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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Solomon Island Recipe of the Week: Chilli Taiyo (tinned tuna) with Chinese noodles

With Tessa and co gone for nine days, Casa Turchese was mine, all mine!  That means it’s time to experiment with foods that the housemates might look down on, which means only one thing: adventure in tinned meats!
Anyone who reads the recipes on this blog will figure out that tuna or bonito or taiyo (tinned tuna) plays a vital role in the Solomon Islander diet.  Whether fresh or tinned, it’s a staple in village life. 

Now, being the western consumer that I am, I bought loads of tinned tuna in New Zealand and the U.S., never giving one thought to where this tuna might be coming from.   A LOT of the world’s tuna comes from these beautiful islands and it is tinned here locally, with new labels put on it upon arrival to its destinations around the world.

The fishing industry in the Solomons is, well…like a bad marriage.  Developed or wealthier countries come in, take the fish and when the fisheries crumble, the fishing fleet moves on to more fertile waters.  This leaves villages without their major food source.  It can take years for the fishery to recover; sometimes it never does.  This makes villagers more reliant on external food sources to survive, like hard navy biscuits and…tinned meats.  This, of course, is an over simplification but again, like many developed/developing country relationships, it’s a one way street with the locals often seeing little or no benefit of their resources. 

I digress.

Anyway, I purchased a tin of chili tuna a few months back and without a soul in the house, it was time to try it 
out with some nice thin, almost linguini like Chinese noodles I purchased in the discount bin at Wings supermarket for 10 solomon dollars (I do love the discount bin at Wings…).  Hey I’m a volunteer, I live on discount bins and at the Bulk Food Shop.

About the Chilli Tuna: usually packed in vegetable oil with three or four local, very hot little chili peppers.  It’s yummy but you can use plain old tuna and just put chilli in separately. 

So here is my recipe:

Chili Taiyo (Tuna) with noodles
·         1 can of chili taiyo (preferably white flesh tuna)
·         1 clove of garlic
·         ½ onion
·         Smiggen of veggie oil (I mean just a wee bit.  The tins of tuna here are packed in oil already.)
·         Fresh basil leaves
·         1 lime
·         100 grams of noodles per person
·         Salt and pepper to taste.

1.       Chop up the garlic and onion.
2.       Put the garlic and onion in a fry pan on low heat with a bit of veggie oil. 
3.       Open the tin of tuna.  Once the garlic and onion are slightly browned, put the tuna in the pan.
4.       Boil a pot of water for the noodles.  Put in salt and noodles.
5.       Stir the tuna, garlic and onions. 
6.       Put in the fresh basil leaves.
7.       Cut the lime and squeeze juice into the tuna mixture.
8.       Heat for about five minutes or until noodles are almost ready.
9.       Pour noodles in colander and drain all water.  Make sure the noodles are slightly undercooked as it will finish cooking in the hot fry pan.
10.   Put noodles from colander into hot fry pan with tuna mixture.  Mix all around, letting the noodles cook slightly in the tuna mixture. 
11.   After about two or three minutes, serve in bowls.

Serve with gin and tonic or coconut water with lime or mint.  Make sure to eat on your balcony overlooking the sea; it does wonders for the soul.


  1. My boyfriend is Solomon Islander and hes always talking about taiyo and keeps telling me I need to learn how to cook it >.<. So thank you for this! :)

  2. HI there,

    Ive just arrived. Where are you getting these fresh basil leaves?? I havent been able to find any herbs aside from ginger, garlic, chilli and shallots! Any advice is greatly appreciated.


  3. You can get fresh basil leaves by purchasing a basil plant! There is a little village outside of Honiara (near Bonege and Turtle beaches) and I think the woman is named Annie or something like that. Anyway, she has a lovely garden where she sells fresh herbs and all kinds of potted plants. Go for a visit, she even sells on a Sunday!
    Hope that helps.