Laplap, sometimes spelled lap lap or lap-lap, is considered the national dish of Vanuatu. It is a staple pudding-like dish made from grated starchy vegetables (cassava, taro, yam) or Pacific cooking bananas, with coconut cream 1 . It is usually prepared for special occasions on the island 2 .
Staple starchy vegetables (cassava, taro, yam) or Pacific cooking bananas are grated and pounded into a paste, which is mixed with fresh coconut cream or milk. Pieces of meat can also be added. Heliconia leaves are wrapped around the mixture and tied with strands of vine.
The wrapped mixture is cooked in an oven of hot stones, called an uma 2 , for 1-2 hours. The fire is prepared beforehand, and stones are placed over the fire to heat until the fire has reduced to hot coals. The wrapped laplap is placed in the coals, with the hot stones placed on top, and covered further by more leaves.
Making laplap is a social activity, involving the extended family 3 . While the stones are heating, cooking bananas are sometimes placed on the stones and eaten as a snack during meal preparation. Once the laplap is ready, everyone takes place in a circle around the unfolded leaves and enjoys the meal together.
Simboro: The vegetable or banana paste is wrapped in the leaves of island cabbage, a leafy vegetable that tastes somewhat like spinach and kale. The bite-size stuffed rolls are placed in a saucepan and cooked in coconut milk for about 15 minutes.