Recipe Tag: Ginny Grant



Spam is Hawaii’s not-so-dirty little secret. Salty and high fat, the combination of pork and ham is beloved throughout Hawaii and especially as a snack wrapped with rice and nori. Hawaii is the largest consumer of Spam in the US and even has a festival, ‘Spam Jam’, in its honour. So why do they love it so much? According to food historian Rachel Laudan, during WWII the American government viewed the Hawaiian deep-sea fishing industry as a national security threat because most boats were owned by Hawaiians of Japanese descent.
The war meant there was a major military presence on the islands and Spam was freely available. Deprived of their mainstay food source, Spam became a necessity, and a great love developed. In the 1980s, depending on who you believe, it was either Mitsuko Kaneshiro or Barbara Funamura who thought to combine Spam into a musubi. In both cases it was to provide a snack for children which then morphed into selling to customers. You can buy musubi moulds but I used the can as a mould. Alternatively slice the cooked pieces and wrap into sushi rolls.



Palusami is a delectable mix of the young leaves of taro encased in banana leaves and baked with coconut cream. Traditionally baked in an umu, you could replicate the dish in a kettle barbecue or bake in the oven (but you won’t get the essential smoky flavour). I wanted to pay homage to that dish in a fast and spiced-up version, but took into account the lack of availability of taro leaves in many areas. I’ve used spinach leaves but robust silverbeet leaves could be used too. Should you seek out taro leaves, look for young tender leaves, remove the stem and stalk and cook well for 15-20 minutes until beginning to break down. This will ensure that the calcium oxalate
which causes irritation and itchiness to the skin is removed. I’ve used a whole snapper, but you could use fish steaks or fillets.



Laplap is a plant closely related to banana. In Vanuatu it is used to wrap vegetables, fish and meats for cooking in an earth oven. My version uses banana leaves and is cooked in a charcoal kettle barbecue. You can vary the use of vegetables in the base; traditionally taro, cassava or plantain would be used, but use what you have available.



Kokoda, oka, poke, oka aka or ika mata are all variations of the raw fish salad found throughout the Pacific. This Cook Islands version is one of my favourites and makes for a hassle-free summer meal. My favourite brand of coconut milk to use is the Trade Aid brand, but be sure to shake the can well as it does separate into layers of cream and milk.



This is a great dish to make right now, when tomatoes and watermelon are at their finest, with the smoked yoghurt offsetting their natural sweetness. I often find this makes more than I need for the recipe but seldom have a problem using it up over the next few days. You’ll need to pay a bit of attention here – the heat must be quite low to ensure the yoghurt doesn’t curdle. I sometimes chill the bowl the yoghurt is going in, which also helps keep it cool.

The subtle smoky flavour of this yoghurt offsets the natural sweetness of the tomatoes and watermelon, making for a very refreshing late-summer salad.



I’ve developed an addiction to gochujang, the fermented red chilli paste of Korea. I find myself adding it to soups for an umami bomb or fast marinades such as this. It’s increasingly found in good supermarkets as well as Asian grocery stores, but if you can’t find it, try using white miso with a dash of your favourite hot sauce in its place. For the cover image, I topped this corn with a butter mixed with chopped red chilli, chopped coriander and lemon zest and juice before adding the spring onion and sesame seeds, which makes for a delicious (but not essential) addition.



Nam prik is a classic Thai sauce that works really well with eggplant. Smoking the eggplant adds another dimension of flavour here, but be sure to get the strips in the nam prik as soon as you can while they’re still warm to allow the eggplant to soak up the flavours. This is a good dish warm or cool, and I like it with rice and a side of grilled fish, as pictured at right.