Freshly cooked umu food on a hand-woven plate in Samoa
Umu-cooked cuisine served up on a hand-woven plate

Samoan Cuisine - Foods to Try

Finding delicious food in Samoa is far from difficult, but for a truly authentic local experience, seek out these must-try Pacific Island dishes.

Samoan has many must-dos, and sampling the delicious, tasty local food must surely be one.

Umu

Traditional Samoan food is beautiful in its simplicity, it is fresh and it is full of the flavours of the tropics.

For centuries, Samoan people have cooked in umu, or earth oven, using volcanic stones heated in a fire. The food, which may include pork, chicken, seafood and root vegetables such as talo (taro) and ulu (breadfruit), is cooked in coconut cream and coconut leaves, which all results in a delicious flavours truly unique to Samoa.

Palusami

Found in many areas of Polynesia, palusami is a delicious and quintessentially tropical dish of wrapped bundles of taro leaves with a coconut milk and onion filling. Variations may include chicken or fish. The bundles are cooked in an umu or simply steamed on the stove.

Oka

This flavoursome local staple dish consists of raw fish marinated in coconut cream, lemon juice, chilli and onions. Find it at a restaurant or cafe, or join the locals and sample it at a market.

Palolo

Considered a delicacy - like caviar, or whitebait - Palolo is a marine worm that is collected once or twice a year, in October or November, when the creatures swarm to the surface of the sea in large groups to spawn.

Known as the “Palolo Rise”, this event is an important feature on the Samoan national calendar.

The Palolo worms are collected in nets and either eaten raw, fried with egg, cooked in coconut milk and onions or baked into bread.

Samoan fruits and vegetables

Tropical fruits are plentiful in Samoa. Enjoy papaya, pineapple, coconut and the tiny sweet bananas for breakfast paired with chilled coconut water ‘niu’, straight from the coconut shell.

For something a little different try baked or deep fried breadfruit, and the tangy taste of starfruit. Smoothies are another way of enjoying local fruit, with cocktails also a delicious option for later in the day. 

Taro has to be Samoa’s most versatile vegetable - enjoy it in place of corn chips in nachos, as a ‘chippies’ snack on the run from any shop and for dinner, baked with coconut cream.

Eggplant is also widely used in Samoa and the locally-grown varieties are tasty and often served with tomato as a Samoan take on ratatouille.

Get in the loop

SIGN UP AND WE'LL KEEP YOU IN THE LOOP WITH OUR DEALS AND UPDATES