Bangka is a small island which is rich in culture. The place was strongly influenced by many cultures; European, Malay, and Chinese. As a part of culture, culinary there was also highly influenced by the acculturated cultures. Therefore, the place is also rich in culinary. So if you ever take a vacation tour to Bangka, don’t forget to taste as many foods as possible to enrich your culinary experience and knowledge. But meantime, you can start by reading this list of Bangka’s traditional food as your reference:

1. Lempah Kuning

Lempah Kuning is claimed to be the most authentic and the most special traditional food of Bangka. It is the most common food to be found in Bangka. Almost anyone in Bangka knows how to cook it.

You can also buy it from many restaurants and food stands throughout the islands. There is even a saying that “you have never been to Bangka if you have not tasted Lempah Kuning”. For Bangka people themselves, Lempah Kuning is a favorite dish. They usually serve it on special events such as religious ceremonies or wedding party. They also like to serve it as casual dish on normal days.

A Serving of Fish Lempah Kuning (Source: Flickr. Credit: novida kurniasari)
A Serving of Fish Lempah Kuning
(Source: Flickr. Credit: novida kurniasari)

Lempah Kuning is like a stew with gravy, pineapple chops, and spices. The gravy is colored yellow by the use of turmeric. Literally, the word “kuning” means “yellow” in Indonesia. The main ingredient to use in Lempah Kuning can be varied. Mostly, it uses fishes such as snapper fish, mackerel, or tuna. But you can also replace the fish with beef, although it is not a popular option in the islands. Lempah Kuning tastes sour, savory, and somewhat spicy. It is best to served warm and eaten as a dish for warm steamed rice.

 

2. Lempah Darat

Lempah Darat is a variant of Lempah that does not always have to be yellow-colored. The main ingredient of this food does not use meaty protein like Lempah Kuning. Instead, it uses taro or caladium. It sometimes is replaced or combined with vegetables such as papaya leaf.

Because it does not contain meaty protein, Lempah Darat could be a great choice for vegetarians. But mostly in Bangka, Lempah Darat is served with other meaty dish such as dried fish. Lempah Darat has much lighter taste than Lempah Kuning as it does not use gravy and that much of spices.

A Bowl of Lempah Darat (Source: ultari-sissilia.blogspot.com. Credit: ExploringBABEL)
A Bowl of Lempah Darat
(Source: ultari-sissilia.blogspot.com. Credit: ExploringBABEL)

3. Lempah Kulat

Another variant of Lempah is Lempah Kulat. This dish is also highly popular in Bangka as you may never find it anywhere else. Kulat itself is a kind of endemic mushroom that grows only in Bangka islands. It only grows on Pelawan tree, an endemic tree of Bangka. The mushroom grows only on rainy season so this dish would mostly be available during that moment.

Kulat has a soft and elastic texture. Lempah Kulat is usually cooked with coconut milk to elevate the unique flavor of the mushroom. This dish tastes savory, a little bit sour, and spicy. Lempah Kulat is also not always yellow in color. In fact, this dish is usually dark colored. This dish is also known by the name Lempah Jamur (Mushroom Lempah).

Lempah Kulat (Source: dentistvchef.wordpress.com. Credit: Dentis Chef 2014)
Lempah Kulat
(Source: dentistvchef.wordpress.com. Credit: Dentis Chef 2014)

4. Kemplang or Getas

Kemplang (also popular by the name Getas or Kretek) is a traditional fish chips of Bangka. The food is simply made from fish, tapioca flour, eggs, and salt. Most Getas are using local mackerel fish as the main ingredients. But basically, any kind of fish can be used. In fact, the fish can also be replaced with other seafood such as shrimp or squids. It is not so difficult to make it. The shape of Getas is usually long cylindrical or round.

Kemplang is mostly produced in traditional home industries in the districts of Belinyu, Sungailiat, and Merawang. But if you want to taste it, you can simply buy a package of it on food shops in Bangka. The price is ranging between $4.5 to $7.5 per kilogram. It depends on the quality of fish used as main ingredients.

They also serve Kemplang at restaurants and food stands as a complementary for almost any dish. It is also delicious to be eaten as snacks. To make it more delicious, Kemplang is sometimes served with sambal (chili paste) to dip in. If you buy a packaged one at the shop, it will include a small pack of sambal.

Kemplang Served with Spicy Sauce (Source: Flickr. Credit: devi indriyani)
Kemplang Served with Spicy Sauce
(Source: Flickr. Credit: devi indriyani)

5. Otak-Otak

Otak-otak is another savory snack originally from Bangka which is similar to a grilled fish cake wrapped in banana leaf. To make Otak-Otak, first you need to mash the fish meat and mix it with spices such as shallot, garlic, scallion, egg, coconut milk, and sago starch. The mixture is then wrapped with banana leaf on small packages. Last, it is grilled until it is done and smells tasty.

Otak-Otak on A Plate (Source: Flickr. Credit: Choo Yut Shing)
Otak-Otak on A Plate
(Source: Flickr. Credit: Choo Yut Shing)

The word “otak” means “brains”. The snack is named that way because the texture of the food looks similar to brain at a glance. It is greyish white, it is soft, and it is squishy. Commonly, Otak-Otak in Bangka uses wahoo fish as the main ingredients as it gives the best texture and aroma.

This snack is best served warm when it is newly grilled. You can eat it as a complement dish for warm steamed rice, or you can eat it as snack during tea time. It is usually served with light peanut sauce to dip in. Other variation of Otak-Otak does not require grilling. Instead, it is steamed, which results in softer texture and taste. The dipping sauce can also be replaced with light sweet and sour sauce called “cuko”.

 

6. Tew Fu Sui

Tew Fu Sui is a traditional beverage originally from Bangka. You may have guessed from its name that this beverage was strongly influenced by the Chinese culture. The word “Tew Fu Sui” on its name means “tofu water”. But in fact, the beverage is not literally made from tofu. Instead, it is processed from soy.

Tew Fu Sui Stall with No Fruity Variant (Source: gourmetcam.blogspot.com. Credit: Shiva Vinneza)
Tew Fu Sui Stall with No Fruity Variant
(Source: gourmetcam.blogspot.com. Credit: Shiva Vinneza)

Tew Fu Sui is similar to regular soy milk that you can find almost anywhere. The difference is that Tew Fu Sui has more unique taste. You can’t really taste the soy in it like regular soy milk, so generally it tastes softer.

Tew Fu Sui can also be combined with fruits to make it taste more refreshing and rich. Tew Fu Sui is best to drink with several traditional savory snacks such as kemplang and otak-otak. This beverage will taste good either it is served cold or warm.

 

As you might have noticed, most food in Bangka uses sea products as the main ingredients. This makes sense perfectly as Bangka is an archipelago that has wide sea surrounding it. In Bangka, there are a lot more of fishermen than breeders.

It is much easier to find seafood than beef in the islands. But if you don’t like seafood or if you are allergic, no need to be worried. Most of the seafood in Bangka dish can be replaced with meat.

Now, don’t get too excited yet about Bangka traditional culinary as we have not finished the list yet. To that, please continue reading to our next article. We would like to provide much more information regarding the delicious treats you must taste in Bangka islands.

 

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