Sarawak has fantastic food and is often underrated. Here is the top food you must try when you are in Sarawak. Trust us, it's amazing.
#1: Laksa Sarawak
The late celebrity chef, Anthony Bourdain, said it's good, it's legit good, ok? He said Laksa Sarawak is the breakfast for the Gods, and it's his Top 10 dish in Southeast Asia. It is rice noodles (bihun) cooked in shrimp based broth top with bean sprouts, prawns, thin omelette strips and chicken, making it a 'balanced' meal.
#2: Kolo Mee
It is different from the famous Wantan Noodles. One, it is not drenched with dark soy sauce. Sarawak Kolo Mee is slightly springier than Wantan Noodles and typically come with a generous topping of minced meat. The original Sarawak Kolo Mee is mixed with a sinful amount of pork lard and char siew (BBQ pork); of course, we also have the chicken version as well.
#3: Belacan Bihun
Belacan Bihun is rice vermicelli mixed in a flavourful belacan broth topped with julienned cucumber, cuttlefish and some chillies. Some stalls serve it with century eggs. If you like belacan, you will definitely enjoy this.
#4: Tomato Kueh Tiaw
Rice noodles or Kueh Tiaw stir fry until you have that 'wok flavour' aka wok hei topped with thick, sweet and sour tomato sauced-based gravy. Tomato Kueh Tiaw is typically served with vegetables, chicken and seafood.
Initially, Kacangma was prepared only for the Hakka women during their confinement period. Nowadays, it is widely available because it is delicious! Kacangma is prepared with motherwort (a type of herb), plenty of ginger and rice wine. It is definitely an acquired taste, but it is worth trying if you like ginger and alcohol.
#6: Tempoyak Durian
Tempoyak durian is fermented durian; yes, you heard it right, it is durian left to ferment. Sarawak style of tempoyak durian is to stir-fry the fermented durian with Ikan bilis (fried anchovies), chillies and fried onions. It is sweet, tangy, spicy and crunch from the fried anchovies. It is best served with one steaming hot rice.
#7: Pansuh Chicken
Pansuh Chicken or manuk pansuh is one of the most popular traditional dishes often prepared by Dayak. Typically, the dark meat of the chicken is used in this pansuh. The chicken is marinated with lemongrass, ginger and cassava leaves slow-cooked over an open fire in bamboo. This cooking method seals in all the flavours, which result in flavourful, tender and juicy chicken.
#8: Nasi Aruk
Nasi Aruk is a special dish and somewhat 'healthy' dish because absolutely no oil is needed to 'fry' this rice. Yes, you heard it correctly. No oil is used for frying this rice. Nasi Aruk is traditionally Sarawakian Malay fried rice. Its ingredients are basic aromatics like garlic, onion and anchovies. Nasi Aruk is commonly available in Malay coffee shops and stalls.
Umai is a Melanau's delicacy, similar to seafood ceviche. It was invented by Melanau fishermen to 'cook' the fish while they are fishing on the boat. It is made with fresh fish combined with thinly-sliced shallots, chillies, salt and lime juice. Sago worms, prawns and squids umai are also available.
Midin used to be hidden treasures in Sarawak. It is a wild fern that grows in the jungles of Sarawak. With its crunchy texture, no wonder it's a favourite amongst the locals as well as visitors. Midin can be eaten as a salad (kerabu), stir-fried with shrimp-paste (belacan) or plain garlic. Most restaurants or cafes in Sarawak serves Midin, and now Sarawak even exports Midin to Singapore!
#11: Manicai Bihun
Manicai is a popular leafy vegetable in Southeast Asia. In Sarawak, the leafy vegetables are 'broken' down so it is much palatable and easier to consume. Manicai bihun is a typical Hakka dish where basically it is a stir-fry bihun or some uses long-life noodle with manicai and dried shrimp.
#12: Kampua Mee
This next dish bears much resemblance to Kolo Mee that no Sarawakian could possibly be unaware of. What sets it apart would be the texture of the handmade noodle. It is smooth, soft and gives a yielding sensation in your mouth. Originating in Sibu, kampua is a delicacy of the Foochow, but well, Sarawakians love to share their culture. Now even the Muslims can enjoy the halal version of kampua!
What is your favourite Sarawakian dish? Let us know!