Waidroka Bay Resort held a two-day “Cooking Masterclass” on traditional Fijian cuisine this past weekend. Head Chef Manasa taught the course, and he conceived an inventive menu with plenty of techniques I’d never encountered before. It was a fun and creative class, and I learned things that I can try at home.
Day 1 featured three courses: bamboo-infused uto (breadfruit) dumplings, a green coconut pot and a cassava cake with mango compote. There were a lot of ideas packed into this ambitious menu, and the result was suprising and delicious. I was particularly impressed by the green coconut pot, which uses the shell of a young coconut, covered with dough, to cook the chicken inside of it–an inventive use of local resources.
Day 2 featured the Fijian classic kokoda, which is the local style of ceviche. I tried making this at home before, and it was such a failure that I had to throw it out. Manasa demonstrated how to get the balance just right when marinating the fish in acid. He used the “grandma” tradition of mixing hand-grated coconut shavings with hot stones to toast the coconut and create coconut cream, and he used the coconut husk to strain the cream–really interesting ideas and techniques.
For details on the recipes, contact Waidroka.
You can watch a preview of Manasa on the “Pacific Island Food Revolution” TV show here.