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Palusami or 101 uses for a dirty oven!

Posted by Lynley 
The other day I was faced with a dinner decision to be made (as you do), and a garden full of silver beet - begging to be used, but large older leaves without salad potential.

I scoured the pantry, looking for inspiration. Helen's Foodtown article Can Do - and a tropical experience made me think of the fabulous Lovo's that we used to put on for the guests at the resort. It's the Fijian equivalent to the hangi and has the same earthy/smokey flavour.

The Fijian women used to make Palusami, which is not a traditional Fijian dish I think, but passing travellers had passed it on and it became part of their repetoire. They used tinned corned beef which is a staple in the islands, I had a tin of tuna in oil and followed my instincts.

Here's what I can up with - and believe it or not - having a dirty oven and the temp up high gave it the same smoky flavour as a lovo - be sure to disable your smoke alarms - and remember to enable them again afterwards.

1 large tin tuna in oil
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tin coconut cream
300ml fish stock (optional)
2 large onions - sliced
3 ripe tomatoes chopped roughly
at least 10 large silver beet leaves, washed & ends of stems chopped off & sliced

Pre-heat dirty oven till smoking (220 or 400)??

Line a large baking dish (pref. with lid) with the silver beet leaves, leaving enough hanging over the edges to make a parcel with them.

Heat olive oil in a large frying pan, saute the onions till very soft, add the tomatoes and tuna & chopped silver beet stems - pan fry for approx 5 mins, try not to break the tuna up too much. Set aside.

In a small pot, heat the fish stock (or you could use a combination of wine water or other stocks - feel free to experiment), when boiling, turn down and add the coconut cream - heat through.

Tip the tuna mixture into the silver beet leaves, and fold over the tops making a neat parcel - (in Fiji they use taro leaves - this way we use up our excess silver beet and avoid itchy throat syndrome).

Pour the coconut/stock mixture over the parcel, cover. Turn the oven down a bit to say 200 and bake for about 45 minutes. The more smoke you can generate the better!!

What can I say - very rich but m m mmmmmm! everyone loved it.

have fun

I strongly believe that when an oven is dirty one should buy a new one. Oh for a fairy char-mother. But I have the essential equipment for pulisami, thanks Lynley.
Hey Lynley, does this mean that we can multi-task with our oven? Not only cook a delicious meal, but it will "self-clean" at the same time???
Sounds WONDERFUL to me!:}
Yum, We have a family member that cooks palusami, using the taro leaves I think and just coconut milk/cream, and then cooks it on an uhmu, not sure of spelling, but it is so... nice.
Is taro like coconut? I read somewere that fig leaf is good for that sort of thing & so tasted one off my tree & sure enough, it has quite a coconut taste. Interesting to use instead I'd imagine.
I wouldn't say that taro was like coconut, but it's hard to tell when the liquid used is coconut cream. Taro to me is like the silver beet version.

Please be very careful with taro it must be cooked properly or it causes a very unpleasant reaction in the mouth and throat - not all taro is edible either (I know for a fact that the black ornamental is definitely NOT ok to eat).

The fig variation sounds interesting, opens up a whole new world of green possiblities - shame mine is such a baby, if I took all the leaves off for one meal - there would be none left!
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