A recipe for Kaukau na Painap (Papua New Guinean Sweet Potato and Pineapple Skewers)! Pieces of sweet potato and pineapple are arranged on skewers, grilled until tender, and served with butter.
These Kaukau na Painap (Sweet Potato and Pineapple Skewers) are perfect for the summer grilling season- especially with only three ingredients! For being a smaller country, Papua New Guinea is incredibly diverse with thousands of unique 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 wide range of cuisines, 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.
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.
Looking for more sweet potato-based recipes?
Kaukau na Painap (Papua New Guinean Sweet Potato and Pineapple Skewers) Recipe
Adapted from The Baltimore Snacker, from Papua New Guinea Cookbook
Kaukau na Painap (Papua New Guinean Sweet Potato and Pineapple Skewers)
- 2 sweet potatoes
- 1 pineapple
- 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.