Sagu Sep Nggalamo ▪︎ South Papua
Sagu sep is style of dish consisting of sago sough wrapped in banana leaves and stone-baked, typical of the Marind people but no doubt similar things exist throughout the area. This would typically be made in one big rectangle about 3×2 metres or whatever for large groups, but here well scale things back a bit.
There are endless variations, just as there are endless ways you can make bread or pasta: the sago can be mixed with grated coconut, minced meat, diced meat, with or without onion and ginger, etc.; the meat can be pork, fish, deer; or there are sweet variants that use sugar, banana, or other fruits in the mix. It is not one single dish but a style of cooking. Common examples include,
- Kumobo (sago + coconut + minced? meat)
- Wanggilamo (sago + grilled meat)
- Nggalamo (sago + coconut + diced meat)
- Kaka (sago + coconut + meat + coconut milk)
- Siu (sago + banana)
We’ll be looking at sagu sep nggalamo, which is defined by the use of grated coconut and large chunks of meat. The meat here will be venison, as this is apparently popular in Merauke.
This one was hard to get a recipe at first because I came across it referred to as sagu sef. There wasn’t much coming up when I searched for that, with the earliest result coming from about 2017, but it turns out there’s just some variation in that final consonant there with it being referrerd to variously as sagu sef, sagu sep, or sagu seb. The earliest reference for any of them that I could find was an article from 2008 that used sep, and this certainly seems to give the most results, so we’ll go with that.
Adapted from here.
- 500g sago flour
- 750g coconut meat, grated
- ___ g venison, largely diced
- 5 banana leaves
Spices to blend
- __ Indonesian onions (__ shallots)
- __ cloves of garlic
- 2.5 cm galangal, bruised
- 2 sticks of lemongrass, bruised
Blend up the blended bits.
Mix the blended spices and the meat.
Mix the sago and coconut, kneading until smoothish. Don’t use water unless it’s really not combining at all - even then just use a tiny amount.
Spread out on to banana leaves, then wrap up in banana leaves into a nice flat package.
Bake for one hour in the oven. Or, even better, bake on hot stones in a fire, covered with bark and more hot stones.