Tonight's meal from Papua New Guinea is a traditional, rural dish that I have slightly westernized via the Fair Trade Cook Book. A slow-cooked, layered dish that is typically simmered over a grated open fire using a 5 gallon drum and banana leaves, I had to substitute a cast iron dutch oven and spinach leaves. I couldn't find a clean drum and my grocery store was out of fresh or frozen banana leaves, which is a first. Other than that, I stayed true to traditionally used root vegetables, greens and fruit. Mumu can be cooked on the stove, but since I dug a fire pit last year, I was able to cook Mumu on an open fire as is traditionally done. The combination of meat, fruit, root vegetables, greens and coconut milk cooks up beautifully, and the prep involved is minimal, as you can use whatever vegetables you have on hand to make this delicious and traditional dish.
A mountainous country with a tropical climate, the island is one of the most culturally diverse in the world, with 850 indigenous languages and societies. The country also has one of the richest eco-systems in the world, and boasts over 3,000 varieties of orchids along with 9,000 varieties of plants, species of birds and animals, many of which may yet to have been discovered.
Cuisine in Papua New Guinea includes many root vegetables such as taro (yucca), sweet potatoes, palm, bananas, kau, kau, avocado, mango, pineapple and many leafy greens. Chicken, pork and sea food are typically eaten, often wrapped or layer using banana leaves.
Mumu (Adapted from The Fare Trade Cookbook)
1 lb. assorted root vegetables (sweet potato, yuca, carrots)
3/4 pound pork (I used pork butt)
3/4 pound chicken (I used boneless, skineless thighs)
3/4 pound fruit (I used pineapple
3/4 pound green vegetables (I used green beans, spinach and kale)
1 onion, sliced (optional)
2 cloves garlic, chopped (optional)
1 can coconut milk
Lightly oil a large metal casserole dish or dutch oven.
Line with spinach and/or kale leaves (or banana leaves)
Make a layer of root vegetables, hardest at the bottom
Make a layer of pork
Make a layer of fruit
Make a layer of poultry
Make a layer of green vegetables, onions and garlic
Add in the coconut milk
Cover everything with spinach and/or kale leaves
Cover and place the casserole or dutch oven over a grated open fire or over a medium flame to bring the juices up to cooking temperature (about 15 minutes)
This dish is traditionally never stirred.
Turn the flame down to the lowest setting - or make sure open fire is burning slowly and simmer gently for about 1 hour or until the meat and vegetables are tender and cooked to your taste.
Traditionally, the meal is eaten with your hands.
Final Assessment: We all loved this meal, and the combination of fruit and meat is always one I enjoy. The yuca and root vegetables are satisfying and the spinach and kale just make you feel good. I love that any vegetables and fruits you have on hand can be used. I'll definitely make this again.