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sister rasela’s palusami

Sister Rasela is part Samoan.  For her first show, in November ’09, she shared some of her flavours of her heritage, including two ways to make palusami, a rich, coconutty taro leaf dish.  It is a classic part of a Samoan feast.  And like many things in life, there’s a hard way and an easy way.

PALUSAMI – taro leaf parcels filled with coconut cream and chopped onion

My Dad has given me a bit of an inkling as to how it is made but he says really, the best way is to be shown, and this of course is so much a part of the Samoan way.

5 coconuts – coconut scraper
onions – baking tin
lots of taro leaves
aluminum foil

Preparing the Cream:
Scrape 5 fresh coconuts into the baking tin.
Bake in oven until brown. Add ~ cup of warm water.
Squeeze with a thin cloth or tauaga to get cream.
Add salt and Onion to personal taste.

Preparing the Palusami
Get taro leaves. (You will need ~ 4 leaves for one luau.)
Use 1 big leaf and 3 or 4 smaller leaves. You can break a bigger leaf to make a smaller leaf.) Lay the 4 pieces flat with the big one on the bottom and the 3 smaller ones on top.
Place leaves in hand and close hand slightly to make leaves in a bowl-like shape, into which you pour the cream.
Pour ~ a small cup of coconut cream inside the leaf structure and close outside edges of the leaves to enclose the cream, making the leaves like a ball-like structure.
Wrap total package in aluminum foil, twisting the top to conceal and hold the package tight.
Put in oven and cook for about an hour at ~ 250`C (quite high).

Easy Way

Basically you use the new leaves of the Taro, lay them flat on top of one another and roll them into a long cigar shape.
Join the ends together forming a donut-like shape with a hole in the middle.
Place in pot and pour over coconut cream and chopped onion.
Simmer very gently for 15 to 20 minutes and remove to cool and semi-set.
Whole thing is completely edible, extremely rich and totally decadent.

sister Rasela

[ndt - ask your local purveyor of taro to bring some leaves - the one at the Byron Farmers Market heard the show and had them available straight away]

3 comments to sister rasela’s palusami

  • Salvo

    Hey! Just came back from a 3 week holiday trip to Samoa. Loved palusami of course!!! As I’m writing you the trays are sitting in the oven…I have just two concerns:

    - I’ve used regular canned coconut cream
    - Haven’t wrapped the taro leaves with foil. I’ve rolled them tightly and simply placed them in the tray

    Is it going to be a disaster????

  • sister T

    hi Salvo,

    it’s probably too late to give you palusami advice, but I’ve asked sister Rasela. Canned cream should be fine though. The foil is to keep moisture in. So tell us – was it a disaster? If it turned out really well, we’d love you to post your method. Thank you, sister T

  • sister Rasela

    Nothing’s ever a disaster, it’s just experimentation. Just think delicious thoughts mmmm ….

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