International Cooking: Food from Micronesia

Micronesia turned out to be a challenging country to find dishes for. It took over a week for me to be approved to post in the Micronesia subreddit, and by then it was too late. When researching what to make, I kept finding dishes from countries or states in the region—it was difficult trying to look within the country. I didn’t have a lot of success looking at Micronesian restaurants either, so I didn’t end up making much food from Micronesia this week.

Micronesia is a subregion of Oceania, but there is also a country that takes its name from it within that area—the Federated States of Micronesia. This country consists of about 607 islands across the western Pacific Ocean. They are split into four states, with each centered on one or more volcanic islands.

The area was settled about four thousand years ago, and some of the islands were discovered by European explorers during the sixteenth century. Spain eventually took control of the region, but it was later sold to Germany.

World War I saw the islands captured by Japan, who administered the islands through World War II as well. They based a significant portion of their fleet in the area.

After this, the United States took over, until 1979 when the four states of Micronesia began the process of becoming their own country. Palau, the Marshall Islands, and the Northern Mariana Islands chose not to join them. The country formally gained independence in 1990.

Micronesia is a highly biodiverse country, home to hundreds of species of birds, fish, mollusks, coral, and plants. Coral productively in particular is among the highest in the world in this region.

What Do People Eat in Micronesia?

I couldn’t find much information on what people in the Federated States of Micronesia specifically eat, because it was always mixed up with the region. However, it’s safe to say that many of these countries enjoy similar foods, such as rice, a variety of seafood and fish, and tropical fruits such as coconut.

A country like Micronesia would likely also show influence from the countries that occupied it over the years, such as Japan, Spain, and Germany.

What I Made

Scroll down to read about other popular Micronesian dishes I didn’t make!

Chicken Kelaguen (Spicy Chicken and Coconut)

Chicken Kelaguen (Spicy Chicken and Coconut)

This dish seems to be more specifically from Guam, which, although part of the Micronesia subregion, is not actually part of the country. But it’s very close and it makes sense that this dish or a variation of it would also be enjoyed in Micronesia.

To make this, I seasoned some chicken breasts with salt and pepper and pan-fried them in olive oil. I let the chicken cool a bit and mixed it with lime juice, onion, coconut, chilies, and salt. I let it sit for a bit before serving.

This is typically served with tortillas, and red rice (next dish) is a common accompaniment. I was unsure about the whole concept but I thought this actually tasted pretty good.

I followed the recipe from Andrea’s Recipes, though I used dried shredded coconut instead of fresh. Opening a coconut intimidates me and I also don’t know what I would do with all the excess as I am not a big coconut fan.

Eneksa Agaga (Red Rice)

Eneksa Agaga (Red Rice)

This red rice gets its color from annatto (or achiote) seeds. I steeped them in water for about half an hour, then strained out the seeds and used the liquid to cook the rice. I also added some cooked bacon and onion.

That was all there really was to this dish! The annatto seeds do provide a mild flavor, which I didn’t mind, and of course it’s hard to go wrong with bacon and onion.

This tasted good but I’m not sure I would make it again. I had to use a lot of annatto seeds to get this color, which wasn’t even as deep as in the recipe photos. Maybe if I could find a use for soaked annatto seeds then it would feel more worth it.

This recipe is from Andrea’s Recipes.

Kosraean Soup (Tuna and Coconut Soup)

Kosraean Soup (Tuna and Coconut Soup)

Kosraean soup is made from tuna, coconut, rice, and vegetables. I used canned tuna instead of fresh because, as I think I’ve said in a previous post, I don’t really like fresh tuna when it’s cooked through.

I started by cooking onion, carrot, and rice in chicken stock. After a few minutes, I added a can of tuna, then a few minutes later I turned off the heat and added coconut milk. I think I probably could have added a bit more than I did; the flavor wasn’t too strong and I think the soup could have been a little creamier.

I served this garnished with fresh parsley. I wasn’t sure about this soup but I actually really liked it and would probably make it again since it was so quick and easy.

This recipe is from Maruha-Nichiro.

  • Pohnpei pepper chicken – made by cooking chicken thighs with Pohnpei peppers, onion, and sometimes soy sauce. I would have liked to make this but I doubt I could have obtained Pohnpei peppers.
  • Coconut crab – this is a type of crab rather than a specific dish. It’s a traditional food source throughout the region, though it is now endangered.
  • Chukkese sashimi – typically made from raw, unseasoned tuna, often dipped in soy sauce and wasabi or a paste made from local hot peppers.
  • Yapese taro fritters – grated taro mixed with coconut and sugar, then fried. I chose not to make this as I made something similar for a previous country and really didn’t like it.

Final Thoughts

I wish I’d been able to make more this week, but what I did make was good. The kosraean soup was my favorite.

Next week, I will be cooking food from Moldova.

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