Micronesia, officially known as the Federal States of Micronesia is a country that spans over 600 islands and even more atolls in the western Pacific Ocean. The name Micronesia comes from the Greek words “mikros” meaning small and “nesos” meaning island. The main country is made up of four island states: Chuuk, Pohnpei, Yap, and Kosrae. This Oceania country was once a territory of Spain, Germany, and Japan. During World War II Japan had a Navel Base at Truk Lagoon (also known as Chuuk Lagoon) which now is a hot spot for scuba diving to explore the several ship wrecks and other sunken army vehicles along with the reclaiming coral reefs. Another spot to visit in Micronesia is the ancient city that was built between 1200 and 1500 on a coral reef and is the only one of its kind.
As an island nation, Micronesia depends on natural resources for much of its cuisine. Taro, bread fruit, coconut, banana, and yams are the most common staples. Shellfish, pig, and chicken are the primary proteins on the islands. Many inhabitants grow raise their own livestock and harvest the above staples. There is a mix of eastern and western influences due to its prior inhabitants, every state also having its own distinct cuisine. Rice is an important element and can be found served with every meal. Micronesians also take care with their seasoning, a step that shouldn’t be skimped.
The meal I prepared for mighty Micronesia is a coconut chicken curry. I couldn’t find much on origins, I summed it up to a flavor fusion from its culinary influences. You can find the recipe here.
The cooking and preparation was easy and was done in half an hour. The steps were simple and easy to follow. I had no complaints! As a bonus I used coconut milk to make a fragrant coconut rice, (in Jonathan voice) yasss queen!
Micronesia served up a flavorful curry with beautiful colors from the array of veggies. The spices were comforting and not too strong. The variety of ingredients gave nice contrasting textures. We thought this dish deserved 7.75/10 as a rating.
Oh do I wish I was someplace warm right now! I feel Maine’s winter has been pretty mild so far but that tropical climate seems to be calling my name. Today we explore Fiji, a country of the South Pacific Ocean composed of more than 300 islands (110 of which are inhabited). This archipelago nation became independent from Great Britain in October of 1970 and is well known in the tourist industry. Walking across a hot bed of stones originated in Fiji around 500 years ago by the Sawau tribe. Fiji is also the “soft coral” capital of the world and has over 4,000 square miles across its nation with several popular places to snorkel. Additionally “Fiji Water” is one of the main exports of the country and is drank world wide.
The cuisine of Fiji is made up mostly of local ingredients whether if be foraged, hunted, farmed, or caught. With colonization teas, rice, grains, and flour are other staples in their diet. Seasonal produce is usually highlighted in their cooking. Coconut, taro, cassava, and bele (native vegetable) are especially popular here. The meal I made today tries to embody the nation using (or substituting) local ingredients. This chili coconut prawn (shrimp) recipe can be found here.
The execution was easy and used known ingredients. I added some peppers to give the dish more color and substance. I opted to make coconut rice to really bring out those sweet flavors (and because I’m obsessed).
Another awesome shrimp dish! The shrimp was super savory and paired well with the coconut rice (winning rice flavor in my opinion). The spice was enjoyable and complimented the dish. This one was worthy of 8/10.
Welcome back! Today we head even more west to the Solomon Islands! This sovereign country is made up of 900 smaller and 6 major islands east of Australia and close to Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu. The islands were first inhabited 3,000 years ago by the Lapita people, a group of prehistoric Austronesian people. Due to its location in the Coral Triangle the country is known for incredible diving experiences. Between three of the countries larger islands lies the world’s largest salt water lagoon, Marovo Lagoon. Below the surface Vangunu Island has the most active submarine volcano. The economy here is mostly made up of agricultural, fishery, and forestry resources.
Cuisine of the island like many others is made up of native plants, fish, and game. Fish is the most abundant resource and is prepared in a variety of ways. Coconut, cassava, sweet potato, plantains, bananas, rice, and taro roots are also very commonly used. Influence is made up of Indian, Asian, and Spanish along with Polynesian. Today’s dish combines a lot of the ingredients mentioned above and is an example of what a meal may consist of if your were to visit the island. The recipe of this dish can be found here.
I don’t known about you, but I have never had papaya before and neither has Ian. I thought the flesh was very similar to cantaloupe however the seeds were very unique and unexpected. I almost had my stove top maxed out while preparing the dish but overall it wasn’t too challenging and used simple and known cooking methods.
This dish was another unique one. We had never had papaya before and thought it would have been sweeter. Overall it was kind of bland, but it was colorful and had a good variety of ingredients. I would recommend playing around with Asian or Indian spices to jazz it up. The dish was rated 6.5/10 between the two of us.
Welcome to another tiny and mighty country of the Pacific Islands- Kiribati! This country is made up of 32 atolls and a coral raised island, the majority living on Tarawa atoll. Kiribati can mostly be split into three main sections: Tungaru, Line Islands, and Phoenix Islands (Banaba is the only island excluded from the groupings). You can spot this chain of islands bordering several other islands of the Pacific including Fiji, The Solomon Islands, The Marshall Islands, and Tuvalu. It’s the only country that can be found in all four hemispheres of the world and the first to ring in the new year. You can find coconut trees on every island which most measure only 13ft above sea level. Unfortunately as you can see this country is thin and at high risk of sinking under the ocean due to global warming.
The cuisine found on the islands consists mostly of local produce and meat such as coconut, various seafood, taro root, and breadfruit. Due to limited land area not much produce is grown on the island. The meal I made to honor Kiribati was a crab and tuna curry. The recipe I used was made out of inspiration of Kiribati and not a “traditional recipe” but likely is something that could be made and enjoyed in this nation.
The recipe was fairly simple and straight forward. I opted to use frozen vegetables to make cooking easier and had to substitute crab legs with mussels because I was unable to get any locally. The only crab meat that was available (and not totally fake) was the kind you would use to make crab cakes, so not the most ideal. Other than the seafood mishaps it was easy to get the ingredients. Look at all those colors!
This curry-dominated dish was delicious and extremely flavorful. Unfortunately the crab meat did not stand up to what I would suspect full crab legs would bring to the table, however the additional of mussels helped it out. I would suggest lobster tail/claws or shrimp as the closest substitutes if you are unable to get your hands on crab meat. All in all it was another great dish. We rated it 7.5/10.
Ia ora na (Tahitian for hello) and welcome to French Polynesia! This French territory is made up of over 100 islands, only 67 being inhabited. These islands are sorted into five archipelagos/island groupings: Tuamotu, Austral, Marquesas, Gambier, and Society. Tahiti, a Society island, is the capital and the most populated island making up nearly 70% of the entire country’s population. Most inhabitants are Polynesian, but a quarter of them are European and Chinese. French Polynesia is known for its hundreds of sandy beaches, exploring wild life in the jungle and dives into the ocean. I’m ready to pack my bags!!
Cuisine of French Polynesia consists of a large variety of seafood, locally grown produce such as uru (breadfruit) and umara (sweet potato), and for special occasions suckling pigs. A well known dish, poisson cru, is made up of raw tuna, lime juice, and coconut milk.
Today I made a recipe with cooked fish (sorry sushi lovers) with a decadent vanilla bean sauce and a side of sautéed veggies.
It was pretty easy and quick to prepare, the vanilla sauce being the most technical part of the recipe. Make sure to scrape out every little bit of those vanilla beans to get your moneys worth!
The end result should look something like this, a beautiful sheen on the fish with specks of vanilla bean throughout. I did feel my sauce was slightly on the runny side, but it was still delicious. I ended up using three times as much sauce then pictured when eating the fish to get as much flavor as possible (I didn’t want my plate to look soupy). We loved the uniqueness of the vanilla bean sauce and thought it worked well not only with the fish but the rice as well. There was a hint of sourness I felt came from the rum, but the rum flavor in general was not strong.
This would be a great healthy alternative to try for your work week! We rated it 7.25/10
Hey guys welcome to the American Samoa, the southern-most territory of the United States. It can be found hallway between New Zealand and Hawaii and is made up of 5 inhabited, volcanic islands and 2 coral atolls. One of the coral atolls, Rose Atoll, has sunk back into the ocean from the weight of coral and old lava, but was believed to have been covered in rainforests like the other surrounding islands. This country produces the most American football players than anywhere else in the world and makes the tuna canneries employ 80% of the islands natives. It also is home to one of the most remote national parks of the US and is spread over 3 of its islands- Tutuila, Ofu, and Ta‘ū. Pictured above is one of these islands beaches.
American Samoa cuisine is mostly filled with easily excessable foods found on or surrounding the islands. Such foods include coconut, fruit, seafood, rice, various livestock, and canned corn beef. A staple dish found here known as sapa sui or Samoan chop suey is unlike its American cousin with Asian influence. With that said it did not originate here and brought over from Chinese settlers in the 1840s. At the time there were laws prohibiting interaction with the Chinese settlers, but as time pasted many married native Samoans ultimately bringing us intertwined culture and cuisine.
I used this recipe which at first glance said to use mung beans and of course in western Maine I couldn’t find that so I looked the substitute which is green pigeon peas. I later read that glass noodles could be used and sadly did not have enough on hand for the desired amount. When it comes to mid week cooking I don’t always read my recipes over enough prior to execution day and I later find out things like this.. oh well. It was fairly simple to make and definitely did not need to be seasoned with salt (the amount of soy sauce used was salty enough in my opinion)
It was a nice mix up and was clearly reminiscent of its ancestry with the dominating soy sauce flavor. The fresh ginger also brought a mild warmth to the dish, but it did not wow us like others have. We rated it 6/10 and with more noodles and chicken vs ground meat probably could have scored a higher rating.
Next we head back to Europe and substitute beef for yet another lamb recipe (sorry not sorry)! Let us know if you tried this dish and had a different experience than we did!
Welcome back to a warm place in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.. The Northern Mariana Islands. This archipelago has 15 volcanoes that are mostly dormant . The Northern 10 volcanic islands are uninhabited leaving 5- Rota, Guam, Aguijan, Tinian and Saipan. Guam is a US territory that is the southernmost island of the chain. The Mariana Trench (West of the Mariana Islands) is actually the lowest part of the Earth’s crust and it is so deep that Mount Everest would completely fit with room to spare between the peak and the surface of the water!
These islands neighbor Japan and the Philippines and are traveled to for their beauty, coral reefs, and golf courses. Today I made a dish that is popular in Guam, however it will represent the chain of islands in their entirety. Kelaguen Mannok is a chicken salad which can be eaten as is or wrapped in a tortilla. This salad is made up of cooked chicken that traditionally is marinated in soy sauce and cane sugar. Other ingredients include items that might make you feel like you are some place tropical- unsweetened coconut, lemons, and hot peppers. I used this recipe to create this dish and took advantage of the tip to use a rotisserie chicken!
I decided to make the common red rice pairing as well. The rice gets its color from annatto powder (I had to make my own blend using tumeric, paprika, and nutmeg). Annatto powder is more commonly used in cooking solely for the color it gives food vs flavor. It comes from the seeds of spiny fruit of an achiote tree, the fruit remind me of burdock that are found stuck to your clothes when coming out to hike in Maine!
I will admit I wish I had done more research prior to making this dish to know to marinate the chicken. Instead I just drizzled some soy sauce on the salad and mixed it well prior to wrapping it up. The rice had nice flavor from my spice blend, however no matter how much I tried it did not look nearly as colorful as the real deal.
We thought this was a pretty yummy dish and the addition of a tortilla obviously was a superior way to eat it! It was surprising that the chicken with the combination of flavors and the fact that it was cold tricked my mind several times to think it was fish! The citrus and mild heat components was a nice contrast that paired well with the sweetness of the coconut. We rated this dish an average of 7/10.
Welcome back! Today we are in the tropical Vanuatu, a country made up of 83 islands in the South Pacific Ocean near Australia. Bungee jumping was first done here when brave boys and men would jump from 20-30m (60-90ft) with vines tied to their ankles off wooden towers as part of a ritual called Nanggol. I think I’ll pass on that one!
The Vanuatuan cuisine consists main ingredients such as mangos, bananas, taro, yam, coconut, and seafood. You can find chickens and pigs used as a meat source, however seafood is primarily used. With that being said today’s dish screams Vanuatu!
I ended up finding a wonderful recipe that consisted of seasoned shrimp on top of a shredded spinach which sits in a sweet potato and coconut soup, yum yum!
Their national dish lap lap did not seem possible for me to attempt which is the product of pounded taro root paste which is layered with cabbage and meat wrapped in a banana leaf.. something tells me this would only taste good if eating it local.
All in all we appreciated the sweetness from the coconut and sweet potato and slight kick of chili powder (did not have cayenne). The shrimp was seasoned perfectly and had a bit of a crunch to it. The additional of spinach brought a freshness to the dish. We ended up rating it 7.25/10!