Vanuatu is located in the continent of Oceania. It has Nauru and Kiribati to the far north, Tuvalu to the far northeast, Wallis and Futuna, and Fiji to the east, New Caledonia to the south, Australia to the far southwest, and Papua New Guinea to the far northwest.
The capital is Port-Vila.
The official languages are Bislama, French and English.
The climate has two seasons – hot and wet from November to April, and cooler and drier from May to October.
The staple foods are taro, yam, banana, coconut, seafood, mangoes, papayas, plantains, sweet potatoes, chicken or pig and much more (https://www.hootholidays.com.au/tools/guides/vanuatu/local-cuisine).
LAP LAP (https://nationalfoods.org/recipe/national-dish-of-vanuatu-lap-lap/):
- 2 green bananas (peeled and grated)
- 3 large, sweet potatoes (peeled and grated)
- 1 Chinese cabbage (rinsed and chopped)
- 1 bunch spinach (rinsed and chopped)
- 1 onion (peeled and finely chopped)
- 1 chicken (spatchcocked)
- 2 TBSP vegetable oil
- 2 C coconut milk
- ½ bunch chives (sliced)
- 5 large banana leaves (spines removed)
- 2 cloves garlic (minced)
- Black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Soften the banana leaves by blanching them in hot water or bypassing them over an open flame for 30 seconds.
- Arrange the leaves on a large baking tray, overlapping them to create a base for a parcel.
- Set aside.
- Mix the grated bananas and sweet potatoes in a bowl, and season with black pepper and salt.
- Mix the spinach and Chinese cabbage in a separate bowl, and season with black pepper and salt.
- Combine half of the coconut milk with the onions and minced garlic cloves.
- Set aside.
- Season the chicken with salt and pepper.
- Heat the oil in a large frying pan and add the chicken.
- Brown the chicken on both sides, skin side down.
- Set aside the chicken after cooking.
- Assemble the Lap Lap by arranging half of the spinach and cabbage mixture in the center of the banana leaves.
- Spread the sweet potato and green banana mixture over this.
- Place the chicken, skin side up, on top of the sweet potato and banana layer.
- Cover the chicken with the remaining spinach and cabbage.
- Pour the coconut milk and onion mixture over the filling.
- Wrap the banana leaves tightly over the filling and secure it with a string.
- Place the package in the preheated oven.
- Bake the Lap Lap for about one hour or until the chicken is cooked.
- Remove the package from the oven and untie the string.
- Unwrap the banana leaves and pour the remaining coconut milk over the top.
- Garnish the Lap Lap with the sliced chives and serve immediately.
SWEET POTATO CHEESECAKE, SALTED CARAMEL COCONUT (https://www.mykitchenstories.com.au/sweet-potato-cheesecake-salted-caramel-coconut/):
- 200 g (7/8 C) biscuits (I used N.Z. Griffins “Krispie” biscuits but butternut or rice cookies would be fine too).
- 80 g (1/3 C) melted butter
- 20 g (1 TBSP) caster sugar
- Line a 20 cm (9”) springform tin or 6 individual molds. Set the oven to 360 F to begin.
- Crush the biscuits in a food processor and add the sugar and melted butter.
- Push this into the base of 6 individual tins or the single springform tin.
- Bake till lightly colored or approximately 8-10 minutes.
- Turn the oven down to 320 F.
- 250 g (1 packet) cream cheese
- 200 g (1 C) sweet potato cooked, cooled
- 125 g (5/8 C) brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- 125 ml (1/2 C) coconut cream coconut evaporated milk
- ½ tsp ground ginger
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- Put all of the filling ingredients into the food processor and blitz till smooth.
- Pour into the cooled case/s.
- For small sized cheesecakes bake 30 minutes, but until they just feel firm, but still wobble a bit.
- Bake approximately 40-50 minutes for the single tin, or until it still wobbles a bit.
- Cool in the fridge overnight or as long as possible before unmolding.
- Run a warm knife around the cheesecake before removing the spring form or gently removing the lining paper.
- 120 g (1/2 C) caster sugar
- 20 ml (1 TBSP) water
- 50 ml (1/4 C) coconut evaporated milk or coconut cream
- 100 g (7 TBSP) unsalted butter
- Pinch of salt
- Place the sugar for the topping into a small saucepan with the water.
- Turn the heat onto medium and swirl a couple of times to spread the water around. Try not to stir as it will crystalize, swirl if you need to.
- Let the sugar dissolve and turn a lovely golden-brown color.
- Remove from the heat and stir in the coconut cream (be careful).
- Stir until incorporated then gradually stir in the butter until well combined.
- Add a pinch of salt.
- Cool this before spooning onto the tops of the cheesecake.
- Set in the fridge.
Decorate with toasted coconut if you like.