Saturday, 18 June 2011


Indigenous dishes

§  Manok Pansoh.

Manok Pansoh is the most common dish among Iban. It is a chicken dish which normally be eaten with white rice. Chicken pieces are cut and stuffed into the bambo together with other ingredients like mushrooms, lemongrass, tapioca leaves etc and cooked over an open fire - similar to the way lemang is cooked. This natural way of cooking seals in the flavours and produces astonishingly tender chicken with a gravy perfumed with lemongrass and bamboo. Manok Pansoh cannot be found easily in all restaurants and coffee shops. Some restaurants require advanced booking of Manok Pansoh dish prior to your arrival.

§  Umai.

 Umai is a raw fish salad popular among various ethnic groups of Sarawak, especially the Melanaus. In fact, umai is a traditional working lunch for the Melanau fishermen. Umai is prepared raw from freshly caught fish, iced but not frozen. Main species used include Mackerel, Bawal Hitam and Umpirang. It is made mainly of thin slivers of raw fish, thinly sliced onions, chilli, salt and the juice of sour fruits like lime or assam. It is usually accompanied by a bowl of toasted sago pearls instead of rice. Its simplicity makes it a cinch for fishermen to prepare it aboard their boats. Umai Jeb, a raw fish salad without other additional spices, is famous among Bintulu Melanaus. However, it is rarely prepared in Kuching. You can try umai when you eat 'Nasi Campur' during lunch hours in Kuching. Most coffee shops, especially Malay or Bumiputera-owned one, served umai daily for 'Nasi Campur'.

§  Midin (originated from Sarawak).

The locals greatly indulge in jungle fern such as the midin (quite similar to pucuk paku that is popular in the Peninsular). Midin is much sought after for its crisp texture and great taste. Midin is usually served in two equally delicious ways - fried with either garlic or belacan. You can try Midin when you eat 'Nasi Campur' during lunch hours in Kuching. Most coffee shops, served Midin daily for 'Nasi Campur'.

§  Bubur Pedas (originated from Sarawak).

Unlike many other porridge that we know, Bubur Pedas is cooked with a specially prepared paste. It is quite spicy thanks to its ingredients, which include spices, turmeric, lemon grass, galangal, chillies, ginger, coconut and shallots. Like the famous Bubur Lambuk of Kuala Lumpur, Bubur Pedas is exclusive dish prepared during the month of Ramadan and served during the breaking of fast. So don't expect to eat Bubur Pedas at anytime you want!

§  Nasik Aruk (originated from Sarawak).

Nasik Aruk is a traditional Sarawakian Malay fried rice. Unlike Nasi Goreng, Nasik Aruk does not use any oil to fry the rice. The ingredients are garlic, onion and anchovies, fried to perfection with very little oil and then the cook will put the rice in. The rice must be fried for longer time (compared to frying rice for Nasi Goreng) for the smokey/slightly-burnt taste to absorb into the rice. It is a common to see Nasik Aruk in the food menu list at Malay and Mamak coffee shops and stalls.

§  Linut/Ambuyat (originated from Brunei, but widely consumed in Sabah and Sarawak).

Linut (in Sarawak) and Ambuyat (in Sabah) is a sticky porridge-like type of food, made from sagu flour. It can be eaten raw, or dipped into spicy sambal belacan. Normally, linut or ambuyat is eaten during high tea or night supper.


§  Sarawak laksa

The local spin on the ubiquitous noodle dish. It's sweet and coconutty like Singapore's laksa lemak, but gets a unique zing from heavy spices (notably sambal belacan, a mix of chili and shrimp paste) plus toppings of prawns, chicken and egg.

§  Kolo mee

Simple but popular Sarawakian noodle dish, consisting of dry egg noodles tossed in oil and served with slices of roast pork.

§  Tomato kueh tiaw

Variation of the popular fried kueh tiaw (thin, flat rice noodles), with tomato gravy, meat (usually chicken pieces), vegetables and seafood (usually prawns). It is particular to Kuching.

§  Kek lapis Sarawak or Sarawak Layer Cake

An elaborately baked cake with multiple layers which has a unique and delicious taste.

§  Foochow bagel (kompia).

This pastry can only be found in Sibu where ethnic Chinese of Foochow clan formed a majority.


The local firewater, served up in prodigious quantities if you stay in a longhouse, is known as tuak and is distilled from rice, sago or any other convenient source of fermentable sugar. For those who want a stronger dose, langkau or Iban whisky can be sourced from longhouses in the interior. You can buy commercial tuak (The Royalist) at most supermarkets in Kuching. Great as a souvenir for friends! The commercial rice wine/tuak is rather pleasant to drink too, and none of that home-brewed murkiness either.

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