First you need to light a fire in a small hallow in the ground. When it’s died down a bit and has lots of warm coals in it you fill the fire with smooth round stones. These stones need to heat up, so you can leave it there while you prepare the laplap.
Next you get the vegetable, you need a few large yam. Peel it and cut it into chunks. Grate the yam using a piece of metal which has had holes nailed into it. This creates a large surface of small sharp spikes which grates the yam to a thick pulp.
Then you grate some coconuts. You need to use older coconuts which have a thick layer of coconut flesh on them. Husk the coconut, use a bush knife to tap the shell in half and then grate the coconut on a specially designed grater which is curved to fit inside the coconut shell.
Now lay out a layer of laplap leaves. Laplap leaves look like Banana leaves, but they aren’t (Don’t ask me how, I think they are a bit thicker). You need to layer it in different directions so that the yam pulp won’t leak out. Now spread the yam pulp out into a circle, about 5 cm thick.
You can wrap it up like this, but I like to cover the laplap with a green leaf vegetable which is called Chines cabbage, it’s kind of like spinach. You then cover the lot with coconut milk. To get the milk you scoop up a mound of the coconut flesh in you hand, or some coconut husk and squeeze. Out pours a rich white liquid. You keep scooping up more mounds of coconut flesh and keep squeezing it to get all the yummy milk out you can. (You can also collect coconut milk and simmer it down to create coconut cream.)
I am squeezing out the coconut milk.
Now wrap up the laplap and tie it up with ropes made from the stems of the laplap leaves. By now the fire has died down and you can take out all the stones and put them to one side (they are extremely hot, so use large tongs made from splitting a wooden stick). Scoop out the ash, and put a layer of hot stones in the bottom of the hollow. With a friend you can carry the laplap and lay it on top of the stones. Now cover the laplap parcel with more stones. Cover the stones with heshin sack and leaves to keep the heat in.
Leave it for a few hours. Take all the stones off and open it up. Top with some more coconut cream and cut into chunks to eat – yum!