Our culinary journey through Palau continues as we get close and personal with chef extraordinaire, Tova Harel Bornovski. Along with her husband Navot, Tova owns Fish ‘n Fins, the leading dive and tour center, Ocean Hunter I&III Liveaboard (for the extreme divers), as well as Barracuda Bar & Restaurant.
Winning the hearts (and stomachs) of both the locals and tourists – Tova knows how to make guests feel right at home. Infusing her Israeli heritage with Palauan recipes – the menu is completely unique and absolutely delicious! Carb counters are missing out if they opt not to try the wonderful fresh breads made from taro, spinach or cheese accompanied with a mezze of dips like Hummus, Eggplant & Pumpkin.Make sure to ask your server about the weekly specials!
Let’s follow Tova into the kitchen:
How has traveling influenced your flavors and recipes?
Tremendously! We’ve sailed and lived in remote destinations and learned so much from people we’ve met along the way and all the foods we’ve tasted. My childhood has influenced my recipes as I grew up in Israel – a melting pot of different cultures.
What defines Palauan cuisine?
Palauans like to cook with very little flavors and do not like to disguise what they cook. Fish should taste like fish and vegetables should have that fresh taste.
Tell us about your cookbook “A Taste of Rainbow’s End”
It’s been on my wish list of things to do and I finally went for it. Everyone I was talking to kept saying that they were going to publish a book but I got them all together and put the smells and tastes into text. It was a lot of fun to do! I wanted to present these unique dishes in a way that would make people say “I’ve got to go to Palau and try this food!”
Who do you admire in the culinary world?
I admire the mom ‘n pop spots that serve some of the most amazing dishes! It’s the grass root places I enjoy the most. Some of my favorite memories include dining at small trattorias in Italy or trying out the local favorite Shokudo in Japan.
What’s one ingredient you can’t cook without?
Love – it’s the only way the food is going to taste good! Chefs who don’t love what they do won’t cook great food.
What advice can you give a cooking enthusiast?
Use your love and imagination to create something truly special!
Here’s journeyPod’s favorite recipe from Tova’s cookbook “A Taste of Rainbow’s End”
Demok Taro Leaf Soup
By: Tova Harel-Bornovski, Delphina & Itelatk Benjamin
2-3 lb very young taro leaves (may substitute spinach)
10 pieces of rekung land crab (may substitute fish or chicken)
10 cups water
1 ½ – 2 cups coconut milk
1 teaspoon salt
Cook taro leaves (or spinach) for 2 hours
Wash crabs well, break and remove the back part – take only belly and legs
Cook crab meat with teaspoon salt for 20-30 minutes
Add coconut milk and bring to a boil
Remove from heat and serve
Makes 10 servings