Gather several dozen grubs. The best place to find them is in the rotting stump of a sago palm tree. Clean them in the stream. Bring a pot of coconut cream (recipe below) to a full boil. Drop in the grubs and cook until tender. Do not overcook. Alternate cooking method: Heat 1" of oil in a skillet. Drop in the grubs and cook until lightly browned.
PAPUA NEW GUINEAN COCONUT CREAM - A traditional
Cut a ripe coconut in half, discarding the liquid. Remove coconut from shell. If you are in a place with electricity, cut into small chunks. Process in blender or food processor, adding enough water so that the coconut can be nearly liquified. If you don't have electricity, scrap the coconut to grate the meat out with a scraper. Strain the meat into a cooking pot, using a cheesecloth or a fine mesh strainer. Squeeze all the liquid out of the gratings. Put the gratings into a bowl and add about 2 cups of water. Stir to work the water through the gratings. Strain as above; squeeze out all the liquid. Discard the gratings. Add water to the liquid in the cooking pot to make about four to six cups.
(Note: Fresh coconuts are often either very expensive or of questionable quality. You can substitute grated coconut if needed. The result will be sweet and thus not authentic but nevertheless it will work. To use grated coconut: Empty one 10-14 ounce bag coconut into a saucepan and cover with water at least 1" above the level of the coconut. Bring to a boil and allow to simmer for at least 5 minutes. Drain in a colander and save the liquid. Put coconut into large bowl and cover with warm tap water. With your hands squeeze the coconut to work the water through it to extract all the flavor. Strain; discard what remains of the coconut--by now it should be tasteless fiber.) According to my Korak watch family, eating this tasteless fiber will turn your stomach.
Prepare coconut cream as described above. Place desired amount of rice in the bottom of a cooking pot. Add enough coconut cream to fill the pan 1-½ inches above the level of the rice. (If you don't have enough coconut cream, add water so that you have enough liquid.) Once the water begins boiling, add salt to taste, about ½ t. per cup of rice.
Bring the rice to a boil. Boil about 5 minutes on high, uncovered. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for about 10 minutes. Turn off heat. Leave covered; let stand for 5 to 10 minutes, until all liquid is absorbed and rice is tender.
(This is the main food eaten each day by most of of PNG--except in swampy areas, where grubs and sago are the mainstay. Papua New Guineans eat only one full meal each day, in the evening after dark. Those who can afford it will open a can of mackeral to serve with the soup. On special occasions chicken will be boiled with the veggies.)
Prepare coconut cream as described above. Bring to a boil. Add salt to taste. Add vegetables (suggestions below) and cook to desired doneness.
Coconut cream makes a delicious cooking liquid for spinach, potatoes, sweet potatoes, fresh pumpkin, winter squash, cooking bananas, green beans, etc.
(Some grocery stores with extensive produce sections occasionally carry taro and manioc/tapioc/casaba. If available, a small amount of either or both would be a nice authentic addition to a pot of PNG vegetables.)
PAPUA NEW GUINEA DRIED FISH
Frequently, I would receive more fish than I could eat in a day. The normal procedure would be then to dry the fish over the fire. First, you wash the fish in water. Then you start a very low and smokey fire. Place the fish directly on the grill above the fire. Cover the fish with broad leaves to trap the smoke around the fish. Maintain the fire while the fish dries. When the first side dries completely, turn the fish to dry the other side. Once the fish is fully dried, put up in a place where dogs and cats cannot get it. If you don't use the dried fish the first day, you must re-dry it over the fire every morning and evening until you do use it. The standard use was to flavor PNG veggies. To do this, first place the fish head directly in the fire. Then add the dried fish to the pot of boiling veggies. Allow to boil for a few minutes and then serve as a soup.