Cooking on a luxury yacht in the Tropical Pacific was often a challenging cooking experience. For example, the small island nation of Palau, part of Micronesia, had very limited fresh produce and no local meat or dairy products. Relying on the once-a-month cargo ship from the United States for basic supplies, the Palauan people rely mostly on the abundance of phenomenally fresh fish and other seafood. Some of the best variety and quality of fish I have ever seen, in fact. Another Palauan protein staple is Fruit Bat, which is eaten in the form of a soup. Unusual in presentation, with the Bat served whole and face up and seemingly engaging you in a face-off, the dish is surprisingly tasty.
The lifestyles of the native Palauans range from those who live a very primitive, subsistence existence in the outer islands to the more modern islanders who receive a formal primary education and actually drive cars round Palau’s capital, Koror, while still managing to maintain many traditions, including the Palauan language. Although many kinds of food are available in selected restaurants for the tourist community, I was interested in what the locals were eating.
A typical day with the locals would see the men go fishing and the women prepare the food. Usually prepared in outside kitchens and eaten family style, the Fish, Giant Clams, Mud-Crabs and Crayfish were typically prepared both raw and cooked primitive-style in a pot over a wood fire. Many dishes are served with rice and fruit.
These are my favourite Palauan dishes:
Fresh Yellowfin Tuna Poke
Coconut and Lime Marinated Fresh Fish
Rachel’s Palauan-style Clam Chowder
Chili and Lime Mud-Crab, served in the shell
Papaya & Mango Crab Salad
Abby’s Fish Cakes