When Penrith Panthers five-eighth and 2021 Grand Final superstar Jarome Luai isn’t on the field winning premierships, he’s at home teaching his little ones about their strong Samoan roots and culture.
Last year Jarome was named as an ambassador for Samoa Tourism Authority. His Samoan descent runs through his paternal grandparents with his family reigning from Palauli, a village located on Samoa’s main island of Savai’i. Long proud of his Samoan heritage, Jarome represented Samoa in the 2017 Rugby World Cup, and continues to ensure his Pacific Island’s culture is passed down to his two children – Israel, three, and newborn daughter, Akira.
A self-proclaimed foodie, Jarome says food has become one of the main ways he shares a slice of Samoa with his family while at home in Greater Western Sydney.
“Samoan culture is heavily focused on family, and this is certainly the case for the Luai’s. Growing up, I loved getting my aiga (family) together to cook our favourite Samoan dishes. It brought us together and made us feel so close, and is a tradition I’m continuing with my children. I can’t wait to finally take Israel and Akira to Samoa so they can fully experience the culture and beauty of their ancestors homeland.”
Jarome shares his favourite Samoan dishes and how to enjoy them best:
For breakfast – Samoan pancake balls
“For breakfast, Israel and I like to make Panikeke or ‘round pancake’ as it translates to in English. It’s basically a pancake donut ball that can be made with banana, coconut and tropical fruits, like you’d find around the island in Samoa. You can also make it a bit more Aussie if you’re feeling like it – Israel likes putting nutella or jam on them as well. It’s a staple of Samoan breakfast cuisine and the whole family are fans! Plus it helps to get some fruits into them in the morning”
For lunch & dinner – Samoan stir fry noodles
“For lunch I love to make sure I have protein and vegetables, so Sapa Sui is one of my regular go-tos. It’s got classic ingredients like garlic, ginger and onion for flavouring, which are the staples for lots of Samoa cuisines. The base is vermicelli noodles, and you can add whatever protein and vegetables you want. I keep it pretty traditional and normally go for chicken, broccoli and mung beans.
“The key is to make sure you add sweet soy sauce or ‘ketjap manis’ as you can find it in store. That’s what gives it it’s nice brown colour and a nice bit of sweetness to the veggies and meat. Akira is too young to eat it yet, but Israel loves it and it’s a great way to make sure you’re getting a hearty meal with protein and veggies. I love eating it after a big morning training on the field or in the gym, it’s a great way to get lots of goodness into you and find a second boost of energy – which is really important if I have footy in the morning, and then the kids in the afternoon!
“I have a sweet tooth so dessert is always a must for me. Suafa’i was one of my favourites as a kid and
it’s definitely a favourite with Israel as well. It’s essentially a tapioca pudding with bananas and coconut cream, so it’s as Samoan as it gets. It’s a good way of using all your bananas before they go brown and is seriously so easy to make. You can even switch it up and add cinnamon powder or even chocolate chips in with the coconut cream. Israel has added nutella before, so it’s not the most traditional but it definitely tastes good!”