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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Maldives

The Maldives, paradise on earth, the most beautiful place on the planet. Well it is in my opinion anyway! I’m extremely fortunate enough to have visited the Maldives several times and I hope to visit many more different islands. The Republic of Maldives is made up of a chain of 26 atolls spread over roughly 90,000 square kilometres. There are 1,192 coral islands in total and the island of Gan is the largest. It is the smallest Asian country in both land area and population. It is also the planet’s lowest country with a maximum and average natural ground level of 2.4 and 1.5 metres above sea level. The UN’s environmental panel has warned that, at current rates, sea level rise would be high enough to make the Maldives uninhabitable by 2100. The government has pledged to make it carbon-neutral by 2019.

The waters of the Maldives are home to 1100 species of fish, 5 species of sea turtles, 21 species of whales and dolphins, 187 species of corals, 400 species of molluscs as well as over 145 crab and 48 shrimp species.
Only 185 islands are home to its 300,000 inhabitants. The other islands are used entirely for economic purposes, of which tourism and agriculture are the most dominant.
On 26th December, 2004 the Maldives were devastated by a tsunami. Only 9 islands were reported to have escaped any flooding, 14 had to be entirely evacuated and 6 were destroyed. It left more than 100 people dead, 12,000 displaced, and property damage exceeding $400 million. The 2004 tsunami is the deadliest in recorded history.

In terms of Maldivian cuisine, the local staple is fish, usually combined with coconut and rice. Popular dishes include Mas Riha (traditional Maldivian tuna curry), Hanaakuri Beef Hiki Riha (roasted beef dry curry), Kukulhu Riha (chicken curry), Mashuni (smoked tuna with coconut served for breakfast) and Kavaabu (fish fritters). I decided to make Dhon Riha (tuna curry) which we had with steamed rice. It had a delicate and tasty flavour.

Rating: 8/10

Serves: 2
Prep time: 20 mins
Cook time: 15 mins

300g diced yellowfin tuna
¼ tbsp turmeric powder
1 inch finely grated ginger
Salt
1 tin coconut milk (don’t shake it!)
1 cup finely grated fresh coconut (either from a whole coconut or you can buy a small tub of coconut pieces which you can grate)
1 finely sliced onion
½ tbsp cinnamon powder
7 tsp mild or medium curry powder
2 pieces of raw mango skinned
½ red chilli pepper

Blend the turmeric powder, salt and grated coconut into a smooth paste
Carefully open your tin of coconut milk and separate the thick cream from the thin juice into different containers
Pour one cup of thick coconut milk and one cup of thin coconut milk into a small saucepan, keeping another cup of thick coconut milk aside
Mix together the cinnamon, ginger and onion in a bowl, then put half of this in the pan with the blended coconut milk
Bring this to boil on a low heat
In a separate bowl, mix the blended grated coconut with the rest of the cinnamon onion mix and stir in the diced tuna
When the coconut milk begins to boil, add the tuna mix, curry powder, chilli pepper, mango and salt
Stir while cooking over a low heat
When it begins to boil, add the other cup of thick coconut milk and let it cook for a few more minutes
Serve with steamed rice

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Ingredients for Maldivian Dhon Riha (tuna curry)
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Maldivian Dhon Riha (tuna curry) with steamed rice
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Maldivian Dhon Riha (tuna curry) with steamed rice

 

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Approaching Lily Beach resort
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Bern and I at Lily Beach resort
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Lily Beach resort
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View from the seaplane
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Maldivian sunset
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Seaplane
black tip shark, Maldives
Black tip sharks
sea turtle
Sea turtle
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Maldivian beach

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.