Samoa cuisine specialities
With its pristine ocean teeming with marine life and flourishing gardens it's no surprise that Samoan food culture has plenty to offer where hungry travellers are concerned. It's the perfect tropical destination to put aside your usual eating habits and whet your appetite with an abundance of mouth-watering local delicacies. If you're not normally one to step outside of your comfort zone come dinnertime, don't worry; you don't need to be an adventurous eater to enjoy the delectable morsels that Samoa's productive islands can provide.
Moreish palusami, baby taro leaves cooked with coconut milk, is one of the traditional delicacies you'll find served up straight from the umu.
Experience an umu feast
Relatively untouched by tourism, Samoa is steeped in tradition and cuisine is no exception. Therefore your culinary journey through this Polynesian food paradise should begin the traditional way by experiencing a meal cooked using an umu oven. Still used today by Samoan villages, an umu is similar to a hangi, but instead of food being cooked underground, it's placed on heated rocks and covered with leaves, which trap heat to bake and steam the food.
Moreish palusami, baby taro leaves cooked with coconut milk, is one of the traditional Samoan dishes you'll find served up straight from the umu. Many Samoan resorts offer an umu demonstration followed by a traditional buffet. Or plan a trip to the Cultural Village in Apia, among the best places to eat in Samoa, where you'll see the umu being readied for action. You can also watch fresh coconut milk and palusami being prepared.
Catch of the day
Seafood is naturally top of the culinary must-eat list when in Samoa. Fresh fish and shellfish prepared in a multitude of ways, from good old fish and chips to sashimi, can be found in abundance at the best Samoan restaurants.
With so many options on offer, starting with a traditional dish is the best way to gear up your taste buds for what's to come. Each Pacific Island country has its own take on raw fish and Samoa's is called Oka. It involves marinating the catch of the day with citrus juice, coconut milk, tomatoes and other veggies. The result is uncomplicated and delicious, perfect for all palates. Local chefs like to give the oka recipe a twist, so expect slightly different interpretations wherever you go to eat. Samoa's also on-trend serving up poke bowls with the freshest of local seafood.
Feast on the local fruit and veg
Whether you're grazing the breakfast buffet at a resort or picking up self-catering supplies at the local market, the bounty of Samoa's farms and orchards is ripe for the picking. From a fruit point of view, the choice is enormous – look for tropical passionfruit, star fruit, cherimoya (custard apple), pineapples, pitaya (dragon fruit) and dainty Misi Luki bananas. And don't forget the drinking coconuts – chilled coconut water is the perfect cooler on a hot Samoan day.
Savoury flavours to discover include taro, breadfruit, yams and cassava. There are various ways to eat these yummy starchy vegetables, including deep-fried as chips, baked in an umu or mashed with coconut cream as a side dish.
Chef John's food tour
Samoa-bound foodies looking for an intimate, one-of-a-kind dining experience should book a Samoan cuisine tour with the charming Chef John. Trained in Auckland, this up-and-coming culinary star and recent winner of 'tour operator of the year' award at the Samoa Tourism Excellence Awards puts his own unique contemporary twist on Samoa's favourite traditional dishes.
A tour with Chef John begins right at the source of your meal - the Apia Market. Once Chef John has handpicked the freshest seafood and produce the market has to offer, you'll be whisked away to an idyllic picnic spot where he'll whip up an unforgettable lunch right before your eyes. It's an experience that's not to be missed.