with Kandy’s Kitchen green mango relish and a little chilli to top it off.
TARO CHIPS with Curry salt
Easy and delicious.
500g white taro (small ones not the large water taro)
½ tsp salt
½ tsp curry powder (mild or hot, as you like)
Deep fry oil, available in Vanuatu – soya oil, vegetable oil, canola oil
Peel then wash the taro. Slice thinly with a mandolin, sharp knife or using a peeler. Heat the oil to about 180C and drop the taro chips individually into the hot oil. Cook until lightly brown. Mix the salt and curry powder together and sprinkle on the hot taro chips. Serve as a snack.
MILKEM KUMALA (Sweet potato and coconut cream)
Coconuts are a wonderful fruit and there are three different stages in the coconut life that mark its uses in the kitchen. The first stage is the green coconut. Green coconuts are drinking coconuts. You can drink the sweet juice and the flesh is soft and delicate. When the husk has turned brown, the coconut becomes a dry coconut, the flesh has hardened and is ready to eat or be grated to make fresh coconut milk. The last stage of the coconut is the Navara, which looks like a dry coconut but with a stalk growing from it – it is turning into another coconut tree. The liquid in the middle of the coconut has turned into an edible coconut marshmallow! For this recipe, we use dry coconuts.
1kg golden kumala
6 dry coconuts
Peel and wash the kumala and cut into quarters. Heat oven to 180C. With a coconut grater (you can buy the blade from any Chinese super market), grate the dry coconut into a large bowl add about 500ml of water to get 500ml of coconut milk. Squeeze the coconut and water with your hands until the water turns into a coconut cloudy white. Strain the flesh of the coconut from the liquid and you have fresh coconut milk. Boil the kumala in water until just cooked, drain and put into an oven tray. Pour the coconut milk over the top of the kumala. Roast and finish the kumala in the oven. The coconut should have reduced by half and be caramelized and sticky.
The tropical version of mashed potato!
White taro (small ones not the large water taro)
Wash and peel taro. Cut in half and boil in salted water until cooked. Once the taro has cooked, mash with a masher or in a food processor until smooth. Warm the coconut cream, add to the puree and blend. Taste the puree to see if it needs salt to your liking. Once pureed, use as you would mashed potato with fish, chicken or seafood.
Kandy’s Kitchen range of deli products is available at Libation, on Nambatu and at Organic Paradise in the Vanuatu Handicraft Markets.
For catering and other info, contact Kandy on [email protected],
Ph +678 7735602, www.kandys-kitchen.com.