Saksak Dumplings (Sago)

Sago Dumplings - or saksak is a mixture of sago, bananas and creamed coconut. 

Saksak comes from a palm tree, which can be planted or found growing wild.  Once the palm has reached maturity, it is chopped down, and the great palm leaves are cleared away.  The men then chop and clear away the bark with their tomahawks and bush knives until the pale, smooth core is visible.  The men pound the smooth core into wood pulp resembling saw-dust using adzes.

The women then take this pulp to a nearby water source and refine it even further by separating the fine "dust" from the remaining saw-dust resembling pulp.  This process is repeated until no more fine dust is able to be extracted from the wood pulp.  Any remaining water is separated and you are left with sediment that resembles fine, sand-like, starch.

This raw material can then be used in a similar fashion to flour.

Saksak is a staple food for many parts of PNG

  • 6 cups ground sago (can be replaced with cassava/tapioca/manioc)
  • 4 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 3 - 5 banana leaves
  • creamed milk of several coconuts

Mix the ground sago and the 3 - 5 ripe bananas together well

Heat the banana leaves over an open fie (flame) to soften them

Cut the banana leaves into rectangular pieces

wrap the sago in these pieces

Pop the wrapped sago into boiling hot water in a pot

Let these boil for about 20 minutes

Prepare another pot of creamed coconut milk

Squeeze the milk out of the 6 coconuts and boil this milk until it comes to boiling point

Take the sago out of the boiling water, unwrap it from the banana leaves

Wrap and place the sago into the coconut milk

Allow to cook for another 20 minutes or so


A nice variation to the recipe is to add shredded coconut to the mixture. You can also steam the sago rather than boiling it.  Some people like to add some finely chopped ginger to the mix.


If you can not find banana leaves you could replace this with aluminium foil.


See also -- - "How SAGO is made from a tree"


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This site is about Trevor Michie's family. Trevor has family mainly in Victoria with a son and daughter (and  their families) in Perth, West Australia. He has in-laws in Papua New Guinea - Australia's closest neighbour.

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