Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Kopai Koko, Take One!

The other night I decided to try my hand at making kopai koko--flour dumplings in chocolate sauce. Sounds delicious? Well, it is. It was often served to us for breakfast in Samoa.

The only problem was I didn't have all the stuff I needed to make a true Samoan kopai koko. My primary ingredient deficiencies were Samoan koko--cocoa--and coconut milk.

Cocoa in the pod, on the tree.

A researcher wrote in the 1950s,

[Samoans] are very fond of...koko.... [Cocoa] beans are taken out of the pods and dried in the sun on mats. They are then roasted on an iron sheet suspended over hot coals; they are constantly turned and when they appear dark brown and crisp, the husk is removed by hand and the beans are ground to a paste with a stone pestle in a tanoa [tu'i] koko (wooden mortar). The drink is prepared by mixing the paste with boiling water and sugar.... Keesing (1952) says that koko drink was probably prepared for the first time in the 1920’s. The method of preparation appears to be a Samoan invention. (Holmes, S. A Qualitative Study on Family Meals in Western Samoa with Special Reference to Child Nutrition. British Journal of Nutrition, 1954;8(3):223-39)

Samoan koko, or koko Samoa as it's called, cannot in any way be likened to Swiss Miss or Stephen's hot chocolate. The two types of cocoa bear no resemblance to each other beyond the fact that they are drunk warm to hot.

Inside the cocoa pod.

Non-Samoans either love or hate koko Samoa. For those who are used to it, koko Samoa provides a nice respite, a convenient beverage during casual conversation. But for some, it's too strong, too filled with bean grounds, penukoko, and too hot in Samoa to ever think of drinking something which is traditionally served only 3°F cooler than boiling.

For kopai koko, the ingredients are simple enough: flour, water, sugar, koko (I used Hershey's Special Dark Dutch Processed baking cocoa), and coconut milk (alas, I didn't have any).

Cocoa beans, not roasted.

Mix the flour with just enough water to make a dough. Heat water in a large pot until it lightly boils. With a spoon, make small dough balls and put them into the hot water. When the dough is cooked, it will float; then mix in the koko, sugar, and coconut milk to taste. Let the mix cook on medium to medium high for a good while to evaporate some of the water, stirring occasionally. Tausami loa! eat!

The other night I just winged it, so I can't give exact measurements of all the ingredients, but as I perfect the process, I'll post the recipe specifics.

The finished product


heather said...

Did you find any coconut milk? I use it all the time for stir fry and curry.

Nate said...

oh yes, I get coconut milk all the time. I just didn't have any on hand when I decided on the spur of the moment to make kopai.

Lisa.Sakaio.. said...

poor guy!!! hey if you need koko samoa hit me and i'll sent you one ..

malo falealii said...

@Lisa love koko samoa is there any chance of sending some koko: pls email w/details thanks so much . /