Join twowildtides on the country challenge. Each week, we’re going to be heading to a new country (in spirit). Primarily, we’ll be cooking a meal from each country; but we’ll also be watching travel documentaries, reading travel blogs, and listening to music. During the global pandemic, travel is largely inaccessible. We want to reignite our wanderlust, satisfy our travel bug as much as we can, and learn some new things along the way. I have a feeling our bucket list will have a number of items added to it through this experience as well. We created a simple alphabetical spreadsheet with all the countries of the world, and each week we will draw a random number that corresponds with a country on the spreadsheet.
This week we find ourselves in the tropical paradise of Fiji. Located in the South Pacific Ocean, thousands of kilometers off the coast of Australia, Fiji tops the bucket list of many beach-lovers, including myself. Prior to this week, I didn’t know that Fiji is an archipelago (that word again!) made of 330 islands. Just under a million people live in Fiji and over half of them are of Indigenous Polynesian descent. Fiji is known for it’s turquoise waters, white sandy beaches, and over-water bungalows– all of which sound pretty great right now.
Fiji is in the continent of Oceania. So far, within Oceania, we’ve cooked dishes from Australia, New Zealand, and Tonga. The national dish of Fiji is Kokoda, which is strikingly similar to the dish we prepared in Tonga, called Ota Ika– a fresh fish ceviche. While we enjoyed the Tongan ceviche, it wasn’t our favourite, so we didn’t really get excited about making a really similar dish. We’re here to learn new things! So I went on the hunt for another Fijian delicacy.
Lolo Buns popped up on many articles I read about Fijian food and are different than anything I’ve ever attempted to make before. Coming from Newfoundland, every family has a grandparent or great aunt or uncle who makes amazing fresh bread. I have a few such family members. But, I’ve never attempted bread or bread rolls myself, so when I saw this dish, I decided to give it a go. Lolo Buns were highlighted on this list by NomList, this list by Taste Atlas, this list by Wander and Ponder, this post by International Dinner Project, and this post by Lonely Planet.
Lolo buns are essentially homemade bread rolls with coconut milk poured over the top prior to baking, so I decided not to follow a full Lolo bun recipe– that was a bad choice. Because I’ve never made bread, I thought I could get away with a quick, no-yeast/no-rise bread roll recipe. My rolls were bland, dense, and ultimately inedible. Here’s what they looked like:
We decided the first round was such a half-assed attempt that we owe it to Fiji to give it another go. This time, I put my sister, a far more talented baker in charge. And, we used yeast. We couldn’t find a Lolo bun recipe from an authentic Fijian source, so we went with the ever reliable AllRecipes.com:
My sister worked really hard kneading the dough, letting it rise, forming it into rolls, and letting it rise again. We whipped the coconut milk so it got nice and frothy, then poured it over the dough. It needed longer to bake than the recipe called for, but we also used a glass dish while the recipe called for tin, so consider that if you make this dish.
When they were baked through, the rolls were golden brown and crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, and glazed with coconut milk on top. Plus, the house had an amazing smell of fresh homemade bread (an NLers dream) with a hint of coconut (literally anyone’s dream).
The Fijian Lolo Buns are absolutely delicious, especially so with a mug of tea. I would absolutely love to have these time and time again. Hopefully, my sister can teach me her baking skills, so I can make them myself!