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A taste of Sarawak: traditional Sarawak recipes

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These fresh and flavoursome Sarawakan staples are easy to throw together and appeal to pretty much every palate. Spice them up with as many chillies as you dare!

Acar Timun 

Recipe from the Sarawak Eurasian Association Legacy Cookbook

8 Servings

  • 125g fresh chilli paste
  • 100g turmeric paste
  •  50g candlenut paste
  •  700ml white vinegar
  • 800g white sugar
  • 5kg cucumbers, deseeded and thinly sliced
  • 1 large carrot, julienned
  •  8-10 fresh red chillies, deseededand thinly sliced
  • 10cm ginger, peeled and julienned
  • 1⁄2kg dried shrimps, deshelled and coarsely chopped
  •  100g dried garlic, sliced
  •  200g white sesame seeds, dry roasted

Gently fry the chilli, turmeric and candlenut pastes for about 10 minutes to form a dark brown, oily mixture. Add the vinegar and sugar and bring to the boil stirring constantly. Leave to cool completely (6-7 hours). Cover the cucumber with salt and leave to sit for an hour before squeezing out the excess juice. Dry the cucumber, carrot, chillies and ginger in the hot sun for about 3 hours, turning the ingredients every hour. Fry the shrimps, then set aside to cool. When the vinegar and chilli mixture is completely cool, and the other ingredients are dehydrated, mix everything together, adding the dried garlic, sesame seeds and three quarters of the shrimps. Put the acar in glass containers and garnish with the remaining shrimps.

Sarawakan Kolo Mee

Recipe from the Sarawak Eurasian Association Legacy Cookbook

Serves 4

  • 150g minced pork or chicken
  • 3tsp fish sauce
  •  1tbsp light soya sauce
  • 1 bulb garlic, finely chopped
  •  4 bundles fresh noodles
  •  1 bunch mustard greens, coarsely chopped
  • 20 char siu slices
  • 10 sprigs spring onions, finely chopped
  • 3 shallots, fried and finely chopped

Marinate the minced meat in thefish sauce and soya sauce, then set aside for 1-2 hours. Fry the garlic until golden brown. Remove the oil and the garlic from the wok, and set aside, leaving 3 tablespoons of oil in the wok. Reheat the oil and stir-fry the marinated minced meat until cooked. If you like a little gravy, add a dash of water to the meat, then remove from the wok and set aside. Blanch the noodles and vegetables in boiling water for 2 minutes, then dip into cool water a couple of times before returning to the hot water. Strain the noodles and vegetables and place in a serving bowl. Stir a tablespoon of fried garlic and garlic oil through the noodles and season to taste. Top with the minced meat, char siu, spring onions and shallots.

Fish Umai 

Recipe by Phyllis Hardie Nellian. First published in KINO Kuching In ‘N Out magazine #13, and the 2019 Sarawak Tourism Board Cookbook-Calendar.

Serves 4

  • 1kg fresh firm white fish
  • 3tbsp vinegar
  • 10 limes (juice only)
  • 1 bud ginger flower, sliced (optional)
  • 3 medium-sized onions, sliced
  • Handful coriander leaves, chopped
  • Chillies, sliced

Slice the fish fillet very finely and mix with the vinegar and lime juice. (Note that you can replace the vinegar with the juice of 2 lemons.) Add the ginger flower and onion. Stir in the coriander leaves, and add sliced chillies to taste. Mix well, season to taste and refrigerate for at least 10-15 minutes to cure the fish.


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