Recipe for Palusami from Molokai's Halawa Valley
By Jessika Picinich, expedition leader on the Safari Explorer
The road home from Halawa Valley twists and winds, rocking everyone in the back seat to sleep. Around every turn stretches a new vista, a feast for the eyes to add to the bounty of the day’s activities in the oldest inhabited valley in all the Hawaiian Islands.
Filled with a gentle peace, my mind wanders to what I am going to cook with the Kalo leaves I was given this morning. Uncle Pilipo, the senior elder in Halawa Valley, gifted the Safari Explorer with a bushel of tender kalo, or taro, when he noticed me admiring them earlier that day. I told him how as a kid my dad used to make me a dish using the bright young kalo leaves called Palusami.
A savory custard of sorts, resembling creamed spinach, this warm, rich dish takes me right back to days spent playing in the ocean and cooking with my dad using local ingredients. Give this authentic Hawaiian favorite a try and enjoy! Aloha!
This Hawaiian dish is popular with all ethnic groups throughout the islands.
20 (or so) lu‘au (young taro leaves)
2 cups coconut cream
1 lemon, juiced
2 onions, minced
½ can diced Spam
salt to taste
Wash the leaves thoroughly and set aside. Mix together the coconut cream, lemon juice, and minced onions. Add salt to taste. Make a bowl of 3-5 small leaves and fill with about ½ cup of the coconut mix. Fold the lu‘au around the mix so that it makes a packet. Wrap in aluminum foil so that it will not spill. Place the packets in a baking dish lined with ti leaves or foil (to aid in washing up!) and bake at 300° F for 2 hours or so, until there is no itchiness left in the lu‘au. Let cool a bit, remove foil and serve.