Fijian rourou peti are little parcels of paradise. Creamy, rich with a chilli kick.
Although Fiji has a vast reserve of top quality fish, today they also purchase cans of fish like tuna for storage and to easily prepare food without the need of heading out to go fishing. Cans preserve the meat well and provide a useful backup when a day of fishing does not go too well or when ther weather makes it tough. Rourou peti typifies the Fijian food, uses Fiji’s favourite ingredients and makes this dish a winner!
Fijian rourou peti requires an edible leaf called Talo leaf or “rourou” in Fijian, but finding Bele in Europe or America is unlikely. There are ornamental versions of Talo, but these are a different species. You may be able to find these plants at the garden centre, but if you go looking you must ensure that the species is “Colocasia esculenta”.
Either way Gella our Fijian mum told us that other leaves are more than ok to use. A perfect substitute and what is generally available and used in both climates is pumkin leaves, but Chinese cabbage will also work. Choose leaves that are young and around 15- 20cm in diameter if possible, which will allow them to be filled with a sufficient amount of filling to make a good meal.
10 Chinese cabbage or young pumpin leaves
1 bell chilli
1 large white onion
2 coconuts creamed or 400ml canned coconut milk, plus 100ml water
50 grams dessicated coconut
2 cans tuna in brine
1 tblsp salt
Add 50ml of the coconut milk to a pan and add to a low heat. Open the can and drain approximately 50ml of the salt water from the can into a saucepan with the coconut milk, then add the desiccated coconut. Cook very slowly for around 15 minutes or until the liquid has evapourated. Leave on the side for a further 15 minutes. In the meantime drain the rest of the salt water from the can and finely chop the bell chilli and onion. Add everything to the softened dessicated coconut and mix well.
Place your leaves on a table and put a tablespoon sized dollop of the mixture in the middle of the leave. Fold over each of the 3 points of the leaf inwards, ensuring they overlap and produce a parcel. When you have made these put them immediately into a large saucepan with the folded sides down, to ensure the parcels do not open when they are being cooked. Continue making these and adding them to the pan until you either run out of leaves or mixture. Add the remaining coconut milk to the pan and add to a medium flame for 10 minutes with the lid on so the coconut milk bubbles gently.
To serve Fijian Rourou peti:
When cooked carefully spoon out the parcels on a plate to avoid ripping open the parcels. This dish works perfectly with lightly grilled or fried white fish fillets.