Tuvalu

Tuvalu is the world’s fourth smallest nation. It is made up of 9 low lying atolls and reef islands in the South Pacific Ocean, with the highest point reaching only 4.6m above sea level. The name Tuvalu means “eight islands” and although there are nine islands comprising the country today, only eight were initially inhabited so the ninth is not included in its name. It previously formed part of the British colony of the Gilbert and Ellice Islands until 1975 when the Ellice Islands separated from the Gilbert Islands and it became Tuvalu.

The country is isolated, almost entirely dependent on imports, particularly of food and fuel, and vulnerable to climate change and rising sea levels, which pose significant challenges to development. At the 2015 UN Climate Change Conference, the Prime Minister of Tuvalu, Emele Sopoaga said “Tuvalu’s future at current warming, is already bleak, any further temperature increase will spell the total demise of Tuvalu…. For Small Island Developing States, Least Developed Countries and many others, setting a global temperature goal of below 1.5 degrees Celsius relative to pre-industrial levels is critical. I call on the people of Europe to think carefully about their obsession with 2 degrees. Surely, we must aim for the best future we can deliver and not a weak compromise. Let’s do it for Tuvalu. For if we save Tuvalu we save the world.”

The main staples of Tuvaluan cuisine are coconut, banana, taro and fish. Two popular traditional dishes are Palusami (taro leaf, onions and fish) and Laulu (taro leaf in coconut cream). Finding Tuvaluan recipes was quite a challenge however I came across a recipe for Tuvalu coconut tuna which was really simple and very tasty.

Rating: 9/10

Serves: 2
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes

300g raw yellowfin tuna, cut into chunks
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 tbsp freshly grated ginger root
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1 Scotch Bonnet hot chili peppers, seeds left in, and rough chopped
1/2 tbsp medium curry powder
tin coconut milk
2 spring onions, chopped
3 tbsp light soy sauce
Fresh coriander, chopped

In a large skillet or wok, heat up some vegetable oil over medium-high heat.
Fry the onions for a few minutes, until fragrant and translucent.
Add in the Scotch Bonnet pepper, curry powder, garlic and reduce the heat to medium and cook for about 5 minutes
Stir in the coconut milk, and the spring onions
Add the tuna and soy sauce and cook over a medium heat for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally
Finish off by adding the coriander and serve with steamed rice

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Tuvalu coconut tuna

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Ingredients for Tuvalu coconut tuna

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Tuvalu coconut tuna

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Tuvalu coconut tuna

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Tuvalu coconut tuna

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Tuvalu coconut tuna with steamed rice

Tuvalu beach
Tuvalu beach

Tuvalu
Tuvalu

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Kiribati

Kiribati, pronounced ‘Kiribas’, is formed of 33 atolls and 1 island, across the equator in the Pacific Ocean, which are dispersed over 3.5 million sq km. It has been independent of the UK since 1979 and over half the population live on Tarawa atoll and South Tarawa is the capital. It was previously named the Gilbert Islands, after the British explorer Thomas Gilbert who found the islands in 1788 and it then became the Republic of Kiribati after independence.

It is home to the Phoenix Islands, the 2nd largest marine protected area in the world, after the Chagos Archipelago in the Maldives. Christmas Island, otherwise known as Kiritimati, is part of this island group and is the world’s largest coral atoll. Nuclear tests were conducted on and around Kiribati by the UK in the late 1950s, and by the US in 1962. During these tests islanders were not evacuated. Subsequently British, New Zealand, and Fijian servicemen, as well as local islanders have claimed to have suffered from exposure to the radiation from these blasts.

The native people of Kiribati are called I-Kiribati and they speak an Oceanic language called “Gilbertese”, although English is also an official language, it is not often used outside the island capital of Tarawa. It has the 3rd highest prevalence of smoking with 54% of the population reported as smokers.

When it comes to the cuisine of Kiribati, most commonly available ingredients include coconut, breadfruit, chinese cabbage, pumpkin, tomato, watermelon and cucumber. Rice and fish also form an important part of the diet. Palu sami (a coconut cream curry powder taro leave seaweed concoction) is a Kiribati specialty. I have to be honest and say that I struggled to find an authentic recipe and I sought help from a fellow round the world cook, Sasha Martin. I hope you don’t feel that I cheated when I tell you that I bought a cooked lobster, as I had to ‘deal’ with it in order to get to the tasty flesh! I made Lobster with coconut curry dip, which I served as a canapé.

Rating: 9/10

Serves: 4 as a canapé
Prep time: 30
Cook time: 10 mins

1 cooked lobster
1 400g tin coconut milk
2 tsp homemade spice mix
1 tsp honey

For the homemade spice mix
1/2 tsp black peppercorns
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 tsp coriander seeds
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp fenugreek seeds
1/4 tsp cumin seed
1/8 tsp fennel seed
1/8 tsp cayenne
seeds from 2 cardamom pods
1 whole clove

For the spice mix
Toast the spices over a medium low heat until fragrant and you see a few wisps of smoke. This should only take a minute or two. Keep the spices moving so they do not burn.
Put them into a grinder or pestle and mortar and grind until smooth.

Prepare the lobster as per the instructions on the packet – ensuring you remove all the meat from the tail and claws.
Place the coconut milk into a pan over a medium heat and whisk in the spice mix. I added a tsp of honey to give a little bit of sweetness to the dip.
Serve hot with the lobster.

Kiribati_1990462bkiribati_map

Nauru

Nauru is the world’s smallest island nation, covering just 21 square kilometers and is the only republic in the world without an official capital.

Nauru is a phosphate rock island, and its primary economic activity since 1907 has been the export of phosphate mined from the island. Nauru boasted the highest per-capita income enjoyed by any sovereign state in the world during the late 1960s and early 1970s. With the exhaustion of phosphate reserves, its environment severely degraded by mining, and the trust established to manage the island’s wealth significantly reduced in value, it briefly became a tax haven and money-laundering center to obtain income. Since 2001, in exchange for aid from the Australian government, Nauru housed a detention center for asylum seekers trying to enter Australia. The unemployment rate is estimated to be 90 percent, and of those who have jobs, the government employs 95 percent.

By measure of mean body mass index (BMI) Nauruans are the most overweight people in the world with 97 percent of men and 93 percent of women being overweight or obese. More than 40 percent of the population has type 2 diabetes, the world’s highest rate.

They are unable to grow fresh vegetables so the diet is limited. Almost all food in Nauru is imported, except for fish, coconut and a few other items. Spam and Corned Beef are popular and they also eat a lot of rice. I struggled to find an authentic recipe for Nauru, so I decided to challenge my culinary skills by experimenting! I cooked yellowfin tuna (which is available in Nauru’s waters) with coconut, chilli flakes & lime. I served it as a canape to our guests and they thoroughly enjoyed it!! If anyone has any traditional Nauruan recipes, I’ll happily cook Nauru again.

Rating: 8/10

Serves: 5 (as a canapé)

Prep time: 5 mins + 2 hours marinating time
Cook time: 7 mins + 10 mins resting time

2 yellowfin tuna steaks (about 400g)
1 small can coconut cream
1/2 tsp chilli flakes
1 lime, zest & juice
Baguette

Place the tuna steaks in a bag with all the other ingredients and refridgerate for 2 hours.
Heat a medium size frying pan to medium-hot and place the tuna steaks in when it’s hot, without the marinating juice.
Cook on each side for 3 minutes, then put the marinating juices into the pan, turn up the heat for 1 minute then turn it off, put a lid on the pan and let it rest for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, warm the baguette a little in the oven.
Place the tuna in a bowl and mash it with a fork, then pour some of the juice over the tuna but don’t make it too wet.
Slice the baguette into small rounds and then put a teaspoon of the tuna on top.