Palusami is a popular dish at family feasts in many parts of Polynesia. In Hawaii, it’s called laulau. In Fiji and Samoa, it’s called palusami. But what is it? Corned beef or mutton, onion, garlic, salt, pepper, and coconut cream, wrapped in big taro leaves, then put in an underground oven called a lovo.
Today, most people are using ovens instead of lovos, and this recipe is no exception. If you want to cook it the old way, I think you need a fire with very low heat. The meat comes precooked, so you are just trying to tenderize the onion, and cook the leaf.
Why use canned meat? Polynesia doesn’t have a lot of land to raise livestock on. That’s why Spam is so popular in Hawaii! Many of the local recipes make the most of canned meats in ways we never would have thought of.
I like to give some tips and tricks here for the madlads who read the whole blog post. I dedicate these to you, you palusami fiends!
What Can I Substitute For Taro Leaves?
Good news, I couldn’t find taro leaves either. I went to the biggest international market in Atlanta, and they were nowhere to be found. Odds are, unless you live in Hawaii, you can’t find them in the USA either.
Swiss chard makes an excellent substitute. Mainly, we just want a big, edible leaf. Beet greens also work. I’ve heard spinach works as well, but I don’t think you will be able to roll that.
How Do You Roll The Leaf
Like a present, not like a joint. Take 1 of the long sides, fold it over. Fold over the 2 short sides. Then, close it with the other long side. Do the same thing with the aluminum foil to seal it closed.
I recommend using 2 leaves per palusami. This helps reduce the amount of coconut cream that seeps out, and we don’t want that happening. That’s free flavor right there.
How to Make Palusami In Oven
350 degrees F for 30 minutes. Just thought I’d put this tip in case someone is too used to cooking these over a real fire. All you are waiting for is the leaves to steam and become tender, as well as the onions in the filling.
How to Make Palusami
Here’s the step by step rundown if you would like some visual guides.
- Dice the onion and garlic. Combine in a mixing bowl with corned beef, salt and pepper.
2. Scoop a couple tablespoons of filling into the leaf on the top. Drizzle with coconut cream as seen above.
3. Fold the upper leaf closed. Drizzle more cream between them. Fold the lower leaf closed and fold the foil closed.
4. Bake in the oven at 350 F for 30 minutes. Serve with any side you like!
What Should I Serve The Palusami With?
In Hawaii, palusami is served with rice and macaroni salad. Or, if you’re looking for something more interesting, try a curry from my ultimate curry guide!
If you enjoyed this recipe, please leave a comment or a review. Or, if you cooked it and despise me, I would be happy to hear that too. 😉
- 14 Swiss chard (14 leaves, probably 2 bunches)
- 15 oz coconut cream (1 can)
- 12 oz corned beef (1 can)
- 1 yellow onion diced
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- Dice the onion and mince the garlic. Put them in a large mixing bowl.
- Add the corned beef to the mixing bowl. Add salt and pepper. Stir thoroughly to combine.
- Cut the stems off the Swiss chard. You only want the leaves. If you wash the leaves, pat them dry before the next step.
- Lay down a sheet of aluminum foil. Put 2 Swiss chard leaves on it, one on top of the other.
- Scoop about 3 tablespoons (or however much you can fit) into the center of the leaf. Drizzle coconut cream on top of the filling, as well as the leaf itself.
- Fold the leaf like a present, keeping the opening on top. Drizzle some coconut cream in between the 2 leaves. Fold the second leaf closed as well.
- Keep the palusami closed while folding the aluminum foil closed.
- Repeat until you are out of leaves or filling, whichever comes first.
- Bake in the oven at 350 F for 30 minutes. Open up and enjoy!
If you are interested in more recipes from Fiji, check these out by my fellow #eattheworld food bloggers. We do a different country every month, it’s a lot of fun! If you want to join us, click here for more info.Palatable Pastime: Pawpaw Curry with Lolo Making Miracles: Lolo Buns Culinary Adventures with Camilla: Fijian Food for a Crowd: Curry, Pulao, and Cassava Cake Sneha’s Recipe: No Oil Or Butter Fijian Coconut Bread CulturEatz: Kokoda, a Fijian Coconut Milk Ceviche Pandemonium Noshery: Fijian Banana Cake with Dates and Coconut Amy’s Cooking Adventures: Fijian Creamy Lentil Soup (Dhal) Kitchen Frau: Spiced Sweet Potato and Banana Salad A Day in the Life on the Farm: Kokoda
So the question is- am I named after laulau or is it named after me? LOL! Seriously- I find taro leaves hard to manage too. I have made a fantastic Vietnamese rolled beef recipe that used grape leaves. And those worked fabulous for that so maybe.
That sounds tasty!
I grew up eating corned beef from a can (just fried with some onions) and it never looked as elegant as your Palusami. What a fantastic way to dress up an ordinary ingredient. I bet the flavour is fantastic with that creamy coconut.
The coconut cream makes it really sweet. I agree, it’s a great way to use corned beef.
Sounds like we’re neighbors! I’m in Lilburn. 🙂 These look fascinating – what a unique way to serve corned beef!
Oh my gosh Dennis, thanks for the early morning chuckle “like a present, not a joint”. I actually laughed out loud. It is interesting to me how every culture has a stuffed leaf recipe. This is a new one for me. Thanks.
I like putting jokes in 🙂
Mei Lani Aki
I guess Mahalo Nui loa for sharing our delicacies with the rest of the world online.
I made Spam palusami tonight.
Of course it’s a more a Polynesian fish (Samoan, Fijian) more than Hawaiian, because we actually have Laulau :Taro Leaves wrapped around -piece of salted cod fish, PC of beef, & Pork w/fat,
(whose oil is the flavoring seeped into the leaves during steaming for 3 hours in an IMU. Or today, Instapot for half the time.
Sounds great! I’ll have to try it with fish!
Bula! Great read but honestly that can of coconut cream is NOT at all coconut cream…Would recommend Thai versions of canned coconut cream which is THICK and creamy. Thank you for this though 🙂
Thanks for the info! I’ll be sure to try it that way next time! 🙂
Hmmmmm so does the Swiss Chard taste like Taro leaves in Rourou Palusami style ?
I’m a Pacific Islander and I live in the UK. Taro leaves are quite pricey here. This could be the solution I am looking for. I will have to try it out and I will let you know the results. But first do kindly let me know what the taste is like. Thank you for the idea 🤩
I haven’t been able to find taro leaf, so it’s hard for me to compare. Swiss chard has a little bitterness, similar to spinach, which I think works well with the savory and sweet combination of the meat and coconut milk. From what I’ve read, beet greens can work as a substitute as well.
Nice recipe I just want to point out that this preparation wouldn’t work for taro leaves. Taro takes a long time to cook and break down the fibers so the leaves have to be cooked for at least 2 hours, usually 3. If not using imu they are steamed in clow cooker
Neat, thanks for the tip Eric!
Thank you Denise for sharing such unique recipe.
If you do find taro leaves, cut into the leaf to get the bulk of the stem out or it will make your mouth and throat itchy. 😉
Didn’t know that, thanks for the tip!