20 Most Popular Foods in Equatorial Guinea
To understand the gastronomy of Equatorial Guinea it is important to understand its diversity. Like almost any African country, the ethnocultural groups that live in Equatorial Guinea make for a wide culinary diversity.
In Equatorial Guinea five main groups coexist: Fang, Bubis, Ndowe, Bisios, and Annabonese. Each group has its own distinct cuisine, although some dishes are shared among them.
Western foods have also become popular in the country and are served at local restaurants. Surprisingly, many local foods, which are very popular among the local population, are only prepared at home and cannot be found on the menus of local restaurants.
Taking all the above into account, let’s review the 20 most popular dishes in Equatorial Guinea.
Pepe-soup is a spicy soup that is prepared in a very simple way with water, salt, local spices, and fish.
All the ethnic groups of the country share this dish and, strangely enough, it is only eaten in the company of friends or family during the mornings.
2. Peanut Soup
The soup is prepared with different degrees of viscosity. It can be seasoned and served with cassava, rice, taro, or banana.
Like nearly all meals in Equatorial Guinea, the soup must always contain fish or meat of any kind, which makes for an exciting mix of flavor.
3. Ocrosoup or Soup of Ocro
Ocrosoup is a typical dish of the Bioko Island. It is really one of the tastiest dishes of Equatorial Guinean gastronomy.
It is a very viscous dish that is prepared with vegetables and served with banana or cassava. You can make it by cutting the ocro (okra) into small pieces and adding chopped vegetables. It is seasoned with salt, chicken, or lobster broth and boiled until the soup becomes slimy. After that, it’s ready to enjoy.
Dishes with Mollusks:
4. Forest Snails Soup
Mollusk dishes are highly appreciated in Equatorial Guinea and one of the most famous dish is made with forest snails. Most are caught in the jungle, hence the name of the mollusks, though some are also farmed.
The main difficulty when preparing this dish is the work involved to eliminate the sticky snail slime. Natural lemon juice is usually applied to the snail to completely eliminate the slime and obtain a very clean snail ready to be cooked. In addition to snails, it is common to add vegetables and other ingredients, such as onion and lobster broth.
The soup should boil until the snail becomes soft to the palate. This is one of the tastiest dishes of Equatorial Guinea gastronomy and is usually served with cassava or plantain.
5. Bilola or Sea Snail
Bilolas are very famous on Bioko Island, especially in a specific place called White Sand Beach, which is roughly 45 kilometers from Malabo.
The beach owes its name to the whitish color of its sands, which is rare since being a volcanic island, the sand is usually black. Unlike forest snails, bilolas are almost always prepared on skewers on the grill.
Since Equatorial Guinea was for a long period of time a Spanish colony, many Spanish dishes have become staple foods in the country.
It is usually prepared with prawns and has a noticeable yellowish color. Paella rice (as it is referred locally) is frequently served at christening parties, New Years celebrations, or any other party.
7. Rice with Chicken
As the name says, the main ingredient in this dish is chicken. The chicken and the rice are usually prepared separately, though in one variation of the dish the chicken fillets are prepared together with the rice in a single dish.
This dish is very popular in Malabo, and there are small restaurants throughout the city that sell it.
Dishes of the Fang Ethnic Group
8. Bambucha (Mendjaha)
Bambucha is a typical Fang dish, although other ethnic groups such as the Bubi or Ndowé have their variations. Prepared with fresh cassava leaves and palm kernel soup, this is possibly the most iconic dish of the Fang ethnic group and one of the most popular in the country. Bambucha is usually served with taro or cassava.
9. Wrapped with Barbel
There are several dishes that are prepared wrapped, therefore we cannot close this article without talking about the barbel wrap. The fish barbel is considered a very high-end food in Equatorial Guinea, so anything to do with barbel is expensive, but also very tasty.
The preparation of this dish is simple. The barbel is cleaned and seasoned with salt, onion, and broth. Then it is placed in cleaned banana leaves and tied, and the leaves are placed on burning charcoal without flames. The natural water that comes out of the interior of the barbel preserves the natural flavor. This is one of the most emblematic and tasty dishes in the country.
10. Peanut Wrap
Peanut wrap is another of the typical dishes of the Fang ethnic group. It is a dish prepared for very special occasions such as a wedding, or when a mother-in-law visits her son-in-law’s house, in which case it is almost a law that she prepares this dish.
This wrap is prepared with peanuts (obviously!), but the finish is solid, without a hint of water. This is achieved by adding little water to the ground peanuts, mixing it with a little salt, smoked fish, and putting it on a low heat wrapped in banana leaves, and waiting for it to dry completely.
Ideally, it should be accompanied by a portion of banana. Because it is a very dry food, it is advisable to have water close by.
11. Wrap of Pumpkin or Anita Blanca
Like the previous dish, it has the same seasonings and the same finish, except instead of peanuts, pumpkin paste is used, which is obtained by grinding pumpkins.
Pambota is single palm kernel soup flavored with smoked fish. It is possibly one of the tastiest foods of this ethnic group. This is how you can make it: Once the palm kernel has been crushed to extract its juice, it is used as the base of the soup and the smoked fish is added. (Some use smoked chicken instead.)
Although it is a very popular dish for other ethnic groups, each one prepares it a little differently. When prepared by the Ndowés, pambota has an intense flavor.
Anyone who asks what can be eaten in Annobón will tell you about pissoj. Actually, on the island of Annobon they eat a lot of things, but pissoj is one of the Annabonese dishes that has crossed borders for its elegance and flavor.
The pissoj itself is a side, but it can be eaten alone as an appetizer. There are many kinds: white pissoj, red ones made with palm oil, and coconut pissoj. The latter, in my opinion, is one of the best works of art that the human palate has ever tasted.
The Bubi Ethnic Food:
This is the typical food of the Bubi ethnic group from the island of Bioko, and especially common in Malabo. Aballah is a taro dough obtained by crushing it, then mixing it with palm oil and wrapping in well-prepared banana leaves where it is cooked. The finished product is a soft and tasty dough.
Although they are served as desserts, fritters are usually consumed at any time of the day, but especially in the morning by workers and students.
It is a sweet dough made of flour mixed with yeast and sugar that is fried in the form of balls. They are sweet and pasty. There are also fritters made with banana dough.
Concodos are a mixture of roasted peanut kernels with water and sugar. It is heated until the sugar and water become very thick. Once it is removed from the fire, the sugary mass solidifies and the concodo is ready. It is very sweet and crunchy.
Although it is not harvested throughout the year, atanga is one of those desserts that, being just fruit, nobody understands why it is not eaten at the end of a main dish.
Atanga is collected when it has a characteristic strong natural blue color. All you have to do is heat water to between 70 and 85 degrees Celcius, remove it from the heat, and add the atanga, leaving it covered for about 10 to 20 minutes. At that point, the atanga is already soft and has changed color. Next the atanga is removed and placed in a clean container, where it’s ready to eat, although there are some that add a little salt.
Atanga can be accompanied by cassava, but it’s normally eaten alone, since this is how the intense natural flavor of the fruit is most enjoyed.
The sides are an obligatory mention when talking about the food of Equatorial Guinea. They are not only sides, but a symbol of Equatorial Guinea gastronomy. For example, no one eats a peanut wrap without asking for cassava or banana. However, you would never ask for rice or taro, which is nearly forbidden and would cause a raised eyebrow.
The most popular are the following:
18. Yuca (Cassava)
Cassava is one of the star sides of Equatorial Guinean cuisine. Nearly everyone prefers it as a first or second option, and it is widely consumed because once cooked it stays very well preserved at home.
Cassava is prepared with paste of cassava tubers that are put into water to ferment naturally and become soft in a matter of four or five days. Once the cassava is fermented, it is crushed until obtaining a very soft paste. After that it is encased in banana leaves or another plant with large leaves and boiled until cooked.
Finally, we have the typical yucca that drives diners crazy (in a good way).
The banana is the second most popular companion in general, though in some regions they the side dish of choice. Cassava is preferred in the continental region and bananas in Malabo.
The banana does not require much work, other than to peel it and boil it until cooked. Unlike cassava, which can be kept for up to a month, the plantain ripens and must be used, but it is much less processed than cassava. However, everyone has their personal preference for either cassava or banana.
20. Fried Rice
White rice without additional seasonings is one of the most consumed foods throughout the country, since it can feed many people at very little cost. The reason it appears last is because we have included it as a side. In fact, almost everyone in Equatorial Guinea has rice reserves at home, as it tends to help poor families survive due to its simplicity (it does not require many ingredients) and its speed of cooking.
Fried rice is prepared by frying rice with palm, coconut, or olive oil for 5 to 10 minutes. Once it is sufficiently fried, water is poured into the pot, and salt or chicken broth or lobster can be added. After that, we only have to wait 30 minutes before it’s ready to eat.