Top 10 Traditional Foods in Gabon
Gabon is one of the eight countries that make up Central Africa and it presents a fantastic cultural and ethnic diversity. From this diversity comes a unique Gabonese cuisine. It’s full of a rich and varied culinary heritage; about 50 ethnic groups make up the country.
The base of Gabon’s culinary wealth is partly found in what the land produces, in particular, plantain bananas, cassava, cassava leaves, African eggplant, peppers, and cabbage.
Widely consumed, cassava leaves, usually accompanied by smoked fish, are very finely pounded and then boiled. They are used by almost the entire population but not always in the same way; thus, the Fangs add sugar or peanut paste while the Bakotas stew them with soukoutè.
Bushmeat is also very popular in Gabonese cuisine. It includes antelope, warthog, and more unexpected animals such as porcupines, pangolins, snakes, crocodiles, monkeys, and more.
With the movement and mixing of ethnic groups, the cuisine has only grown richer, and in this article, we give you the 10 most popular traditional Gabonese dishes.
1. Nkumu Ofula
The great secret of this dish is surely the indigenous salt, which gives it a unique salty taste.
We also find palm oil and Nkumu leaves, each element playing a role in the harmony of the dish. Nkumu is a vegetable found in forests that is also used as a natural remedy to treat colic in children, constipation, kidney issues, or rheumatism.
To make the taste buds happier, you can add fish, meat, or shrimp, as you wish. Onions, chili, and pepper are enough to enhance this succulent dish.
2. Cassava Leaves (Feuilles de Manioc)
This dish is one of the prides of Gabonese cuisine and the dish is widely eaten among the ethnic groups of Gabon. But everyone cooks and enriches it in their own way. Some, like the Fangs, add sugar, others peanut paste or nyembwè sauce. Generally, we incorporate fish or canned sardines, but you can always use meat instead.
The creativity employed to highlight this dish is limitless; you can add cabbage, for example, to give this dish a different flavor. It is usually served for family meals on weekdays and weekends. It is served with cassava, rice, or banana fingers to appreciate it better.
Cassava leaves wrapped in a banana leaf is one of the signature dishes of our Kota brothers. Banana peel juice or cawin (sea salt) are key ingredients, which you can replace with a Kota spice: élodjè. Together with freshwater fish, it is a pure delight.
The banana flower is edible and delicious. Our Nzébi brothers flavor it with groundnuts, the main element of the dish. It is important to remove the flower’s bitterness, which we do by adding banana, cabbage, meat, fish, or even shrimp. The banana flower can be used in a variety of dishes, including salads, stir-fries, soups, and stews.
5. Captain’s Broth (Bouillon de Capitaine)
Our Myènes brothers and sisters created port-gentil, or lambaréné, which can be found all over the country.
Dosed with a good chili, this broth will certainly warm you up. But don’t forget to serve it with lemon, or they will be a little something missing. And the fresher the fish, the better the taste. It is an excellent choice for a family meal on a Sunday afternoon.
6. Okra Sauce (Sauce Gombo)
Characterized by its sticky texture, this dish includes okra, okra leaves, beef skin, smoked fish, red oil, and dried shrimp. After good cooking, this combination of ingredients is a treat for the stomach.
You can find okra in gardens or markets, and it’s easy to spot due to its distinctive shape. The pod contains small, round seeds and has a sticky texture when cut.
7. Bundle of Squash or Cucumber (Paquet de Courges ou Concombre)
Pumpkin seeds, either in a sauce or wrapped in packets, are very popular. The package can include smoked shrimp, smoked fish, or smoked meat, just season and enjoy. Some put in chili, but that’s not always a favorite with the little ones.
8. Smoked Chicken with Nyembwè (Pulet Fumé au Nwembwè)
From the Republic of Congo to the DRC and Cameroon, this dish is one of the very expressions of Africa. “Nyembwe” means palm oil in the Myènè Bantu language. Smoked chicken cooked in “seed sauce” (as our Ivorian brothers call it), is a well-known dish, testifying to its deliciousness. The seed sauce is made from a variety of seeds like sesame, pumpkin, and peanuts, ground together to form a rich and creamy sauce. The dish provides an unforgettable culinary experience.
9. Salted Fish with Vegetables (Poisson Salé aux Légumes)
Salted fish is a delicious and healthy Gabonese family dish made with cod and vegetables. The recipe is very simple, once you have carefully removed the bones from the cod; however, there are many variations, so expect it to taste differently wherever you taste it.
This meal is ultra-healthy, simple to cook, and delicious!
10. Boar with Odika (Sanglier à l’Odika)
Wild boar is very popular in Odika. It is simply a delicacy that you cannot miss. It is particularly cooked for weddings and other major festivals. The preparation of Boar with Odika typically involves marinating the boar meat with a blend of herbs and spices. The grated Odika is then added to the marinated meat, creating a sauce that infuses the dish with its chocolate-like taste. Marinated wild boar, tastier than pork, is undoubtedly a culinary pride of the Gabonese.
Odika is produced by the Andok tree that grows in tropical and subtropical climates. It can be found in forests and wooded areas.
So, which of these dishes do you fancy tasting? Everyone should visit Gabon at least once in their life and give these foods a try. You will definitely not regret it. Wishing you a fantastic dining experience!
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