Enjoying Vanuatu’s Unique Island Cuisine


One of the great joys of international travel is sampling the vast variety of cuisines that people around the world have developed. From potato lefsa in Norway to sushi in Japan, every country has its own beloved foods, and the people who make them are always enthusiastic to share with visitors, sometimes even sneaking a peek to see diner’s reactions to the local favourites. Whilst Mexican tacos and Middle Eastern falafel have garnered worldwide attention, there are many other smaller countries with great food that are virtually unknown but to those who live and visit there. Today we will see what’s on the menu in the South Pacific Island nation of Vanuatu!

Vanuatu is an archipelago of about 83 small volcanic islands with rich tropical forests surrounded by brilliant blue sea. The people are mostly Melanesian and are famed for their friendly nature. The small nation is noted for providing offshore financial services and company formations in Vanuatu offer a variety of services for any local and international entities who would like to do business in the very accommodating country’s flourishing economy. Because of this, Vanuatu is becoming better known internationally, and its unique cuisine is gaining high marks at home and abroad!

The local people call their culinary style aelan kaka, the indigenous Bislama language’s term for ‘island food’. The core ingredients that make up Vanuatu foods include coconut, yam, taro, plantains, tropical nuts, banana, sugarcane, greens, pigs, fowls and, of course, seafood. Many well-known tropical fruits such as papayas, pineapples, and mangoes, are also incorporated.

Vanuatu’s national dish is called lap lap, a baked pudding made of grated yam, banana, manioc, and taro root mixed with coconut milk and salt. It is wrapped in banana leaves and baked under hot volcanic stones. Every island has its own style of lap lap. Malekula’s special technique is baking their lap lap, which they call ‘sosor’, by placing a glowing hot volcanic stone in the centre of the unbaked pudding, then cooking onion, tomato, and chicken wings on the stone’s top. Coconut milk is squeezed over the pudding, then they wrap it all up and bake it. Once ready, the sosor is opened, the stone is removed, and the cooked meat steamed in the coconut milk is ready to serve with a coconut dipping sauce! Sounds delicious? It is!

This is just one of many Vanuatu recipes for you to try!