AS the homeland of many unique communities, Sarawak has a variety of cuisines rarely found elsewhere in Malaysia. Sarawakian food showcases a number of influences and ingredients which will make your tastebuds take notice, meshed together culturally in a way only Malaysians know how.
Here are some of popular local delights which form the traditional cuisine of Sarawak!
This is a very popular dish which can commonly be found anywhere in Sarawak. It is available for breakfast, lunch and even dinner. For fans of hawker cuisine, this this dish will surely remind them of wantan mee or hakka mee.
Kolo mee or mee kolok is a light yellow egg noodle served with lard, slices of barbecued pork and minced meat, often accompanied with sauce and black vinegar. There’s a halal version available in Malay stalls popularly known as mee sapi too.
Midin is a type of fern that grows wildly in Sarawak and in West Kalimantan. In Sarawak, it is popular with the locals as it is their favourite green!
Popular styles of cooking this wild veggie include frying it with shrimp paste and chilli a la kangkung belacan (“midin goreng belacan”) or preparing it with hot and spicy ikan bilis sambal, garlic and salted fish. But cook it however you want, this versatile green will definitely find a place on the dinner table.
This is one for the brave: umai (also known as umei) is a traditional lunch meal for Melanau fisherman. It is a simple dish, so simple that fishermen prepare it easily on their boats, and it is largely found in Mukah town, a quaint fishing village now known for its fresh seafood.
Umai is basically a marinated raw fish dish. There are many ways to make umai and every family prepares it in their own signature way. Core ingredients are sliced onions, diced chilies, salt, crushed peanuts and lime juice (or for that western kick, lemon juice). Serve with a bowl of toasted sago pearls.
Unlike Kolo Mee, this delicious Foochow dish from Sibu town is prepared with dry noodles. Both however have many similar ingredients.
Served with slices of barbecued meat and a bowl of soup, Kampua mee can be prepared according to your preference. Have it plain, with soy sauce, with chili sauce, or both. And if you want a halal version, head over to the Malay stalls of Kuching.
They say it is this dish which comforts the body after a hectic or rainy day. Kueh chap is a bowl of noodles filled with pork meat, pork offal and deep fried taufu. It is also complemented with a special herbal soup.
Fun fact: The kueh in kueh chap refers to the soy sauce broth and rice sheets which make up the dish, while the chap is everything else that goes into it.
Kek Lapis Sarawak
Kek lapis or layered cake is always served during Sarawakian festivities. It also comes in different styles and flavours.
There are over fifty flavours of Kek Lapis to choose from, we’re talking simple, original, sweet, sour, blueberry, Cadbury, coffee, cheese and more! Essential buah tangan for those returning to the semenanjung.
Teh C Peng
Wanna know why this beverage is on the list? It’s milk tea, but with a dash of concentrated palm sugar. And it’s available anytime anywhere.
When you ask locals what makes Laksa Sarawak so famous and to-die-for, they’ll tell you it’s the thick, shrimp-based broth. Most stalls or restaurants in Sarawak have their own methods in making the perfect broth. But as a general rule, the thicker the broth, the more uumphh!
Laksa Sarawak is basically vermicelli rice noodles (a.k.a. bee hoon) served with broth, thickened with coconut milk. The laksa is then enriched with shredded chicken and slivers of omelette or boiled eggs.
To top the entire thing off, a generous amount of crunchy bean sprouts and a few boiled prawns are thrown in the mix. This heavenly dish will not be complete without some thick, spicy sambal paste and some lime juice for acidity. Garnish with chopped cilantro.
Popular among the Dayak community, this is a simple, must-try dish which needs little ingredients. Firstly, raw chicken pieces are marinated with salt and pepper and crushed lemongrass for aroma and flavour. Then, tapioca leaves along with the marinaded chicken are stuffed into bamboo and cooked over an open fire.
After an hour or less (depending on the thickness of the bamboo), the results are succulent and juicy chicken, complete with gravy flavoured by the lemongrass and bamboo.
Gula Apong Ice Cream
Last but definitely not least, here is a dessert with a difference. It’s any old ice-cream but served with a variety of toppings such as cornflakes and Oreo crumbs. But there’s one very special ingredient. The ice cream comes slathered in palm sugar, or gula apong as the locals call it. This special ingredient makes this delectable dessert an instant hit!
Wanna know where to find these dishes? Make a quick day trip via flight to Kuching or head on over to CCFoodTravel for places around KL to get your Sarawakian noodle fix!