The PNG Foodie: Traditional Coconut Fish

By Marie Kauna – EMTV Online, Port Moresby

Aroma coast is one big area found in the Central Province. Traditionally the people prepared fish for meals together with the other vegetables since they live around the coast and the staple source of protein was fish.

The Aroma Coast in the Central Province consists of many small villages and is home to a population of roughly 15 to 20 000 people. The Maopa language is the main language spoken along this stretch of beach and many customs and traditions are similar in nature.  As these are beachside communities, fish makes up a big part of their diet. The “Traditional Coconut Fish” dish is a popular everyday dish common among the villages.

In the traditional days, there were two ways which they cooked their fish: they would either smoke it on the fire or boil using clay pots. This is an article about how the people of Aroma prepared fish for meals in the past using clay pots.

The locals caught fish from the sea and prepared them for eating using traditional knives. The fish innards and scales were removed. After cleaning them, they placed the fish nicely into the clay pot.   Shells collected from the sea were used to scrape the coconut meat out from its shells. The scrapped coconut flesh was mixed with a little water, and then squeezed to remove the cream. The cream was poured into the pot over the laid fish and the coconut shreds were thrown out. When everything was done, the pot was covered and placed over the fire.

The cooking takes about fifteen to twenty minutes to finally get the fish cooked. When the fifteen minutes is up, the fish is ready and can be eaten. A little chilli was added to spice up the flavour. This simple fish dish was served using the traditional forks. Generally, the people enjoyed this fish meal with banana.

This traditional method of cooking fish is also common in some other parts of Central Province however today; people have changed from coconut cream to using oil. Otherwise, some people still maintain this method but use modern cooking pots.

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