What are Sarawak’s Quintessential Food Experiences?
Savour the diversity of flavours defining this exceptional regional cuisine through these must-try dishes and specialties.
The late world-renowned American celebrity, Chef Anthony Bourdain was fondly remembered for promoting ‘Sarawak Laksa’ to the rest of the world. He once described it as a “breakfast of the gods,” adding to the allure of this iconic dish and significantly enhancing its global recognition.
A champion in its own right, Sarawak Laksa is famed for its rich, flavoursome prawn and chicken-based broth, simmered to perfection with coconut milk and ‘Sarawak Laksa’ paste which consists of numerous aromatics such as belacan, tamarind, lemongrass, herbs, and other spices. The broth is poured over rice vermicelli, and topped with shredded chicken, strips of egg omelette, blanched bean sprouts, and juicy prawns. ‘Sarawak Laksa’ is also served with a side of calamansi lime, and sambal belacan. The mixture of the broth and sides creates a soup that is not overly rich and creamy, with a subtle hint of tangy and spicy flavours.
‘Ayam Pansuh’ is a traditional Dayak dish consisting of chicken and tapioca leaves cooked in bamboo. The fragrance of the bamboo and various aromatics, such as ginger and tepus, give this dish its distinct flavour, both in the chicken and the rich pansuh broth. ‘Ayam Pansuh’ is typically served with steamed white rice and an array of sautéd local vegetables. ‘Ayam Pansuh’ was once served only during big special occasions such as the Gawai Dayak (Harvest Festival). However, this delicacy is now readily available all year round.
‘Kek Lapis Sarawak’, or ‘Sarawak Layer Cake’, is usually served during special occasions, religious or cultural celebrations, such as Eid ul-Fitr, Christmas, Deepavali, Gawai, birthdays, and weddings. There are many variations of ‘Kek Lapis Sarawak’, and this unique dessert can be found almost everywhere in Sarawak.
Famously known as one of Sarawak’s signature dishes, ‘Kolo Mee’ is a simple yet flavourful noodle dish typically served for breakfast. Topped with minced meat, slices of succulent barbecued pork, slivers of spring onions and fried onions, this Chinese dish is so popular that a Halal version has since been created.
Halal ‘Kolo Mee’ is usually served with slices of beef or chicken, fragrant fried shallots, spring onions and comes with a bowl of rich beef or chicken soup.
‘Fried Dabai Rice’, or ‘Nasi Goreng Dabai’ is a Sarawak speciality dish widely popular among locals. The fragrant preserved dabai fruit is stir-fried with garlic, shallots, eggs, and dashes of soy sauce and oyster sauce to give this local delight its unique flavour.
The seasonal dabai fruit is often compared to olives due to their similarity in appearance and taste. As dabai is highly perishable and difficult to procure outside of its season, the dabai fruit is often preserved and used in cooking.