It took a bit of searching to find recipes from Papua New Guinea, but these Kaukau na Painap (Sweet Potato and Pineapple Skewers) are perfect for the summer grilling season- especially with only three ingredients! Papua New Guinea is located on the eastern half of an island (New Guinea- the second largest in the world) in Oceania above Australia along with about 600 small islands and archipelagos. They gained their independence in 1975 from Australia. The western half of the island is a part of Indonesia. For being a smaller country, Papua New Guinea is incredibly diverse with thousands of unique ethnic groups. There are also hundreds of languages spoken, but Tok Pisin is now the most widely used (English and Hiri Motu are the other official languages). This diversity has led to a not easily identifiable cuisine, but there are a few shared common ingredients.
Sweet potatoes (kaukau) were introduced from South America via the Spanish along with Yucca. They spread through the island and are now one of the most widely eaten foods. Kaukau can also be found baked, often with the addition of coconut. Taro, yams, coconut, sago, fish, rice, greens (kumu), sago grub, breadfruit, and a variety of tropical fruits are also popular. Meat does not make an everyday appearance, but pork is often prepared during special occasions. Over the years, the cuisine has also been influenced by Europe, China, and Indonesia.
I boiled the sweet potato cubes until they were just starting to become tender. Don’t overcook or they will fall apart during the skewering/grilling process.
I originally tried assembling the sweet potato and pineapple cubes on flat, wider skewers. These didn’t work very well and were more likely to tear the cubes. Use the thin, circular skewers for better results.
2 sweet potatoes
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
Peel the sweet potatoes and cut into 1 inch cubes. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add the sweet potato cubes, and cook until nearly tender, 5-10 minutes. Drain and set aside until cool enough to handle.
Remove the skin and core of the pineapple, then cut into 1 inch cubes.
Arrange the sweet potato and pineapple cubes on skewers. Heat a grill or cast iron grill pan over medium heat. Once heated, add the skewers, in batches if needed. Brush the cubes with melted butter and cook until grill marks appear on the bottom, 3-4 minutes. Flip the skewers, brush with more butter and cook for another 3-4 minutes.
Serve warm with remaining butter.