Papeda is made from sago flour, the still damp sago flour is usually saved in a container made of sago palm leaflets, called tumang in which it will keep for several months before spontaneous fermentation will turn it too acidic and unsuitable for making papeda.
Rice is the staple food of western and central Indonesia, but that’s not the case in the eastern islands of Maluku and Papua. In these two regions, the mainstay of the dinner table is papeda, a viscous congee made from the trunk of the sago palm tree. Similar to Malaysia’s linut, it’s made by cooking sago starch with water until it coagulates. Papeda is typically served with a tart yellow soup made with turmeric, lime, fish, and served with starchy tubers and various vegetables, making it a unique combination of textures and flavors that is just as Indonesian as nasi goreng.
Papeda is made from sago starch. The Moluccans and Papuans acquire the starch by felling the trunk of a sago palm tree, cutting it in half, and scraping the soft inner parts of the trunk, the pith, producing crude sago pith flour. This flour is then mixed with water and squeezed to leach the starch from the flour. The still moist sago starch is usually stored in a container made of sago palm leaflets, called tumang in which it will keep for several months before spontaneous fermentation will turn it too acidic and unsuitable for making papeda. Depending on the variety and the growing conditions, it may take a sago tree five to fifteen years to accumulate enough starch in its trunk to make the effort of extracting it worthwhile.
Papeda is made by cooking sago flour with water and stirring till it coagulates. It has a glue-like consistency and structure. Papeda is generally consumed with yellow soup made from tuna or mubara fish spiced with turmeric and lime. Papeda is sometimes also consumed with boiled starchy tubers, such as those of cassava or yam. Sayur bunga pepaya (papaya flower bud vegetables) and tumis kangkung (stir-fried water spinach) are often served as side dish vegetables to accompany paped.
What makes this special is the way we eat this food because you need a pair of chopsticks or sticks and roll it…. it’s the art of eating!
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