Oceanian food is the term given to the food mainly eaten in the countries located around Pacific Ocean. Some of the countries that eat Oceanian food are Australia, Indonesia, Marshall Islands and New Zeeland. There are many volcanic islands also that are famous for Oceanian cuisine. Though there is no specific food culture followed by all these Oceanian countries, their ingredients and spices are somewhat similar. The Oceanian dishes made in different countries vary in flavor and texture.
Classification of Oceanian Food
Oceanian food is popular in many countries and some of them are:
- Australia – Australian food is famous for its richness and diversity. Indigenous fruits and vegetables are widely used in Australian cuisine. Main Oceanian dishes popular in Australian cuisine are seasoned calamari and smoked salmon mainly eaten with ‘Damper’, a traditional Australian bread made without yeast.
- Indonesia – Modern nation of Indonesia, made up of 6000 islands, has a diverse food culture. One of the staple Oceanian foods is Rice and it is a staple Indonesian food too. It is served as a side dish or as a sweet food also. Apart from rice, fish and other seafood are also very popular in Indonesia. Oceanian dishes, famous in Indonesia, are nasi goreng, lontong, rending and soto. Extensive use of coconut and coconut milk is also a distinctive feature of Indonesian cuisine.
- New Zeeland – The food in New Zeeland is best described as ‘pacific rim’. Almost all kinds of sea food are found in Oceanian dishes served in New Zeeland. The most distinctive Oceanian style food in New Zeeland is crayfish (lobster), bluff oysters, shellfish, mussels and scallops.
- Samoa- This is one of the countries that follow the oceanian food culture religiously. Almost all their dishes contain coconut or coconut milk. Rice, fresh seaweed, crayfish and lobsters are their staples. ‘Palusami’ is one of the main dishes made with coconut cream wrapped in taro leaves.
Ingredients Used in Oceanian Cuisine
- Fish – As Oceanian countries are located around Pacific Ocean, the supply of fish is in abundance in these countries. Grilled fish is often served in Oceanian cuisine as the main dish. Fish cubes are also used as a base for soups and stews. Sashimi or sushi are also some of the dishes that include fish as the main ingredient.
- Coconut – Coconut is also one of the main items found in many tropical islands. Due to surplus growth of coconut, Oceanian food contains coconut in most of the dishes. Coconut is either eaten plain or used as a garnish. Many cakes and cookies in oceanian cuisine make good use of coconut. Coconut milk is also one of the important ingredients used in Oceanian dishes. It is mainly used as a sweetener in soups and stews. Coconut milk also acts as a meat softener in marinade.
- Rice and Noodles – The islands that are close to Asia, use rice and noodles in most of their dishes. Starch is one of the staples in Oceanian cuisine and served in almost all meals. The most popular rice dish is ‘nasi goreng’. It is a kind of fried rice mixed with other food items.
- Chicken – Chicken is one of the main foods in Oceanian cuisine. It is frequently cooked in most of the islands. Chicken soup and grilled chicken are some of the popular dishes cooked in the Oceanian cuisine.
Cooking Methods Adopted by Oceanian Cuisine
- Boiling – It is one of the main methods of cooking food in oceanian cuisine. Meats and vegetables are boiled with other flavored ingredients and consumed as soup.
- Steaming – This method is basically used to make fish and rice.
- Roasting – Coal is used as fuel to make the Oceanian dishes in traditional style.
- Baking – With the emergence of modern equipments, baking has become one of the most common methods of making cakes, pastries, pies and cookies. Even baked meats form a major part of Oceanian food.
Gourmet Oceanian Dishes
- Quick cod over kale – It is an appetizer commonly served in almost all gourmet dinner tables in Oceanian cuisines. It is made up of cod fish and kale vegetable.
- Seared prawns with Jicama salsa – As seafood is the staple food in Oceanian cuisine, this prawn dish is a delicacy. It can either be served as an appetizer or as a side dish.
- Grilled pork and okra with roasted kumara – It is a high protein main dish served in gourmet menu of Oceanian cuisine.
Traditional Dishes Served In Oceanian Cuisine
- Pavlova – This is the traditional dessert of Oceanian cuisine made with fruits and whipped cream.
- Anzac biscuits – It is a popular sweet snack mainly served in Australian cuisine. It is a part of traditional oceanian recipes.
- Maori Bread – This traditional recipe is popular since ages. It is eaten as a side dish with almost all oceanian recipes.
Health Benefits of Oceanian Food
Oceanian food is mainly based on Seafood that is high in omega-3 fatty acids and unsaturated fats. Salt is used in very less quantity in Oceanian dishes as sea water used in cooking already contains high amount of salt which is detrimental to human physical health.