Okay, stuff’s getting weird.
Kapisi pulu is an island food popular in Tonga and eaten for special occasions. I couldn’t really find out WHY Tongans eat this, just that they do, so I had to settle for no explanation.
Making this required me to dig deep. The more I research the cuisine of the Pacific Island, the more I realize I’m going to be going far out of my comfort zone. Like, way far. Way past where Jesus lost his sandals. And Kapisi pulu is example #1 of the weirdness to come. But I guess that’s the point of this whole shebang.
The ingredients are simple: Banana leaves. Corned beef. Onion. Tomato. Coconut Cream. Cilantro (my addition. I thought it needed some green).
Problem #1: Where does one find banana leaves?
Solution: In Chicago, The Broadway Supermarket.
I’d been here before, but have been too lazy to trek up there recently. After looking around, I realized I should have been up there long ago when I was cooking all that African food. They have the cassava that I somehow managed to avoid that whole continent. Dragging Tomato for support and good measure, I found not only banana leaves, but taro leaves, pepper leaves, and a few others I didn’t recognize. This place had it all, so I stocked up.
Problem #2: Canned corned beef? Ew.
Solution: Suck it up and buy it. I like corned beef. A lot. But canned? I was skeptical. I DID find it at the grocery store… and actually found myself ashamed to buy it. Who buys this stuff? Someone apparently, because the store had it. How old was it? Best not to ask.
When I went to open it, the can had a key.
I didn’t know what to do with that, and it took me a few minutes to figure out all I had to do was the obvious: Turn the key.
BAZINGA! The can opened.
Problem #3: Convincing myself this would taste good.
Recipe from Worldcook
1 12-ounce can of corned beef
1 tomato, cubed
1 onion, diced
1 handful cilantro, chopped
4 sheets of banana leaves
1 cup coconut cream
- Preheat the oven to 350F.
2. Add all the ingredients to a bowl. Think of the coconut cream like mayo, and the corned beef like tuna. You’re just making tuna salad. Using your hands, mush everything together.
- Unwrap the banana leaves. I felt like I was unwrapping the Dead Sea Scrolls. Cut into four sheets.
4. Divide the filling by 4. Place 1/4 of the filling onto each of the four banana leaf segments. Wrap each into a little package.
5. Bake for 45 minutes. Unwrap and eat.
Ok, after all of the above, I tried it….and it was actually good (though it still looks questionable)! It took me a few bites to come to this conclusion, but bottom line is that it exceeds expectations.
Would I make it again? I’d venture to say highly unlikely, but I WILL also say that I no longer fear the canned meat (which is good, because apparently Spams is a thing in Hawaii…).