West Papua Diary

15 Special Delicacies of West Papua You Must Savour

West Papua

Known for its enchanting natural beauty, West Papua also offers you a variety of delicious culinary delights. Below is the information on 15 special delicacies of West Papua that can make you ask for more. 

Being a staple food of people in Papua and Maluku, Papeda is a kind of porridge made with sago starch. Like most Indonesian people who eat rice as their staple food, Papuans also eat Papeda with a variety of side dishes such as Ikan Kuah Kuning (fish with yellow soup) and stir-fried veggies. It has a sticky texture and gluey white color but combines well with the side dishes. 

This dish is actually a common companion to Papeda. People in West Papua use mackerel tuna for cooking this delicious dish and season it with turmeric to have yellowish soup. Serve it while it is hot along with tasty vegetables like water spinach. 

Keladi Tumbuk or mashed taro is one of the special delicacies made from taro and served with grilled fish. To make it, boil some taro until completely cooked and mash it until very smooth. Mix it with salt, sugar and grated coconut. Taro contains high carbohydrates but low sugar, so it is very suitable for those who are on a weight-loss diet program.

As the capital of West Papua, Manokwari is famous for this special dish. The fish used is mackerel tuna. It is usually grilled and topped with some sauce made of red shallots and chilies. Many local restaurants in the city (and outside the city) serve this yummy dish.

Basically, Ikan Cakalang Asar is almost similar to the commonly smoked skipjack tuna (Ikan Cakalang Asap). The difference lies in the smoking process; Asap is done by placing the fish on hot coals horizontally. Meanwhile, Asar is done by placing the fish diagonally next to the coals, which produce smoke. This method is done to have the fish completely dry and cooked into the meat. Ikan Cakalang Asar has the authentic taste of smoked and savory fish.

The word lontar is actually derived from rontaart, a Dutch word that means “round tart” in English. This pie is usually stuffed with milk and caramelized sugar, making it taste sweet. Lontar pie is generally enjoyed in celebrations like birthday parties or Christmas. Nowadays, numerous cake shops and bakeries sell this Papuan dessert. 

Although it seems like an extreme dish, sago worms on skewers (satays) are one of the most popular delicacies. The locals usually catch these large and plump worms from the sago trees. The worms that are scientifically named Rhynchophorus ferrugineus would turn to snout beetles. Papuans usually eat the worms grilled or raw. 

Cheating prawns? The scrumptious grilled dish is called “cheating prawns” because it contains prawns that have claws like crabs—as if the prawns are a result of mixed mating between prawns and crabs. In fact, the “hybrid” prawns are actually crayfish. 

Another delicacy is wrapped fish—sea fish wrapped in taro leaves. Generally, the fish is seasoned with various kinds of spices to make it taste delicious. The use of salt is also important because it functions as a salty taste for the fish and neutralizes the sap from taro leaves. Then, the fish is wrapped in taro leaves and baked over low heat.

Aunu Senebre is also one of West Papua’s special dishes that you must try! This traditional food is made from small anchovies steamed with grated coconut and chopped taro leaves. You can find this typical food sold in stalls on the beaches.

Papuans usually use dabu-dabu fish to make this dish, grilled and topped with Colo-Colo sauce. The condiment is made from chopped chilies, tomatoes and shallots mixed with lime/lemon water. 

Bagea is a rolled pastry stuffed with shredded beef or known as abon in the Indonesian language. This snack is popular among many tourists as takeaways. There are other choices of fillings for this pastry which are tuna, beef, chicken, cheese and chocolate. 

Martabak Sagu is a dessert originally from Fak Fak Regency, West Papua. This dish is made with mashed sago filled with palm sugar. Papuan people usually serve this delicacy as a snack to welcome their guests.

Another West Papuan sweet snack usually savoured with tea or milk is Sago Lempeng. It is made with baked sago resulting in a rather sandy texture but unique. 

This drink consists of ice, red kolang kaling (sugar palm fruit), green jelly, sliced Matoa fruit and other spices that are often found in Papua. Finish off with some lime and pandan leaves. It tastes sweet, sour and fresh! 

So, what’s the wait? Visit West Papua to taste the mentioned special delicacies.

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