Sabah Traditional Food – The Local Dishes of Borneo
Traditional Sabah Food is a one of a kind culinary roller coaster. These Sabahan foods include everything from jungle vegetables to the Butod worm. Read on to learn more.
Undoubtedly, your mom will always be the best cook in the universe. We know that. However, if you are in Borneo, you should venture to try something different with Sabah traditional food. That being said, here is a list of Sabahan foods that should give you an idea of what to try when you visit. These foods are the must-eats and must-drinks…if you are brave enough. Conversely, you might learn what to avoid in order not to get into any awkward situations.
The following are some beautiful illustrations of traditional Sabahan foods in drawn by Tan Sheau Ling (陈俏绫), a talented Sabah artist. Let’s get started!
Ling has this to say when it comes to Butod, “You need extra courage to swallow a wiggling Butod (sago worm). At the first bite, it tastes like a capsule, and then the magic happens as it bursts and fills your mouth with protein fluid that is as creamy as cod liver oil.”
Ling gives the method of preparation in her illustration – “Simply cut the fish (fresh caught is preferred) into small slices, mix and marinate them with diced red onion, young ginger, red chili, bitter gourd, grated Bambangan seeds (for its sterilizing property and to make meat springier) and lime juice. Before serving, add cilantro as a final touch for this sour salad.”
Ling illustrates the method of preparing it and describes the interesting matter in which it is prepared, “The traditional way of making this crispy little snack of Sabah’s Bajau people is by pouring rice milk into a coconut shells punctured with many small holes, gyrating the shell and drop the liquid on a wok of hot oil. Once it turns golden brown, scoop it out and fold it into fan or roll shape while it’s hot. It is a sweet and crispy snack perfect for high-tea.”
“Tapai is an iconic Sabah wine made by traditional method with fermented tapioca, white rice or glutinous rice. Though Tapai is sweet and sour in taste, it’s high in alcohol. Tapai is a necessity during festivals, celebrations and banquet, where it is shared in a big porcelain jar for guests to take turn drinking it from a straw.”
“Tuhau is a traditional appetizer made from wild ginger. It’s very simple to make. Just mince it, then mix and stir it with a pinch of salt, lime juice, chili and scallion. Tuhau is sour and spicy with tangy flavor. You either love it or hate it due to its distinctive smell.”
This delicious fish is a mainstay of traditional sabah food. Subsequently, you can find it just about everywhere. You should definitely try it when you visit Sabah. To clarify, Basung is a type of mackerel known as a Yellowstripe scad.
Finally, Basung is also used to make Pinasakan, which is another great traditional sabahan food. Read about it here.
― J.R.R. Tolkien
Whew, I think that’s all for now. Are you a gourmet expert? Why don’t you join our Kota Kinabalu Cooking Class and let see how good you are in cooking.
If you want to know more about foods that you must try in Sabah, then check out our blog: Must Eat Foods in Sabah.
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