I remember the first time I had Lu Pulu. I was having dinner with friends and their mom had made this traditional Tongan dish which was spinach leaves stuffed with corned beef and braised in the oven with coconut milk. That was one of the first recipes that made me fall head over stilettos for Polynesian food. The flavors were rich and complex and each component of the dish was in perfect harmony with the others. It was like nothing I had ever had before.
When my friend’s dad had some heart issues some time ago, the doctors had advised him to change his diet including cutting down on mayonnaise. It was then I thought there had to be a way to make some traditional Polynesian dishes a bit lighter. This recipe was a bit of a challenge. The original lu pulu recipe has not only canned corned beef, but also full fat mayonnaise and coconut milk.
This Easy Chicken Lu Pulu has many of the traditional flavors but is made with boneless skinless chicken breast and light coconut milk. In speaking with a friend of mine, technically it should be called Lu Moa as “Pulu” translates to beef but you get the picture.
Inspired by a recipe from Sam Choy’s Polynesian Kitchen, this Chicken Lu Pulu comes together quickly and is great for a weeknight dinner. Added bonus, as it’s all made on the stovetop, no oven needed and no foil wrapped packages. As I cannot find taro leaves anywhere here in Philly, I went with fresh spinach which was the perfect accent to the coconut milk simmered chicken. Serve family style with some brown rice and garnish with fresh ripe tomatoes and crisp green onions and you have a dish that will have your Aunty asking for seconds!
On to the recipe:
Gather your ingredients
Let’s add some light coconut milk
Time to simmer
Serve over brown rice and
Dinner is served
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil, divided
- 1½ pounds of boneless skinless chicken breast, cubed
- 1 large onion, diced
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 16 ounces of fresh spinach, washed and dried
- 1 cup of light coconut milk
- 1 cup of chicken stock
- 1 fresh ripe small tomato, seeded and diced
- 2 green onions, white and light green parts, sliced
- Salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste
- Brown rice for serving
- In a large skillet, over medium high heat, preheat the oil until it starts to shimmer.
- Season the chicken with a bit of salt and pepper and add to the pan.
- Brown the chicken in batches as crowding the pan will steam them. Once the chicken is nicely browned, remove to a plate.
- Add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil to the pan and the diced onion.
- Saute for a few minutes until translucent and add the minced garlic.
- Deglaze the pan with ¼ cup of chicken stock, making sure to scrape up any fond on the pan with a wooden spoon or spatula.
- Return the chicken to the pan and add the spinach.
- Saute until the spinach begins to wilt.
- Add the chicken stock and let simmer for a minute, followed by the light coconut milk.
- Let simmer for 20 minutes or so, over medium low heat, until the flavors come together.
- Serve over brown rice and enjoy!
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