How do you call the people of Palau? The Palauans of course! Yes, they love vowels over there!
The islands of Palau have been inhabited for over 3,000 years by populations from the Philippines and Insulindia (Southeast Asia insular area).
However, in recent centuries, the islands have been claimed and colonized by several nations including Spain, but also Great Britain, Germany after 1899, and then Japan until the end of the Second World War and finally the USA until its independence was signed in 1994.
4 times more tourists per year than inhabitants
Tourism is the primary source of income for the country. More than 85,000 tourists a year travel to Palau. This corresponds to more than 4 times the population of the country. Imagine France hosting 250 million tourists a year! I can already hear the complaints of my compatriots! As if we needed this to be more rude and obnoxious! France, which is the most visited country in the world hosts only 83 million foreign tourists per year…
Palauan cuisine (yes, I like to show off with new words) is strongly influenced by Filipino cuisine. Because of this, it was quite difficult to find a recipe typical of the tiny insular country.
The recipe I finally chose has to come from Palau. Indeed, the term rösti is a term from the German-speaking part of Switzerland. It generally refers to a small potato patty. Palauans likely have adopted the term and the recipe from the Germans who settled in the state at the beginning of the last century. Only these rösti are not prepared with potatoes but with another root which is more common in the Pacific Islands : taro.
The taro rösti were very easy to prepare. The first thing my children told me : “Hey dad, they look like latkes! ”
And as they love the potato pancakes from Central Europe that their mother makes (she uses her Polish grandmother’s recipe), I did not correct them!
“Yes kids, these are taro latkes,” I replied while explaining what this huge root that sat on my countertop was.
Final outcome: the rösti were devoured not only by my children, but by my wife and me. And as I doubled the ingredients, we had the opportunity to enjoy the rösti in many shapes and forms. My favorite: reheated in the oven with a little goat cheese on top. I hope no Palauan will read my post because I might be insulted with my heretical suggestions. Yes, it might happen, we actually had 3 visits from Palau since we started the blog!
- 2 lb taro root (about 1 medium-sized taro root)
- 1 onion
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon ground pepper
- 4 tablespoons oil
Peel the taro and grate into a bowl.
In the same bowl, grate the onion. Add salt and pepper. Mix well.
Form fairly flat patties about 4 to 5 inches in diameter, squeezing the excess liquid.
Heat pan with oil at medium-high heat.
Fry the rösti about 5 minutes on each side, until golden brown. Place on a plate covered with paper towels.
Repeat until there is no more taro mixture.