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Cooking articles

The Polynesian Spice Palette

Warm Pacific waters, bright beaches, and larger-than-life flowers entice visitors to the Polynesian islands. Adding to the festive ambiance, the islands' cuisines boast fresh, tropical fruits and vegetables, fish, shellfish, and a spice palette that melds the flavors of each of the islands’ many cultural contributors. A Polynesian platter is an explosion of color, aroma, and exquisite taste.

Here are some easy recipes with Polynesian flair. Try them one at a time, or make them all together for a complete Polynesian dinner. Serve with warm or iced lemongrass tea.

Ginger rootGinger Fried Rice
Ginger complements the nutty taste and aroma of basmati rice. You can substitute your favorite brown or white rice, if you prefer.

Spinach Salad with Tarragon Vinaigrette
The French introduced Polynesia to tarragon. Today Tahitians use it liberally in dressings, stews, and soups. For a special treat, top this salad with cooked shrimp.

Tofu with Lemon Pineapple Sauce
This colorful sauce also works beautifully when spooned over broiled fish.

Mango Macadamia Crisp
Macadamia orchards grace the island of Hawaii. Soft, sweet mangoes are a lovely surprise under this faintly familiar topping.

Ask the Experts

What is turmeric?

Related to ginger, turmeric comes from the root of a tropical plant. It imparts a rich, yellow-orange color and pungent (slightly bitter) taste to dishes. It’s often found in curry powders. Try turmeric with artichokes, potatoes, eggs, fish, and in grain dishes.

What’s the difference between cilantro, coriander, and Chinese parsley?

Cilantro is the green leaves and stem of the coriander plant. Ground coriander, though, is made from the seeds of the same plant; they’re not at all interchangeable. Chinese parsley is simply another name for cilantro. Cilantro is very aromatic, and it has a distinctive, strong flavor, so try it in small amounts at first.

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