Wednesday, March 28, 2012

a toast to tonga

I read in news headline that the King of Tonga recently passed away, and was buried in a state ceremony yesterday. I know what you're thinking...the King of who-what-where???  And why am I telling you this?

Well, let me explain further.  This news headline of the King's passing caught my eye because (and this is going to sound really strange), it was the second time I've even heard of this unique word, "Tonga" this month (the first time was few weeks back where we tried the famous "Tonga Toast" on our March Break's amazing!).  Of course, I was curious to learn about what "Tonga" really is?

Tonga – officially the Kingdom of Tonga  is an archipelago in the South Pacific Ocean about one-third of the way from New Zealand to Hawaii.

"With over 170 islands, only 40 inhabited, Tonga is untouched and largely undiscovered. That means it’s a holiday destination where you can still encounter a world as nature intended. Un-spoilt by big resort complexes and modern development, Tonga remains as close to authentic Polynesia as you’ll find. In fact, with its sheltered beauty and cultural authenticity, the Kingdom of Tonga is often described as the ‘jewel in the pacific’.." {source}

Researching a bit further, I read in a Huffington Post article, that the "King had made some radical changes to his country.  John Key, the Prime Minister of neighbouring country, New Zealand, released a statement saying 'He believed that the monarchy was an instrument of change and can truly be seen as the architect of evolving democracy in Tonga. This will be his enduring legacy,' Key said."

It looks like a beautiful place to visit...a place that's authentic and untouched by the highly commercialized tourism industry...this place seems as friendly and open as it's former King.  It just might be a new place to add to my bucket list of destinations. So, in honour of this beautiful island, and the passing of their beloved King...I made this Tonga Toast.  I'm not sure when I'll get the chance to visit the Kingdom of Tonga, but at least I get to re-visit the amazing "Tonga" that we were first introduced to in Florida.

I've adapted this recipe so it's not deep fried.  I used a cast iron skillet instead, and approached this recipe like it was french toast.  The bread quickly absorbs the egg/milk mixture and it's unnecessary to deep fry this...just "grill" on a cast iron skillet with a little butter.

Tonga Toast Recipe 
(from the Kona Cafe Polynesian Resort)
{adapted from:}

  • 4 slices sourdough bread, cut 1 1/2 inches thick (the freshly baked one at Whole Foods is fabulous for this!)
  • 1 organic banana
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup organic milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 tbsp. butter 
  • maple syrup (optional)

  • Cut a 1-inch pocket in one side of each bread slice. 
  • Peel and cut banana in half crosswise, then split each piece lengthwise. 
  • Stuff two pieces of banana in each pocket of bread; set aside. 
  • Mix sugar and cinnamon; set aside. 
  • Mix together well the egg, milk and vanilla.
  • Heat about 4 inches of oil in a pan to 350ยบ F. 
  • Dip stuffed bread into egg/milk mixture and let it soak a few seconds to let penetrate bread. 
  • Grill bread on both sides until lightly browned, about 3 minutes. 
  • Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar and serve with maple syrup (optional)


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