It is always enlightening to visit a place where you’ve never been before. The discovery of unique local customs, cultural heritage, and authentic cuisine will only serve to enrich you spiritually, mentally, and physically. During a routine exploration of Belitung for its long-standing eateries, I was introduced to a number of enticing local nibbles. Although a fair share of them may have similar attributes to light bites from other parts of the country, some surprised me no end with its unfamiliar characteristics.
Commonly sold early in the morning by hawkers in traditional markets, Lempar Ketan is quite identical to the Javanese sticky rice treat Lemper. What sets them apart is the use of Sambal Lingkong (fish floss) for the stuffing inside Lempar Ketan, and it is wrapped using Daun Simpur (Dillenia leaf) instead of a banana leaf. While Lemper features a sweet trace to its flavour, Lempar Ketan shares more in common with the Manadonese Lalampa taste-wise, although without the spiciness.
Also known as Bong Li Piang, Pia Nanas is made from wheat flour, coconut milk, palm sugar, and pineapple. Brownish in colour, its appearance is akin to pillow bread by the looks of its exterior. However, you could only tell the difference between them once it hits your palate. It is dense and slightly dry in texture with a rather sweet aftertaste, while its luscious pineapple jam filling forms the basis of its overall flavour. Pia Nanas is widely available in both Bangka and Belitung.
At first glance, I assumed that Nasi Gemok would taste exactly like Nasi Uduk (steamed rice cooked in coconut milk) since they both use rice and coconut milk. It turns out that they are two very different beasts. Preparation-wise, while Nasi Uduk has its rice steamed together with coconut oil, Nasi Gemok sees them prepared separately – with the coconut milk sauce served on the side. Also, Nasi Gemok is wrapped using Daun Simpur (Dillenia leaf) with a piece of fried fish. Sold in small packets, it is usually eaten as a light breakfast by the locals.