Breadfruit trees are everywhere in French Polynesia, but sometimes the fruit aren’t mature enough to pick. To make things more difficult, grocery stores don’t sell them (they don’t sell fruit either). The Polynesians don't buy fruit, they don't have to! They have plenty growing on their property. If they don’t have something, they can trade with neighbours for theirs. Getting our hands on a breadfruit was no simple task, but we are patient. At every island, we would ask the locals, but again, the fruit weren’t ready to pick off yet.
Devine & I had breadfruit when we first arrived in Nuku Hiva, the owner of snack Vaeki prepared some for us. The chef cooked it outside, over hot coals. The taste is hard to describe, it's very potato-ey. We had the cooked breadfruit with some fresh coconut milk - extracted from a fresh coconut before our very eyes. Since then, we’ve been looking to cook it ourselves.
Then finally we got our chance! We bought a breadfruit at the Fare street market in Huahine. The seller at the fruit stand gave it a few knocks, and told us it was ready to eat! It was delicious with coconut milk, but we wanted to try something different; we cut the breadfruit into wedges and pan-fried it. We then served it with some button mushrooms, coated with sweetened soy sauce.
If you ever come by breadfruit fruit, please try it. It’s the perfect island food, and will keep you filled up for a long time!
We are about to leave Tonga, the tropics and the land of bountiful breadfruit. This versatile fruit can be cooked into fries, eaten with coconut milk, made into chips, or like this recipe suggests, it can be made into gnocchi.
Breadfruit has a taste and texture that resembles that of potato. And so, it only makes sense that it too, can be made into gnocchi. The flesh of the fruit can be kneaded easily, especially if the fruit is very ripe. I have tried to knead it when half-ripe, it works too, but requires added moisture and more kneading - not to mention that it doesn't have as much flavor. Ripe breadfruit develops a sweet taste, it can be difficult to catch it at the right moment, like avocados, sometimes it'll overripen overnight and be rendered uneatable. Because we like it so much, we've bought many and have had time to better tell when it can be eaten. The outside becomes very soft to the touch, but only just.
We serve these with a light sauce, to better taste the gnocchi. A sauce that we enjoy, is minced garlic and chili peppers cooked in olive oil. The sauce is poured overtop and sprinkled with bits of shredded nori.
If you happen by the south pacific and see a breadfruit, make some gnocchi. It's worth the effort.