Special Compilation of Sarawakian Cuisines

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Since I started my blog about a year ago, I have blogged quite a number of Sarawak cuisines and I will add as and when I have blogged about new Sarawak cuisines. Some of these cuisines are uniquely Sarawak cuisines. Take a look and see what are these cuisines and remember, if you travel to Sarawak, do try these cuisines locally. For those who are interested to read more about Sarawak,

“Sarawak  is one of two Malaysian states on the island of Borneo. Known as Bumi Kenyalang (“Land of the Hornbills“), Sarawak is situated on the northwest of the island, bordering the Malaysian state of Sabah to the northeast, Indonesia to the south, and surrounding Brunei. It is the largest Malaysian state. The administrative capital is Kuching, which has a population of 700,000.Major cities and towns include Miri (pop. 350,000),Sibu (pop. 257,000) and Bintulu (pop. 200,000)”. As of the last census (2010), the state population was 2,420,009.“  (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sarawak)

As per Sarawak Tourism’s “top 10 iconic food” in 2012 are:

  • Sarawak Laksa (included in this post)
  • Kolo Mee (included in this post)
  • Ayam Pansuh – Chicken cooked in bamboo tube
  • Midin Belacan – Jungle fern fried with shrimp paste
  • Ikan Terubok Masin – A hard to get river estuary fish
  • Umai – Shashimi alike but Sarawak version with different seasonings and condiments
  • Kompia – A traditional Foochow bread that is bagel look alike
  • Terong Dayak Soup – A special breed of yellow brinjal commonly found in Sarawak
  • Dabai – A black colour fruit that local Chinese called is olive and can be preserved to be used as side dish for porridges or rice
  • Kampua Noodle – A type of Foochow noodle which was rather similar to kolo mee as mentioned above but mostly served in plate with slightly different type of noodles and condiments.

Being in Singapore, I have difficulty to blog a lot of the cuisines from my home town due to the lack of raw material. However, the effort continues. If you are keen to learn more about Sarawak Cuisines, you can visit my humble page of Authentic Sarawak Food and History. However, I have to apologize the page had not been updated for quite a while due to time constraints. I also wanted to take this opportunity to invite interested Sarawakian readers who had a passion in Sarawak Cuisines to take over this Facebook Page.

Please click on the pictures or blue colour links to go to the respective recipes.

Noodles Dishes

Sarawak Laksa – Cooking Illustration – A unique laksa that Most Sarawakian will be proud of. You can refer to here where I have written some concise history for ICNN travel report. In this post, I have written a very detail method of preparation for this special laksa dish.


Sarawak Laksa – Recipe – Most of the Sarawak household have cooked the laksa by using the ready pre-mix laksa paste. Being in Singapore, I have decided to try preparing my own. Overseas readers, if you are keen to prepare your own Sarawak laksa paste, you can read this post and start your own adventures.


Sarawak Laksa – History . Why Most Sarawakian are very proud of this special laksa dish, but there is a lack of literature write up on the history and evolution of this laksa dish and why is it unique to Sarawak. If you want to go a bit further to understand the history of commercially sold Sarawak Laksa paste, you can read this short history of Sarawak Laksa paste.


Sarawak Kolo Noodles or Dry Noodles – Sarawak Kolo noodles is rather special type of dry noodles (干捞面)that most if not all Sarawakian will be proud of. A light colour dry noodles and comfortably sits after Sarawak Laksa in the food ranking. As far as my circle of friends are concerned, none have ever rejected this noodles and Sarawakian can have this for breakfast until supper.


Kolo Beehoon – What if you can’t the special noodles? My wife used to prepare this simplified version of kolo beehoon for our breakfast. Of course the ingredients will depends on what we have in the fridge..


Tomato Yimin Noodles (茄汁伊面) – This noodle is rather special as it is cooked with tomato ketchup. The original noodles are deep fried noodles. In this illustration, I have used the commercially sold yimin instead. I have always called Sarawak style spaghettis and see if you concur with me.


Meat Dishes

Motherworts Chicken (益母草姜酒鸡) This is a traditional confinement dish for ladies who just gave birth. Motherwort have been used by midwives for centuries in Europe to assist in delivery, How this special herb become a confinement dish in Sarawak remained unclear, possibly because of the influenced of British during previous colonisation of Sarawak.. Though it is a confinement dish, but it is well liked by all age groups and sexes.


Pastry, Cakes and Snacks

Chinese Style Citrus Zested Pancake (风吹饼,风筝饼, 烘吹饼) – A rather unique type of snack in Sarawak and lots of Sarawakian Chinese love this snack. As constrasted to this illustration, it is usually round and without sesame seeds . For some Sarwakian Chinese dialect group, this is also another type of moon cake they are having.


Sarawak Midnight Cake a cake which is full of breakfast beverages ingredients, a rich dense and dark coloured cake usually served during festivals such as Chinese New Year, Hari Raya Aidilfitri and Gawai Dayak etc. It is so dark that I have decided to call it a midnight cake and taste is awesome and rich.


Horlicks Lapis (好力克千层蛋糕)– Sarawak is famous for it layered cake after introduction from Indonesian in late 1980’s. The lapis or layered cake are many with its special design and flavouring. This is one of the classic household lapis.


Coffee Peppermint Lapis (咖啡薄荷千层蛋糕)– Another type of lapis for your consideration though the more common type is the chocolate peppermint lapis. This is the healthier version of lapis.


Sarawak Style Butter Buns – The uniqueness of Sarawak style butter buns is its buttery fillings. Its filling is made from mixing the butter with some flour. Sarawakian craved for this and there are no close substitute of these buns found elsewhere. Any mystery as to why this bun is common in Sarawak but not elsewhere.


Popiah  – Sarawak Style – Though it may be a generalization, Sarawak style popiah is generally came with dry type of fillings. Unlike West Malaysia or Singapore version, jicama were not simmer until soft. With these drier filling, popiah can be found in stalls selling kuih and other snacks. One can just pick up one and have it on its way to office.


For more recipes, you can refer to my RECIPE INDEX (updated as at 21 March 2014)  here and you can follow me at PINTEREST or visit this blog’s FACEBOOK PAGE .  


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An Uniquely Sarawakian Confinement Dish–Motherwort Chicken or Kacangma (益母草姜酒鸡)




As a Sarawakian food blogger, I will not do justice to Sarawak if I do not blog this rather uniquely Sarawak cuisine., Kacangma or motherwort chicken. This is a famous Chinese Hakka confinement food, meaning food specially cooked for a lady after delivery of a baby.  Chinese believed that ladies’ body is weak after delivering a baby, therefore, there is a need to replenish the body’s nutrition. The food that these ladies have will have different ways of cooking in terms of cooking methods of ingredients.


Sarawak Hakka has long prepared this dish for the confinement ladies. However, it is not popular in West Malaysia and Singapore at all. It is rather unsure the reasons of its lack of popularity in other regions in this part of the world.. But, surprisingly, the Hakka in certain part of People’s Republic of China is preparing this also. Though it is a confinement dish, in Sarawak, it is so popular that it has become a party food. It is well accepted by all age group or sexuality. Man like me, do at times craved for this special cuisine… Ha-ha


However, to cook this dish overseas is not quite possible because there is a need to get hold a special herb called motherwort. This herb had been used by British Midwife to assist in delivery. The herbs, however, are not commonly sold in other parts of the world unless one will have to plant it in its own house. But be careful, the leaves looked like marijuana and you may have a hard time of explaining to the relevant authorities of planting this special plant…


Before my mother in law visited me last week, I have specially requested her to bring me a package of dried motherwort specially to cook this dish and satisfied my cravings in Singapore…There are many ways of cooking, what is illustrated here is how my mother in law prepared the dish.. She had been cooking this for her daughters, friends and family members. Her method is still rather traditional as she do not like the leaves to be blended and prefer to pan fry the leaves rather than oven toasting as I have suggested. This recipe is for confinement ladies, hence no seasoning and water were used in the cooking, only Chinese cooking wine .. Therefore, it is very spicy hot and have a high alcohol content.. After consuming it, it is likely that one will sweat in this hot weather. That is the purpose of cooking in this manner catering for confinement ladies..to chase away the “wind” in the body and to provide heat to the weak body. However, for normal consumption, one can add seasonings such as salt or sugar and replace part of the wine used with water…


As this is a herb, i believed we should have a good understanding of what is the herb before we consumed it. As per Wikipedia:

Motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca) is a herbaceous perennial plant in the mint family, Lamiaceae. Other common names include Throw-wort, Lion’s Ear, and Lion’s Tail. Lion’s Tail also being a common name for Leonotis leonurus, and Lion’s Ear, a common name for Leonotis nepetifolia. Originally from Central Asia and southeastern Europe, it is now found worldwide, spread largely due to its use as a herbal remedy.  Motherwort has a long history of use as a herb in traditional medicine in Central Europe, Asia and North America. Like many other plants, it has been used for a variety of ills. Midwives use it for a variety of purposes, including uterine tonic and prevention of uterine infection in women, hence the name Motherwort. The herb contains the alkaloid leonurine, which is a mild vasodilator and has a relaxing effect on smooth muscles. For this reason, it has long been used as a cardiac tonic, nervine, and an emmenagogue. Among other biochemical constituents, it also contains bitter iridous glycosides, diterpinoids, flavonoids (including rutin and quercetin), tannins, volatile oils, and vitamin A. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leonurus_cardiaca)

Since this is a Chinese herbs, for the benefit of Chinese readers, i have quoted this from the Chinese  information website. As per Baidu Baike

益母草,又名:蓷、茺蔚、坤草,拉丁学名:Leonurus artemisia (Laur.)S. Y. Hu F,为唇形科益母草属植物益母草的全草,夏季开花。其干燥地上部分为常用中药,中国大部分地区均产,生用或熬膏用。一年或二年生草本全国大部分地区均有分布,生于山野荒地田埂、草地等。在夏季生长茂盛花未全开时采摘, 味辛苦、凉,活血、祛淤、调经、消水,治疗妇女月经不调,胎漏难产,胞衣不下,产后血晕,瘀血腹痛,崩中漏下,尿血、泻血,痈肿疮疡

全草入药,有效成分为益母草素(Leonurin),内服可使血管扩张而使血压下降,并有颉抗肾上腺素的作用,可治动脉硬化性和神经性的高血压,又能增加子宫运动的频度,为产后促进子宫收缩药,并对长期子宫出血而引起衰弱者有效,故广泛用于治妇女闭经、痛经、月经不调、产后出血过多、恶露不尽、产后子宫收缩不全、胎动不安、子宫脱垂及赤白带下等症。据国内报道近年来益母草用于肾炎水肿、尿血、便血、牙龈肿痛、乳腺炎、丹毒、痈肿疔疮均有效。嫩苗入药称童子益母草,功用同益母草,并有补血作用。花治贫血体弱。子称茺蔚、三角胡麻、小胡麻,尚有利尿、治眼疾之效,亦可用于治肾炎水肿及子宫脱垂。白花变型功用同益母草。(Source: http://baike.baidu.com/view/8873.htm)




  • 1 medium sized chicken, cut into smaller sizes.
  • 1/2 cup of dry motherwort herb
  • 2 cups of Chinese cooking wine
  • 200 grams of fresh ginger, pounded and extract juice
  • 2 tablespoons of sesame oil.




  • Pound the ginger and squeeze the ginger juice into the chicken. Marinate the chicken for at least one to two hours. Keep the pounded ginger for later use.


  • In a pan, use the smallest heat to stir fry the motherwort. Depending on your heat, it should take from 15-20 minutes until the leaves are very dry, easily broken and aroma starts to penetrate the house. In addition, the leaves should become very fine until that it stick to the sides of the pan. Be patience, too high heat will burn the leaves very easily and the end result is bitter taste motherwort. Therefore, patience is required. Once ready, set aside.


  • In the same pan, stir fry the minced ginger with medium heat, stir fry until it is dry and aromatic. The main purpose of this step is the same as in the above step, to make the ginger dry and aromatic. Once ready, set aside.


  • Put 2 tablespoons of sesame oil in the pan, place the chicken in the pan, stir fry under medium heat and well combined. Place the lid and simmer the chicken until it is cooked and soft. Note that there is no water used in the pan frying. As you cook the chicken, meat juices will be secreted out and the juices simmer the chicken.


  • Once it almost dries up, add in ginger and motherwort, followed by the Chinese cooking wine, let it simmer for another 10-15 minutes. If the wine dries up too fast, as more wine to get the gravy.

  • From the above procedure, you may note that there is no seasoning such as salt or water being used. That is for the confinement ladies where salt is a not supposed to be added to confinement food. For normal home consumption, you can add salt and sugar to taste and replace some of the wine with plain water.  Best serve hot with a bowl of hot rice.



Frankly speaking, I am issuing as this post in honour of this unique Sarawak cuisines. However, if you can’t get hold of the motherwort, which I presumed most readers will not be able to, just omit the motherwort and you can come out with a delicious ginger chicken wine …. However, I seriously believed that it is not a bad an idea to understand this beneficial herb consumed by confinement ladies in Sarawak , and such benefits are supported by many scientific studies..… As to why it is not popular in other parts of the region, the question remain unanswered. Hope you like the post today. Cheers..


  • For more recipes, you can refer to my RECIPE INDEX (updated as at 15 October 2014)  here and you can follow me at PINTEREST or visit the blog’s FACEBOOK PAGE to keep abreast of my future posts.