Fruit Bat Soup: The Traditional Palau Delicacy
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, they say. And that’s exactly what you’ll think after trying Palau’s famed delicacy – Fruit Bat Soup. This is truly one of the weirdest foods eaten around the world. Served in a large bowl of delicious soup bursting with flavor, and a whole bat staring right into your soul.
The visual is intriguing enough. But how exactly did this dish come about? Is it really worth all the hype around it? Let’s find out! In this article, we break down everything you didn’t know about fruit bat soup.
History of Fruit Bat Soup
To understand the history of fruit bat soup, it’s important to first touch on the tropical island Palau, where the dish originates from.
Historically, Palau’s protein came almost exclusively from fish. Over time, it became a country with some exquisite seafood. This became a little too tedious and limiting, however, as there were few meat options apart from fish. Therefore, many people in the region took to eating bats as an alternate source of protein.
The small fruit bats, that the dish consists of, reside in forested areas at the top of trees. While most kinds of bats eat insects, fruit bats consume wild fruits, flowers and nectar as their main diet, and hence help with the distribution of seeds during the process.
Fruit bat soup has historically been the staple of the locals’ diet in Palau. However, it is now seen as more of a delicacy.
Fruit bat soup also has a history with Micronesia, Guam and Africa. In fact, in Guam, fruit bat soup is an ancient delicacy that’s unfortunately not widely available anymore because the flying fox bat species were made extinct through extensive hunting.
How Exactly Does Fruit Bat Soup Taste?
The aesthetic of this dish might not be the most appealing – but is the taste worth it? Well, there are polarized opinions on that! While some people find the blend of flavors to be out-of-the-world delicious, others are just underwhelmed!
If we were to draw equivalents, the flavor of Fruit bat soup is (somewhat) similar to chicken soup. Since the bats are clean animals that live solely on fruits, young leaves and nectar – their meat tastes wickedly sweet. And it makes for an interesting dish!
The broth of fruit bat soup is made by washing a bat and throwing it in boiling water, fur included! After it’s been cooked for a while, the bat is taken out of the water and cooked with ginger and coconut milk.
Other spices as well as vegetables can be added as an addition to the core recipe. Many people prefer to skin the bat and remove the fur to get to the meat. However, the real way is to chew the bat, suck out the meat and then discard the remaining fur.
Fruit Bat Soup Recipe
Fruit bat soup has historically been the staple of the locals' diet in Palau. However, it is now seen as more of a delicacy.
- 1 Large fruit bat
- 2 Medium donni sali (hot peppers)
- 1 Chopped white onion
- 5 tbsp Light soy sauce
- 2 tsp Lemon juice
- 1 pinch Salt
- 2 cans Coconut milk unsweetened
For the hot sauce
In a sauce bowl, mix 2 tsp lemon juice and 5 tbsp. soy sauce with chopped onion.
Then, add chopped Donni Sali (hot pepper) to your tastes.
For the bat soup
In a large pot, boil the whole fruit bat in water for around 120 minutes, until the skin of the fruit bat is tender enough to tear through.
Remove water. Add coconut milk to the fruit bat with a pinch of salt to taste.
Cook for a further 10 minutes. Serve with hot sauce (covered above) and cooked rice.
Voilà! Your fruit bat soup is ready to serve.
So, if you’re looking for a truly unique dining experience in Palau that isn’t sushi – fruit bat soup is the dish to try. If vampire movies freak you out, though, then Fruit bat soup is not for you!
Photo credit: mattjlc