Titarii shares her po’e hi’o recipe !

Among all the various traditional Polynesian meals, the po’e definitely has this peculiar taste and texture you are unlikely to ever forget.
Made of starch, locals fruits or tubercules, brown sugar and of course vanilla, it will arouse your taste buds real for sure.

Papaya, banana, pumpkin, cassava and even coconut water flavor, there are plenty of po’e kinds out there!
it is totally unconceivable not to bring one to a ma’a tahiti, what are you, fresh off the boat?… And the least one can say is that its making is quite original. Nowadays, although it can be cooked in the oven, some ta’ata Tahiti (natives) carry on cooking it in the middle of banana leaves, within the ‘ahima’a (tahitian oven). Exhausting but entertaining, this method is still used by locals, for birthdays, religious or wedding celebrations.

Back to our main topic, the po’e hi’o, its making is thoroughly different from anything you may have heard before. Mainly based of coconut water, it requires to stay about an hour by the fire.

What you need :

To make it, you’ll need coconuts just picked from the tree, some starch, some brown sugar, some vanilla and some coconut milk.
Don’t worry, if you are not used with the « eye dosage », find out the proportions just below :

  • 700 mililiters of coconut water
  • 350 grams/12.3 Oz of starch
  • 300 grams/10.5 Oz of brown sugar
  • 50 to 100 mililiters of coconut milk (as you like)
  • Some vanilla from Taha’a

Let’s get into it !

All you need is a large pan, a big wooden spoon and four or five hot rocks.

Before starting, make sure to heat up the rocks on a wood fire. Your neighbor is having a barbecue party? Perfect ! You’ll bring the dessert.
Gently put the rocks over the embers and start mixing all the ingredients and put it into a big pan. Knead it with love,  feel free to use your hands and stir with a spatula for about an hour, no one likes a lumpy po’e…
Progressively, it should start caramelizing as the stones are turning red. Now, ladies and gentlemen, the moment you have been waiting for… Time to put the stones into the mixture…

Gently mix, it will give the po’e its unique taste.

Leave the dough to stand to set for about thirty minutes and remove the stones.

Now let’s go ahead and start the crucial step, the making of coconut milk! A fresh and tasty one requires a lot of love and patience.

  • Step 1 : First of all, you need to pick up that coconut, which is often perched at the top of the coconut tree. Hope you like to climb trees otherwise you can quickly go to the supermarket.
  • Step 2 : Once you have it, you need to shell it. In Polynesia, we use what we call an « ‘o », it is a kind of iron stick, with a point-shaped blade, which we stick into the ground. We spit the coconut in it a couple of times until the coir is totally removed. Most locals are pretty good at it, it takes them just a few seconds.
  • Step 3 : Congratulations, you now have a cocoNUT ! You just have to crack it open thanks to a machete and pour the water into a glass… The worst is over…
  • Step 4 : Now, grate the coconut and try these shavings, it’s delicious !
  • Last but not least, put your coconut shavings into a pahi’i (a sort of tea towel) and squeeze it. There you have your coconut milk, you made it !

Now, it’s time to enjoy. Place the po’e into a flat plate, cut it into small bites and generously pour the succulent coconut milk all over. …I have to tell you…a po’e without coconut milk… is not a po’e.

Haere mai, it’s about time to taste it ! Serve it warm… surrounded by your loved ones (or even when you are all alone, promise it will become your next guilty pleasure…) TAMA’A MAITA’I !