Papuan Archaeologists Find Stone Artefacts of Cooking Tools from Megalithic Remains – Researchers from the Papua Archeology Center succeeded to find culinary artefacts in the Khulutiyauw Hill, Abar Village, Ebungfauw District, Jayapura Regency. The artifact is thought to have functioned as a means of cooking fish in pottery. Archaeologist from the Papua Archaeological Center, Hari Suroto, explained that the findings show that culinary knowledge about soft-thorn cooked fish has been known since prehistoric times.

“Based on the context, the findings are in the form of megalithic remains around 1600 years ago in Lake Sentani,” he said, adding that the pottery culture began to be known in Papua since 3,000 years ago.

The artifact is in the form of a round and flat stone, with a diameter of about 10 cm, and was found with pottery fragments that are often found on almost the entire surface of Khulutiyauw Hill. As is known, said Hari, Khulutiyauw Hill is located on the southern shores of Lake Sentani or west of Kampung Abar. In that area, there is a Sentani tradition known as a culinary of fish with black sauce or Hebehelo.

“Hebehelo’s cuisine is in the form of a lake fish presto with an earthenware container that is seasoned with taro leaves and stems,” said Hari, adding that only bete taro is used as a spice, which is in the form of leaves and it’s stems is small and purple.

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The archaeologist who graduated from Udayana University also told how to cook the menu. The way is to prepare an earthenware container whose inside has been put woven bamboo as a base. Then, also prepare the stems and leaves of taro to be smoked in the fireplace. On top of the woven bamboo, put the cleaned fish. Before known tilapia fish, the cooked fish were black cork fish or kayou (Eleotrididae Oxyeleotris heterodon) and red cork fish or kahe (Eleotrididae Giuris margaritacea).

Then, the stems and dried taro leaves are put on top of the fish. On the top surface of the food materials, a flat round stone was also placed for the cover as well as a suppressor. An earthenware container containing fish is heated over coals for about two hours. In addition, the salt and spices of the taro sticks will penetrate into the fish which will make the fish feel tender to the bone. “The taste, of course, is delicious,” added Hari.

The use of taro stems and leaves is a form of local wisdom that has been passed down from generation to generation in Sentani. Apparently, the purple taro stems and leaves contain polyphenols that turn out to lower cholesterol. Meanwhile, Sentani cork fish does have a high fat content, so to balance it, it is used taro stems and leaves.

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