The Lakota Sioux, an indigenous people of the Great Plains, created wasna as a way to break away from reservation-born foods and return to dishes truer to Native American culture. The name wasna comes from a Lakota word meaning “all mixed up” – which is apt, considering the dish consists of a pounded mix of dried buffalo meat, cranberries and grains. This snack is incredibly nutritious and high in protein. In fact, the Oglala Lakota from the Pine Ridge Reservation have created an energy bar from their ancestral wasna recipe called Tanka Bar.
Another popular Lakota Sioux recipe you’re likely to find across the state is wojapi. This viscous dipping sauce is prepared by mixing berries – typically chokecherries, but any wild berry will do – a sweetener and corn starch. Like many Sioux dishes, this simple recipe produces irresistibly delicious results. Wojapi is typically served with fry bread, a doughy bread that is pan-fried to a puffy, golden brown. It is commonly served at powwows and other Native American gatherings, and at the Laughing Water Restaurant at Crazy Horse Memorial.
Fans of traditional tacos will love this Native American twist on an old classic. This variation consists of everything you would expect to find on a normal taco, but with a few key differences. Namely, they’re served on fry bread rather than a traditional shell or tortilla, giving this dish a doughy yet flakey finish. Indian Tacos are also commonly prepared with bison meat rather than ground beef, creating an authentic flavor you’ll taste in every bite. Cedar Pass Restaurant in Badlands National Park is well-known for its Indian Tacos.
Although their name may be a bit of a misnomer – the meat found inside is actually bison, not buffalo – you won’t give a lick about that after your first bite. Because bison is a much leaner meat than beef, these burgers have fewer calories and less fat, yet are arguably more delicious. To get your hands on some of the best bison burgers in the state, visit Black Hills Burger and Bun Co. in Custer or Minervas restaurant in Sioux Falls.
PHEASANT AND WALLEYE
The final South Dakota delicacies on our list are the official state fish and state bird. Walleye can be prepared by baking, broiling, frying or grilling. When cooked correctly, this versatile fresh-water white fish will have a sweet, mild flavor and a flaky consistency. Chinese ring-necked pheasant, on the other hand, is often prepared similar to a holiday bird – by garnishing with herbs and vegetables then roasting. And, anglers and hunters rejoice, some restaurants in South Dakota will even cook your catch or game you earned that day.