Sarawakians love to eat and we take pride in our food. Sarawak is home to 27 ethnic groups, each with their own unique stories, beliefs, traditions, cultures and, of course, food.From the world-renowned Sarawak laksa to our own version of sashimi and everyone’s favourite kolo mee. Let us take a look at what are the local delicacies that fuel Sarawakians.
Selection of Sarawak foods
International celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain once referred to Sarawak laksa as the breakfast of the gods. There are a number of different laksa variations across Malaysia but Sarawak’s version of the dish sets itself apart with its select assortment of spices and ingredients.The base of the dish can be wheat noodles or rice vermicelli topped with shrimps, chickens, eggs and bean sprouts. The secret of Sarawak laksa, however, lies in the spicy and flavourful broth made with chicken bones, shrimp shells and heads and Laksa paste. It is then topped off with coconut milk for a full and creamy texture.
Kolo mee is the breakfast of choice for most Sarawakians. The beauty of this dish is in its simplicity. The noodles are lightly cooked and then tossed with a mixture of flavourful oil and fried shallots. Other ingredients such as barbequed pork, minced pork, fish or shrimps may be added. A simple but tasty dish that will leave you craving for more.
There is no better food to warm up the tummy and the soul like Kacang ma. This is a well-balanced dish – believed to be of Hakka origin – that blends the strong taste of wine with the slightly sweet and bitter taste of motherwort. The dish is said to be able to promote blood circulation and reduce inflammation. These qualities make it the dish of choice for women who have just given birth.
Manuk pansuh is a traditional delicacy of the Dayaks in Sarawak. Chicken pieces are marinated in a mixture of crushed garlic, onion, lemongrass, ginger, chillies and salt. They are then stuffed into bamboo logs and wrapped with cassava leaves before being roasted slowly atop a charcoal pile. The cooking process and unique taste of roasted bamboo and lemongrass infused into the chicken is an experience you will not forget.
The Japanese have their sashimi and Sarawakians have our Umai. This is a home-prepared dish of the indigenous Melanau people in Sarawak. Umai is made from fresh fish slices mixed with lime juice, raw green onions, sugar and salt. It is topped with peanuts before being served chilled. The combination of sweet, sour, spicy and salty ingredients ensure that every bite releases an explosion of taste in your mouth.
Midin is a variant of wild ferns that can only be found in Sarawak. The dish has to be cooked with freshly harvested midin and can be either stir-fired in garlic or paired with red wine. The fresh, crunchy and unique taste will definitely imprint itself into your memories.
The Dabai – also known as black olives – is an indigenous seasonal fruit that is endemic to Sarawak. Locals will harvest the fruit and wash it before soaking it in hot water for about 10 minutes. The softened flesh would then be eaten with soy sauce and sugar. The fruit has a tangy taste which means it also goes well with rice. Dabai is very nutritional with a high concentration of proteins and minerals.
Tomato Kueh Teow
Kueh Teow is a rice noodle variant that is very popular in Sarawak. This dish capitalises on the versatility of the noodle by cooking it in a thick tomato broth. The result is a sweet and sour dish that is topped with vegetables, chicken and sea food. A cult favourite, especially among the younger Sarawakian population.
Tomato Kueh Teow
There are plenty of festivals in Malaysia and many of them are incomplete without a serving of Kek Lapis. This pastry can come in a number of different flavours and is a sight to behold. It is made of different coloured layers making it a work of art. Each layer must be baked individually, cut into strips and then arranged into art pieces of different designs and patterns.
Kek Lapis Sarawak
Kueh Chap is definitely one of the more unforgettable meals you can have in Sarawak. This dish is cooked with a pork bone soup base and rice noodles. It contains pork pieces, pork intestines, braised eggs and dried tofu. The soup is brewed in a concoction of spices and herbs such as star anise, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom and garlic, making it a flavourful and fulfilling dining experience.