Like poisson cru au lait de coco, po’e is a classic of Tahitian cuisine. Served as an accompaniment to fish dishes or poulet fafa (chicken in spinach and coconut milk), it is extremely popular dish in The Islands of Tahiti.
Po’e is based on fruit and tapioca flour or corn starch and although banana po’e is the most popular version, you can also find po’e mautini (pumpkin), taro, ‘umara (sweet potato, papaya and guava. Bananas grow in abundance in French Polynesia and there are many different varieties. The one most commonly used for po’e is the rio. The bananas are usually picked while still green and left to ripen in the sun. The other ingredients required for po’e are coconut milk, sugar and tapioca flour.
Banana po’e recipe
For 6 people
Preparation time: 40 minutes
Cooking time: 30 to 40 minutes
Level of difficulty: easy
6 to 8 bananas
150-200 g of tapioca flour
50 g sugar
Fresh coconut milk
Peel the bananas and boil them until soft. Drain and mash them to a purée. Mix with the tapioca flour and sugar. Split the vanilla bean in two along its length and scrape the interior into the mixture. Place on a lightly oiled banana leaf or an oven-proof dish. Oven cook at 180°(celcius) for 30 to 40 minutes. Take out of oven and transfer to a serving dish. Cut the po’e into chunks, cover with coconut milk and serve while still warm.
This traditional Polynesian dish was brought to The Islands of Tahiti almost two thousand years ago, by the first settlers. The ingredients were slightly modified to suit local tastes and availability. It is often served as an accompaniment with fish dishes along with taro, and sweet potatoes. Po’e is an integral part of a traditional Tahitian meal, the ma’a tahiti.
Variations of po’e
Banana po’e is served for special meals and as part of a traditional ma’a tahiti (Tahitian meal), but you’ll also find it on the menu in restaurants, snack bars and food trucks. It’s a very sweet dish, soft but not mushy, and is normally served with coconut milk. Once you’ve tasted po’e, you’re almost certain to want to make it when you return home after your vacation.
The banana is not the only fruit used for making po’e. Tahitian chefs also use papaya or guava, depending on what dish the po’e will accompany. Back home, you can try it with other fruits. Po’e is an important part of traditional cuisine and is a symbol of conviviality and sharing, with everybody serving himself from the same plate.