Tongan recipes and Tongan cooking is characterised by simplicity and wholesomeness.

The roasting of the suckling pig in an open fire, the steaming of taro leaves with coconut cream and meat in an 'umu or the cooking of veihalo (the nutritioius drink using the tender flesh and juice of very young coconuts) are a few of the Tongan delicacies that portray wholesomeness and simplicity. These characteristics accompanied by gaiety especially in the preparation of a Tongan feast makes Tongan cooking unique.

(Octopus in Coconut Cream)

  • 1 octopus
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • thick coconut cream

Suggestions for accompaniment: Serv with 'ufi (yam) boiled in coconut cream or peeled green bananas again boiled in coconut cream and pele (spinach-like vegetable) in thick coconut cream.

Put the fresh or defrosted octopus in a heavy pot and gently boi all the liquid out.

Dice the octopus and put it back into the pot with the onions and the thick coconut cream and simmer for about another 3 minutes.

NOTE: Freezing the octopus seems to help tenderise it.

Cleaning the octopus
To prepare octopus, remove the beak-like mouth, anal portion and the eyes - being careful not to piece the ink sack which lies close by. If inkfish are small, this may be done with scissors; if large and tough, you will need a knife to penetrate far enough to slip them inside out and remove and discard the yellowish pouch and the attached membrance; the very ends of the tentacles are also discarded.

Wash well in running water to remove gelatinuous portions. Octopus which has 8 arms, comes in enormous sizes, but is apt to be very tough if over 2 to 2 and a half pounds in weight.

(Cabbage and Corned Beef in Coconut Cream)

  • large cabbage leaves
  • 1 can corned beef (corned silverside or brisket can be used
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 tomato (optional) chopped
  • thick coconut cream

Place the cabbage leaves on foil paper to make a cup shape. (It would help to put all these in a round cake tin). Into the cup-shaped cabbage leaves, put the corned beef, onion, tomato, some shredded cabbage and coconut cream.

Wrap the foil around and bake in a moderate oven for about 1 to 1 and half hours. (This is normally baked in the 'umu).

Serving suggestions: kumala (sweet potato) goes well with this dish.

NOTE: This is similar to the "lu pulu". Here, cabbage is used instead of the taro leaves and then the procedure is the same for both. In fact, this dish can utilise any large leafy vegetable, hence spinach is an excellent substitute. Where fresh coconut cream is scarce and expensive, fresh thickened cream is a successful substitute mixed with coconut cream in a tin. Coconut cream now comes in powdered packages so you can mix to your preferred creaminess.

Other options:
Other meats you can use instead of the corned beef, is pork (lu puaka, mutton flaps (lu sipi) and even fish (lu ika).

(Dumplings in sweet coconut syrup)

Lolo (Syrup)

  • Raw sugar
  • Coconut cream
  • Topai (dumplings)
  • 3 cups plain flour
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 3-4 pints water
  • 1 cup cold water, extra

Lolo (syrup)

Put the sugar in a heavy saucepan and melt over gentle heat. Before the sugar boils, add the coconut cream and stir continuously until thick.

Topai (dumplings)

Boil the water in a large pot
Sift the flour and baking powder together
Make a fairly dry dough with the flour mixture and extra water
Drop tablespoonfuls of the dough into the boiling water and gently boil for a further 10 minuts or until cooked.
Dice the dumplings and pour the sauce over it. Serve

NOTE: The Topai (dumplings) is used for convenience but other more traditional and more delicious substitutes are used. For example, breadfruit or mei (faikakai mei) a combination of taro leaves and flour (faikakai ngou'a), a combination of flour and ripe bananas (faikakai malimali), or manioke which is tapioca or casava (faikakai manioke tama). Hence, depending on what you use, the name changes as shown above in bold italics.

If you enjoyed our tongan recipes page have a look atour Tongan food page.

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