RECIPE: Island’s fun flavour for the perfect traditional breakfast

Thursday 25 March 2021 | Written by Supplied | Published in Features, Food


RECIPE: Island’s fun flavour for the perfect traditional breakfast
Breakfast – papaya and coconut. WHAT'S IN ELLY'S BELLY/21032409

A traditional Cook Islands breakfast is a most enjoyable and fun-flavoured effort. By Mereana Hutchinson.

Find a ripe pawpaw aka papaya. The ripeness is an individual preference. Softish to firm. Either ripeness has the same sweetness. This heavenly fruit is available anywhere all year round in the Cook Islands. Try the local store, marketplace, ask any local person you meet. A lemon or lime is a must.

Now comes the fun part. Find a dry coconut. If you are out walking look for a fallen coconut, shake it and listen for the sound of fluid within the nut and then find and ask your local neighbour to help you by giving you some lessons. Number one lesson, Husking, number two ‘Open the coconut, number three’ Scrape the coconut.

The coconut scraper may look like a deadly weapon but it helps you perform a seemingly difficult task with the greatest ease.

These are the raw materials required for an exquisite breakfast


1. Wash and cut in half the pawpaw, scrape out the seeds with a spoon. Save the seeds, we can make a dressing for the garden salad with it. Cut a tiny slice from the base to allow pawpaw half to sit upright on your plate. Cut lemon or lime wedges and squeeze juice of a wedge or two over the fruit, pile on the scraped threads of coconut flesh. Garnish with a sprig of mint. Scoop a mouthful of sweet pawpaw and coconut with your spoon and partake.

2. If the pawpaw is not too big but you must share, I suggest you wash, remove seeds and peel it and slice evenly to share equal portions with your lucky friends. On each dish place a wedge of lemon and a mound of scraped coconut flesh, garnish with a mint leaf. Not enough plates? Use the round coconut shell, it makes an excellent bowl. To have a moist mixture, press some of the scraped coconut flesh wrapped in muslin or similar cloth to extract the coconut cream, onto the fruit.

3. If neighbour has gone fishing or has lost his scraper then smack the husked coconut on the nearest coconut tree trunk, dry off the coconut milk from your sleeves and start cutting thin wedges of the coconut flesh. Serve with the pawpaw.


Bananas, mango, musk melons and other tropical fruits combined or on their own is excellent served with scraped coconut flesh. If you have gone back to the temperate climes the choices can get very exciting; fresh peaches and plums, berries and others or whatever is available (give the canned variety a chance to bring back memories of that tropical bliss) combine well with desiccated coconut found in packets on supermarket shelves. Place a thin layer of desiccated coconut on the oven tray and toast very lightly. Open a can of coconut cream and use it as is or heat a cupful till it thickens and pour over prepared fresh fruit for a warm treat. Garnish with toasted coconut and sprig of mint. The fun flavour of the islands goes with you.

  • This recipe was originally published on and is republished with permission.