Kiribati inspired Coconut-Butternut Squash Soup

After researching about Kiribati’s National Dish, I decided to skip it for two great reasons. The first was the difficulty in finding the ingredients. But the second and most important reason was my safety. The recipe calls for Taro leaves and I read in a post the following:

Taro Leaves are Poisonous.

And well after LOL! I decided that even cooked I had no desire to try them! Last thing I need… having no experience cooking these leaves.

Even though I did not make the dish I wanted to showcase it here. It is called ‘Palusami’ and it is a mix of onions and cococnut milk boiled wrapped in taro leaves, banana leaves and bread fruit leaves. This dish with different variations is very popular in the Pacific islands. The following video shows a Samoan man making the Palusami… I was mesmerized seeing how he makes perfect ball with the leaves!

Here is another Samoan man making them:

Making Palusami (Taro Leaves with Coconut Cream)

Here is another video from the  Polynesian Cultural Center. She used foil paper instead of the banana and bread leaves. You get to see the final product… and it made me wonder if I could use some other big leaf that I know is not poisonous to make them… 3 hours baking!

This is a photo of what it looks like when it is done. This one was made in Fiji:

And I discovered they sell the onion-coconut mil mixture in cans too:

Reading up on their diet, I read that aside from rice, seafood and coconut that seems to be in most of their meals, they also consume dishes that have pumpkin and spam. Yes, you read correctly. This American canned meat mixture made its way into the Pacific Islands during World War II. Then into other parts of Asia with the Korean and the Vietnam War. Eventually its practicality and convenience in price made it a part of many dishes throughout Asia and the Pacific.

I decided to bypass Spam, and as I did more research online I found a lovely recipe for a Pumpkin Coconut Soup in this fellow WordPress blog:

Kiribati Pumpkin Coconut Soup

I loved it … easy and so perfect for this Autumn time of the year! So I used her recipe as a base but made slight changes… the biggest is that I did not use pumpkin, I used butternut squash. So here is my:

Kiribati Coconut-Butternut Squash Soup


  • 1 lbs butternut squash
  • 1 teaspoons fresh ginger
  • 1/2 can coconut milk light
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • chives to garnish


1. Place the butternut squash in pieces in a steamer for about 10 -15 minutes

2. While this was cooking I grated the ginger and cut a bit of the green part of two green onions.

3. Allow the butternut squash to cool off after removing it from the steamer. Place it in a blender and add 1/2 cup of coconut milk. Blend well and add salt to taste and the ginger. Like Jamie Oliver says… Have a taste! It is so good!

4. Serve warm or cold and add chives pieces and black pepper as garnish.

*Note: I used green onions and I didn’t like the change in taste of the soup. It is naturally sweet so the onions and pepper did not really match it well. (Maybe chives would as they taste less oniony!)

Yes… Yummm!!!

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