Young Women's in Excellence Project

In September, 1998 during the Labor Day Weekend my family along with other members of our Tefui Club Association here in Hawaii got together and had a fantastic camp out at Malaekahana Recreational Park located in Laie, Oahu on the North Shore.

While we were at camp we learned of some of the traditions of our Rotuman heritage. One of these experiences was the making of a special dessert called fekei ulu. Fekei is a dessert and ulu is breadfruit. Ulu has many qualities of nutritional value throughout the South Pacific Islands. Many of these South Pacific Island people prepare the ulu in a variety of ways. Each island people prepare this vegetable (ulu) in unique ways using several techniques in the preparation. In my report I will be discussing and sharing the traditional Rotuman way of the preparation of this ulu dessert.

It is important to understand the very special thing about this is that the Rotuman men generally do all the work in preparing this delicious dessert. It is a long and arduous task and I will explain as well as have pictures to show some of my family and our club members making it.

The ingredients used are ulu (breadfruit), granulated sugar, grated and squeezed coconuts for their coconut milk. There are two main steps: one is the preparation of the cooking of the ulu and two is the preparation of the sauce in which the cooked ulu is dipped or poured over as a sweetened confection.

The following pictures with their respective headings will show the process of the detailed work it takes to make this special dessert.

Preparation for the Fekei Coconut Dipping/Pouring Sauce

photo: husking coconuts

Uncle Akerio husks and trims the fresh coconuts in preparation for the coconuts to be grated. He uses a metal machete knife to help clean the outer shell of the coconut.

Uncles Bill and Tifäre are hard at work grating the coconuts that have been husked, cleaned and cut into halves for them to grate the fresh white meat of the coconut.

photo: grating coconuts

photo: coconut graters

They use different types of coconut graters. These are all personally made by the men and is part of their tradition to have them in their homes. These graters have serrated edges that scrape the coconut meat away from the shells.

After the coconuts have all been grated, the process to squeeze the coconut mulk from the freshly grated coconuts takes place. Here my Daddy Henry, my uncles Akerio and Tifäre are squeezing the grated coconut meat in the fibrous part of the coconut husk. This is used as a strainer and it strains the coconut milk from the grated coconut meat.

photo: squeezing out coconut milk

photo: straining coconut milk

The squeezed coconut milk is then restrained through the coconut husk fibers into the cooking vessel that will be used to cook the coconut milk with the granulated sugar. Here my Mom, Mona, my Dad, Henry, and Uncle Akerio finish off the pure coconut milk, which at this point they call coconut oil.

photo: finishing straining coconut milk

photo: aunties and uncles chatting

Here Aunties Maria, Luisa, Lingi sit with uncles Tifäre and Aisea chatting and talking about fun things that happened when they were in the islands. Reflecting about times and reminiscing about the traditions of Rotuma while they are preparing the sugary coconut sauce. Also saying how wonderful it is for the children to be part of these traditions and how they enjoy watching the children playing and interacting together.

The sweetened coconut and granulated sugar make a caramelized sauce. This must be stirred continuously so that it does not burn.

Ahh.....just right.... the sauce is ready and soon it will be used with the ulu (breadfruit).

photo: stirring the sauce