Traditional food in Sarawak

Ayam Pansoh

Sarawak Local Food

Local Native Food

Pansoh” is any side dish that is cooked in bamboo created by the natives in Sarawak. If it was fish, it will be called Ikan Pansoh, but usually chicken is the main ingredient. To make Ayam Pansoh, the chicken pieces need to be marinated. The ingredients for the pounded marinade are tepus or wild ginger, garlic, onions, ginger, lemongrass, turmeric and salt. The mixture need to be stuffed into the bamboo logs and chopped tapioca leaves are stuffed at the opening of the logs. Then, all you need to do is assemble the stuffed bamboo logs over the fire at about 75-degree angle.

At our home, we do not have bamboos in a constant supply, so my mother will cook the pansoh in a pot. The taste is okay, but in a bamboo log, it will taste better.

Terung Dayak Sarawak

Usually, people called this terung asam (sour eggplant?). It is one of the rare vegetable that can be found mostly in Sarawak. The terung can be cooked with simple ingredients. You can cook the sliced terung in boiling water mixed with pounded shallots, chilli, dried anchovies, belacan and seasoning. Note that you can cook the terung without peeling the skin because it can be peeled easily after cooking.

Acar Timun

Although acar can be found in other Malaysian states, you can find acar in Sarawak too. To make this, you need to slice cucumbers, carrots and red chillies then drain and dry them thoroughly in the sun. Then, fry the pounded mixture of ginger, garlic, shallots and dried shrimps with chilli paste. Add in sugar and vinegar, and stir for a while before adding water and bring it to boil until the mixture thickens. After the mixture is cool, mix it with the sun-dried mixture and stir well.

It is recommended to leave it for a month before consuming. The acar is usually served with keropok (prawn or fish crackers), as the combination of the crispy keropok blends with the sweet, sour and spicy taste of the acar leaves you to beg for more.

Bubur Pedas Sarawak

This is the most difficult dish to make. For most people, they need to prepare the powder mixture before cooking the real porridge. You can also buy the powder mixture. To make this dish, you need fry the finely sliced shallots, garlic, chillies and dried shrimps in a wok. Then, in a pot, mix the porridge powder with some water to make a paste and add the fried ingredients into the pot. You can add sliced beef, lily bulb, dried bean curd, long beans, black fungus, vermicelli, and potatoes into the porridge. Lastly, pour in coconut milk and seasoning and stir until the mixture thickens.

Bubur pedas can be found at the Bazaar during Ramadhan. Even though the process to make it is a bit complicated, the result is very satisfying. The healthy yet delicious porridge is spicy and rich in aroma. Once you tried the bubur pedas, you will be salivating just from the thoughts of it.


Tuak is an Iban rice wine and an essential beverage during Gawai Festival. The rice wine tastes sweet and smooth, and over-indulging will result in a splitting headache when you wake up the next morning. Tuak is made of steamed glutinous rice mixed with tapai yeast and sugar, and then leave the mixture in a sealed container for at least 2 months for it to ferment.


The Melanau called it ambuyat. Some called it jalit. Linut is the sago flour and when the completed product is presented to you, you will see that the appearance is a bit like glue. To make it, mix the flour with plain water until it dissolved. Then, add boiling water and stir until the mixture turns transparent. For the gravy, you can add sambal belacan with lime. For some people, they add side dishes such as soup, tempoyak or any other side dishes that you can eat with rice.

There is still other traditional food in Sarawak. For example, tumpik; which is made from sago flour, selorot; a traditional kuih (cake) wrapped in nipah leaves made from coconut milk, and many others. Try them and you would want to eat them every day.

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