Sunday, 5 August 2012

Chicken Lap Lap - Olympic Food Challenge : Cook Islands

Today's dish is Chicken Lap Lap, which involved a few new experiences and ingredients for me.  Not least amongst these was using Taro.  Not even knowing what it actually looked like, we were quickly educated by a lovely man in Leeds Market and left with one huge vegetable.

The same trip also provided us with banana leaves , which again, I'd never used.  This was in some small way a voyage of discovery - which is appropriate in a number of ways, not least that the Cook Islands are named for Captain Cook, who planted a flag there and named them, erm, The Hervey Islands...

Anyway, the Cook Islands are kinda special to me as the aforementioned Capn' is my Dad's hero, and also, the starting point of his historic journey was, of course, Whitby, which is the informal spiritual home of the Soup family (in that we went there on holiday every year when I was a sproglet)

Anyway, without further rambling - Chicken Lap Lap


2 Banana Leaves
600g Grated Taro Root
250ml Coconut Milk
200g Spinach Leaves
3 Tomatoes
2 Chicken Breasts
1 Lime
1tsp Turmeric
1tsp Coriander
1tsp Cumin
1/2tsp Cardamom Seeds
1 Red Chili
3 Garlic Cloves

For the Sauce
2tsp crushed garlic
2tsp minced ginger
1tbsp Plain Flour
150ml Coconut Milk
1 Shallots 
2 Limes


1.  Make the marinade for the chicken. With a mortar and pestle, grind the garlic, chili and spices into a paste.  Add the juice of the lime and 1tbsp of oil, mix thoroughly and then pout over the chicken.  Cover and leave to stand in the fridge for 2 hours

2.  In a large pan, boil the washed banana leaves for 3-5 minutes to soften them

3. Place one banana leaf at the bottom of a greased oven proof dish and then cover with the grated taro root.  Pour half of the coconut milk over this and then cover with the spinach leaves.

4. Slice the tomatoes and then place these over the top

5. Pour the rest of the coconut milk over the top and then cover with the second banana leaf

6.  Heat the oven to 180ºc and put the taro and bananas in,  Cook for 45 minutes, then put the marinaded chicken, placed in a roasting tin in the oven as well and cook for a further 30 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through

7.  Whilst the things are in the oven, make the sauce. Fry the garlic and ginger in some oil over a medium heat, then stir in the flour to thicken, making a smooth paste.

8. Add the lime juice and zest, coconut milk and season to taste, cooking until the sauce thickens

9  Serve on a banana leaf, placing the chicken over the taro and spinace base, and then dressing with the sauce.  Enjoy

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