Monday, 30 July 2012

Suafa'i Banana Soup - Olympic Food Challenge : American Samoa

The islands of American Samoa are our next stop on the Olympic Food Challenge.   American Samoa have never won a medal in the Olympics, but the plucky little guys are sending 5 competitors to take part in 4 sports including swimming and wrestling.  See if they can break their duck by checking their progress here  (Their flag is amazing, I will be waving one for sure...)

After a bit of research, it seems that American Samoa, like a lot of other pacific island nations, favours bold, simple dishes with lots of flavour and little fuss.  I was originally going to make a fish and coconut soup, but was assured in no uncertain terms that Samoans like their fish on the bone, with the head still attached, so they can taste every bit of the fish.  Whilst I'm not that fussy with what I eat, I still can't bring myself to do the whole fish-staring-at-me-from-the-bowl thing.  So I didn't feel I could do that dish justice.  Bananas however have neither bones or eyes...

When is a soup not a soup?  That is a question I asked myself when making this dish, which reminds me more of sago pudding from my school days, either that or the brains of a zombie... (And today's brand new - to me, anyway - ingredient is tapioca, which I've often eaten from a tin, but never cooked with from scratch.  Who knew it looked like polystyrene packing balls in it's uncooked state?)

Either way, it's a simple, brilliant sweet dish that tastes brilliant when served chilled.  I could have eaten it all day...

4 Large, Ripe Bananas
500ml Water
75g Tapioca Pearls
150ml Coconut Milk

1. Fill a pan with the water, bring to the boil and then add the chopped bananas.  Cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

2. Take the pan off the heat and break up any remaining bits of banana using a fork.  This will not be needed if the bananas are very ripe, they should just break up by themselves.

3.  Slowly, add the tapioca pearls, stirring constantly so the pearls don't stick together, and also so they don't stick to the bottom of the pan and burn.

4.  Add the coconut milk and continue to simmer the soup for 20 minutes, or until the tapioca is cooked through and soft.

5.  Check the sweetness and add some sugar if needed.

6.  Let the soup cool and then serve.  It can also be refrigerated and eaten cold.  Enjoy!

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