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7 Types of Famous Food in Kuching Sarawak that You Must Try

Sarawak is home to a diverse range of ethnic groups, including the Iban, Bidayuh, Melanau, Malay, Chinese, and others, each with their own distinct cultures and traditions. Sarawak is also known for its unique culinary traditions.

Image: Dok. Pribadi

Famous Food in Kuching Sarawak

Sarawak known for its rich and diverse culinary culture. Which blend together influences from the various ethnic groups that call the state home, reflects it’s multicultural heritage. If you are in the city of Kuching, Sarawak, don’t forget to sample the types of famous specialties that exist.

Here are some popular dishes from Sarawak:

1. Laksa Sarawak

Laksa Sarawak is a traditional dish from the Malaysian state of Sarawak, located on the island of Borneo. It is a spicy and tangy noodle soup that is typically made with a rich, flavorful broth, rice vermicelli noodles, and a variety of toppings.

The broth for Laksa Sarawak is typically made with a blend of spices, including lemongrass, galangal, and chili peppers, which are simmered with shrimp and chicken to create a savory and aromatic base. The broth is then typically thickened with coconut milk and tamarind paste, which gives it a tangy flavor.

The noodles used in Laksa Sarawak are thin rice vermicelli, which are cooked separately and then added to the broth. Toppings for the dish can include sliced chicken or shrimp, bean sprouts, sliced cucumbers, boiled eggs, and a variety of herbs and spices, such as cilantro, mint, and lime.

Laksa Sarawak is a popular dish in Malaysia and is enjoyed both as a street food and in restaurants. It is typically served as a main course and is often accompanied by a side of sambal belacan, a spicy chili paste.

2. Kolo Mee

Kolo Mee is a popular noodle dish from Sarawak, Malaysia, specifically from the town of Kuching. It is a simple dish made with thin yellow noodles, usually served with slices of barbecued or boiled chicken, beef or pork, and a light brown sauce.

The sauce is the highlight of the dish, made from a combination of soy sauce, oyster sauce, garlic, sugar, and oil. It is usually prepared in large batches and can be stored for days. The sauce is poured over the cooked noodles, giving it a savory and slightly sweet flavor.

Kolo Mee is usually served with a side of chili sauce and pickled vegetables. Some variations of the dish also include minced meat or seafood toppings. It is a popular breakfast dish in Sarawak and can be found in many coffee shops and hawker centers.

Kolo Mee is a simple and delicious noodle dish that has become a staple of Sarawak cuisine. It is a must-try for anyone visiting Kuching or Sarawak, and its popularity has spread beyond the state, with many Malaysians and tourists seeking it out in other parts of the country.

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3. Ayam Pansuh

Ayam Pansuh is a traditional dish of the Iban people of Sarawak, Malaysia. It is a dish of chicken cooked in bamboo, with lemongrass, ginger, and other herbs, giving it a unique and aromatic flavor.

To prepare Ayam Pansuh, a whole chicken is cleaned and stuffed with a mixture of lemongrass, ginger, shallots, salt, and other herbs. The chicken is then wrapped in banana leaves and placed inside a bamboo tube that has been sealed at both ends. The bamboo tube is then placed over an open fire and left to cook for several hours until the chicken is tender and infused with the flavors of the herbs and bamboo.

The cooking process not only imparts a unique flavor to the chicken, but also creates a natural pressure cooker that helps to retain the moisture and juices of the meat. The resulting dish is a flavorful and aromatic chicken that is tender and juicy.

Ayam Pansuh is typically served with steamed rice and a side of vegetable dishes, such as midin belacan (stir-fried jungle ferns with shrimp paste). It is often served during special occasions, such as weddings, festivals, and other celebrations, and is a symbol of the Iban culture and heritage.

If you have the opportunity to visit Sarawak, Ayam Pansuh is a must-try dish to experience the unique flavors and cooking techniques of this traditional Iban dish.

4. Midin Belacan

Midin Belacan is a popular dish in Sarawak, Malaysia, made with midin, a type of jungle fern found in the rainforests of Borneo. It is a simple but flavorful dish that is often served as a side dish with rice.

To make Midin Belacan, the midin is first cleaned and cut into bite-sized pieces. The ferns are then stir-fried in a wok with garlic and belacan, a type of fermented shrimp paste that is commonly used in Malaysian and Indonesian cuisine. The dish is then garnished with sliced red chilies and served hot.

Belacan adds a distinct umami flavor to the dish, while the garlic and chilies provide a hint of heat and fragrance. Midin itself has a unique texture that is crispy and slightly crunchy, making it a popular vegetable in Sarawakian cuisine.

Midin Belacan is a favorite among locals and tourists alike, and is often found in hawker stalls and restaurants across Sarawak. It is a must-try dish for anyone visiting Sarawak and looking to experience the unique flavors of this region.

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5. Kueh Chap

Kueh Chap is a popular noodle dish from the state of Sarawak in Malaysia. It is a flavorful and hearty dish made with a mix of pork parts and flat rice noodles, served in a pork broth soup.

The dish consists of thick, flat rice noodles that are first blanched in boiling water, then served in a soup made from simmering pork bones, meat, and other pork parts such as intestines, liver, and skin. The soup is typically flavored with garlic, ginger, and other aromatic herbs and spices. The pork meat and other parts are usually braised until they are tender and flavorful.

Kueh Chap is typically served with a side of braised eggs and tofu, and is garnished with cilantro, chopped garlic, and chili sauce. The resulting dish is a hearty and flavorful combination of savory, sweet, and spicy flavors, with a range of different textures from the tender meat to the chewy noodles.

Kueh Chap is a popular breakfast or brunch dish in Sarawak, and is commonly found in hawker stalls and coffee shops across the state. It is a must-try dish for anyone looking to experience the unique flavors and textures of Sarawakian cuisine.

6. Umai

Umai is a traditional dish from the Iban people of Sarawak, Malaysia. It is a raw fish salad that is typically made with fresh river fish, such as tilapia or barramundi, and seasoned with lime juice, chili peppers, shallots, and salt.

To prepare Umai, the fish is filleted and sliced into thin, bite-sized pieces. The fish is then mixed with chopped shallots, chili peppers, and a generous amount of lime juice. The acid from the lime juice “cooks” the fish, giving it a slightly opaque appearance and firm texture.

Famous Food in Kuching Sarawak
Umai Ubur-Ubur (Image: Dok. Pribadi)

Umai is typically served as a side dish with steamed rice, or as an appetizer. It is often accompanied by fresh herbs such as coriander, mint, or lemongrass, which add a fragrant and refreshing flavor to the dish.

Umai is a popular dish among the Iban people, and is often served at traditional celebrations, such as weddings, festivals, and other special occasions. It is a simple but flavorful dish that highlights the fresh flavors of the river fish and the aromatic herbs and spices of Sarawakian cuisine. If you have the opportunity to visit Sarawak, trying Umai is a must-try dish to experience the unique flavors and culinary traditions of this region.

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7. Belacan Bee Hoon

Belacan Bee Hoon is a spicy noodle dish that is popular in Malaysia, particularly in the state of Sarawak. It is made with thin rice vermicelli noodles that are stir-fried with a mixture of belacan, dried shrimp, garlic, and chili peppers, giving the dish a strong and pungent aroma.

To make Belacan Bee Hoon, the rice vermicelli noodles are first soaked in water until they are soft, and then stir-fried with a mixture of belacan, dried shrimp, garlic, and chili peppers. Other ingredients such as bean sprouts, chives, and sliced meat or seafood may be added to the dish to give it more texture and flavor.

Belacan, a fermented shrimp paste, is the key ingredient in this dish, giving it a unique and distinct flavor. The dish is spicy, but the level of spiciness can be adjusted to taste by adding more or less chili peppers.

Belacan Bee Hoon is a popular street food in Sarawak, and is often found in hawker stalls and food markets across the state. It is a must-try dish for anyone visiting Sarawak and looking to experience the unique flavors and spicy heat of this region’s cuisine. (DW)

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