Vanuatu only gained independence in 1980 so its cuisine is undoubtedly influenced by the British and French culture of its earlier controllers. Local specialties even include escargot. However the group of islands that make up Vanuatu mainly use local ingredients to create a distinctly tropical cuisine. Seafood is a common staple in the Pacific Islands and is widely available due to the abundance of beaches. Lobster, crabs, prawns and various types of fish are found as the main protein in many dishes. Fruits such as coconut, papaya, banana and mango are common, as are root vegetables like cassava and taro. Vanuatu also has a traditional drink called kava, made from the roots of the kava plant, which has mild narcotic effects.
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1 Apr 2014 - 12:18 PM  UPDATED 11 Feb 2015 - 3:27 PM

KEY INGREDIENTS

Banana
The leaves are used to wrap other foods in order to cook them, such as in the popular dish from Vanuatu, lap lap. The banana fruit is also eaten, both ripe and green.

Breadfruit
This starchy fruit has a bread-like texture and a sweet taste but is used like a vegetable and can be boiled, roasted, fried, baked or barbecued.

Cassava
The starchy root of the cassava plant is usually boiled and served as an accompaniment to dishes, much like rice.

Coconut
The grated coconut flesh, as well as fresh coconut milk, are used in both sweet and savoury Pacific Island dishes.

Papaya
Papaya is widely grown in the Pacific Islands and is used both ripe and green, in many salads.

Seafood
There are many types of seafood readily available in the Pacific Islands, such as lobster, crab and various types of fish.

Taro
The taro is a tuberous vegetable commonly used in Pacific Island cuisine as an accompaniment to other dishes.

 

COOKING TIPS

  • First extract of coconut is also known as coconut cream. The second extract is the more watery coconut milk.
  • When making seafood mousse, don’t blend the fish in a food processor, as this can make the mousse rubbery. Finely chop instead.

 

GLOSSARY

Breadfruit
This starchy fruit has a bread-like texture and a sweet taste, but is used like a vegetable and can be boiled, roasted, fried, baked or barbecued.

Cassava
The starchy root of the cassava plant is usually boiled and served as an staple accompaniment to dishes, much like rice.

Coconut
The grated coconut flesh, as well as fresh coconut milk, are used in both sweet and savoury Pacific Island dishes. The first extract of coconut is more commonly called coconut cream, whereas the second extract is the thinner coconut milk.

Coconut heart (heart of palm)
Coconut hearts are found in the inner core of some breeds of palm trees and can be bought fresh or tinned.

Coriander roots
The roots of the popular coriander leaves have a more intense flavour and are often used in soups and curry pastes.

Smoked sea salt
This is essentially salt with a smoky flavour added. It can be purchased from fine food stores.

Soubise
Soubise is a variation on the classic béchamel sauce, containing onions.

Surf clams
These are medium-sized clams available from most good fishmongers.

Taro
The taro is a tuberous vegetable commonly used in Asian and island cuisine as an accompaniment to other dishes.

Udon noodles
Udon noodles are thick wheat noodles, most often used in Japanese dishes. They can be found in most supermarkets.