Make your own Tongan lūpulu at home

You don’t need to live on a tropical island or cook in an underground oven to make lūpulu, one of Tonga’s most favorite dishes for your own feast: 

As Alamoti Taumoepeau, manager of the Tonga Village at the Polynesian Cultural Center, explained in another article on Tongan feasting, lūpulu is a delicious combination of coconut cream; corned beef (the pulu part of the name, from the English word “bull”), seasoned to taste with onions, salt, maybe some tomatoes and other condiments; and soft, young taro leaves (the  part of the name) laid out in an aluminum pan and baked together.

However, in preparing this dish at home you might need to make a few substitutions. For example, coconut cream is now widely available in cans (but check closely, because some brands half-dilute the cream with water); a 12-oz can of ground corned beef should do it (islanders prefer theirs from New Zealand; but a brisket also works); and collard greens or spinach leaves can take the place of the taro tops. Even Tongans substitute the meat sometimes, using chicken (which would then be called lūmoa), lamb (lūsipi) or fish (lūika).

 President “Chef Prez” Galea’i, a former PCC Food Services pantry lead and head chef at Pounders Restaurant, showd you how to make your own lūpulu in his recent YouTube video at:

Story by Mike Foley


Mike Foley, who has worked off-and-on

at the Polynesian Cultural Center since

1968,  has been a full-time freelance

writer and digital media specialist since

2002, and had a long career in marketing

communications and PR before that. He

learned to speak fluent Samoan as a

Mormon missionary before moving to Laie

in 1967 — still does, and he has traveled

extensively over the years throughout

Polynesia and other Pacific islands. Foley

is mostly retired now, but continues to

contribute to various PCC and other media.