How to eat Palolo (when you live in New Zealand)


First, you have to get someone in Samoa to send it to you. Preferably frozen (because of how it’s seafood).

My lovely aunt in Samoa surprised us this Christmas by sending her husband over with this for us:

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That’s just a frozen mass of little green worms.

I was so excited to get this palolo because I’d heard so much about it growing up. I vaguely remember trying it once, as a child in Hawaii, and thinking, “Yum!” but how could I be sure anymore, after all these years?

One reason palolo is such a delicacy is that it’s only available to catch two days a year.

(You can learn all about palolo worms and their mating season – which results in the palolo we eat – over at One Samoana).

As this chunk of frozen palolo started to thaw, it began to give off the salty fragrance of the Pacific ocean and I could tell right then the other reason people love it so much – this stuff was going to taste amazing.

I messaged my friend in Samoa, “How do you eat palolo?” She replied the same way my mom and uncle did:

“If it’s fresh, you eat it raw. If it’s been in the fridge (or is frozen), fry it up with onions and egg.”

Oh, like whitebait. Got it.

palolo1-3

I fried up some onions then chucked the almost fully thawed palolo in. Once it started to sizzle, I added a bunch of whisked eggs and stirred to scramble as it cooked.

That flavour, though…

No need for salt or any other spices. The palolo’s natural, deep sea flavour was plenty strong enough to beautifully season this dish.

Even after I’d filled up on my first bowl of scrambled palolo (which I ate by itself then on crackers), it still took a while for me to remember where I’d tasted a very similar flavour.

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And then I clicked: Caviar! Or roe, you know… Fish eggs.

That’s what palolo tastes like, which makes a lot of sense given what palolo actually is.

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Next time, I hope to try palolo fresh, still wriggling, out of the ocean.

Or if I have to fry it up again, I’ll try it without the eggs.

Mmmmm… Can’t wait!

Lils

About Lils

Made in Samoa, a child of God, lover of language, business and food, I'm a weekend photographer, wannabe world traveler, dilettante musician and sci-fi trekker of stars. Perpetual student, irrational optimist, I'm going to own a cafe someday and teach machines to think like us. Known irl as Lillian T Arp, I'm also that tea-totaling Hamo Geek Girl from One Samoana 😉

Lils

Made in Samoa, a child of God, lover of language, business and food, I'm a weekend photographer, wannabe world traveler, dilettante musician and sci-fi trekker of stars. Perpetual student, irrational optimist, I'm going to own a cafe someday and teach machines to think like us. Known irl as Lillian T Arp, I'm also that tea-totaling Hamo Geek Girl from One Samoana ;)

4 thoughts on “How to eat Palolo (when you live in New Zealand)

  1. Hi HamoGeekGirl,
    I was trying to leave a comment on the Tatau article on One Samoana. I clicked on your name and it brought me here. Anyway, I was wondering if you’ve written part III that you mentioned in said article yet?

    1. Lol hi Teine_Nosy… That article is so so soooo delayed I know, but it will be ready to post early next week.

      For reals this time 🙂

  2. Hi! I’m an editor at Atlas Obscura, and I’d love to get permission to use some of these photos in an article we’re publishing about Palolo. Are these your photos? And if so, would that be ok? We’d use the photo on our website and in social media and would of course give you credit. Please let me know! I’m at samantha.obrien@atlasobscura.com.

    1. Hi Samantha

      Yes these are my photos, and sure thing. Go ahead and use them. We’d also appreciate a link back as well, if you don’t mind. I’m keen to see your finished post.

      Cheers

      x Lillian

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