HOW TO MAKE POHNPEIAN SAKAU

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By Richard Solomon

KOROR, Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia (March 7-20, 2002 – The Kaselehlie Press)---What is sakau-en-Pohnpei? Sakau-en-Pohnpei is kava, which is made from a plant. In Pohnpei, it is made and drunk by the people and exported to other countries. Sakau is so expensive that some people can’t afford to buy it, so they plant their sakau in the forest for the purpose of selling it to others and getting money. Making sakau-en-Pohnpei is easy if you follow these steps.

First, get the sakau and all the materials you need. Where can you get the sakau? You can get it from the forest or you can buy it from others that have some. It will cost at least fifty dollars for a root. The materials that you will need are as follows: a knife, pounding rocks, a flat rock, hibiscus bark, and a coconut shell.

Next, clean the sakau. You need to clean up the sakau because you don’t cook it, so you wash it with water and soap. Wash away all dirt and let the sakau stay in water for a couple of hours. The sakau will absorb the water and that will make it easier to pound it down. After one or two hours of soaking, take the sakau out of the water and put it under the sun. The sunlight will make it soft and juicy. If you see that the sakau is warm, take it out from under the sun.

After that, you need to cut it down into small pieces. Use a knife to cut and separate the roots. The primary roots are the strongest, so I would recommend that you use only the primary roots.

Then, you pound the roots. You can pound anyway you like, but for Pohnpeians it is important and appropriate to pound on a pei-sehl. A pei-sehl is a traditional rock that can be found in forests on Pohnpei. It is a flat rock that has many sounds if you pound a root on it. Pound the sakau until it becomes possible for you to squeeze the juice out of it. Pounding takes about forty or fifty minutes depending on the sakau. When you finish with the pounding, you need to have your hibiscus bark combined with water, for about two or three minutes. Then take it out and squeeze it on the pounded roots. Then you mix the sakau with the water and put some in the hibiscus bark. Finally, you twist the bark containing the sakau in a circular motion firmly and slowly. You will see the juice spill out like melted chocolate. Squeeze it into a traditional, coconut shell.

When you drink the kava, you need to close your eyes. If you don’t close your eyes, something bad might happen to you or you could become blind. This process is a traditional one, so you must be careful when you use it. In this process, you must serve a person that has the highest rank first, then to a person under that one and then continue on. In custom, religion, and also the government, any person who has a high rank is able to drink the kava in the meantime, rather than others that are low ranked.

In conclusion, this is very traditional in Pohnpei. That is why people take real care of their sakau plantations.

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