World Food Challenge

Day 191: Vanuatu and Laplap

Good evening, Raffies!

It is wonderful and warm here in the Netherlands and I wish it would never stop. We are going to Vanuatu in our last week of this challenge and we are going to make a funny sounding dish: Laplap.

Laplap is the national dish of Vanuatu and it is prepared by grating or pounding taro, breadfruit or yam, mixing it with taro leaves or spinach. The gooey dough you get is cooked between banana leaves in an underground oven or a normal oven if you are making it in your kitchen. You cook it in a coconut cream with some nice meat, like chicken, beef, pork or flying fox – if you happen to have some left. Since I had used up all the flying fox, I fell back on some plain chicken.

It is actually quite easy to make at home and the recipe simply requires some god time management:

1. The Base

2 squares of banana leaves
3 c grated taro
1/2 c coconut milk
1 c cooked spinach or taro leaves, chopped
4 cherry tomatoes, quartered

2. For the Chicken

1/2 chicken
1 lime, juice
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tbsp curry powder
1 tsp chili flakes

3. Coconut Sauce

1 tsp coconut oil
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 1/2 tbsp ginger, sliced
1 lime leaves
1/4 c flour
1 c coconut milk
1 chili, sliced
1/4 c chopped spring onions

Start by preheating your oven at 190° C.
Soften your banana leaves in hot water for a few minutes.
Oil an oven dish and lay one leaf in it. Mix the taro with the coconut milk and spread it on the banana leaf. It should be approximately 5 cm thick and evenly spread out. Place the spinach into the centre of the taro mix. Place the tomatoes around the taro mixture. Season with salt and pepper and cover with the second banana leaf.

It is time to make the chicken. In a mixing bowl, mix all the ingredients for the chicken. Add the chicken and mix well, so that the chicken is covered with the sauce. Place the chicken into a baking form and bake with the taro mixture for about 1 hour. 20 minutes before being ready, remove the leaf from the taro mix.

While you are waiting, make the coconut sauce. in a frying pan, heat the coconut oil and stir-fry the garlic and ginger. Add the lime leaves and the flour. Mix well and cook until the flour has turned slightly red. Add the coconut milk and the chili and spring onion. Mix well and leave it to simmer. It should be slightly thick.

Cut the chicken and place it on the taro cake. Pour the coconut sauce on top and serve immediately. Enjoy!

My absolute favourite in this dish was the chicken! It was great! The whole Laplap was delightful, but the chicken was simply out of this world!




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