West Papua has special delicacies introduced as its unique culinary tourism. Its uniqueness is more than the distinctive characteristic and taste that make the dish different from those of other areas in Indonesia. This is more about authenticity: how food coherently represents the people, the culture, and life. That’s why you can’t be surprised to find that the dishes are closely related to the people and their livelihood in agriculture, fishery, and marine life.
Here is our list on unique culinary tourism in West Papua!
In agriculture, this province is fully potential with its sago production. Here are some products made of sago you can enjoy.
What is the iconic dish from West Papua? The answer is papeda. This food is made of sago flour and is served as sticky, white porridge. It is tasteless, so the local people add mackerel tuna with it. Papeda is the main dish of most people in Papua and Maluku. Despite its tastelessness, it is good for diet as it contains fiber, low cholesterol, and high nutrients.
Martabak in other areas is alternatively also called matabbak, muttabak, metabbak, or mutabbaq. Sago Martabak is a traditional snack from Fak-Fak Regency served for welcoming guests. Sago Martabak is commonly poured with brown sugar or palm sugar to highlight its finger-licking sweet-savory taste.
Sago Lempeng is similar to regular wet bread, but it is made of sago, not wheat. This snack is not only popular in Papua, but also in Maluku, Riau and Borneo. The local people usually bake it for daily consumption. Sago Lempeng is best enjoyed when it’s warm, freshly baked!
Sago Caterpillar Satay
This one is not made of sago, but we can say it’s quite a dish: Sago Caterpillar Satay! This extreme food might look peculiar, but it is traditional delicious food made by Papuan people from caterpillars taken from sago plants. It is baked and seasoned if necessary. Sago caterpillar is also good for health as it is full of protein and high nutrients.
Another star in West Papuan culinary tourism is taro. The local people process various dishes made of the tropical plant. Take a look at some of them.
The traditional food is for daily consumption here. Petatas, in the local language, means sweet potato. It normally substitutes rice as their main food and is processed to be various delicacies.
Just like its name, mashed taro is made of mashed taro plants. It is usually processed by boiling taro and mashing it. The mashed taro is mixed with grated coconut, salt, and sugar, and then served with grilled fish in family feasts, celebrations, parties, or other cultural festivals. The dish is good for diet as it contains high carbohydrate and low sugar.
Taro chips are perfect for snacks and souvenirs. It generally offers three variants: spicy, sweet, and savory. The typical snack from the province can be effortlessly found in many stores in Sorong City.
Many people in West Papua live in coastal areas, and it influences their food. Here are some fish dishes you must try.
Aunu senebre is a combination of rice and anchovies. Although the way and ingredients to make it are quite simple and easy to find, it is one good, unique dish to try. You can easily find aunu senebre in many restaurants near the sea.
Fish in Taro Leaf
What makes it different from other leaf-covered grilled fish in other areas is that it is covered with taro leaf, not coconut leaf. The fish used must freshly come from the sea, not from freshwater. The fish is seasoned with special spices and salt to loom the authentic taste of the fish and neutralize the taro leaf sap. It is grilled in small flame to make it well-cooked.
Colo-Colo Grilled Fish
Colo-Colo grilled fish is found in many areas in Papua, especially in Timika. Kamoro tribe living by the sea is familiar to the dish. Sea fish topped with Colo-Colo condiment made of chilli, lime and other spices makes a yummy dish to enjoy.
Seafood is Good
Another marine delicacy is not only from fish but also from shrimp. Here it is!
When visiting West Papua, selingkuh shrimp is a must to try. It is a typical dish from this province, especially in Wamena. The species is usually found in Baliem River. It is called ‘selingkuh’ or having an affair because the shrimp claws are as big as crab claws, so the local people believe that it first used to come from an affair between a shrimp and crab. It is usually served from fried and boiled version, but both would give you lingering, unforgettable taste.
Those are some exceptional traditional dishes in culinary tourism in West Papua. Come and have a try!