Fijian Palusami (Paleo, Gluten Free)

Fijian Palusami (Paleo, Gluten Free)

“Where are you from?” is a question that can be a bit tricky for me to answer. I was born in China but immigrated to Nauru and Fiji when I was a few months old. I spent my childhood in Fiji and then moved to New Zealand to go to college. I lived in New Zealand for another decade before travelling and working around North America. If you listen to me speak, you will probably be really confused too because my accent is neither here nor there (however it will usually take up whatever is around me at the time).

Crunchy Mama on the Beach

A childhood in Fiji was an amazing experience. I spent a lot of it on the beach, climbing trees and running around in the rain. I also spent a lot of time in my neighbor’s backyard playing badminton and digging for bugs and earthworms. When they dug a lovo in the weekends, it was like Christmas for me! A lovo is a traditional Fijian earth oven where food is slowly cooked with embers and hot stones in a pit dug in the ground.

One of my favorite dishes cooked in a lovo was palusami – meat and coconut goodness wrapped up in delicious green leaves and cooked slowly in the earth. I have attempted to recreate it without digging any giant pits and was very pleased with the result. Since I can’t find any taro leaves around here, spinach leaves appear to be the next best thing that is readily available from the grocery store.

I prepared mine with corned beef. In Fiji, this would come out of a can but for my dish, I used corned beef from the butcher. Robb Wolf has a homemade recipe however I had a serious craving for it TODAY and didn’t want to wait a number of days to corn my own beef (Did I mention I’m also pregnant?).

Mix together some chopped up corned beef, garlic, thyme and a bit of salt.

Mix up

Add some organic coconut milk into this mix as well.

Add coconut milk

Chop up some onions and tomatoes.

onions and tomatoes

Next, we can assemble our palusami. You can throw this all in a casserole dish and bake it in one dish or you may make individual servings like I did.

Bring out a bowl and a piece of foil.

Bowl and foil

Shape the foil over the bowl to create a pocket where we will assemble the palusami. Line the bottom with a layer of spinach.

Line bottom of spinach

Then, spoon in the meat mixture, layer with some onions and tomatoes and more meat. Drizzle some extra coconut milk on top.


Finish with a final layer of spinach.

last layer of spinach

Close up the foil into a little package of yumminess.

palusami package

Put them all on a pan and bake in a 350 oven for 30-40 minutes.


Then unwrap, breathe in the aromas of the islands and enjoy!


You’ll need:

  • 1-2 lb of corned beef, chopped up. You can substitute with (cooked) roast beef, pork or even fish
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 TBSP dried thyme
  • 1 can of organic coconut milk
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 1/2-1 lb of Spinach leaves (depending on whether you want to make a big dish or individual servings)
  • Salt to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. In a bowl, mix together beef, garlic, thyme and a bit of coconut milk. Season with a sprinkling of salt
  3. Prepare a pocket of foil (like by lining a bowl)
  4. Line the foil with a layer of spinach
  5. Scoop some meat into the foil. Layer with onions and tomatoes
  6. Scoop another layer of meat on top and drizzle with coconut milk
  7. Finish with another layer of spinach and seal the foil
  8. If you want to create a casserole, just do the same layering but in a big dish
  9. Put palusami in the oven for 30-40 minutes



  1. I just wanted to review your recipe because it was super tasty and good! I am a native Fijian, well Half native and half Indian, born in Fiji and raised here in the Unites States. I have always craved certain dishes that remind me of my childhood- but this recipe is on point! Thank you and hope you share more of your Gluten-free goodies.

  2. Mary lundin says

    Thank you for this westernized edition of my favorite dish. We’ve had a home in Fiji for years and frequently enjoyed lovo. I can’t wait to try this at home and bring Fiji to Huntington Beach.