Where it’s found: Vanuatu, Pacific Islands
Uses: A lovely savoury or sweet hearty pudding dish.
Serving suggestion: Add flying fox bat beat and serve hot from the oven on banana leaves.
Taste: Hearty, veg heavy and nutricious.
The traditional dish of Vanuatu is a pudding called lap-lap, eaten alongside the staple diet of fruit, fish, root crops and the occasional pig. Lap-lap is made from grated vegetables such as manioc, taro or yam which are soaked in coconut milk to form a paste. On special occasions, pork, beef, chicken, fish or even flying fox (a large fruit eating bat) may be added, or the paste may be sweetened with a few bananas.
Once made, the mixture is wrapped in banana leaves, tied with vine to form a kind of ‘parcel’, and placed into a traditional oven called an uma. An uma is created by digging a hole in the ground and filling it with red hot rocks. The parcel or food is placed in the centre, covered with more hot rocks and the whole thing covered over with dirt and leaves.
After about three hours, the lap-lap is ready to eat; best served hot and eaten straight away.
Book: Vanuatu, Stuart Bevan; Gadabout Guides 1992
Contains a good section on food with some traditional recipes.
By Debbie Fabb