Homegrown food from cool S’wak
By Catharine Goh
Known for its fragrance aroma, Bario Rice is regarded by the Orang Ulu and local natives as the finest rice from the highlands of Sarawak.
Grown on cool climates at 1,200 metres above sea level, the rice is only eaten by the longhouse chief on special occasion, according to the natives.
It has long been regarded as one of the finest rice grains in the world given its soft texture, fine and elongated grains with mild aromas and splendid taste.
The rice is a homegrown, laboriously planted and harvested by hands using age-old traditional methods in the Kelabit Highlands of Bario, which is accessible by air or weeks of walking on jungle treks from Miri.
In the planting of the Bario rice, no pesticides and chemical fertilisers are used, which is perfect for health-conscious consumers.
It has all the attributes of organic rice with an added flavour and unique taste as a result of the cool, pristine and unpolluted environments where it is grown.
Bario Rice is specially air-flown out of Bario and Ba’kelalan highlands to enable the rest of Malaysia to sample the finest rice derived from the Land of the Hornbills.
Another Sarawak’s all-time favourite and very unique souvenir craze is the salted terubok (American shad) fish.
Visitors would normally return home from Sarawak bearing salted terubok, which is nicely wrapped in a box for longer preservation as gifts for friends and family.
One of the favourite fishes in Sarawak, terubok, is full of bones but tasty nevertheless and the trick of the trade is to find the biggest terubok fish as the bones are larger and easier to dispose of.
Also available is the terubok egg, considered a delicacy and far more expensive, fetching as much as about RM200 per kilogramme.
And if the discerning traveller is truly adventurous for exotic food and fruits, Sarikei is famous for its pineapple.
The town is the pineapple capital of Sarawak and lies in the centre of an agricultural area.
Pineapple is the star of the town where there is even a pineapple festival held every year.
In fact, right in the middle of town, there stands the town’s emblem at five metres tall on the waterfront.
The fruit bears testament to a true winner of the agricultural sector and during the festival, various classes of pineapple are judged for sweetness, shape, colour and appearance such as Nanas Madu, Nanas Sawi and Nanas Paun.
Containing 17 per cent of sugar, low acid and few prickles on its leaves, the fruit can be kept cool and has a long shelf life.